In this episode, Rebecca’s breakdown progresses to the point that it requires a shrub costume and narration by Josh Groban. That’s right. Bex has progressed from Dream Ghosts in season 1, to Santa Ana winds in season 2, to an actual award winning singer narrating her spiraling fantasies in season 3. And a former Mormon missionary/King of England stops by to encourage her Swimfan fantasy movie spoof. It’s an exciting week in Rebecca’s head. In her life, things aren’t so great.
Gaston Nathaniel has been proving his manliness by holding up Rebecca, Officer and a Gentleman-style, in front of her door, all week. He keeps holding her through the first part of Paula’s impromptu, barely organized intervention. Once he figures out that this is serious and going to last a while, he puts her down and tries to figure out exactly what’s going on.
What’s happening is that Rebecca’s messed up friends have decided to bust in and act like her interactions with Robert happened last week instead of years and years ago. Yes, Rebecca needs to get help. But, as we’ve been shown for the entire series, help won’t help until the patient is ready to accept it and do the work.
Until then, it’s a waste of time, and might turn the patient against the health care system by inflicting medical trauma through having poorly matched treatments forced on them by the wrong providers.
You can’t save someone else. You can only support them while they save themselves. Otherwise, Paula, you need to back off and stop controlling and manipulating them, until they are ready.
But Paula gets off on being over involved with Rebecca’s life, as Rebecca is about to point out during her response to the intervention, an impromptu two truths and a lie game. Paula starts the show by telling Rebecca that she’s taken Trent’s illegally obtained records, and used them to find a doctor that she and Father Brah feel is perfect for Bex. And, wow, how great must it feel for Rebecca to have Josh’s spiritual advisor and good buddy looking at her sealed records and acting as her counselor WITHOUT HER PERMISSION? But, once again, supposedly the problems are all Rebecca’s. And being a woman with issues means you lose all rights to privacy and to be in control of your own life. We might as well be back in the 1950s.
Rebecca asks if this is an intervention and Paula tries to lie and say that it isn’t. Rebecca gets paranoid that they are actually there to commit her to a psych ward again. She demands that Nathaniel take her to Rome (notice how it rhymes with home?). When he refuses, she gets paranoid and accuses him of collaborating with Paula.
When Valencia says that this new information is upsetting, Rebecca lashes out and says that Valencia tried to force her dream wedding onto Bex because no one would marry Val. Low blow, Bex, low blow. Not really true, either. She gave you those options, sure, but you did what you wanted.
When Heather comforts Val by telling her that Rebecca is just lashing out, Rebecca turns on her, insisting that Heather is pathetic, because community colleges are lame and so are perpetual students. Not sure how a lawyer can criticize other people for spending many years in school, given the length of time lawyers take to finish their degrees.
Also, community colleges are full of useful tech degrees that Heather would have earned if she took every class. She should be able to pick which field she goes into- auto mechanic, vet tech, dental hygienist, x-ray technician, respiratory therapist, EMT. Paraprofessionals of all sorts get trained at community colleges. And most are in more demand than lawyers, these days. But, it is true that Heather is lost and aimless, yet participating in this poorly planned intervention based on old, stolen information.
Next she moves on to Darryl. He’s an easy one to injure, because it’s obvious for everyone to see that Whijo doesn’t want a baby, but won’t be honest with Darryl. Darryl is using a baby as a marriage replacement, in order to tie White Josh to him, and soothe his insecurities. Rebecca drops that truth bomb, and moves on.
Then she circles back around to Paula, and brings up all of the co-stalking and enabling that Paula has done to help Rebecca in her quest to win Josh. The Romance of Josh and Rebecca was Paula’s escape from real life just as surely as it was Rebecca’s. Paula never owns up to the way that she pushed Rebecca further into her illness, or the fact that much of the over-the-line, probably illegal, stalking was actually done by Paula, and/or Paula’s idea.
