Crazy Ex-Girlfiend: “Nathaniel and I Are Just Friends!”

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.

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Raked Rewatch: The ‘Timeless’ Pilot

4506353A-7499-4EA9-9EA9-F848C8556D59This week, we heard the great news that Timeless is back on March 11 for season two. For anyone who follows me on Twitter, you know I’ve been a fan of the show since the start. I was so disappointed when it was cancelled and elated when it was uncancelled. So to say that I’m excited for season two is an understatement.

In honor of the forthcoming premiere, I decided to go back and rewatch the show’s pilot (again—I’ve already rewatched the series once, now that I own the DVD set). It’s fun to go back to the beginning after you know key plot points. For instance, in my initial watch of the show, who knew how important that last look Lucy gave Amy as she left the house was. Now, in rewatching it, it’s suddenly a very sad scene.

It’s a really fun episode. Centering around the Hindenburg, our three main characters went back to 1937 to stop Garcia Flynn from changing history after he stole Connor Mason’s time machine. The Time Team, made up of Lucy (the historian), Wyatt (the soldier), and Rufus (the pilot), are of course using what we call the Lifeboat, an early version of the time machine that was only kept operational in case of emergency. Which this just so happens to be. (By the way, the design of these machines is great. And not a Delorean in sight.)

Shows about time travel can be overly complicated. Just look at a show like The Flash. If you don’t establish rules early, things get ugly pretty quick. And I’m impressed by the ease of which Timeless establishes such rules: Mason Industries can track the date that Flynn takes the time machine, but not the place, hence the need for a historian. Also, you can’t go back to a time that you’ve already existed, which means no going back to your past—and no correcting any mistakes or changes you make on missions.

This becomes especially important for the series. First, it means that when Lucy’s sister disappears at the end of the episode because they’ve changed the fate of folks on the Hindenburg, there’s no going back to make sure the survivors who were supposed to die actually died (and yes, we could argue whether anyone is “supposed” to die—and actual question that’s often debated in the series). It also means that Wyatt can’t go back to save his wife, who died years earlier. (To be honest, how they didn’t do a background check on Wyatt to see if he had any major life tragedies he might want to “fix” via time travel seems like a mistake, but I like Wyatt and they were probably trying to find a soldier quickly, so it works.)

What the show also gets right is the ugly parts of America’s history in the pilot. Rufus calls out the obvious rather quickly, when asked to pilot the Lifeboat: “I am black. There’s literally no place in American history that would be awesome for me.” He’s also given angry stares when he walks into a 1930s bar, forced to stand outside. The writers didn’t shy away from this. What’s more, they made Rufus someone to root for, as he creates a distraction in a jail cell, citing all the accomplishments black people make in the future: “The future is not on your side, boy.” Powerful.

Overall, the pilot balances the right amount of action, sci-fi, and just plain fun in a show that draws you in. Sure, this particular episode doesn’t delve into some of the more philosophical questions about time travel (like if you could go back in time and save someone who could make the world a better place, would you—something that’s in the Abraham Lincoln episode), but it does lay everything out on the table. And it even gives us some intrigue: What does Flynn want with the time machine? Who—or what?—is Rittenhouse? And how do we get Amy back?

There’s a lot more to happen after just the one episode, but the Time Team shows its skills. It’s fun. And certainly worth the rewatch.

The Flash: “The Trial of The Flash” Needed Fewer Metas and More Defense

46E6A24E-833E-4426-B97D-9AE178FB9F51Photo by Katie Yu/The CW

THE FLASH: 4.10 “The Trial of the Flash”

Last night’s episode of the The Flash brought Barry Allen face to face with a judge after being arrested for the murder of DeVoe. We know before the break that this was all DeVoe’s plan, and Barry made the very difficult decision not to use his powers to run.

I didn’t make note of the episode title until after the episode started, so I was surprised that last night’s episode would bring us to the trial already. There was no real aftermath of seeing Barry taken away, seeing Iris and Joe respond, any sort of arguments against what was happening. We got right to the point where we find out Barry’s fate by the episode’s end.

I was invested in the trial as I watched the episode, though in retrospect, many nitpicks have come to mind, and I now see a number of issues with the episode. I don’t normally write about The Flash (though I do usually live tweet it, if you follow me on Twitter), but I thought I’d air out some concerns here.

First, the meta of the week. We have to remember that while many of us were tuning in to the the trial of Barry Allen, we’re watching a superhero show. Not every viewer wants to see such human events as the justice system in action. Plus, with a large cast of talented people, what do we do with Caitlin, Cisco, and Harry, rather than leaving them sitting on a bench watching the trial? Enter our nuclear meta.

The problem here is I was not in the least interested in seeing what happened with this meta—which is especially unfortunate, given that the meta could actually cause a nuclear event that would decimate the city, if not the globe. This is a pretty high-stakes villain (even if he wasn’t aware of his own power) to shove in the background of another bigger plot.

As strange as it sounds, I would have argued for no meta B-plot. Just focus on the trial. Sure, by cutting Barry’s final act of heroism before being placed behind bars, we might not get that great juxtaposition of speeches between the police chief and the judge. But we would have a lot more time to devote to other trial-related plot points, like more time with DeVoe. Or Joe’s decision to do whatever it takes to keep Barry from prison, including planting evidence (by the way, the scene between Joe and Ralph was so good it was worth having Ralph added to the series, even if I haven’t been a fan of Ralph in previous episodes). They could have done something more interesting with Cisco and Caitlin (I have a suggestion below). And more importantly, they could have presented a legal defense for Barry.

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Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: “Nathaniel Gets the Message!”

CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND: 3.09 “Nathaniel Gets the Message!”

