High Maintenance recap: A long strange trip

Episode 12 (season 2, episode 6), debut 2/23/18: Ben Sinclair.photo: David Russell
Episode 12 (season 2, episode 6), debut 2/23/18: Ben Sinclair.photo: David Russell /

High Maintenance reveals even more about the Guy in an introspective episode that includes some old fan favorites, ‘shrooms, and a fantastic poncho.

TV seems to be having a love affair with psychedelic mushrooms. This past fall, Broad City debuted a crazy and colorful animated episode focusing on the drug, and Netflix comedy Love took a little trip with the main characters in Season 2. It’s not really surprising. If taken in proper doses, psilocybin mushrooms have mild hallucinogenic properties, and cause the person taking them to have intense visuals, body highs, and intense revelations about the world around them. And, obviously, all of that makes for great TV.

So, when the central conceit of High Maintenance stalls due to the Guy (Ben Sinclair) getting sidelined by his arm injury, he’s inspired to go on an adventure of his own. The series gives us more time with him, and reveals a few more tidbits about his life by having him interact with several individuals in a variety of different ways.

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Turns out that the Guy gets his primary socialization through his job, and without his daily delivery routine, he’s stuck in his apartment. At first, it seems pretty fun. He blazes up continuously, tries out the chill tye-dye hammock that John and Candace gave him (dry wall fail), and orders delivery sushi. Throughout his first day of chilling at home, he chats with his dad on the phone and tries to get the delivery guy to smoke with him, but other than that he doesn’t have much contact with the outside world. Via texts (or lack of texts), it’s clear that his girlfriend Beth seems to have abandoned him – how could you do our guy dirty like that, Beth?! – and he can’t quite bring himself to text his ex, Julia.

However, the Guy is primarily an extrovert, and it’s clear that he’s not content spending his recovery quietly reading and catching up on TV. In this modern day and age, jobs also double as socialization. When stripped of his job, the Guy is ultimately actually pretty lonely. He’s an individual who thrives on connection, and his battery is running low. So the next day he wakes up and makes a decision. It’s time to re-enter society post-injury by tripping on ‘shrooms.

It’s not the worst idea, but the Guy doesn’t really have anyone that wants to partake in the experience with him. His old friend Chad is in Lisbon, and most of the contacts in his phone are clients. Tripping alone is serious expert level shizz, and, to me, tripping alone while wandering the streets of Brooklyn sounds like the makings of a nightmare. However, the Guy is an independent dude and he’s not deterred by the lack of a tripping buddy, so he downs a bunch of caps, chases it with the traditional glass of OJ, and sets off on his adventure.

After popping his caps, the Guy inexplicably heads off to do an errand. He brings his busted bike to a local shop, and the drugs kick in with a quickness. In the middle of his conversation with a sales guy, a bunch of customers ring bike chimes, ushering him into the beginning of his trip. His conversation with the rep turns awkward real fast, and he races out of there.

While the Guy is out on his vision quest, his buddy Abdullah (Abdullah Sayeed)  is doing his deliveries. He’s pretty rude to the customers and frequently disparages the product. Also, there’s a low level of fear that Abdullah is going to get caught, being that he’s selling in broad daylight in his car (dumb), and then an Amber alert for a black Honda Accord pops up (which kiiiiind of looks like his Nissan). Thankfully he doesn’t, but he’s skirting disaster pretty much the entire time.

Episode 12 (season 2, episode 6), debut 2/23/18: Abdullah Saeed, Azhaar Khan.photo: David Russell
Episode 12 (season 2, episode 6), debut 2/23/18: Abdullah Saeed, Azhaar Khan.photo: David Russell /

Abdullah delivers to a bunch of familiar faces, including Chauncey (Kevin Mambo), the acting coach we met back in Season 1 episode “Meth(od)”, and the emotionally adrift Amir (Azhar Khan) from webisodes “Dinah” and “Sabrina”. When chatting with Abdullah, Chauncey reveals that his nickname for the Guy is “Googie” (which also happens to be the name of this episode), and he says, “Googie knows what Googie is.” But does he?

Googie (aka: The Guy, aka: Scromple), is having himself a little mirror time at a vintage clothing store. His trademark cool is zapped by the mushrooms and he’s very uncertain in his encounter with a well-meaning employee at the store. She politely backs off, and in moments the Guy finds a bitchin’ poncho that he rocks for the rest of his trip. Once he tosses it on, Chris Bear’s magical score kicks in, and he goes on his way, eventually communing with a sea creature fountain and wandering into a park.

In the park, he has an encounter with a small girl, who he thinks is the missing child from the alerts. He’s just trying to be helpful, but since he kinda looks… well… homeless, the girl’s mom races up to her and freaks out. Things get stressful, and since he can’t accurately communicate what he wants to say, he runs off, shouting the disclaimer, “I did drugs!”, as he goes.

As he comes down from his trip, he spots an abandoned couch in front of a store sign that says, Just Chillin’. A man walks by with his dog and jokes, “no TV?” To which the Guy responds, “you’re the TV.” People watching is the best. Way better than TV.

Eventually, the Guy finds his way to a bar and has some dinner while reviewing the day via pictures on his phone. He runs into an old classmate from Vassar who is the very definition of a bro. Bro dude remembers that the Guy used to sell him weed, and the Guy tells him that’s what he’s still doing. The bro is there with a bunch of his work colleagues – which he calls his “team”, gross – celebrating some sort of success. The Guy isn’t super interested in catching up much more than that, but the interaction does reveal a lot about where he’s come from (an education at a prestigious college) and how his life has very likely fallen short of expectations. We see this earlier in the episode when he’s lying to his parents about his job. He doesn’t tell them what he does, and given some of his interactions with other characters throughout the series, we know that he might not want to be doing what he’s doing for much longer either.

Later, Abdullah brings back his haul, and the Guy tells him that he’ll be taking over from here. Abdullah has a lot of ideas on how they can make the business more profitable, but the Guy isn’t interested. There’s a sense that the Guy is being left behind, that he’s stuck in a rut. What is he doing if he doesn’t want to expand? And why doesn’t he want to get in on the new economic boom in potential weed sales? Is he just in a perpetual state of hanging out? Has weed sapped his motivation and caught him up in a cycle of sameness?

Seeing as the series is increasingly focusing on the Guy as the primary character of the show, we may get to find out the answers to these questions. But at the end of the episode, we see him check in with his niece, Kate (Kate Ross) via Face Time on her 17th birthday. (Fun Fact: Kate is Ben Sinclair’s actual niece.) They have a fun chat, and he seems genuinely happy for the first time in days.

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Random Thoughts Before I Go:

  • Interested in taking a High Maintenance field trip? That sea creature statue is called Bailey Fountain and you can find it in Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn.
  • When Amir and his clown-suited friends all hop out of Abdullah’s car, Abdullah comments that they’re a “bunch of janky clowns.” Janky Clown is the name of Ben Sinclair, Katja Blichfeld, and Russell Gregory’s production company.
  • Along with the Elena Ferrante books and The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, you can also add Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders to your High Maintenance reading list.
  • There’s been so much body positivity from Ben Sinclair this season, and this episode takes the cake. We see him completely naked as he hops out of the shower (he’s got a pretty cute butt) and then he dances in very tiny briefs in front of the fountain in the credit sequence at the end of the episode.

‘High Maintenance’ airs Fridays at 11/10c on HBO.