This review contains spoilers.
2.7 Who’s That Cool Girl Josh Is Dating?
No-one would’ve expected, back when we were first introduced to Valencia back in season 1 episode 2, that we’d end up here. Back then, Valencia was the hot but mean yoga teacher in a long-established and apparently stable relationship, while Rebecca was the weird new girl in town whose determination to get close to both Valencia and her boyfriend kind of freaked everyone out. Now? Rebecca and Valencia are besties, brought together by their Josh Chan-broken hearts – and a fascination with Josh’s new girlfriend, Anna.
The episode’s main plot was another one of those zany farces Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has pulled off so well so many times before. After internet-stalking Anna, Rebecca and Valencia decide to try a little real-world stalking, and end up accidentally running over Anna’s cat. Not-quite-caught-in-the-act, they drive Anna and Gravy to the vets, and attempt to use the opportunity to quiz her about Josh… only to find out Anna’s eyebrow salon has CCTV, which means they’ll have to break into the shop to wipe the tapes if they don’t want Anna to find it was actually them, not a Jack Sparrow impersonator, who nearly killed her beloved pet.
The whole thing was basically an excuse for Rachel Bloom and Gabrielle Ruiz to bounce off one another, and for the most part, it worked pretty well. Valencia doesn’t initially seem like a great replacement for Paula, whose hacking skills made her a pretty formidable sidekick, but her kleptomania and gimlet-eyed determination meant she soon turned out to be just as terrifying in her pursuit of her obsessions as Rebecca is. Does that mean she’s another West Covina resident suffering from some of Rebecca’s rubbed-off crazy? Or was she always this ruthless, just waiting for the right partner-in-crime to come along? Given how incredibly talented she turned out to be at this stalking lark, it’s probably the latter, but either way Rebecca hasn’t been good for her.
Elsewhere, Paula’s still really digging her studies, to the point where she’s cleared out her desk and replaced her knick-knacks with portraits of Supreme Court judges and “Trust me, I’m a lawyer” posters. (The best detail was probably her “This attorney has fabulous shoes” mug – do you think she wears the shoes Darryl got for her?) Unfortunately, her drive is making her a little self-centred: she steamrollers over Sunil’s confession about his dead wife and arrives late to her husband’s barbershop quartet show. Basically, she’s also come down with a case of the Rebeccas, and the parallels between the two of them are quite scary.
I’m not entirely sure I completely believe Bloom and co when they say that this series was always meant to be about Rebecca and Paula’s relationship. The new season two credits really suggest the theme was going to be something else, but it’s definitely a fascinating subject to explore. Last week’s most emotional moment was Paula and Rebecca finally having the argument that’s been brewing for ages, and this week, it was their amazing 80s-inspired duet. They haven’t patched things up yet – nowhere near. But the show wants us to see how similar they are, even in their pig-headed stubbornness, and to hope for reconciliation. It’s definitely a more interesting will-they-won’t-they than the endless Ross and Rachel debacle.
Even so, something seemed to be missing this week. The songs were good, there were dozens of great throwaway jokes, but something was just a bit lacklustre. Maybe because the Rebecca/Paula storyline is so huge, and so emotional, some of the other stuff in this episode felt a bit like wheel-spinning. There were some great moments in the Anna plot – not least the bit where Anna revealed Josh’s take on Rebecca’s phantom pregnancy – but as much fun as it was to see Valencia’s dark side, that storyline was so much less important than the other one that it felt like it was time wasted.
We also didn’t get a lot of light this week, mainly because Darryl and White Josh weren’t around, and even Heather was too busy with her Miss Douche duties to contribute much beyond a few exasperated one-liners. Maybe the only real respite came from Josh’s puppyish scenes with Anna, but, yikes, that coffee shop joke was way past its sell-by date. And I hate to say it, but I really missed Greg this week. Sometimes Rebecca is so delusional and so selfish that it’s hard to root for her, and having someone around who was in love with her despite her flaws made it easier to see the good in her. Her girl gang really only enable her to be her worst self. There’s a crash coming, and it surely won’t be long until it arrives, but at this point, I’m almost rooting for Rebecca to fail, so that she’s forced to acknowledge her horribleness and actually work on getting better.
We’ve got a month until the next episode now, because Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is taking four weeks off over Christmas, so let’s use this time wisely and argue in the comments. What’s been your favourite song so far this season? Who should apologise first, Paula or Rebecca? And how long do you give Josh and Anna before she gets fed up and finds another skinny bearded hipster boyfriend?