Friday, February 3, 2017

REVIEW: 'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend' - Rebecca and Josh Have Lingering Concerns About Themselves in 'Can Josh Take a Leap of Faith?'

The CW's Crazy Ex-Girlfriend - Episode 2.13 "Can Josh Take a Leap of Faith?"

Rebecca's father makes a surprise appearance, which gets Rebecca's hopes up for the future, while Josh takes a hard look at himself. White Josh and Darryl find themselves at an unexpected crossroads.

For every smart, rationale step forward, there is always a dozen steps back when it comes to Rebecca and Josh. They are two deeply flawed characters who rely on patterns to keep them from addressing the problems in their lives. It's been a fixture of the show across its two-season run. The two of them seem destined to always make the lives of the people around them miserable. And yet, there's a lot of good that can come out of knowing them as well. Paula's obsession with Rebecca and Josh's love story wasn't healthy but it also forced her to recognize that she wasn't happy with her life. That made her pursue her own dream of going to law school. The constant pull of love-and-hate with Rebecca made Greg realize that he had to get his act together. He had to leave and chase his dreams otherwise he would stay stuck in the same patterns in West Covina forever. These are just some of the examples of how Rebecca has improved the lives of the people around her. And yet, she's still on that personal quest to truly understand what it means to be happy. She believes that's what her relationship with Josh is making her feel. But is it a true love story or something forced into happening out of sheer desperation?

For the last few episodes building up to the finale, it seemed like Nathaniel would be the big wrench thrown into Rebecca and Josh's wedding. And yet, he's not. The kiss he and Rebecca shared isn't even mentioned at all. In fact, Nathaniel is largely just on the sidelines. He's proud of himself for doing a good thing in getting Rebecca's dad to the wedding. He sees himself as a hero instead of the lazy boy his father sees him as. Rebecca and Josh's problems instead come from their own issues with intimacy and love. They both believe this is the happiness they've always wanted. And yet, those questions are still lingering about just how healthy and good all of this really is. Everyone is supporting the wedding even if they don't think the two of them should be getting married. It helps Valencia realize her passion is in wedding planning. Her dynamic with Heather is pretty amusing throughout this finale. But it's not ultimately this outside influence that complicates this wedding. It's still all about Josh and Rebecca and their lingering issues which is such a fascinating and truly compelling way to tell this story.

Rebecca has a deep desire to be loved. She has lived a life of guys abandoning her. It's a pattern that started with her father leaving her to start a new life with a new family. It's continued on the show with both Greg and Josh leaving her. And now, she thinks she has finally found love and happiness. But the show reminds the audience of just how deep these problems really go. The return of her father is a great way to do that. She's willing to forget everything he has ever done to her just because he's in West Covina to walk her down the aisle. She wants a normal and happy wedding. And yet, her father hasn't changed at all. He's still a narcissistic man who doesn't care about Rebecca. When he ultimately hurts her, she makes the smart decision to reach out to Dr. Akopian. But that only further showcases how damaged she is. The show has barely scratched the surface of her true problems. She's having dissociative episodes. She's remembering yet another time where she was in love with a man, he left and she lashed out in a major way. This time it was a Harvard professor named Robert. He wouldn't leave his wife for her. So, she tried to set his house on fire. Afterwards, she has hospitalized. She's remembering that more and more leading up to her wedding. She doesn't think much of it. But the patterns are repeating once again.

Meanwhile, Josh is right to question who Robert is. He is thrown by hearing that name out loud for the first time. He believes there is nothing that can get in the way of his happiness with Rebecca. He's ready to start his life with her. And yet, he's not really a present person of this wedding. Rebecca and Valencia are doing all of the work. He's just the man Rebecca is marrying. Everyone is telling him to be happy or suffer through it. Father Brah gives him some great advice to just talk things out with Rebecca. That would be the healthy way to do things. It would be better than Josh repeating the same mistake of running away to the most attractive girl he can find. Of course, he does do that after getting secret dirt on Rebecca's past from Trent. But he also catches himself in that action. He knows he's repeating mistakes just like Rebecca is aware that her father still isn't any good for her. He makes the smart move not to open Trent's file. And yet, he doesn't go to the wedding to talk things out with Rebecca. Instead he runs away to become a priest. That's a completely baffling twist to throw at the audience. And yet, it's pretty genius as well. Josh has always been more spiritual than Rebecca. He had a good time at the Bar Mitzvah a few episodes ago. Plus, he's always looking to Father Brah for guidance. There's no way he'll be able to maintain the vow of abstinence though. So, it's just the latest solution to his problems without him doing any true soul-searching.

Plus, Josh not showing up to the wedding kicks off such a tremendous final act for the season. It's such a powerful sequence as the whole world comes crashing down on Rebecca. This is the opposite of what she wanted on her wedding day. She wanted to be marrying Josh Chan. She wanted her father walking her down the alley. She wanted to live happily ever after. And yet, another man has once again left her. It makes her think that she's not worthy of love. That the problem is actually her. There's the fear that she might jump off the cliff because of the pain of this betrayal is too much. But the show remembers that the heart and soul of the narrative is in Rebecca and Paula's friendship. It's through that bond that Rebecca is able to see things so clearly once more. It's because of Paula that Rebecca is able to kick her father out of her life for good. It's because of Paula that Rebecca is able to focus all of her energy on Josh and the major mistake he has just made. Now, she wants to destroy him. That's a dark setup for the third season. And yet, it's also a powerful change of pace for the narrative as well. The will-they/won't-they dynamic of the first two seasons is now done. It will now be about Rebecca becoming the more traditional version of the crazy ex-girlfriend seeking vengeance for being scorned. She has the backing of her female squad as well. Sure, it should be interesting to see how far they'll be willing to go for this endeavor. But right now, they all understand why Rebecca feels this way. They want to help her because Josh deserves to be destroyed for what he did. And that just shows how great this show is. 

Some more thoughts:
  • "Can Josh Take a Leap of Faith?" was written by Aline Brosh McKenna and directed by Aline Brosh McKenna.
  • Darryl and White Josh have been happy for awhile. So it's not surprising that the finale throws a nice little complication into their dynamic. White Josh doesn't believe in marriage. That bums Darryl out for a bit. But then, he has the bright idea to have another kid with White Josh. That's something that takes White Josh by surprise. It's not something neatly resolved in the end either because Rebecca's drama then takes priority over it. But it should be interesting to see what happens next.
  • Rebecca's big musical moment at the wedding venue that reworked memorable songs from the first two seasons was so special and sweet. It showed just how much she has had to work for this and how happy she is that she finally has it.
  • Father Brah: "I can't actually talk to you while your chest is twerking."
  • Dr. Akopian: "Well, that was a good eight minutes, we're really getting there."
  • What are your Top 5 songs of the season? Mine would probably be "The Math of Love Triangles," "Tell Me I'm Okay (Patrick)," "Tap That Ass," "Remember That We Suffered" and "Friendtopia."
  • Still slightly bummed the season itself didn't give us a full-on version of "Period Sex" after being a fun recurring joke throughout the year. Fortunately, Rachel Bloom released a version online anyway. Enjoy!
  • Despite being the lowest rated show on the broadcast networks this season, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has been renewed for Season 3 - which will likely debut in Fall 2017. That just shows how much love there is for this series at the network. It's letting Rachel Bloom and Aline Brosh McKenna tell the crazy, inventive and messed-up story they want to. I can't wait to see more of it.