Welcome to my TED talk on the Penultimate episode of Season 4. *Pauses for awkward applause*. The theme centred around the idea of superficiality in different forms. We saw it overtly in Issa and Molly's relationship, but there were far more nuanced signs pointing to fake ass behaviour than you probably realise.
There are so many emotions and acts that go hand-in-hand with the idea of being superficial. From perspective to communication and even deception, these can all be considered steps or prerequisites to arrive at the given destination of insincerity. So, let's start with perspective. None of the relationships in the episode saw those within them in complete agreeance: Andrew and Molly argued throughout and Molly and Issa didn't see eye-to-eye and even Molly's session with her therapist was slightly askew (anyone see a pattern?) But the therapist brought on an epiphany to her patient as well as those watching with some simple questions.
"Do you want to be right, or do you want a relationship?"
"Is this relationship still serving you?"
"Are you willing to repair the relationship?"
In a nutshell, pushing a certain angle or viewpoint in the name of principle can prove detrimental to the relationship's progression. And it did. Although Molly was willing to accept her therapist's words, she wasn't willing to change her outlook on the situation - which is one of the many reasons that led to their collective downfall. In Molly's words "I showed up, I made myself open for whatever she wanted to say. What else was I supposed to do?” Without seeing Issa's side of events, Molly was rooted in hearing an apology, leaving their interactions throughout the episode obsolete and overall, meaningless.
Next up on the superficial checklist is communication, an ongoing crux of so many characters in the show, but I guess art imitates reality, right? The way they navigated through communication was of personal interest because it tied the script, acting and cinematography together seamlessly. With the facial expression connoisseur, Kerry Washington, directing this episode - it was only right for there to be a focus on non-verbal communication, so it's time to discuss the opening scene. In what many thought was a romantic dream between Issa and Lawrence, that flowed from the end of the previous episode into the beginning of this one is actually a communication nightmare. Sorry to burst your bubble. I know the painting they bought together framed on the wall fooled everybody. The montage featured a lot of sex and intimate scenes, sprinkled with cute moments but not much was said about what the relationship is, or ultimately, where it is going. Issa did say "I want to be honest" but honesty doesn't necessarily translate into accurate and beneficial communication. Everything she did as a result was based on assumptions, including friendzoning Nate.
Disclaimer: I'm about to get nerdy so hang in there.
The writers seem to have given a new spin to an old literary technique and applied it to television. In books like Jane Eyre (the olden day Olivia Pope), there is a recurring idea of things not perceived clearly or misinterpreted when seen through a window. Almost as if it distorts it. For example, when Molly sees Issa and Lawrence talking outside at Tiffany's house, she assumes they are getting back together when really their conversation was amicable and bordered on innocent at that point. It was then taken further in this episode by substituting the physical window for a digital one, in the form of phones. The distortion via phone calls or texting led to superficial interactions. From Andrew speaking Mandarin on the phone and switching to English before ending the conversation whenever Molly enters, to Issa imagining telling Molly the real reason she wanted to meet to discuss her own issues - the genuine motivations are being lost and replaced, which fits the bill of deception perfectly. The icing on the text message cake was the message meant for Andrew being sent to Issa. Yes, it was beyond awkward and painful to watch but the last two minutes were the most genuine in the entire episode. A dispute that was hanging in the air for several episodes came to a close in a matter of seconds. The superficiality only prolonged the inevitable end of a friendship.