Physical is a dark comedy, with both elements woven together so tightly that it’s often impossible to distinguish them from each other. But sometimes, the series gets intimate. It slows down, and it allows Sheila Ruben (Rose Byrne) to get honest, no strings attached. This happened in Physical Season 2 when she entered the recovery center for her eating disorder. Now, in Physical Season 3 Episode 9, “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore,” she gets honest with herself and Danny Ruben (Rory Scovel). In the last episode, Sheila discovered Danny sleeping with her assistant in her studio—of course, it was while she was saying goodbye to her affair with John Breem, but you know, it’s her studio.
Physical Season 3 Episode 9 is an intimate one. The whole episode revolves around Maya eating a toy pig to get her parents’ attention after watching them fight…again. Set in one location, the episode is just about Sheila and Danny as parents first, putting aside the issues they have in order to take care of their daughter.
Maya hasn’t been a substantial character in Physical thus far. She has been an extension of Sheila, but now, we’re seeing the impact of Sheila and Danny’s constant fighting in a real way as she attempts to do whatever she can to get attention from them.
While Physical Season 3 Episode 9 feels as if the characters are being forced together by a child and that they may rectify their brokenness, they don’t. Instead, they talk about everything. They yell, they fight, they break things, and they even have sex. But none of this is about forgiveness. Instead, it’s about getting it all out. In that way, it’s a stunning exploration of domesticity and intimacy and the ways that two people break individually, and sometimes, it’s best to just leave.
The need to be apart from each other is present, but it’s also clear how deeply both of them love their daughter. However, Physical’s ability to show that love isn’t and shouldn’t be enough is key to the success of this episode. On top of that, this is the most honest that we’ve seen Sheila as she admits, “I’ve been lying to people about my feelings my whole life.”
Despite all of her growth over the seasons, Physical’s final season has captured how much she yo-yos between health and understanding of herself to absolute relapse and trauma responses. But that is steeped in her push to be everything for everyone around her and ultimately to keep playing a part for other people even if she’s tricked herself into believing it is for her.
In another breathtaking and emotional conversation, Danny and Shiela discuss being a “good person.” While Sheila is almost devastated by the fact that she isn’t, Danny tries to point out that no one is. No one is wholly good or wholly bad, and while there are elements of this that allow Danny to forgive himself, his tenderness in reaching out to Sheila makes it seem as if, at this moment, he’s prioritizing her.
In some respects, the way that Danny made Sheila feel small in Season 1 is forgiven, but it’s done so by also showcasing how Sheila, hiding her wants and needs, allowed some of his selfishness. At the same time, though, Danny is still a man who doesn’t know what he wants, how to treat people, or really what to do, but he’s trying. In this one moment, he is trying. Between the two of them, this is some of their finest acting in the series. But while Byrne has been a force of nature since Season 1, this episode is Rory Scovel’s best work as Danny.
It’s important to be alone and not cave into the needs of others, but there has to be a reason. Sheila’s usually vicious inner voice morphs into one that is prioritizing her needs, closing the door to Danny, and effectively that part of her life. “Love Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” is the best episode of the season, not because anything big happens but because Sheila and Danny have closure and acceptance, even if they don’t like it. Love isn’t between Danny and Sheila anymore, but at least now, they fully understand why.
The penultimate episode of the final season, Physical Season 3 Episode 9, isn’t about Danny and Sheila getting back together. It’s about them unpacking their anger and their resentment. It’s about who they are separately and the path they’ve been on to accept that while understanding they weren’t horrible for each other. This episode is some of the best emotional work the series has captured, and with next week marking the end of the series, it’s clear that we’re finally getting to the growth and closure that Sheila deserves.
Physical Season 2 Episode 9 is streaming now on AppleTV+, with the series finale airing next Wednesday, September 27, 2023.
Physical Season 3 Episode 9 — "Love Don't Live Here Anymore"
The penultimate episode of the final season, Physical Season 3 Episode 9, isn’t about Danny and Sheila getting back together. It’s about them unpacking their anger and their resentment…This episode is some of the best emotional work the series has captured and with next week marking the end of the series, it’s clear that we’re finally getting to the growth and closure that Sheila deserves.