This Katy Keene review contains spoilers.
Katy Keene Episode 9
“Face it, you just dress up your anxieties in hearts and smiles.”
For a series to shake up its established formula nine episodes in is a dicey prospect. Then again, the stakes are so low on Katy Keene (which really makes the show’s comfort viewing a welcome thing given, you know, everything) that any kind of narrative experimentation was unlikely to land with too hard of a thud. That said, it is appreciated that this installment broke up its plots into individual stories concerning Katy, Josie and Jorge – with Pepper being the lace applique masterfully connecting them all.
Pepper may be a con artist with a super shady past, but if there’s one thing that she has perfected during her years of pulling scams it is how to read people. In tonight’s atypical episode, she is the only one of our leads to not get a standalone subplot. Instead, her arc (involving someone trying to ruin her reputation) builds through each of the stories until crescendoing in the final minutes. And her trademark ability to judge people’s behavior and body language proved worthless when she meets up with social media rival Hannah Melvey (Tedra Millan) in person.
Bombshell alert: Turns out that Hannah is actually Taylor, i.e. Pepper’s wife! The pair last saw each other when Pepper ditched Taylor with a $30,000 hotel bill. The infodump that follows teaches us that Taylor – whose current alias is Hannah – was Pepper’s con artist protégé and the pair have a history of pulling off big scores together. It is also revealed that Pepper was arrested at least once for her crimes. And now the student has become the master.
The handling of the Pepper character is Katy Keene’s most troublesome in a way. Her storyline is so far removed from the fluff that dominates the show its darkness feels like something carted over from Riverdale. One must wonder exactly how bleak Pepper’s past deeds have been. It has been established that her past is a carefully crafted fiction, and what little glances of Pep’s true life we have gotten have been grim. Which makes me speculate that she is playing Katy, Josie (who already has tussled with Pepper once over her bullshit), and Jorge. Does she generally care about these three? If so, what makes them different from the disposable people from her life like Ms. Freedia and, apparently, Hannah/Taylor?
Narratively, it would be satisfying move for Katy Keene to establish that Pepper only sees her “friends” as marks and is playing a long game with them. This would be a development that would push the show firmly into soap opera territory…which I guess is fine? At least then it would know what genre it is. My biggest complaint about the series is its lack of solid identity, a problem I though the last few episodes have resolved. But here we are with characters backtracking – Josie relies on Alex for career advice even though he is terrible, Jorge works to sabotage himself, Katy continues to doubt her abilities before realizing her talent – so in a way I wish that Pepper discovers these character traits too and begins manipulating them to her advantage.
With the softening of Alexandra Cabot, will Pepper become the villain of the series? That certainly would explain why the writers often distance her from Katy, Josie and Jorge. Having a lovable hipster grifter switch to becoming Katy Keene’s heavy would certainly give the program some much-needed gravity. The predictable path has us rooting for Pepper as Hannah tries to reveal her lies. As safe of a show that this is, it still is one aired on the CW, land of shithouse bonkers plot shifts. What I’m saying here is that maybe, just maybe, Pepper’s heel turn will be finalized, and this show can go from comfort viewing to really trashing must-see comfort viewing. Fingers crossed!
With the Pepper discussion out of the way for this week, let us focus on the other developments. Katy learns the hard way that the behavior of Guy LaMontagne (Luke Cook) is as inconsistent as this series’ tone. After softening his character, the writers have now reverted him to his previous personality of toxic sludge pile. But turns out that he is just being a dick because he wants Katy to pay her dues. He really believes in her after all, and she even learned a thing or two from her mentor. So yay?
Readers some advice for if the world goes back to normal, if you are in an abusive internship, get out. There are plenty of places where you can work for free and not deal with temperamental fashionistas who may or may not inevitably take credit for your hard work. (I am just guessing that this will happen at some point). To sum up: Guy sucks. Yet he’s still way more captivating than K.O.
Josie, never one to learn from her mistakes but at least she didn’t reference Riverdale here, again gets screwed over by the Cabots. This time around, Mr. Cabot wants to use some of the models in his employ as the new Pussycats, despite their inability to sing or dance. Understandably, Josie refuses and holds her own auditions at Molly’s Crisis. There, she finds new Pussycats – the stage fright-stricken Cricket (Azriel Crews) and brash, talented drummer Trula (Emily Rafala). It is a bit of a bummer that the previous Pussycats weren’t ported over from Riverdale, as they were fantastic, but such is showbiz. And indeed, show business.
Mr. Cabot is none to happy with Josie’s rebellion against his plans and threatens to cut off Alex if he continues to work with her. To his defense, Alex is a stand-up guy here and is willing to give up everything to be Josie’s manager. Also, Josie and Alex declare their love for each other. Aww.
Meanwhile, Jorge continues to be the living embodiment of the Dog & His Reflection Aesop Fable. He’s trying to maintain a friendship with Buzz, his longtime hook-up who was ultra-shitty to him for the year they were together. But Buzz has recently changed and matured, helping Jorge plan the anti-violence rally from a few weeks ago. Even though he is admittedly in a relationship with his dream man, Bernardo, Jorge wants to have his cake and fuck it too. Thus, with Pepper’s encouragement, he cooks up a plan for a threeway between him, Buzz, and Bernardo. Things go perfectly, until the next morning when Jorge finds Buzz and Bernardo spooning each other while he is in bed with both yet all alone. And as a gay man myself, all I can do is give Jorge a raised eyebrow as I throw him some shade.
Next week: Kevin Keller comes to town!
- In case you think I’m being too harsh on Jorge, remember, this is a character who keeps having his dreams come true and then turning his nose at them. As Katy says at the conclusion of the episode, “be careful what you wish for because it may just come true.”
- I really wanted Melody and Valerie to return to the Pussycats, but their replacements are also straight from the pages of Archie Comics. The IMDB has the character of Trula’s last name listed as Twyst. In the comics, Trula Tywst is a regular foil for Jughead, and although her last name isn’t mentioned, the only Cricket in the Archieverse is Cricket O’Dell – a character who possesses the super weird ability to smell how much money people are carrying around. Please, please, please let this trait be written into the show.
- It is never a good idea to take advice from a con artist.
- What did Pepper do to get arrested? Your theories?
- It’s no The Commitments, but as far as bad audition montages go, the one featured in this episode was pretty great.
- It was a little odd that Ginger auditioning for the Pussycats was treated as a joke. It kind of goes against the show’s own established rules to state that Ginger wouldn’t be talented enough to be in the band, even with her past rivalry with Josie. That said, this was a total Jenna Maroney move and the bit did work comedically. Insert shrug emoji here.
- There’s no way that Mr. Cabot is going to cut off Alex, is there?
- Amanda’s loathing of Katy remains the show’s best ongoing joke.
- “I am not a control freak,” says Katy, renowned control freak.
- Josie remains the most realistic character on the series, and the only one who seems committed to putting in the hard work to achieve her dreams.
- So, who else is on Team Buzznardo?
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