The Comeback, Lisa Kudrow

HBO

Welp, that was painful. Ammiright, Comeback fans?

Tonight's episode, in which we see an all-time low for Valerie and Mark's marriage—and Valerie's morals—was perhaps The Comeback's darkest episode to date. We long-time fans of Lisa Kudrow's Valerie Cherish have always known she was a bit warped, but that was a whole new level.

The restaurant scene? It was a little hard not to be fully disgusted by Valerie's actions—wearing a wire to her dinner with Mark, without him knowing, as the two tried to piece back together what's left of their marriage, just so her documentary director Jane could get the shot she needed. And then not really even apologizing when he discovered it!

I chatted with Lisa Kudrow to see how she truly feels about the controversial nature of Valerie Cherish, particularly in this episode, and she didn't hold back on her true feelings regarding her alter ego.

"My god, you have to understand why Mark is furious with her, right?" Lisa Kudrow says of the restaurant scene.  "There are plenty of people who would have said, in the same situation, ‘Oh god, yes, you're right, I'm so sorry. Why did I do that?' But she is using this as an opportunity to vent about the things that she has seen, and to tell him, ‘Don't pretend you're the victim of this relationship.'"

Valerie's actions and motivations have always been questionable, as she has continued to put her desire for fame above pretty much all else, and tonight's episode showed the dark ramifications of that for her personally. Kudrow herself admits that although she shares a special bond with Val—after helping to personally create this iconic role 9 years ago, and resurrecting her this year—she certainly doesn't think Valerie is a saint. However, she does understand her.

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The Comeback, Lisa Kudrow

HBO

"Just like with [Friends'] Phoebe and the other roles I've played," Kudrow explains, "you have to understand the person whether you agree with them or not. I don't have Valerie's same priorities. And she makes so many mistakes because of it. But also, I forgive people for not being extraordinary. What if she's just a pretty damaged person who functions pretty well, but is pretty damaged, and we don't know why? And maybe we won't ever know why. That's human beings. They're not all just one way. I know it's easier for entertainment to have a character that is mostly one way. But the thing is, she's mostly missing it. And I don't admire that."

Kudrow admits to her own complicated feelings about Val—fully aware of her short-comings, but also unwilling to pity a woman who is, at the end of the day, a survivor. "It's hard because I feel like I have to become the person to be the person in those moments," Kudrow tells me, "so it's not so much that I'm protective of her, it's just, I can explain her. [Creator] Michael [Patrick King] and I can tell you about what motivated her for this or that but it doesn't mean that she's a model human being because of it. But the only thing I will argue is, she's not a victim. I don't see her a victim of anything. And that was kind of important to us. Whether you agree with her goals or not, she's not a victim and she doesn't complain."

So is there any hope that Mark and Val can work it out?  That question will be answered in next week's season-two finale, in which we see Valerie go to the Emmys, and find out whether Mark gives a damn about what she considers to be the biggest thing ever to happen to anyone.

As for the bombs dropped in tonight's episode—That Mark had an affair, and Valerie had an abortion, Lisa says fans shouldn't be too surprised.

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The Comeback, Lisa Kudrow

HBO

"I think in general, a marriage is a very private thing between the two people in the  marriage, and you never know what's going on in it, and what they do to each other and how they make each other feel, short of criminal activity," she contends. "People have always said of Mark and Valerie, ‘Oh, it's such a good marriage and he loves her so much,' and that's fair enough. But I think they're two people who don't want to take too close a look at each other, and if that works then that's fine, but I never felt they were two people who really knew and understood each other.

"And then there's the question of, can you ever fully know the person you're married to? But that's another thing. In a marriage, things happen and people hurt each other. This isn't his first marriage and we don't know the circumstances under which they met each other and Michael and I have never discussed that, but these things are happening after 14 years, and we saw him flirting in that first season, dirty dancing with this other woman. And she had an abortion, we don't know why, we don't know if it's because she didn't feel like destroying her body or she was too old. We don't know the circumstances. All we know is that those are two gut-wrenching things for a couple to go through."

But can they make it through? Next Sunday's season-two finale of The Comeback is sure to leave you at least a little teary-eyed—maybe a lot.

Enjoy the final hour, which promises to be nothing short of remarkable television. And bring a tissue.

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