She occasionally does what she’s doing right now, which is to take a step back and decide that things are going too far, and that she’s the grown up who has to stop the madness. Then within a few days, she’ll be right back in it. Remember, she was all for destroying Josh Chan at the wedding venue, which was only a few weeks ago in show time. For her to act like Rebecca’s past is so outrageous that it changes everything is the height of hypocrisy, and was actually a little show that she put on for Father Brah and the gang.
Rebecca hits Paula where it hurts most of all, denying their mother-daughter bond, which is real and necessary to them both. Bex has a cold mother with overly high expectations, and Paula doesn’t have much in common with her boys, even though she loves them. When they are both in a relatively healthy state, their relationship is a great thing.
Having hit everyone in the room with some form of attack to distract them from her own intensifying mental issues, Rebecca drops the mike. She’s out. Except for leaving a few dozen messages for Josh. That obsession is going to die a slow, lingering, humiliating death. Rebecca’s strength and persistence are not her friends in this downwardly spiraling scenario.
But that doesn’t make it okay for her friends to steal her private records, share them without her permission, use her health issues to avoid dealing with their own, blame their own issues on her, try to force unwanted treatment on her, or try to take away her agency in general. This is the stuff that American Horror Story seasons are made of. In fact, it was one season in particular- AHS: Asylum.
She’ll be much more likely to get treatment and have it work if treated gently, with respect, like a human being, and if she isn’t ganged up on or forced into something before she’s ready to accept it. Even if it’s hard for other people to watch. Even if they disagree with her choices. It’s still her life to f*ck up.
Bringing Greg back and having him talk to her like a friend, one on one, without judgement, about how much treatment changed his life for the better, would do more good than 20 “interventions”. Or having Rebecca see her childhood Rabbi for guidance while she’s staying with her mom, since they seemed to have a good relationship. Or discovering that Audra Levine went through a breakdown and treatment herself, and having an open, honest talk with her. Anything that normalizes the experience and allows Rebecca to feel that she is choosing something for herself.
That’s probably wishful thinking on my part. We’re only at episode 4. Things are going to continue getting worse before they get better. Sooner or later, Rebecca will admit what a terrible, horrible villain she is, accept responsibility for the bad things that happen in West Covina, and agree to be Stepfordized. I’ve been down this road with too many shows before (*cough*Glee*cough*) that start out seeming progressive, but in the end, bow to misogyny and patriarchy.
Let’s hope that the narrative will acknowledge at least some of the issues I’ve pointed out, at least eventually, because these writers aren’t stupid and they do understand women’s history. But, even when/if they do, the damage is done. Every other recap I’ve read of episodes 3 and 4 accepts the premise that Rebecca is batsh*t crazy, should be locked up, and Father Brah absolutely did the right thing.
Back to the recap.
Paula and the
intervention gang argue over what to do now and who knows Rebecca best.
Rebecca has escaped to the West Covina youth hostel, where she’s roommates with Jarl from Denmark, played by Metamaiden’s major crush Rory O’Malley (OBC Book of Mormon, RBC Hamilton). Jarl and Rebecca bond over their love of Swimfan, starring Danish movie star Erika Christensen.
Swimfan inspires Rebecca’s fantasy movie, Swimchan, written, produced and directed by Rebecca, starring Rebecca. Josh might be there too. It’s a Fatal Attraction rip off that’s not quite as fatal.
Rebecca finally comes close to being the scary stalker everyone accuses her of being. She lurks outside of Josh’s house and eavesdrops on his family dinner. Lourdes misses Rebecca. Josh plans to ask for his old job back, and a raise. Rebecca sends a branch pounding against the window to startle Josh. Lourdes says it’s just the branch that’s been doing that for months. Rebecca dresses in a shrub costume that’s reminiscent of her Love Kernels cactus costume and hides in his backyard, shifting around to stay out of his way while he checks the perpetually swinging swing. Josh is super spooked.
Val and Paula walk the streets hunting for Bex. Paula laments that all of her tracking systems aren’t working. She admits to Valencia that she helped Rebecca sabotage Valencia, and even did much of the dirty work, including inserting a tracking device under Val’s skin without her consent. Paula also put one in Rebecca. Who is the criminal that should be locked up? But Paula is Val’s friend now and female friendships are complicated. Wow. They’re only complicated in that way if you make them complicated, Paula.
