Julia: S2.E3 Pressed Duck

Sarah Lancashire in Julia

Julia: Pressed Duck is episode 3 of season 2 of this far reaching representation of Julia Child’s life, career, and influence. The story moves to Paris where Julia had attended Le Cordon Bleu and where Paul had memories of work he did as a diplomat after WWII. There are spoilers ahead.

The Pressed Duck in the title refers to a meal Julia (Sarah Lancashire) and Paul (David Hyde Pierce) had in a restaurant with old friends. Old friends who told them that the work Paul had done after the war to restore the lives and art of Jewish Parisians hadn’t turned out as Paul hoped.

Sarah Lancashire and David Hyde Pierce in Julia

The two of them had to deal with change again in this episode. Their memories of the past had changed, and the world around them was changing. They talked about how to adapt.

Fiona Glascott and an unidentified actor playing Jean Paul Sartre in Julia

Judith Jones (Fiona Glascott) met one of her writers, Jean Paul Sartre (Paul Bandey). Kudos to the casting people in France, because the actor looks a lot like Sartre. The fellow playing Jacque Brel in episode 2 looked like Brel, too.

Avis (Bebe Neuwirth) showed up unexpectedly and finagled a hotel room adjoining Julia and Paul. Judith quickly tired of Sartre’s pessimistic depression and left him in the hands of Avis.

Avis and Sartre talked about love and lovers and about Avis’s potential lover back in Boston. Sartre said, “To take off your clothes with another person is one of life’s only real pleasures, even if you are as old and saggy as we are.” They went dancing and had so much fun together that Sartre invited her to join him and his lover in bed the next day. Here is where I point out what a talented actor Bebe Neuwirth is. Yes, indeed.

Julia visited Le Cordon Bleu and her old teacher. He figured out how to make the Loup en Croûte she fell in love with in episode 1. After she left, he sent a lovely note to her hotel. I hope that part of the story is based on something that truly happened, because it was a beautiful moment.

Meanwhile Back in Boston

Alice (Brittany Bradford) and Elaine (Rachel Bloom) plotted to get Albert’s (Jefferson Mays) reading show an interview with Helen Gurley Brown (Maggie Lacey). He was hung up on the idea that sexually free women should be punished like in The Scarlet Letter. Her remarks about financial and sexual freedom completely flummoxed him. Poor Albert, he’s not ready for women’s liberation.

The writing in this series is excellent. I appreciate how real people are brought into the story. It grounds us in the 1960s and it speaks to the kind of reality Julia Child lived in.

Another example of good writing is the way reproductive rights are inserted in the story. Alice admitted to Elaine that she thought she was pregnant. Elaine explained a few basics to her and suggested it was a UTI. This led to Alice pitching the idea for a women’s topics show to Elaine.

Scott Ellis directed this episode. Julia is streaming on Max. Please leave your comments on episode 3 below. 🙂

8 thoughts on “Julia: S2.E3 Pressed Duck”

  1. Change is a recurring theme … and its repercussions. Love how Paul and Julia discuss their feelings in the museum next to the painting that was stolen from the Rosenberg family … it’s a throwback to the gallery shot where Julia and Paul sit looking at his artwork in S1 … also discussing the impact of change on their lives … her success, their “little show” both beautiful and poignant moments . Believe they even used the same music . Loving Julia … can’t wait for E4

  2. Julia’s comment about the climax always occurring in the second act is one of the rare correct usages of the word “climax”

  3. Danny Griffith-David

    A superb episode. At first the balcony scenes were from a French farce then the nostalgia of her cordon bleu tutelage … then a grumpy Jean Paul Sartre eventually proposing a threesome with Avis .. then the post war antisemitism of the French ruining Paul’s pride in restoring wealthy Jews to their old homes .. and finding this did not end happily. Finally the resolution and realisation of the Childs’ to move into the future. One thing I would like to know who sang The Last Time I saw Paris at the end … was it Bebe N ?

  4. Just finished this episode. Does anyone know what painting they are looking at? Are they supposed to be at the Musee D’orsay?

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