Flipping Out Recap: What The Duck?

Sadly, last week may have possibly held the only tender moment we’ll see on this season’s Flipping Out, as Jeff Lewis has officially lost his one remaining marble. With the stress of their Valley Vista remodel looming before them, the drama with Zoila Chavez behind them, and the promise of a new life joining them soon, Gage Edward and Jeff are at a crossroads. Instead of using his big boy coping strategies like therapist Dr. Donna suggested, Jeff instead opts for a full nuclear meltdown with a side of rage. At Gage, at architects, at ducks, at mailboxes. You name it! He’s on a tear.

Since Silent Matt has left, Gage has been picking up some major slack. But Jeff chooses to mercilessly rag on him in the car on their way to a job site anyway. In the back seat, Gage is at his breaking point as Jenni Pulos sits in the front seat awkwardly trying to diffuse the situation with a combination of whispery mantras and subtle side-eyes. Suddenly, we flash back to three days prior to see how they ended up in this pressure cooker of resentment.


The build up to this moment involves a virtual pyramid of stress blocks, beginning with Jeff’s realization that a family of ducks living at his pool have gone away. Jeff rescued the mama duck’s seven ducklings the day before after his dog Oliver scared the bejeezus out of them. He herded them up, brought them back to mama, and built ramps out of two-by-fours so the ducklings could climb in and out of his pool. He was, in effect, experiencing Extreme Duck Co-Dependence.

Basically, Jeff is turning into Tony Soprano, Season 1. At the end of this episode, I fully expect Jeff to be drunk in a bathrobe, fully submerged in the pool, crying. 


But now the ducks are gone. And Zoila is assigned the task of texting Jeff as soon as they’re found. These ducklings do not realize the full force of their metaphorical existence, but they are obviously representing some crazy-deep stuff for Jeff. He is not well, or as Zoila describes him: “Is cuckoo.” The ducks are his salvation! 

Out on client calls, Jeff hits Hania’s home, which he’s basically consulting on for free, as well as Chaz Dean’s studios, which are always a hot mess. Chaz’s five projects keep Jeff Lewis Design hoppin’, but with the departure of Matt as project manager, Gage has had to take over – in addition to his thousand and three other duties. Jeff and Chaz just snark that “finally Gage has to step up!” though, which is simply unfair. Not to mention, a very cheap shot.

In therapy with Dr. Donna, Jeff reports he’s thrilled with the new 3-day work week for Zoila. But he’s devastated about the duck family! Dr. Donna wonders if Jeff’s paternal instincts are kicking in early, but those of us who’ve watched FO for the past nine seasons know how much Jeff truly loves animals. The ducks, however, seem to be representing something much deeper, and possibly darker?

Jeff admits he’s stressed in his relationship with Gage, and he knows the baby will add even more stress. Jeff doesn’t always know where he stands with Gage. He also suspects there’s things Gage needs in a relationship that he’s not getting, but he doesn’t know what they are. His biggest fear is that he’s not making Gage happy. “There’s something up with him right now and I don’t know what it is,” confesses Jeff. 


Back at Valley Vista, the ducks are still AWOL. Zoila sees one though! Jeff practically sprints to check and, sure enough, one is back. Jenni astutely notes that Jeff is projecting a lot of his fears onto the well being of these ducks, which have taken on the herculean task of physically representing Jeff’s fragile psyche. Jenni predicts a total and complete mental breakdown in 3…2…1… I hate to admit it, but Jenni is usually right in these cases.

Disquieted by the duck disappearance, Jeff snaps at Gage in the office about Chaz’s project, and more specifically, Gage’s project management. Gage pushes back that Jeff needs to draw some lines (read: boundaries) around this project if he wants it run to his exact specifications. Instead of doing so, Jeff moves on to b*tching about some sort of ant infestation. Why can’t anyone in this office who is doing NOTHING all day call an EXTERMINATOR! he rages. Gage leaves, snarking lightly on the way out. Jeff snaps, “Oh, shut the f–k up” at his back as Gage walks away. Wow. Ouch!


Jenni then (hilariously) asks Jeff as gently as possible, “How was therapy?” just after the blow up. Jeff doesn’t know. He doesn’t care. He is losing it and wouldn’t know a coping skill from a duck ramp at this point. Jenni silently moves a little farther away from him, probably hoping she isn’t his next target.

After escaping the office, Jenni goes to do something much less stressful: IVF egg harvesting. She’s moving on from IUI! Jenni calls her mom on the way to the clinic, who asks if Jenni’s sure she wants to do this? Jenni is sure, despite her mother’s misgivings. Seems like mom is not on board.   

At their Hollywood remodel, JeffGage, and Vanina Alfaro meet with the architect of their demise. You know what they say about the best laid plans? Well, they ain’t viable. Jason, the architect, is moving at a snail’s pace. Jeff wants everything sped up and blames himself for being “too nice” to Jason along the way. He wants design to end, build to start. But Jason is as OCD about his plans as Jeff is about all of his juices facing forward in the fridge. Essentially, he’s built for comfort, not speed. Jason does promise that plans will be done and submitted by next week though.

