Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Season 2, Episode 13
“Can Josh Take a Leap of Faith?”
Posted by Sage
Ah, the season finale wedding. A classic move. (This is actually Crazy Ex-Girlfriend‘s second consecutive season-ending nuptials, though last year’s couple were both minor characters.) There are only so many surprises to be pulled with a rom-com plot point like this. I thought I’d seen them all. But, in its unlimited, deconstructive genius, CXG leaned into its ruthlessness and blew up the whole damn thing. Josh and Rebecca’s dream wedding nearly ends with Rebecca hurling herself off the scenic cliff where she and the “man of her dreams” are supposed to take their photos. And that’s not even the most shocking thing that occurs.
Rachel Bloom apparently has a five-year plan for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. And since it’s taken two full seasons to even unpack the title of the show, we’re really in for it. “Can Josh Take a Leap of Faith” reveals that Rebecca isn’t JOSH’S crazy ex, she’s Robert’s. “Who the Dickens is Robert?” Well, I’m glad you asked. Robert is a spineless piece of shit straight outta the daddy issues playbook. A professor at Harvard Law, Robert slept with Rebecca, promised to leave his wife for her, and then unceremoniously dumped her, because hello, he was never planning on uprooting his life for the silly kid. (“You’re right, you’re right, I know you’re right.”) Rebecca’s attachment to Robert is one of the many instances in which the abandonment issues she got from her “garbage father” have reared their ugly head. And with Silas Bunch in town for the wedding, all of it comes screaming back.
It’s so painful to watch someone exert the majority of the effort while hoping against hope that their one-sided relationship won’t always be that way. Rebecca is reduced to frantic self-loathing in the presence of her dad who obviously has no qualms about being so casually cruel with her. In the opening of the episode, she sends the “Westchester Sperm Machine” a text to test the waters that mirrors the one that she oh-so-breezily sent Josh in the pilot. (“Well….buzz! *Bee emoticon.*”) She’s never stopped chasing either of them, not really – not in her beautiful, imbalanced brain. And sure, her dad still seems distant. But when he gets a load of Rebecca in the supremely normal context of a heterosexual wedding, well, that might be “the version of [her] he’ll stick around for.” All her hopes for the future are right there in “Rebecca’s Reprise,” a song that foreshadows so much tragedy I yelled at her through the TV to run. Run while she still could.
Silas isn’t worth what Rebecca’s putting herself through on his behalf, and someone has to get through to her on this. But Naomi’s advice to Rebecca isn’t about Rebecca. It’s about how Silas wronged HER and her annoyance that Rebecca still favors him. (“What about my mother daughter dance? You know how fast I pick up choreo.”) Trusty Paula comes through with a reality check that’s at least a little unbiased. She cautions Rebecca not to raise her expectations too high for this single interaction with her historically deadbeat dad, who’s not “a completely different person” than the guy from a few days ago who only decided to come to his only daughter’s wedding because a private plane pulled up outside his door. But Rebecca is too caught up in fantasies of father-daughter dances and many holiday visits with “the two most important men” in her life to float back down.
If there’s a villain in Rebecca’s own story, it’s Silas Bunch. He should be groveling at her feet for walking away from her when he did; instead, he feeds into her insecurities by never moving beyond politeness and continuing to withhold the approval she craves so badly that the lack of it has dominated her entire life. Dr. Akopian can once again see the light at the end of the tunnel when Rebecca tells her the ghastly truth of why Silas even bothered to show up: he needs money for his other kid’s braces, and Rebecca is a big-time lawyer. Her shrink begs Rebecca to let go of the loving father fantasy completely; her dad has shown his true colors and will never, ever change. Instead, Rebecca shows up to his hotel room with 14 Father’s Day cards, apologies for being the “needy kid” who caused him to run away, and a check. He’ll stay for the wedding. But then he’ll disappear, and the cycle will continue you. Rebecca will keep believing that it was up to her – a child – to make her dad want to be around her. And that the responsibility still lies with her.
While Rebecca battles her childhood demons, Josh is trying to warm his cold feet. And the way his story plays out here is so unexpected yet SO in character. He’s spooked by the Robert talk, because Josh is afraid that he doesn’t REALLY know Rebecca. And of course, he doesn’t. She’s never shown him her real self for more than a few hours at a time. Josh drops the loaded name around the family, but can’t make out the whole story. Silas tells Josh Robert had something to do with Harvard Law, and that he only knows that because it was supposed to be a secret from him, not because he actually cares about Rebecca’s welfare. (Fuck OFF, Silas, you son of a bitch.) Naomi lies directly to Josh’s face and tells him that Robert was the name of Rebecca’s beloved dog who “got those lumps dogs get.”
