The Afterparty S1E2: Grace

Aniq’s rom-com opening episode is out of the way, so we’re on to the stories of the true suspects in the murder of socially awkward tech guru Edgar. Of course, we begin with the accused, Aniq’s future sister-in-law. Grace is an antiques dealer so it’s little surprise when her “mind movie” of choice is a variation on the first. Grace mixes the romance and comedy in Austen-esque period piece form with Edgar as Mr. Darcy.

We get to see the meet cute for the first time — and barring a surprise spy or a story from Roxana’s perspective, the only time. It goes down about as one might expect it to. They have both been established as awkward in love, so while the dialogue is stilted to fit the aesthetic, it’s also quite plausible this could be a genuine transcript. Edgar is there to buy an antique typewriter for his sister (adopted sister), and is slow on the uptake to Grace’s flirtatious jokes. But Woods and Liu do a great job of making the pair sweetly believable.

Having charmed his iguana, Grace earns Edgar’s invite to a soiree, a party that was likely fancy in its own right, if not exactly the ball we are seeing. After meeting Edgar’s sister (adoptive sister), Grace can’t help but notice all the pointers and laughers. It turns out that Edgar is far from a broke nerd and they are very much suggesting she is a gold digger. However, she had no ulterior motives since as we know she is just finding out Edgar’s fortune having not been one for Googling future lovers.

She wishes to dance, but of course he loathes dancing. So, in one of the most touching and straight-up funny scenes, she courts him by coercing him to dance where the world isn’t looking, on a secluded porch. They both dance comically until pulling together in an embrace that will always in the romance flick universe lead to a falling-in-love montage. That montage leads to a proposal that is wholly Edgar, wildly on the spectrum yet oddly enchanting.

From the engagement to the wedding to his death, we get to see Edgar’s idiosyncrasies while also getting a feel for where Grace might fall madly in love with him. At the wedding, while under the “vow box,” he reveals that frequent absences were spent in search of Funcle Ulysses, and expresses his love in the most endearing, if wholly Edgar, manner. And we get through the heartbreak of the shortened first dance, Ulysses’ save, Edgar’s mini- and maxi-breakdowns, Travis’ threat/premonition, Grace’s sad wedding dress slumber, and eventually to her discovery of his death.

In the whodunit of the current times, Danner has just made her arrival in extrovert Danner fashion. Of course, she outs Aniq as having revealed damning evidence against Grace, angering the parents further and worrying Zoe that the two are not on the same page of clearing Grace’s name. They are (pinky swear level even). When Aniq checks to see if all three (Aniq, Grace, and Danner) are also on the same page, she correctly points out that she’s here to solve the case. Ideally, that exonerates Grace.

Danner deputizes Aniq for the interviews. It both fits her cinephile sleuthing style and the fact that they did work well together. They worked so well, in fact, that they didn’t need to shoehorn in the “murder follows the leads” trope. But I’ve said my fill about that and it’s fun meeting Zoe’s fam. Jealous of his involvement and worried for her sister, Zoe inserts herself into the interrogation. When she shows how clearly she’s too close to the case, Zoe is kicked out. This leads to her beginning her own investigation, reluctantly teaming up with Travis for some sloppy problem solving and pratfalls.

We also learn some new suspicious tidbits. Travis threatened Edgar shortly before he was murdered and has been researching him. And we see heel-y best man Sebastian manipulating the first dance. Both are just too-obvious suspects, but we’ll see how the misdirections work. Also, Grace reveals (or well, contends) that the substance she was seen crushing in Edgar’s drink was Adderall to keep him awake. But as Danner reminds him (and us), that’s Grace’s story and could be a lie. It almost surely will be one, but we’ve got about seven “mind movies” to peruse until we know who dun what..

Stray Clues:

  • In whole, this is one of the less madcap episodes, yet it has some of the most downright hilarious moments, including perhaps the funniest bit in the whole series when Grace suggests modern dances in a style more befitting the setting. She suggests for their private dance they could do the unwed lady, the boy soldier or she could teach him how to Douglas. We guess the gangrenous limb, miniscule application, and Nene would be too complicated.
  • Fast Company as stand-in for the “society papers” is fairly hilarious as well.
  • Roxana relishes dance, but only as a spectator.
  • Edgar, on his lurid drug past: “I was up til 5am playing Connect 4 against myself… and the sportsmanship was horrendous. Never again!”
  • So Edgar’s mom is clearly popping pills right? It’s been referenced that she has been unpredictable and forgetful, implying that she is secretly in the throes of early dementia. However, she has protested a bit too much about drugs while also going Snoop in Half-Baked when an adderall is on the table.
  • “It’s time for the evening’s grand finale … in which you drive in your cars back to your own houses.”
  • Whatever happened to Maggie? You’d think Zoe’s child would be going to her aunt’s wedding. While it’s not impossible that it’s a no kids wedding or Zoe chose to leave her with Brett, you’d think it would have come up. And it wouldn’t have to be awkward exposition in the initial car ride. Given how keen they are to needle Aniq, you’d think the Zhus would be loudly wondering where their grandchild is. And blaming Aniq.
  • Speaking of the Zhus. Papa Zhu is much more ridiculous (or much more Ken Jeong) through Grace’s eyes. Feng is seen blithely eating potpourri while abjectly hinting that the Minnows need to pay for the wedding. Vivian seems the same.
  • Does Edgar mean anything by his penultimate words “I am not a slut” or is it just an obtuse, drugged-out joke re: her comment about threshholds? Thankfully he ultimately left her with “I love you” before he fell to sleep and before shuffling off his mortal coil.
  • Zoe and Travis’ plan to check his sleep monitor for time of death is actually low-key brilliant. Perhaps it’s why Danner is not particularly mad at the duo’s slapstick tomfoolery with the body.
  • With his (probably toothless) wedding night death threat out in the open, Travis is up next for some bumbling Paul Walter Hauser goodness. Even if we didn’t read the synopsis or see that the opening credits reveal the story styles one at a time, it’s clear what genre is up next. The wannabe Reddit sleuth in a fedora clearly fashions himself a modern day Sam Spade. So noir thriller it is.