“Who Kisses So Early in the Morning?” starts off with Walter Blunt dreaming, once again, of Burt Lancaster films. Harry reminds him that, since everyone in a dream is technically the dreamer himself, Walter is Burt Lancaster. In the dream, Burt/Walter is swimming in a pool, only stopping to have a quick drink in between laps. Since the first Lancaster dream was about flying and this one is about swimming, Harry mentions that it seems like Walter is getting somewhere, though he’s not sure where.
However, it’s the transition from flying to swimming that makes Walter more grounded. When we first started Blunt Talk, Walter was free of commitments and plans, willing to engage in whatever whim he desired at the moment. By flying freely, he almost ruined his career. As we near the end of Season One, Walter has changed greatly. He’s reconnected with both of his sons and through his leadership, his office has become more like a family than ever before. Yet Walter’s goal at the beginning of the series was to change the world for the better, and to make a global impact, which he hasn’t done yet. In Walter’s mind, his situation has been sort of like being stuck in a swimming pool. No matter how hard he flaps or how long he kicks, he’s still stuck in the same position that he was before.
Despite all of his attempts to change and become a father to the country, “Who Kisses So Early in the Morning?” has Walter once again trying to do something good, with mostly bad things resulting. We first saw this side of Walter in the pilot, as he made a sweet connection with Gisele. But to the public, this was merely another “famous face picks up transvestite prostitute” story. This week, Walter attempts to give a speech at Kenyon for aspiring journalists, but accidentally ends up plagiarizing David Foster Wallace instead.
This is all thanks to the continual spiraling of Celia. While we got most of Jim’s large issues out of the way pretty quickly—he’s a hoarder, with a foot fetish and an understandable nervousness in broadcasting on television—we’re still learning new sad truths about Celia. Prior to this episode, we’d discovered her newfound love of gambling and her recent trysts with a magician and Walter’s son, but her love for Walter becomes even more well known this week. We discover that Celia met Walter when she was twelve years old, awarding her a prize for an essay contest. Over the last 25 years, she’s been following him, and at this point, she’s about as close to him as she can get.
As we’ve seen this season, Walter is much better at being a father figure to his close group of friends than he is being one to the entire world. As Jim mentions, Walter is so incredibly forgiving, “I almost gave him an overdose, and now he calls me son.” For even longer though, Celia has seen Walter as a surrogate father, whether he knew it or not. But we see her go so far as to completely replace her father with Walter, as she sells her father’s piano to pay back a debt owed to Walter. She still has a hard time letting go, jumping on the piano truck to play “Claire De Lune” one last time as it drives away, but it’s clear that it’s a final goodbye before Walter fully takes her father’s position in her life.
Celia’s downfall in ”Who Kisses So Early in the Morning?” is a series of bad mistakes that culminates in Walter’s disappointment. The aforementioned piano ride makes Celia late for Walter’s speech, which in turn leads her to give him the wrong speech—Wallace’s speech that she had, for some reason, printed out for research purposes. A Wallace fan cuts Walter off only two lines in, stating that if he hadn’t made a point, Walter would’ve probably kept going with the speech, and he’s right. He would’ve been content to swim in these waters of plagiarism, being none the wiser. Back in the office, Celia kisses Shelly, who admits she misses being bisexual. But Celia sees it as an act of kindness and nothing more—a way to help Shelly discover more about herself. This is all capped off by Walter hosting a LA Times writer (played by John Hodgman) on the show to talk about Internet lynchings, only to be called out for plagiarizing in his own book, this time stealing from his beloved “The Once and Future King.”
This all builds up to Celia quitting, but like any good family, they fight and become stronger for it. Jim brings Celia flowers to apologize for telling Walter that she’s been following for decades, while Harry and Walter arrive at her house to bring her a new piano. Of course this doesn’t end well, with Harry and Walter dropping the piano, reminiscent of Laurel and Hardy’s The Music Box, and knocking Jim off his recently salvaged rollerblades.
This final scene of silliness showcases how two of Blunt Talk’s biggest problems in the beginning of the series have become two of its strengths. This slapstick scene is literally a silent movie gag, but it comes from a good-natured place—it’s not just about watching the characters act silly. But also, when Celia and Walter make up, while Jim and Harry futilely attempt to put the piano together, it shows just how wonderful this series has gotten at creating a family between these characters. Blunt Talk began with us watching Walter Blunt constantly dig a hole for himself, but as “Who Kisses So Early in the Morning?” shows us, it has become a surprisingly sweet and warm series about family, and it keeps improving on these great themes every week.
Ross Bonaime is a D.C.-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.