Adrift, Josh turns to his bro and spiritual leader, Father Brah. He’s a good, smart guy and he really cares about Josh’s happiness. It’s good advice that Brah gives him when Josh asks if he should swallow his concerns. If he’s really going through something, Josh should go straight to Rebecca with his problems. “She’s the one you wanna face them with, right?” Brah asks. He then gently informs Josh about a pattern that’s obvious to everyone who’s been playing along at home: his usual strategy is to pin his hopes on the nearest cute girl, envisioning her (in this case, Sarah the basketball coach) as some problem-solving angel. Rebecca and Josh are more alike than either of them know.
Josh is grateful for Brah’s sound counsel. TOO grateful even. And the hints of what’s coming have been planted throughout the season, not just this episode. He’s overwhelmed by the emotional complexities of other people. He’s felt purposeless. His anxiety plagues him. And there’s this offer on the table that’s meant to take all of that away and streamline his life. Josh listens to Brah talk about how easy it was to decide to “marry Jesus.” He wants to be that sure of ANYTHING. And the free t-shirt? Well, that’s a plus too.
Rebecca worries constantly that the way that she is – the inner truth of her – will drive people away, just like she thinks it did her dad. And in the end, that’s not what happens with Josh. It’s his own issues that send him driving far from that wedding and to Father Rodrigo to sign up with the church. And he has actual legal proof of Rebecca’s crazy in his hand, thanks to her stalker. (Trent is one man that love hers unconditionally, I’ll give him that.)
Good intentions or no, Josh’s abandonment combined with her dad’s continued fuckboy-ness send Rebecca back to the night when Robert broke her heart. Her original West Covina house isn’t the first building she’s burned down in a cleansing ex-boyfriend blaze. Rebecca didn’t go to Harvard because she got drunk and sort-of-accidentally set Robert’s home on fire. “She’s just a girl in love, you honor,” her mom says in Rebecca’s defense in a blue-tinted flashback. “She can’t be held responsible for her actions.” All season long, without us knowing it, Rebecca has been dressing up in bubblegum pink to coo and squeal about the time she was committed to a mental hospital for arson. And AT that hospital, she was known as the girl who sings to herself. It’s been apparent that Rebecca’s musical interludes are her way of processing what’s happening to her, but with this new information, the production numbers she imagines seem less Chicago the movie and more proof of psychosis.
The Crazy Ex-Girlfriend finale went darker than I ever expected, but Rebecca has one advantage now that she didn’t have in the aftermath of any of those past traumas. While her parents and the other guests gawk at her from a few feet away, Valencia, Heather, and Paula are right on that ledge with her. (She has friends, she DEFINITELY has friends.) Because even though they all may have at one time or another judged the behavior of Rebecca or another woman like her, they also know how hard she tries to be a person who this stuff doesn’t happen to. They’re listening now as she censures herself for being unlovable. But Mama Paula is not having it. “All these men, they are the ones to blame,” she says. Rebecca isn’t perfect, but these guys (even Greg, though it pains me to say it) are all cowards in their own way. And if they want to blame their lousiness on Rebecca being “too much,” then “too much” is what she’ll be. And that’s it: the breakdown that forces Rebecca to FINALLY stop hanging her hopes on her shifty dad. She sends him packing with Nathaniel’s help. (“Have fun flying coach, DICK.”) And she owns her flaws in a way her father never could.
Because everybody’s got their issues, man. Everybody. Hector and his mom have a really creepy relationship, but hey, it makes them happy. (“Burgundy. A-line. very tasteful. She’s a winter. My little snowflake.”) Everyone thinks Valencia is nuts for planning her ex’s wedding, but she’s KILLING IT and having a great time. Darryl finds out that the love of his life is anti-marriage, but he’d rather re-envision their life together than live it without him. Paula lives vicariously through Rebecca and indulges her to the point of lunacy, but she loves her like crazy. Nathaniel can’t get out from under his father’s shadow, but he CAN kick Rebecca’s dad’s ass to coach. Heather is the face of a douche, but she’s paying off her student loans. Sanity and insanity, normal and weird – they aren’t the black and white areas Rebecca believes that they are.
All this just leaves just one loose end: however will Father Josh pay for this treachery? Season 3 of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is all set up to be the “don’t get mad, get even” season, and I am HERE for it. It’s her wedding day, and Rebecca ends it as she should: by holding the hands of the person who loves her the most and planning their future together. And yes, the target of their plotting is still a man. But the mission is most definitely NOT love. Baby steps.
The Situation’s A Lot More Nuanced Than That
- Look at the stroppy baby. I love him:
- Not super necessary but really fun:
- “I feel like I’m the marshmallow that’s holding together this rice krispie treat.”
- DARRYL/WHIJO BABY.
- “Hero. I like saying that word. I wear it well, and it fits me like a cape.”
- V IS rocking that all-black, HBIC wedding planner look. As I knew she would.
- “Sorry, I don’t know what people know what words.”
- “I can’t actually talk to you while your chest is twerking.”
- “I will take his husky limbs into my hands and I will RIP THEM APART.”
- Digging that A Series Of Unfortunate Events pullback.
This hiatus is going to be MURDER. How’d you like the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend finale? Let us know in the comments!