CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND: 3.11 “Nathaniel and I Are Just Friends!”
I’m going to start this post the same way that Crazy Ex-Girlfriend started last Friday’s episode: by acknowledging the phenomenal voice of Michael Hyatt. I mean, wow. I’ve always been a fan of Hyatt’s “Dream Ghosts,” but in “This Session Is Going to Be Different” (video above), we really hear how talented she really is. Bravo.
Now on to the rest of the episode. When you think of show that might use a time jump, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend isn’t one that you’d naturally think of. But by adding such a gap in the series, they brilliantly showed how each character is (or isn’t) growing—emotionally or, in the case of Heather, physically.
The leap ahead is only eight months, much shorter than other jumps that other shows have taken. Usually we’re looking at years, anywhere from one to five. But in just over half a year time, we see a lot of change. Heather is still carrying Darryl’s baby and frustrated at having a “hobby” she can’t quit. She’s also still a manager at Home Base and has completed an entire makeover of the space. White Josh has gone off to do Habitat for Humanity and returned with a dog. Paula’s bestie Sunil has joined the firm—and the ranks of her slacker coworkers. And Valencia has gotten her business up and running while also starting a new relationship with former client Beth.
But for Rebecca, nothing much has changed. She’s still sleeping with Nathaniel, while he has a serious girlfriend. The point here is not to shake a finger at Rebecca, but to realize how long it can take to grow and change when you’re dealing with mental illness. It’s not a quick fix, and the show didn’t want to depict it falsely in that way. By jumping ahead, you can show how others have moved forward and adapted to change in their lives. Rebecca, not so much.
That’s not to say that Rebecca isn’t taking great strides forward. She’s much more self-aware. She’s recognized her habits and is actively trying to avoid them. But in all these ways that she has changed, one thing remains: She is still scared. She’s scared of what she can do to herself. And this comes out in a heartbreaking session with Dr. Akopian, where Rebecca admits that she doesn’t want to take her relationship to the next level with Nathaniel because she doesn’t want to die. She knows what she’s capable of if she feels abandoned, and the smallest thing can set her off. She’s afraid of taking the risk.
It’s absolutely heart wrenching, especially as you see the doubt in Rebecca’s eyes when Dr. Akopian tells her that she’s a loving person who deserves love. But finally, at least, Rebecca seems to have opened up honestly to Akops and heard what she had to say.
So we’re left with Rebecca standing outside of Nathaniel’s apartment, singing a reprise of “Face Your Fears,” trying to convince herself to take on love. Her rendition is so full of emotion, and you have to applaud Rachel Bloom for her performance. Every word seemed to carry such significance, and between this number and her scene in therapy, Bloom really didn’t hold back. It made for an especially powerful episode.
And as we know, in the end, fear takes over. She’s not ready. Of course, I was rooting for that happy ending, and it was especially sad, knowing all that Rebecca has gone through and hearing Nathaniel’s very honest words in their office just moments before.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the episode…
Heather. I’ve been loving Heather’s journey in this episode, and while I was completely skeptical about her taking on the surrogacy of Darryl’s baby, the way the writers handled it (including the jump), was brilliant. She finally had something she took on as a whim and couldn’t quit. And while that in an of itself is pretty significant for Heather, we end with a heart-to-heart about how hard it is to actually grow up and become an adult. It’s a conversation that many people can relate to (trust me, there are times I still don’t know what I’m doing as a grownup, let alone understanding insurance), which meant that even if we all haven’t volunteered to carry our friend’s unborn baby, we can relate to Heather’s frustration and confusion.
As a side note, I adored Hector’s support in this episode. I’m so happy to see Heather and Hector survived that eight month jump, and they’re just adorable. #Heactor4ever
Paula. Out of all of the plotlines, Paula’s was probably the weakest. She’s had very little to do with Rebecca as of late, and after the debacle with Darryl’s egg donor, she’s stepped away there, as well. That means that she’s focusing all her time at work, where she has more responsibilities—but it also means she’s become the office bitch.
Personally, I thought her friendship with Sunil was handled well in this episode (the running joke that Sunil and Rebecca should be friends because of their theater references was great), but what I appreciated more about this episode is that it gave us a view of Paula without Rebecca. Not in the I’m-angry-at-Rebecca kind of way, like we had last year, but just what Paula looks like when Rebecca isn’t her focus. It’s less exciting. It’s mundane. Paula isn’t the same Paula. And I wonder if this will become a realization for her, that she needs something in her life as powerful as her friendship with Rebecca without needing it to overtake her into obsession.
Throughout the season, we’ve seen little pieces of Paula’s life that needs attention and repair, starting with her family and now spreading into her professional relationships. I’m wonder what’s next for her because it must be something big.
Valencia. We got very little time with Valencia in this episode, but what we got was pretty significant. Valencia met with a new client Beth, and instantly, you saw their chemistry. Valencia seemed at ease, and Beth even found her funny! Jump forward eight months, and they’re in a healthy, happy relationship. It seemed natural. We didn’t need some sort of splashy number or drawn out realization that Valencia was bi. It wasn’t meant to be a story of self-discovery, like it was for Darryl. Instead, Valencia found someone she was attracted to and went for it. She was happy, comfortable. And quite frankly, it was refreshing to have this realization not made into a big deal. People are attracted to who they’re attracted to, and we shouldn’t have to make a dramatic announcement every time someone is in a relationship with someone of the same sex. We should be able to simply see it and embrace it, which is what’s done so subtly here. (By the way, if you want to read more about this development in Valencia’s life, read this interview with Gabriel Ruiz and Aline Brosh McKenna.)
Overall, it was a really strong episode of Crazy Ex, from two passionate musical numbers that bookended the show to everything in between. I’m not sure what’s next for Rebecca and crew, but with only two episodes left this season, I’m certainly looking forward to finding out.