Daryl confronts WhiJo about the potential baby. We don’t see the conversation. Weird editing drop there.
Gaston Nathaniel has read all of Rebecca’s private files, and shared them with Le Fou George. George realizes that he’s gotten too involved with Nate’s private life.
Hector splits off from Darryl and WhiJo to walk with Heather. They find they have a lot in common including a love of Hector’s silky smooth arms. They hear an animal howl. Hector puts his arm around Heather and pulls her close. He apologizes for touching her without permission. She says it’s okay, and asks him to do it again. Hector wins the night, for realizing that grabbing women without permission is not okay. So does Heather, both because she knows that you can’t save someone who doesn’t want to save themselves, and because she gets to be held by Hector.
Back in his room, Josh finds his Joshy bear is hanging by a noose in his closet. Next he hears some really fake animal/dog/coyote howls. Are no depths too low for this evil woman to sink to terrorize this innocent man?
Josh yells out his bedroom window for Rebecca to stop harassing him. Rebecca is nearby and loves it. She tells Jarl all about it later. Her plan is to reenact every great revenge movie, ever. Jarl asks her if she’s thought this through, cause the women always die at the end of those movies. The monster has to die.
And the woman is always the monster, that’s why she goes crazy and acts out a revenge fantasy. There are reams of documentation to support this. Movies and TV shows overwhelmingly favor the man as being the victim of the woman in these scenarios, no matter what injustices the man perpetrates on the woman. As soon as the woman fights back, the bitch has to die.
But the show is supposedly taking the personal point of view, rather than the sociological, just this once. They aren’t acknowledging that Rebecca is a victim of society, her upbringing, or the misogyny of her friends and coworkers, who have decided to believe Robert’s side of the story, because he’s a male Harvard professor, without any further research. In West Covina, Rebecca is still following her usual MO, which is to be self-destructive with minor collateral damage to others. Unless she’s directly attacked, which she has been.
But wait. Rebecca and Jarl are going to tell us what’s really going on:
Bex: This story is not about blind, evil revenge. This is about retribution, and redistribution of misery. Making Josh feel like I’ve felt my whole life.
Jarl: Wait. You were unhappy before you met him? Then how is this his fault?
Rebecca: He exploited that unhappiness. He took his normalness and rubbed it in my face.
Jarl: So what I’m hearing is, it’s not really about Josh, Josh is more a symbol of effortless normalcy from which you’ve always felt excluded.
Rebecca: No, it’s about Josh. I have no idea what you are talking about. You’re not making any sense.
It can be more than one thing. Of course Rebecca has longstanding issues that she needs to address. But, yes, Josh exploited her and her issues to his own advantage, and now is pretending that her issues mean that everything that went wrong between them is her fault. He exploited and used both her and Valencia, while managing to come off as the “nice guy” who escaped relationships with crazy “bitches”. And the other women on the show are buying into the lies and manipulations.
In other words, Rebecca being crazy doesn’t mean that Josh isn’t an *sshole who deserves to suffer a little.
In the morning, no one has found Bex. Heather goes to breakfast with Hector and his sweet *ss. Valencia goes to get the tracker out of her shoulder. Paula goes to review her tracking strategies. Nathan, George, and his date Penny are all camped out in Rebecca’s bedroom in case she comes home.
The police have refused to help with the search, because Rebecca is an adult who hasn’t committed any crimes and left her house of her own free will. Funny how that works.
Josh has gotten his job at Aloha Tech Center back, and is ready to ask for a raise. His boss Alex, stops him. Alex got an anonymous tip to check Josh’s locker. It’s full of stolen items, so Alex has to suspend Josh. Josh blames Rebecca, but Alex doesn’t care. Corporate has this weird thing about stealing. Josh finds a note from Rebecca in the locker, suggesting that something might happen to Lourdes.
