Darlene tries to make amends with Ben while Jackie has a business idea in “Nightmare on Lunch Box Street”.
This recap of The Conners Season 2, Episode 5, “Nightmare on Lunch Box Street”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
The Halloween-themed “Nightmare on Lunch Box Street” cold-opens with Darlene (Sara Gilbert) going into work to discover that Ben (Jay R. Ferguson) has moved her desk so he doesn’t have to look into her lying eyes. Ben displays an admirable degree of pettiness in The Conners Season 2, Episode 5, which I can’t help but respect him for. He’s a clear highlight of the episode even though he only shows up here at the beginning and then once again towards the end.
Of more immediate focus is Jackie’s (Laurie Metcalf) idea to reopen the Lunch Box now that the Chinese place that replaced it is going out of business. She pitches this to Becky (Alicia Goranson), who has Beverly Rose dressed up as a Chicago hotdog, and proposes that they run it together. Becky’s all for it — just so long as Jackie puts in all the money and takes all the risk. A great gag here is Jackie believing she has reached a profound realization by not looking to the future for answers when all her happiness is in her past.
Darlene, meanwhile, confesses to Dan (John Goodman) what she was doing with Ben and David (Johnny Galecki). He tells her that Ben is right to be mad and that he’s going to struggle to trust her again either way, but you don’t stop loving someone overnight, so Darlene’s best bet is to remind him of what was good about them when they were together.
Jackie brings a real estate agent — and former fling — to Casa Bonita, where D.J. (Michael Fishman) is congratulated for adopting Mary (Jayden Rey), which bothers her enough to talk to Mark (Ames McNamara) about acceptance — one of the episode’s low-key highlights. The real estate agent, James, says that the Lunch Box is still owned by Beverly Harris (Estelle Parsons), who has been claiming its rent for years while crying poverty.
Becky and Jackie go to see Beverly in “Nightmare on Lunch Box Street”, and she characteristically insults the pair of them, before revealing that she already gave power of attorney to Darlene. Jackie flips out about this, insisting that she leave the apartment and never speak to her again.
Darlene — dressed up for Halloween as Becky, though before the baby, so she can drink — is still coming up with ways to win back Ben, but Dan says it’ll only work in person. She goes to see him at the office with a grand gesture: She’s going to sign her divorce papers in front of him. The only problem is that he didn’t know she wasn’t divorced. With that approach having failed, she tries to play the single mother card, which doesn’t work either, and then lets slip that it was David who dumped her — and at couples’ therapy, no less. This, folks, is what happens when you spend your life in a relationship that you control entirely; you have no idea how to have one that goes both ways.
When Darlene gets back home she’s confronted by Becky and Jackie about signing over the Lunch Box and tries to play the single mother card again to equal success. Jackie believes she is entitled to the Lunch Box after putting up with Beverly her whole life, and at that moment, like a demon brought into the real world by the mention of its name, Beverly arrives at the house. Since Jackie has thrown her out, she has nowhere else to go. She’s moving in.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.