Definitely one of the best episodes yet, and the closing credits just solidified that for me: "Written by Linda Wallem and Michael Patrick King." My favorite one was written by Linda (the one with Charla from The Amazing Race) and Michael cocreated the show with Lisa Kudrow, so of course it was going to be great. Some of the highlights:
1) Very interesting seeing how annoying product placement has become these days. Mark to Valerie: "This car handles really well." Lincoln-Mercury dude to Mark: "Can you say, The Navigator handles really well?"
2) Valerie calling Mary J. Blige "Mary J. Bilge."
3) Mark not being able to listen to music during the two-hour drive to Palm Springs due to a music-clearance problem.
4) Love that Jennifer Elise Cox (Six Feet Under) played the gal who got the pool chairs before Valerie. HBO loves Jennifer, as do I.
5) The hilarious Dee Dee Rescher as recent cancer survivor Donna to Valerie (about Palm Springs): "Between the gays and the grays, this town is a zoo!"
6) Valerie not waking up in time to reserve the pool chairs after taking sleeping pills. Her hair when she opened the curtains killed me.
7) Valerie convincing the still in-the-closet fan to come out and sign the release.
8) Valerie finally showing her true feelings after Juna called from Paulie Gs party. It was so awesome that her new "spiritual advisor," Donna, rubbed off on her so much that Valerie placed the drunken cell-phone call to Paulie. This scene literally gave me chills: "The problem is that everybody came and I wasnt invited and that hurts my feelings, OK? And you need to know that. Because Im not gonna keep it inside and get cancer!" And she hangs up. Brilliant.
9) The closing scene in the Navigator with Valerie once again not keeping it inside and threatening the product-placement guy with physical violence was made even better by the close-up of Marks smile in the rearview mirror.