Not gonna feel sorry about Josh losing his job. Rebecca got him the job when he couldn’t get it on his own. She can take it away if she wants. He had no problem quitting the job on a whim to escape to
pre priest school. That’s life. Sometimes people get you driven out of places like jobs and friend groups simply because they don’t like you. Just like Josh did to Rebecca and Valencia.
Rebecca takes Lourdes to the local carnival. Lourdes loves the carnival, but her kids won’t go with her any more. Bex is a truly evil woman.
Paula has brought her own family to the carnival separately. Her kids tell her that they always knew Rebecca was a psycho, but she has great boobs. They’re on their way to exploiting women, just like the rest of the men on this show! Good job, Paula!
Paula doesn’t care. She’s worried about Bex and Lourdes. Her younger son Tommy wants to help Brendan with his weed business, so he asks Paula if he can get a Prison Break-style tattoo that’s a map of a local prison. Paula’s proud of his initiative. Or she would be if she cared.
Josh has tracked Rebecca and Lourdes as far as the carnival. Well, actually, his dad told him that they’d gone there. He questions Rebecca, who plays him for a few moments. He yells that she kidnapped his mother and is crazy. She’s not to mess with his family. Rebecca points out that he thinks it’s okay to mess with her life.
He clearly doesn’t think that anything that he’s done to her has any relevance, because to him, it doesn’t. He led her on, used her for her money, sex and fun, and now is ready to toss her aside. She’s not allowed to let her emotions inconvenience him in any way. This is the theme of all of the movies this episode is referencing.
When a man is done with a woman, she needs to quietly exit his life. If she doesn’t, if she insists on confrontation or justice, then the man is justified in anything he does to her, and society must put her down like a rabid dog, so that she doesn’t upset the status quo. In the depths of her self-loathing, Rebecca has completely bought into this, and will force it to play out to the end. Everyone else in her life has seen those movies as well, and is playing out their parts. No one is both sympathetic to her and trying to snap her out of the delusion.
Josh becomes more and more frantic, screaming in Rebecca’s face, asking where his mother is. He’s so dumb that he thinks she’d tell his father where they were going, then take his mother to a very public place to hurt her. Rebecca asks Josh what he’s going to do. Is he going to kill Rebecca? He’s backing her up toward a construction pit as they argue, but catches her wrist as she falls.
Rebecca points to Lourdes a few yards away, getting a caramel apple. She takes one more stab at getting Josh to have the conversation he’s avoided for weeks. Instead Josh threatens to have Rebecca arrested if she ever comes near him or his family again.
Rebecca yells after him that he has to talk to her, she doesn’t know who she is without him. She’s left alone in the bizarro world of the carnival.
Paula dozes off and dreams that Rebecca comes to her and begs for help. Paula calls Rebecca’s mother, Naomi, to ask her to step in. I love Tovah Feldshuh, but this episode is a textbook case of a support system fail.
Rebecca is one big ol’ cry for help, that’s true. She’s goes to Greg’s study bar, because he’d normally be the one to help her pick up the pieces when things go this badly. Her magic is still strong enough to get him to butt dial her, but he doesn’t hear her talking to him through the phone. Instead, his spirit sends his dad to help. Big mistake.
Marcos has always disliked Rebecca. Rebecca moves down the bar to sit with him. The first thing he does is twist the knife by telling Rebecca that Greg is doing great and has fallen in love with someone else. But she’s a smart broad with a nice figure, she’ll be fine. Nice way to degrade a complex person who’s in pain, slimeball. Then he does the thing that Greg refused to do in the pilot. He takes advantage of Rebecca in her vulnerable state. They end up in bed together.
Rebecca wakes up a few hours later feeling about as low as you’d expect. She walks home through the dark West Covina streets as her neo noir movie ends, with Josh Groban summing up the entire TV series up to this point:
Life doesn’t make narrative sense.
Never bang your ex-boyfriend’s dad.
Unless he’s a silver fox who’s a much better person than the son, and a relationship is on the table. If he’s a slimeball like Marcos, run as far away as possible, because it will only add to your slutty reputation, and won’t reflect badly on him at all. It will be viewed as a bitchin’ conquest for an old guy to have bagged a hot young broad like you. He’ll have bragging rights forever.
