Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Season 2, Episode 3
“All Signs Point to Josh…Or Is It Josh’s Friend?”
Posted by Sage
I feel like I lived three lives during this week’s episode. When Rebecca Bunch goes manic, so does the show. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend crammed so much plot into “All Signs Point to Josh…Or Is It Josh’s Friend?” that it had a season finale feel. Maybe that’s because most shows save airport runs and other grand gestures until at least sweeps week.
At the top of the episode, Rebecca is doing what she always does with information pertaining to her love life: working through it in her patently irrational way. The sight of Greg as this “new, enlightened person” who wants her to be loved and content has thrown a wrench into her happily ever after with Josh plans. I punched the air when Rebecca told Josh to get his shit together last week, but alas, her grasp on self-respect was too loose. For the first time, she looks at Greg and Josh both as equally viable prospects. But it’s asking too much of Rebecca’s compromised emotional condition for her to make an informed, confident decision. Her thought process goes like this:
- I like both of these guys.
- These guys are both attracted to me, or have been.
- I don’t know how to choose, ergo:
- I’m not gonna.
Under false pretenses, Rebecca borrows the time of a polyamorous throuple to find out if her visions of three-way cuddles, pizza in bed, and arm wrestling for sex are an accurate approximation of their lifestyle. And huge kudos here to Crazy Ex for both the wonderfully diverse casting of these three and also for depicting an alternate lifestyle without sensationalizing or mocking it. Rebecca is the joke here, since she thinks that an arrangement that cannot succeed without absolute trust and complete honesty could somehow be cobbled out of the confusion she’s dealing with and her refusal to face it, head on. “What you’re describing is a love triangle,” one of her interviewees says. “That’s a completely different thing.” Cue this week’s sole musical number, the “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend-inspired “The Math of Love Triangles.”
Again, I gotta shout out the layers of the parody here. Norma Jean Baker was reborn as Marilyn Monroe, a bottle blond with a baby voice and body to die for. She acted in movies, yes, but her most iconic character was herself: effortlessly sexual but confused by any ruckus that sexuality caused. Marilyn played on the desires of men who want to feel like they’re needed. She was seductive, but never seemed to be self-sufficient. In this number, Rebecca casts herself as “little, old, sexy little baby me,” a sex bomb who has caught two men but doesn’t know what a triangle looks like.
She takes her act all the way to Dr. Akopian’s office. I’m glad she’s still seeing her, but Rebecca treats sessions with her therapist like lunches with Paula. Rebecca ignores any advice intended to pull her down from fantasyland and Dr. Akopian wonders if she’s breaking some kind of therapist’s code by continuing to cash Rebecca’s checks. (Also, if White Josh wishes for a kayak in a future episode, that is the confirmed preferred leisure activity of the voices of reason on this show.) Dr. Akopian brings up two salient points: one, Rebecca is choosing between two men, neither of whom are currently offering her any kind of commitment; and two, she’s not in the right place for a relationship anyway. The “Crazy” comes before the “Girlfriend” in the title, because this show is ultimately about Rebecca’s mental health, not who her boyfriend is. And I’ll put “Team Greg” in my Twitter bio if I want to, but I understand that romantic love is more than a plot point. It’s stress and change and a nice distraction from the problems that scare you even more.
If her therapist isn’t going to pick a guy for her (what does Rebecca think that a therapist DOES?), then Rebecca will let the universe do the selecting. She still gives the “sign” of Josh and the Manhattan billboard that pointed to him the credit for her move instead of her own nervous breakdown, so the gods of destiny will surely giveth again. But TV and 1-900 psychics can make a living because the power of suggestion and our inclination to seek out connection is strong. She sees signs everywhere. A karate student is a point for Josh. An empty bottle of cheap whiskey (aw) is a point for Greg. But playing “I Spy” with God prevents Rebecca from digging into even what she already knows: that Josh is keeping her at a distance and that Greg is in a precarious phase of his recovery.
During her lunch break, Rebecca clocks a sign that cannot be one-upped. She and Paula track their synchronized cycles on an app. (Darryl tracks them too, so he can be included in period convos and deliver comfort chocolates. What a gem.) They realize their blood coven of two is running a little late. Then Rebecca ralphs up her egg salad and announces that an omen has finally landed in her lap. Literally. As a grown-up woman, Paula’s proposal is to buy a pregnancy test and get the question out of the way before Rebecca enrolls in Valencia’s prenatal yoga class. (You know she has one.) And DEFINITELY before she tells Josh that he is an expectant father and thus, fate’s plan for her. “Oh honey, I am SO WORRIED ABOUT YOU.” Same, Paula. Same.
