Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: “Nathaniel Needs My Help!”

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Photo by Scott Everett White/The CW

CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND: 3.08 “Nathaniel Needs My Help!”

So much happened on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend last fall that upon its return on Friday, I had no idea what would happen with Rebecca and crew. She finally has a diagnosis. She realizes that Josh is irrelevant. She knows that she has to be messy but also take steps to move forward with her BPD. What’s next for Rebecca?

It’s tempting to assume that we’d return this January with a brand-new version of Rebecca, and in some ways, a different show. After all, even the episode titles have changed: Josh is no longer in the title. Last episode it was Jeff, now Nathaniel. Everything is different, right?

Wrong. In this episode, we got Rebecca antics. Her actions around Nathaniel seem incredibly reminiscent of her time with Josh. Sneaking around and scheming to connect Nathaniel and his father is something that feels less like it’s for Nathaniel and more for her. It all just seems so…Rebecca.

And it’s tempting to roll your eyes and get frustrated. We’ve seen this all before! And when I was first watching, that was my first reaction. Why is she doing this all over again? But as you look more deeply, that’s what it’s really about. Just because Rebecca got a diagnosis and help through therapy and group therapy doesn’t mean she’s suddenly healed. It’s not that easy. She has patterns she needs to break. That’s what Rebecca is discovering—and we’re realizing as we watched the show.

As a viewer, I knew immediately that Rebecca’s plan would go sour. Anything that involves blackmailing your partner-in-crime with a potential future suicide attempt can never go well. And it was the same old Rebecca, reminiscent of actions from season one, season two. In this particular case, she has a more understanding man in her life, one who says he’ll forgive her after a mature discussion (a stark contrast with any discussion Rebecca has with Josh—we’ll get to that in a bit). Between that and Dr. Shin, Rebecca realizes she needs to change, even if that means having to do something she’s never done before: breaking up with Nathaniel. (Technically, we haven’t seen this yet, but it’s assumed by the end of the episode.)

Would I have liked to see something a little different from the same old Rebecca? Well, I didn’t love the “let’s track down Nathaniel’s father and have a misunderstanding” storyline, but I get why the writers did it. So that message outweighs something that felt a wee bit tired, as far as TV plotlines go.

Meanwhile, Darryl has his own life changing plans going on as he decides to have a baby anyway, after his breakup with White Josh. Paula, being Paula, steps in to help by choosing an egg donor, only to have the entire plan blow up in her face. Her perfect donor, that she illegally tracks down, turns out to be a bad person. Beyond her smoking and lying, she blackmails Paula into paying her not a one-time fee but throughout the future child’s life. Paula, being Paula, looks at this in the short-term. Her relief at finding that the implantation didn’t take was simply to avoid this long-term payout, not really taking into account what her actions may do for Darryl. For Darryl, this is heartbreak. The baby he’s been so looking forward to isn’t happening, and the large cost of a second try would hold him back from doing it again sometime soon. It’s this eye-opening realization that brings Paula to admit that she needs to stop messing with people’s lives.

I’m curious to see where this goes with Paula. We’ve seen a lot of flaws with Paula this year: her addiction with sneaky antics, her focus on other people’s lives over her own family, her not realizing how her actions may have implications for others. Clearly, there’s going to be a journey for Paula this season—just as there is for Rebecca—and learning to break her own patterns. But how that will play out, I’m excited to see.

Sidenote: I’m constantly impressed with the composers of the music in this show. How they made such a hilarious song in “My Sperm Is Healthy” is incredible. It’s my newest ear worm, and yes, no surprise, there is a dirty version.

Finally, we have Josh, who after his zit explosion (ew), he’s now being kicked out of his mother’s house. I’ve felt very little for Josh this season. He seemed completely unaware of how he should act as an adult after leaving Rebecca at the altar and has been incredibly self-absorbed. So I feel no pity that now he has to move out so his mom can open an in-home day care. That said, part of me wished he were staying or Lourdes’ house even longer after seeing her interact with him. Her song “Get Your Ass Out of My House” was fantastic, and I loved every reaction she had to his whining and complaining.

But after all this brutal discussion with his mother, Josh made a discovery: He realizes he can do more of his life because of Rebecca. And finally, we get a scene between him and Rebecca that made me respect him. He may not have apologized (though he did admit that he often avoided the right thing—an acknowledgement about how he handled his relationship with Rebecca poorly), but he did say thank-you. A thank-you that resonated with Rebecca.

Overall, I liked what the episode was trying to do and the character development for most, if not all, of the characters. As we move forward, I still am not sure what the show will do next, but I’m constantly impressed with the creativity and smart writing the show has to offer, even when an individual plot point might not be my cup of tea.

A few other thoughts:

  • Nathaniel has changed a lot since the self-absorbed, cold guy we first met. But has he developed too fast? True, he had that touching one-on-one with his mother a few episodes ago, but he seems much more emotionally complex and mature than I would have thought. That said, I think this rapid transformation is purposeful. We need someone who is the polar opposite of Josh to see how differently people can respond and connect with Rebecca. Whether he can continue to acknowledge these emotions and grow with them, I guess we’ll have to see.
  • It’s pretty dark and awful to threaten someone with a future suicide attempt that this time will be successful and to call the person out in your suicide note. Just sayin’, Rebecca.
  • I like Mrs. Hernandez’s witty responses, but I’m not convinced she’d say, “Doi.”
  • George’s coffee song was great. Possibly because I could entirely see myself singing something similar as I get myself a cup of coffee at work. I hope it ends up on the soundtrack.
  • I loved loved loved the group therapy scene. I really hope we get more of that.
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