This article comes from Den of Geek UK.
This review contains spoilers.
2.2 When Will Josh See How Cool I Am?
Are we really only two episodes into this season? So much happened this week, and there were so many moments of genuine emotion, that it felt like we were much further along. Like, penultimate-episode-of-the-series further in. If, like me, you found yourself a little disappointed with the season opener, this episode probably fixed that. It definitely reminded me why I fell in love with this show in the first place.
There are two reasons it was so brilliant: it made great use of both its main cast and its secondary (and even tertiary) characters, and the songs were amazing. We got three new songs, and as well as managing to encapsulate all of the major plot points and emotional beats of the episode, they were also catchy, smart, and hilarious.
Maybe This Dream saw Paula singing about her law school ambitions. She’s excited but scared about her future, and in desperate need of a bit of support from the people around her. It’s a proper Disney princess song (well, except that no Disney princess would sing about postpartum incontinence or rotting deer carcasses) and a fantastic showcase for Donna Lynne Champlin’s incredible voice. In a particularly clever touch, the songbirds are played by Tim and Jim, two Whitefeather & Associates employees who’ve previously taken pleasure in making Paula’s work life hell. It’s fun to see minor characters popping up again, but also interesting that they’re the ones who turn up in Paula’s fantasy, while Rebecca’s nowhere to be seen.
That might be because Rebecca seriously drops the ball when it comes to her friendship with Paula this week. After promising she’d write a letter of recommendation to support Paula’s law school application, she got so caught up in her latest Josh-wooing scheme that she forgot all about it until after the deadline had passed. Rebecca really is a monster this season. Luckily, Darryl stepped up to write the letter, so Paula won’t have to give up on her dream just yet. Maybe he really is her best friend.
Greg’s Drinking Song relates to the episode’s other major thread: Greg’s continuing journey towards sobriety. After ignoring a warning from his AA mentor about how things get tougher after the initial thrill of admitting to a problem, Greg called an emergency meeting with his friends to confess all, and this take on the traditional Irish drinking song saw him own up to all sorts of hideously embarrassing things. Like so many of the best Crazy Ex-Girlfriend songs, it mixed jokes with real emotion, and managed to be funny, heartbreaking, and seriously cringeworthy, all at the same time. Poor little Bruno, indeed.
In spite of that soul-baring, though, it’s clear Greg’s friends are going to struggle to figure out how to navigate his addiction almost as much as he is. (Hector even tried to buy him a beer at one point.) This show’s superpower is its ability to handle sensitive subjects with intelligence and humour, and this storyline is a great example of that.
While we’re on the topic of Greg, he actually sang one and a half songs in this episode, because there was a reprise of I Could If I Wanted To after Josh confessed that he’s living with (and sleeping with) Rebecca. That song represents Greg at his most self-destructive, and despite his newly calm and collected exterior, he obviously still has some rage issues: Josh’s revelation led to him punching a wall. Still, the fact that he didn’t turn to drink shows he has made serious progress. And that quiet moment with Rebecca at the end, where he admitted he was driving to tell her he loved her when he got his DUI, might be one of the show’s most heartfelt. Santino Fontana basically stole the show this week, and he had a lot of competition. We got some quality Heather time, a handful of scenes with White Josh that cemented his position as moral centre of the show, and even an appearance from the ever-delightful Father Brah, but this very much felt like a Greg episode.
That meant Rebecca sort of took a backseat for much of the time, even though her ping pong scheme was vintage Bunch craziness. The final song, Ping Pong Girl, was a pop punk instaclassic, as Rebecca imagined Josh and co finally recognising her awesomeness as she wielded a table tennis paddle. But although it was her fantasy, it wasn’t her song. Vincent Rodriguez III took lead vocals on a song that wouldn’t have felt out of place on an early Blink 182 or Bowling For Soup album. (That it sounds so authentic shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that the show’s executive music producer, Adam Schlesinger, used to play in Fountains Of Wayne.) Last week I said I felt that the new songs weren’t particularly strong, but between Ping Pong Girl and Greg’s Drinking Song, this week more than made up for that.
And Rebecca did grab some screentime at the end of the episode. One of the many, many brilliant things about Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is the way it doesn’t drag out its emotional revelations, so while another show might’ve made us wait, this one just got on with it. In this episode’s final moments, Rebecca had an important realisation: Josh isn’t treating her well. She hasn’t got her fairytale ending, she isn’t happy, and she’s still missing something. Unfortunately, she responds to that realisation by cuddling Greg’s sweatshirt, which can only mean there’s more trouble on the way. It turns out she’s a Ping Pong Girl in more ways than one; she’s letting herself be batted back and forth between Josh and Greg, bouncing all over the place, never quite landing anywhere comfortably.
There are about a dozen other moments I could talk about here, and tons of quotable lines of dialogue (“Good job, you horny monsters” is probably my ultimate fave). But I’ll wrap up by talking about something that’s missing – where’s Valencia? Before the season started, it was announced that Gabrielle Ruiz had been promoted to a season regular. So where is she? And how is she dealing with becoming Josh’s ex? Fingers crossed we’ll find out soon.