White Josh finally admits that he doesn’t want a baby.
While Nathan waits for Rebecca to come home, he sleeps on Rebecca’s bed, holding her alligator body pillow.
Josh tries to write a resume, and realizes that he has no goals. “Finding another woman to live off and blame everything on” won’t work as a resume goal. He can’t use Valencia and Rebecca as references, either.
Rebecca meets Jarl back at the youth hostel as the Swimchan credits roll. They are too numerous to list here, but they are all hilarious.
Rebecca tells Jarl that she slept with her ex-boyfriend’s dad. He’s shocked. She went off script from the movies.
Rebecca thinks that she has successfully destroyed her West Covina life. She’s symbolically dead, and it’s time to go back to her mother’s house, otherwise known as h*ll, so that she can be punished for her sins. Paula made sure that Rebecca didn’t even have to ask to go home. The devil reaches up out of Hades to drag her back there.
Message of the episode: Uppity women need to be sent away, locked up or killed. If all else fails, get a restraining order. Men’s behavior is irrelevant and easily forgiven. Harvey Weinstein would be proud.
I’m so glad CEG is around to share this message. It hasn’t been driven into me by everything else in my life already. 😜 💩 👿
Even during this time when Rebecca has seemed completely self-absorbed and in a fast downward spiral, she still noticed what was really going on in the lives of every one of her friends. Then she offered them some kind of useful advice, even if it was couched in language that they didn’t want to hear.
Does Lourdes think Josh deserves the stalking, is she a former stalker herself, or is it just that she’s the warden of H*ll on Preacher, so nothing phases her? I’m positive that she knows what’s going on in this episode and isn’t bothered by it. In fact, she probably let Rebecca into the house and backyard. I hope she and Rebecca stay friends anyway. Rebecca needs her mother figures.
Josh Groban should become a semi regular guest.
Looks like Santino Fontana is off the show for good. I wouldn’t be surprised if Marco was lying about Greg’s new relationship, but the sex would be a hard one for Greg to get past. Bit of a slap in the face to Greg fans, either way.
This has always been a show that didn’t drink the Whedonesque patriarchal Kool Aid. I’m sad to see that apparently change. Did they need to show Rebecca being wrong in hopes of boosting ratings? Was the woman-friendly atmosphere a mirage and this gaslighting reflects their true attitudes? Is this part of a build up to show Rebecca having a lasting breakthrough, and coming back to the side of herself that sees through the patriarchal BS shoveled onto us?
Many of the women who try to have it all, in the form of gender equality and giving men whatever they want, end up with various forms of mental illness that come to a head while they’re in their ~30s. The cognitive dissonance gets to be too much, and they can’t lie to themselves any more, so, like Rebecca, they have some form of a break down. I’ve watched it happen in individuals and on a societal level. Because the 2 concepts, gender equality and keeping men completely happy, are mutually exclusive. You can only lie to yourself for so long about what you’re doing and why. Eventually the truth crushes you.
That’s where Rebecca is. She’s been trying to win her father back and prove her worth, by working to win over rejecting man after rejecting man, since she was a child. She’s stuck in an early adolescent stage of development because she can never quite get the needs of that stage filled.
Rebecca will never move on, or see herself as anything other than the monster that her father sees her as, until she finds a way to meet those needs for herself, and accept that she has to parent herself. Naomi blames Rebecca for driving her father away, and also sees Rebecca as a monster. A disappointment. The weak child who stole the life that Naomi could have had, either single or with her husband, and now can’t even make good use of that life.
Can’t wait to see what Naomi has in store for Bex now that she’s “failed” again. 😜 💩
Jarl is a treasure. Everything that comes out of his mouth is pure gold.
Jarl: No one likes jagged reindeer meat.
Jarl: You have the anger of a much taller woman.
Valencia: Brendan is my weed guy.
Paula: He’s starting a business? That’s great!