At the fertility clinic, Jenni and her husband Jonathan wait for the procedure that will retrieve her eggs. It’s emotionally draining and Jenni is scared of the process, but she wants to have another baby, period. She wants her daughter to have a sibling, come hell or high water. After the procedure, Jenni is thrilled to find out that the doctor was able to harvest 26 eggs. She’s hopeful. 

In the car sometime later, Jeff and Jenni call Gage, who sounds down in the dumps. So Jeff razzes Gage about Matt “leaving him” and how he’s just going to have to cry it out! Gage is silent, possibly adopting Matt’s old coping skill in his grief. 


Back at Hollywood, Jeff confronts Jason about not making the deadline of submitting plans. And it will take weeks after submission for work to start, so delays at the start just have a domino effect the entire way down the line. The pool hasn’t been approved yet either. Jeff is incensed, but he is essentially “chained to this guy,” who he now basically hates.

Jeff hardcore berates Jason in his talking head, claiming he’s the WORST architect he’s ever had the displeasure of working with! Jeff is even losing hair and getting shots in his head at the dermatologists over this stress, yo! Drama, thy name is Jeff Lewis.

The mealy-mouthed Jason is super annoying though, and waiting on someone else dragging their feet is maddening. Jeff and Gage have no recourse in this situation however, so they must just deal. And eat their feelings. And drink. You know, like usual! 


At Chaz’s remodel, Jeff, Gage, and Jenni look at floor samples which Jeff declares all “terrible.” He then freaks out about a vacuum, pins, and screws – in that order. Jenni sort of flees the scene in a circular pattern, much like a headless chicken, while Jeff barks at Gage that he SHOULD BE MANAGING THIS!!!!!!!!!!

Gage doesn’t need to manage pins and screws and vacuums though. He needs to manage his relationship. “It just has gotten to a point where something better change or this will not work,” declares Gage to the cameras. He doesn’t want to parent like this with Jeff, and even admits that he’s considered moving out. It’s just too toxic. 


Days after Jeff Meltdown #104, Jenni and Jeff are walking to the car as she cries about her disappointing news: Her doctor says her IVF chances are very low based on her retrieved eggs. They weren’t viable. Jeff asks Vanina to be sensitive to her situation, which is rich coming from him! But he does think Jenni should get a second opinion, perhaps from the doctor he originally recommended. 

Oh lord. Back at Hollywood, Jeff, Jenni, and Gage bring in a new architect, Bill, to “assist” Jason. Not looking happy about the situation, Jason really has no choice but to get task-mastered by the much more thorough Bill. Right off the bat, Jason doesn’t have a lot of concrete answers for Bill. And he looks like he’s spraying diarrhea in his dress pants under the table. But Jeff is thrilled with the new team! Wahoooo! This house might get built after all. #BillForTheWin

In the car later on the way to therapy, Jeff and Gage call Zoila to arrange her work schedule. And to distract themselves from the inevitable sh*tstorm awaiting them at Dr. Donna’s.

Meanwhile, Jenni is at the fertility clinic again to consult about her chances. This time she’s seeing Dr. Potter for a second opinion. After discussing her situation, Dr. Potter encourages Jenni that her chances are not zero. She still has a fighting shot at IVF success in his opinion, which makes her tear up with gratitude.

At another doctor’s office, Jeff and Gage are perched on the couch, ready for combat. Jeff wonders if Gage is unhappy? Gage feels there are major problems in their relationship, namely Jeff’s explosions lately. He can’t just reset to normal after Jeff’s episodes. Jeff thinks Gage is too sensitive, so he literally starts yelling at him about being sensitive. Irony at its best.

Gage bitterly laughs that Jeff just showed Dr. Donna the EXACT nature of their relationship in this very outburst. If Gage would fight back, he thinks Jeff would escalate even more. Which, yeah. He’s more concerned that their baby will pick up on this toxic stress, which Dr. Donna agrees, she will. Of course she will!! 

Their relationship is mixed up at this point, says Dr. Donna, and they need to get back to the reasons why they got together in the first place. “I realized I met someone just as broken as I am, and I thought: This is perfect!” jokes Jeff. Gage chuckles. Jeff adds that in all seriousness, he likes Gage for his stability and maturity. Gage likes Jeff for his good looks and passionate drive. He also loves how much Jeff takes care of people; at his core, he’s an incredibly warm person even if he shows it in unconventional ways.

Gage and Jeff used to have fun together to – like in 2010! But they need to get back to focusing on the fun, not just the work, in their relationship. They also need lotsa, lotsa therapy. Let’s see if they’re willing to try. If not for them, for the baby’s sake. 


Photo Credit: Bravo