I’m not religious and even I know that God would have a lot to answer for if he put a baby inside Rebecca Bunch right now. But Rebecca’s faith in signs has been justified and no accompanying reality is gonna touch her. For once, I’m with Josh. His is a completely appropriate reaction. When the prenatal vitamins fall out of her purse and Rebecca starts talking about their blessed miracle, little baby Jeronica, Josh is forced to acknowledge what he’s dealing with here. Rebecca goes on and on about “making love” and how they’re “meant to be a family” and Josh is physically frozen on the spot. One trip to the bathroom and Rebecca does a total pivot. Her uterine lining finally made its descent, and their child-rearing destiny is put on hold. On the bright side:
For the record, Rachel Bloom has promised us that “Period Sex” will be back, and I hope it returns in a shot-for-shot remake of the video for TLC’s “Red Light Special.”
Josh is in so over his head, and he can’t ignore it anymore. “The last three minutes have been THE most upsetting of my life,” he says. First, Rebecca announced an unplanned (and unconfirmed) pregnancy with the fanfare worthy of a committed couple who’ve been trying for years. Then she dropped the subject completely, all without a thought to how Josh was taking it. They’re both at fault. Josh ignored quirks of Rebecca’s that were signs of deeper issues, because he needed a place to crash and – I hope – does like being around her. But they crossed the threshold with that very short pregnancy. Backtracking, Rebecca reminds him that all couples fight. “We’re not a couple,” Josh finally clarifies. He doesn’t want to see her anymore.
“My womb is empty, like my life,” Rebecca laments to Paula. HARDLY. Rebecca’s life is too full. Her friend echoes her therapist: take a beat, be alone. Work on yourself. That’s an important focus for Paula right now, who has her Working Girl dreams finally within her grasp. But they start to slip away again when Rebecca remarks that they probably shouldn’t go outside together, for fear of attracting vultures. Paula remembers that HER period still hasn’t arrived and makes an emergency call to Scott.
Paula lets the question just be out there for a while. If she takes the test she bought for Rebecca, she’ll know. She doesn’t want to know, because she fears the worst: that this dream WILL poop on her face like a seagull at the beach. Her family doesn’t have enough money to feed another kid AND send Paula to law school. And in general, now is not the time. Bless Scott again for giving Paula his support and promising her that they’ll work it out, no matter what. (“My dad was right. I’m a breeder, not a leader.” “That’s a weird saying.”)
Paula is extra emotional when Darryl and the other associates surprise her with a congratulations party, complete with a pair of brand new kicky Nine West pumps, just like Melanie Griffiths’s. But the real kicker is that Darryl has pulled some strings to get Paula admitted to law school for the next semester. He knew the wait was frustrating her. “Nothing can stop you, Paula. Not anymore.” He doesn’t get why her response to the gesture is to sob like she just lost something, and the poor guy is so concerned when she leaves the office abruptly. But Paula has to know what she’s dealing with, and what’s she’s dealing with is a little pink plus sign. “That bitch, Fate” has got some damn nerve.
In the meantime, Greg’s life is on the cusp of more real change. He comes home one day to find that his dad up and sold the house to some millennial house flipper for a nice profit. In a show of love, pride, and confidence, Greg’s dad gives him half of the money and tells him to do what he’s been wanting to do since he got accepted: go to Emory. Finally, nothing stands between Greg and what he wants so much – what he’s been bitching about for YEARS. He has his father’s blessing, he has the cash, and he has no commitments in West Covina. He does have his sobriety, and Greg is terrified to rock that boat at all. He seeks out guidance from Guardrail (“Can I call you Guard?”), but like Dr. Akopian, Greg’s sponsor isn’t in the business of making life decisions for other people. (The Grebecca parallels, you guys.)
I hope Darryl knows that Rebecca used he and WiJo’s favorite outdoor spot for thinking – he’d be so happy. Rebecca tries to be the calm, introspective person everyone is telling her to be, but the universe assaults her with another sign: Greg, standing in the idyllic spot, doing some thinking of his own. Greg has only two choices: to stay or to go. Rebecca is acting like she’s also in an either/or situation, but really, she’s got the Into The Woods Cinderella option open to her too. (“I know what my decisions is, which is not to decide.) But there he is, on that bridge. And it’s like fate is testing Rebecca, daring her to make nothing of it.
It’s nice. The banter is friendly, with just a hint of regret. They talk about the new shoes Greg bought with all the booze money he saved. They talk about how Rebecca’s trying to wean herself off of her fantasy life. They talk about how great Darryl and White Josh are together. It’s nice to know that they can at least recognize a healthy relationship when they see one. (“God, I ship them so hard.”) And they touch on the stuff they could have done if they’d actually treated their own relationship like a relationship. “We should’ve come here, you know? A place like this, when we were together. Why didn’t we do that?” Rebecca asks. “Because we hated the outdoors? And each other, most of the time?” Greg answers. Rebecca moves to leave, thanking Greg for their “great, fate-less, coincidental meeting on a scenic bridge.” The “Settle For Me” theme comes back. And, well.