Before we discuss the plot of the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, congratulations are in order. This episode included the series’ 100th song—one hundred original songs. (You can find it above.) Incredible. I’m not sure how you can have that much creativity to write that many in such a short amount of time (after all, we’re only in the third season), but kudos to Rachel Bloom, Adam Schlesinger, and Jack Dolgen, who wrote all of these songs. It’s a big accomplishment. Congratulations!

Now on to the actual episode, which picks up right where we left off with Rebecca at Nathaniel’s door about to break up with him. We all knew where this scene was headed, but that didn’t take any of the oomph out of it. It was something that needed to happen, but it wasn’t something either of them wanted to happen. Nathaniel kept being supportive, and you could see how sad Rebecca was about it. It was a well-done scene, and you have to applaud Rebecca for taking this step for her own health.

Of course, that left her with nothing to do. She still has no job. And now with no relationship, she has a lot of time to kill (and smoking the marjoram just doesn’t do it). Dr. Shin recommends volunteering or giving back to others. Dismayed with how gross or hard actually giving back to the community would be (from “You know how I feel about soup” to “…and if I see one crusty stain, I won’t be able to eat for weeks”), she volunteers for Valencia in order to get her event planning business up and running.

From here, the episode gives us the cast of characters we met back in season one at the grocery store. Newly engaged produce manager Marty and bread manager Ally have a small budget to throw an engagement party—after all, they’re not bringing home much dough—and Valencia has been hired for the event. She decides to throw it at Home Base and give it a German theme. (I’m starting to wonder whether Valencia was behind the random baby shower that was at Home Base a few weeks ago, since that’s such an odd/cheap locale for any of these parties.)

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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.)

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Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: Josh Is Irrelevant

CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND: 3.06 “Josh Is Irrelevant”

There’s a lot to say about this episode. Bear with me. It’ll be a long post.

After last week’s intense episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, I wasn’t sure where we’d begin this episode — or where we’d go. Would we see the light, enthusiastic Rebecca we’ve known and loved? Or would that girl be gone, showing us only the sad, pained version we saw in the trailer, the one who couldn’t muster a laugh in the trailer? Or something else entirely?

If anything, this episode showed us that we’ve seen a changed Rebecca, starting with the girl in the hospital bed who is showing remorse for her suicide attempt. She heartbreakingly tells Dr. Akopian that she failed her and confides to Paula that she didn’t even want to die, she just wanted the pain to stop. And she keeps apologizing for all that she’s putting everyone through, inconveniencing the people in the plane, taking time that Paula should be spending with her family, and keeping her friends from work.

And then there was the scared side, the version of Rebecca that was afraid that going back home, as positive as Paula spins it, will just end up with her in the same spot again. What would change?

And that’s when something shifts. Dr. Shin (affectionally known to Paula as Dr. Damn) tells Rebecca that he thinks she’s been misdiagnosed all these years, that he has a new treatment and diagnosis for her. Suddenly, she’s filled with something new: hope.

This series has done a lot of things well, one of which is trying to bring attention to mental illness and remove the stigma around it. And the song that Rebecca sings after hearing that she finally has a real diagnosis is one of these moments that is so eye-opening to the struggles that individuals deal with and how much having someone understand, identify, and help can mean to someone. It helps them belong, helps them to better understand themselves, and finally gives them hope. I don’t normally include the videos from the show in my reviews, but this one impressed me so much, I have to share it.

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Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: “I Never Want to See Josh Again”

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Photo by Scott Everett White/The CW

CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND: 3.05 “I Never Want to See Josh Again”

Hi friends, tonight’s #CrazyExGirlfriend is pretty emotionally intense. Just wanted to give everyone the head’s up.

That was a tweet shared by Rachel Bloom on Friday, in advance of the most recent episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. I saw it. And I know how dark the show can get. And yet, I still wasn’t prepared for what I was about to see.

I’ve seen the episode twice now. After watching it live on Friday, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to watch it again. It was an incredibly tense episode, with each commercial break making me wonder when the next shoe was going to drop. I remember a mere 12 minutes in feeling like I was about to cry, as Naomi opened Rebecca’s laptop and discovered she was looking at “The Nine Least Painful Ways to Kill Yourself.” Her mother had been through a suicide attempt with Rebecca before. She had seen her erratic behavior with Robert. She heard Rebecca say she wanted to “go back to sleep forever” and noticed she hadn’t eaten in a few days. But even so, when she saw the link, her shocked and upset reaction — “I didn’t know” — was heartbreaking.

Then, something seemed to change. Naomi was supportive. She was getting Rebecca to eat, interacting with her, showing that she cared. I wanted to believe it. Something was still nagging at me, though. And in each commercial break, I was left ill at ease, waiting to see what happened next.

And we know: Naomi was drugging Rebecca without her knowledge so that she could get her well enough to discuss ways to help her. While she may have had the best of intentions, it failed for Rebecca, who saw that her last bit of hope — that at least her mother was there and cared for her — was a fraud. And she had no hope left.

I’ll be honest: I realized how Rebecca was spiraling, and yet, I didn’t think that they would actually have her try to commit suicide. Let alone show it. But there I sat in those final minutes, shocked and silently screaming, “No, Rebecca, no!” knowing there was nothing I could do to stop her. I feared the last we would see was her unconscious in her chair, with the flight attendant looking calmly on, unsure what would happen next.

I’m glad they didn’t. As Rebecca looked up at the “help” light as it blinked to read “hope,” I was so relieved to hear that ding of the passenger button. Rebecca held out the empty pill bottle and said, “I need help.” It was emotionally intense, certainly. And it took me a long time to process all of that.

That was the first time I watched it. On the edge, nervous, ill at ease, and shocked.

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