This week, Rebecca goes into full melt down mode as she tries to plan her wedding by herself. She has very little time and no idea what she wants her wedding to be like, other than “normal.” The episode highlights Rebecca and Nathaniel’s unhealthy goals in life. Rebecca needs to feel normal, or at least appear normal, by marrying the normal boy in a normal wedding. Her standard of normal isn’t even well-defined in her own mind, making it impossible to reach. Nathaniel’s standard of manhood is very well defined. He needs to live up to his father’s unrealistic ideals, or die trying.
Rebecca spends the episode on what amounts to random busy work, flailing around in an unorganized way, trying to recreate other people’s weddings. Her disorganization is notable in someone who is known for being a top-notch attorney, which requires a high level of analytical and organizational skill. This is self-sabotage.
She asks her friends and family for help, sort of, but backs down quickly when she encounters any reluctance. Once again, when has a bit of resistance ever stopped Rebecca from trying to get what she needs from people? Ok, they’re trying to show us a new and improved, more sensitive, less self-absorbed Rebecca. Except, if she were feeling confident about this wedding, she’d find a way to delegate wedding tasks to friends and coworkers in ways that wouldn’t overwhelm them. Paula has time to hover over Nathaniel in this episode, to order a sheet cake, and to push Naomi into buying a dress. She’d be happy to help with small, specific tasks if Rebecca hadn’t let Sunil chase her off. The whole subplot of Rebecca not asking for help is odd, because that’s never been an issue for her.
Deep inside, Rebecca knows this wedding isn’t the right thing, and throws up the road block of pretending it’s too much work, and no one will help her. She has trouble picking a dress, but then accepts the one Naomi sends without a second thought. She can’t decide on a theme, so she latches onto DIY and a DIY wedding she finds on the internet, which just happens to be about as complicated to create as possible. It doesn’t occur to Rebecca to simplify the plans, when she’s the queen of adapting situations to what she wants. Sure enough, Dustin and Sasha’s wedding design beats her in the end, giving her the excuse she needs to put off the wedding.
But then Valencia shows up with her own wedding plan and story arc. Valencia proves my point. She swiftly and easily pulls the wedding together, combining elements of her plan, Dustin and Sasha’s wedding, and Rebecca and Josh’s personalities. She’s decisive, while still paying attention to everyone’s needs. She’s discovered her true calling, and she’ll be amazing at it, black pants suit and all.
Rebecca’s thrilled with Valencia’s work, and the help she gets from her friends and coworkers. But much of it is what she thinks she should want, just like Josh is what she thinks she wants because he’s the normal boy from the happy town that will save her. There’s a reason Josh isn’t in the episode much, and when he is, he’s being told over and over again that he’s not going to get what he wants in the wedding, or that he’s not participating in the planning enough. He and Rebecca are each marrying the idea of each other, not the real person, and their wedding isn’t a reflection of them, it’s what they think a wedding should look like. They both had heart to heart talks with people over the course of the episode, but neither ever considered talking to the other.
When Josh came to Rebecca to discuss his ideas for the wedding, they came out more like demands. He wasn’t thinking of the wedding as something they could create together (neither was she). He didn’t even decide that they’d create their lives together, since Naomi told him to propose, so that’s par for the course. And he’s dealing with his dissatisfaction the same way as he did when he got tired of Valencia. He’s putting all of the blame on Rebecca for being so uptight, and thinking another woman he barely knows is “chill.” Last time, Rebecca got to be the fun, chill playmate. Now, it’s his assistant basketball coach, Sara.
Nathaniel is disgusted with himself for all of his personal and professional failures that don’t live up to his father’s unrealistic standards since Nathaniel came to Plimpton and Whitefeather. He takes this out on himself by going on a juice cleanse made up of greens, mung beans, and some kind of powder. Either he gets food poisoning from dirty greens, or he drinks so much juice that it shuts his liver down temporarily and the betacarotene in the juice turns him yellow (turning yellow from vegetables is a real thing). Either way, he cleanses himself a little too completely. It’s sort of a new take on washing someone out of your hair. He does require a lot of washing, I’m sure. He also learns to let people take care of him, and to relax a little. His office family is slowly eroding his father’s damaging ideas, and teaching him that it’s okay to be human. Just in time, from the looks of it. Nathaniel, being a victim of toxic masculinity, doesn’t have the release of expressing his emotions that Rebecca does. While she ends up being the crazy ex-girlfriend, he ends up trying to be emotionless, with no physical or emotional needs at all, internalizing everything. He can’t actually hold it inside, so it’s busting out of him not just as arrogance, but also as self-injury. We’ve seen him “accidentally” push his body too far multiple times now, and end up injured or ill. It’s his own form of self-sabotage. It’s as scary as watching an alcoholic or drug addict slowly kill themselves.
Why is Heather never at home? Trying to escape Rebecca and Josh?
Dustin & Sasha are probably about as far from being Bex and Josh as possible. They live on the opposite end of the continent in rural NE Canada.
Paula continues to be the best mom on planet, as long as you’re not her biological child.
Maya is the MVP of the episode. She deserves a giant raise. Even when she said she and her dad share Westworld theories, she was trying to help, I think. She was letting Nathan and Rebecca know there’s another way. Their fathers aren’t normal, and Rebecca and Nathan aren’t the problem. She was just too clumsy and awkward for it to work.
I have never known a man who wasn’t an expert at naps. Boys, however, tend to hate naps and keep going until they collapse.
The adoption of Nathaniel into the Whitefeather misfits club is a beautiful thing to see.
Where is Karen? Did she take personal time to work out her love triangle?
The Plimpton and Whitefeather office family roles have become very clear this season. Are they going to become more like The Mary Tyler Moore Show as time goes on? (RIP MTM) Daryl and Paula as office mama and papa, Maya as little sister, George as the reliable cousin everyone forgets, Karen as crazy aunt, Tim and Jim as the prankster older brothers, Nathan and Rebecca as the wacky but lovable twins who can’t stay out of trouble. Heather and Valencia as the sensible outside of work friends/neighbors, one supportive, one a bit closer to a frenemy (Rhoda and Phyllis). Josh as the boyfriend or ex-boyfriend turned friend. Or something. It’s a nuanced situation.
What Valencia misses most about Josh is the plans. That’s also what she liked about yoga. She was planning to have her own studio and be an entrepreneur. She likes planning and organizing the people, the classes and the setting. Without her planned life with Josh, yoga alone isn’t enough.
Tell Me I’m Okay, Patrick left What’s It All About, Alfie in my head for the rest of the night.
Rebecca has Imposter Syndrome. She’s looking for the manual to life; she thinks she missed the day at school when every one else learned how to be normal. Even though she’s successful by many life measures, she feels like a fraud who always needs to prove herself.
Seth Green was lovely as Patrick, the delivery man with a heart of gold, Paula’s partner in crime, and neighborhood busybody.
The full length Period Sex video is up on Youtube.
Rachel Bloom will be appearing in the one-night-only 25th Anniversary concert of Crazy for You, the Gershwin jukebox musical, at Lincoln Center in NYC on February 19, 2017. The star-studded cast also includes Laura Osnes, Tony Yasbeck, Rachel Dratch and Jack McBrayer.
Next week, the big day, and the wedding guest stars, have finally arrived. But no Greg?? At his lifelong best friend’s wedding?