When episode 11 of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend opened with Dr Akopian in her bedroom, I had this joyous flashback to the early days of the show, when Rebecca and Heather broke into her house through the doggie door. My hopes were raised that the whiny, misogynist slog toward the finale would be interrupted by a fun, creative episode like the ones I fell in love with. But, no. That was not the case.
Instead, we got more of the pointless, endless “will they or won’t they” from Bex and Nathaniel, a huge amount of time spent on Heather realizing that being 8 months pregnant is no fun (solved by her taking a bath 🤦🏻♀️🤦🏻♀️🤦🏻♀️), and another Paula is a b*tch story, with a side of betrayal from former bestie Sunil, to teach her a lesson. We also had an 8 month time jump, to move the story and characters along. Except almost everyone was stuck in exactly the same place.
One of the only bright spots in this episode was the return of Dr Akopian, who got an amazing song of her own:
This song is so close to its inspiration, Maybe This Time, from Cabaret, that I’m surprised they don’t have copyright issues.
Paula and Rebecca spent time together, after they’d each had their moment of truth at Darryl’s baby shower. When they both needed to escape, they smeared cupcakes on each other to create a wardrobe crisis and left for the Sugar Shack. Once there, they judged each other harshly for their mistakes, but it wasn’t enough for either to change based on that alone. It never is.
After she hired Sunil and he turned against her too, Paula realized that maybe she’s the problem in her antagonistic relationships with everyone who works for her in the office. Sunil finally confronts Paula about her hypercriticism of his work. He, of course, doesn’t care about how she treats anyone else in the office. They all deserve her supposedly horrible treatment. He demands that she give him an A+ on his next paper, because his actual school grades are almost as high as hers. If she does, they can be friends again.
Paula goes for it, with the excuse that she’s mean and demands excellence because she’s insecure. Her daddy was mean to her as a child, so now she expects everyone to do their best at their jobs. Alrighty then. Powerful woman back under the thumb of supposed male equal. No problem. No one ever bothered to ask Paula if she was having problems causing her to be in a bad mood. Or to ask her to show them how they could do better. Mrs. Hernandez and George, office voices of reason, were noticeably missing this week.
Rebecca and Nathaniel had a sex-only relationship for the entire 8 month time jump, while he continued to see Mona, who knew nothing about his side activities with Rebecca. Rebecca had convinced herself that this was fine, that she wasn’t getting obsessed, attached, or hurting anyone, until she actually saw Nathaniel and Mona together. Then the truth of what she was doing kicked in.
Once she felt her guilt and unhappiness, Rebecca ended her affair with Nathaniel, at least for now, but he continues to be openly in love with her. Dr Akopian has told her that she’s healthy enough to try another relationship. Rebecca is too afraid that if she tries, she’ll end up at the end of a dark road with another suicide attempt.
She reprises Paula’s season 1 song Face Your Fears as she stands outside Nathaniel’s door, trying to make her decision:
Something about this arrangement made me realize how much this song reminds me of Find Your Grail from Spamalot, combined with a Carole King anthem.
Poor Nathaniel is left standing at the door alone, again, having bared his soul to her and been rejected, again. How many times does this make? Wouldn’t a guy like Nathaniel move on already? If not, what does that say about his mental health?
Heather is happy with her life, since she has a fulfilling job, a cute boyfriend, and is helping out friends by having a baby for them. Then the time jump happens. She and Hector are suddenly in a sitcom from the 60s. Like every other pregnant woman ever, Heather hates being 8 months pregnant and wants it to stop, right now.
She dreams of surfing, skydiving and skateboarding. Especially skateboarding. In fact, she becomes Lucy Ricardo and keeps trying to find ways that she can sneak out to go skateboarding, without regard to the baby’s safety. It’s up to
Desi Hector to stop her and remind her that there’s a person inside her who could get hurt. I don’t think any woman who’s 8 months pregnant ever forgets there’s a person inside them. The baby is usually kicking your bladder to remind you.
According to the showrunner, this insulting storyline was supposed to force Heather to confront something that she couldn’t quit. Didn’t Heather spend years as a student, taking every class the college offered? Hasn’t she worked for Home Base for years now? Hasn’t she been roommates with Rebecca for a couple of years, through some very difficult times? Not actually a quitter.
The Joshes spent the episode at Home Base. Before the jump, WhiJo was on his way to Mexico to work with Habitat for Humanity and escape his depression over his romantic break up. Josh thought that Habitat for Humanity sounded like “tattoos for manatees.” After the jump, WhiJo is back from Mexico, has grown a beard, and adopted a dog named Max, as one does when one doesn’t want children. Josh still thinks that Habitat for Humanity sounds like “tattoos for manatees.”
And then there’s Valencia, who, in her 2 minutes of screen time, meets a woman whose name is Beth, realizes she’s either bi or a lesbian, falls in love with Beth, develops a healthy long term relationship with her, saves the party planning business, and becomes business partners with Beth. All of that in 2 minutes.
It seems to me like Valencia and WhiJo were the characters who were actually involved in interesting storylines this week. I know we followed Darryl’s coming out story a few seasons ago, but if we can watch Rebecca “will they or won’t they?” over and over with three different guys over three seasons and barely have a relationship with any of them, we could certainly handle a second coming out story that followed a very different person.
If we can watch WhiJo cry and strip and complain that his gay bar is too gender integrated, surely we could watch a few of his adventures that probably actually involve character development. Especially since they likely involved sweating in skimpy clothes and using power tools. It’s a win-win situation.
Besides obviously being phoned in by a staff that’s lost interest, this season has felt all along like it was written based on network notes that were a “do this or you’ll be cancelled” ultimatum. But as the 2nd half of the season has gone on, I’ve felt more and more like they’re positioning the characters for a potential series finale, as if renewal is so uncertain that they need the last episode to be able to go either way.
Remember when Josh and Rebecca kissed at the end of season 1, episode 13, so that the series felt like it had an ending, in case they didn’t get renewed after that point? That’s what they’re doing now. Either they know they’re being cancelled, or there’s a very strong possibility, stronger than at the end of season 2.
The titles of the last two episodes of season 3 are “Trent?!” and “Nathaniel Is Irrelevant.” They’ll tie up a few more dangling story threads. WhiJo and Darryl will consider reconciliation. Heather will have the baby or be in labor. Rebecca will confront her past and how much she has/hasn’t changed, then either end up happily single, with the Happily Ever After ship being Rebecca and mental health, or she’ll work through her fears and decide to give a real relationship with Nathaniel a chance. Either way, it’ll be a hopeful ending with enough plot threads left open to continue, on the off-chance they get renewed or picked up by HULU.