And it seems to Rebecca like her rom com has finally arrived. She proposes an Affair To Remember-style contract, in which the two of them will meet on that bridge at sunset the very next day to start entirely over and be a real, honest-to-god couple. It all makes perfect sense to Rebecca, because it sounds like the plot of a TV show with two competing romantic leads. “Think about how this story has played out: So I move to West Covina, in love with someone else, and he’s the sarcastic, messed up bartender that calls me out on my stuff, and I ignore him, but we have undeniable chemistry,” she spells out for Dr. Akopian. “And now Josh and I break up… and it’s about me and Greg.” The guy who’s been under her nose the whole time; the friend with the unrequited feelings. It’s a Cameron Crowe movie. (One of the old ones.) But Rebecca keeps re-focusing the same energy on different targets. Now she’s pointing her enthusiasm in the direction of a rekindling with Greg, when barely a day ago, she was ready to settle down and pop out babies with Josh.
Greg’s dad left it in his son’s hands to work out whether it was a good time for him to move away right now. But he can’t resist doling out some parental advice when he sees Greg packing to put his things in storage and gets the notion that guaranteed sobriety is a secondary benefit to staying in town. He’s staying because Rebecca wants him again, and she’s the most volatile thing in his life. But I don’t think it’s just Rebecca holding him back. Greg has used his inability to go to Emory after high school as the reason for why his life turned out how it did – why he has a dead-end job, why he grew so cynical. If he goes, he’s eliminating that excuse. If he doesn’t succeed, it’ll only be his fault. Rebecca is a crutch for Greg because she doesn’t hold him to the standards she holds Josh. (Even though he’s better in almost every way, sorrynotsorry.) If they nosedive again, they’ll do it together, and Greg will be the same failure he’s always been. That’s the less scary path.
It’s sunset. Rebecca is on the bridge, waiting. (Her hair looks GREAT, but that’s beside the point.) Greg arrives, but isn’t in her sightline yet. He grins when he sees her, and everything seems to be falling into place. But a well-placed “DANGER” sign reminds him of his father’s words and of his own fears. If he doesn’t leave now, he never will. Rebecca spends her night alone with her couch and a bottle of wine, instead of with her sarcastic bartender in the comforting ambiance of the best Italian restaurant in town. (When you’re there, you’re family.) She’s rudely awakened by an informative Snapchat and takes off to the airport.
The boys are all there to see Greg off to Atlanta. And DAMN YOU, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Male-to-male emotions are my weakness. Chris thanks Greg for being his “weirdly older friend” and confirms his faith in Barry, Greg’s new sponsor. Hector has to jet early, cause his devoted mother is waiting in the red zone. “WiJo, I hope to be half the man you are someday,” Greg tells him, and White Josh recommends squats and more protein before realizing he meant something else. The goodbye is hardest for Josh, who is so young and privileged and sheltered that he’s never really had someone leave him like this before. If you’ve never lived in a small town, you might not get the finality here. But this whole series – or at least season 1 – is built on one underlying joke: there’s really no reason to COME to West Covina. If you’re born there, you might stay. But if you have any ambition at all, you’ll escape as soon as possible. Josh and Greg’s other buddies become the “home” friends – the townies he sees at Christmas. And that’s a tough transition for people who have grown up together.
I AM SO CONFLICTED. Greg deserves happiness, and unlike the rest of his friends, he needs a bigger life. He’s got to get out of West Covina to find it. But at the same time, I’d like him to say here please, and continue to provide the sardonic, observational comedy that this show needs to balance out the exuberant musical numbers. How are the writers getting us out of this one? Because to pull him back into the nest once he gets a good look at the world outside? That’s just mean. Even if the delivery method is a frantic and romantic airport run.
The Situation’s A Lot More Nuanced Than That
- “Thanks for teaching me man-math!”
- Signs 4. This summer: the Signs never stop.
- “You got, uh, I don’t know, puffy boobs, migraines, cramps? An urge to dip chips in frosting?”
- “It’s not coming over, it’s coming HOME.”
- If there’s a Beans reference in every episode, I’ll be happy.
- On a shallow note: everyone’s manicures are SO GOOD.
- “We’re not just LinkedIn friends.”
- White Josh’s parrot shirt. <3
This episode had me stressed, my friends. What did you think of Crazy Ex this week? Let’s chat in the comments.