Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Season 3, Episode 1
“Josh’s Ex-Girlfriend Wants Revenge”
Posted by Sage
The Season 2 finale promised us a woman scorned with nothing left to lose, and I, for one, was ready to watch her go off. But when Crazy Ex-Girlfriend returns from its hiatus, Rebecca Bunch isn’t yet the raven-haired vixen whose change in status is making Nathaniel do “weird, girly” things for her. After Josh left her at the altar, our flawed hero talked a big game, but according to Paula’s helpful sign, she bailed soon after and has been missing ever since. It’s true to what we know about her: Rebecca’s mood ebbs and flows. Her depressive episodes are just as intense as her manic periods. And because she lives her life so openly – seeking approval and attention at every turn – her disappearance has the entire town talking. Where’s Rebecca Bunch? At the bottom of a hotel mini fridge, unsure about what happens next.
She should be hunkered down in Dr. Akopian’s office instead, but nothing about this episode indicates that Rebecca is interested in dealing with the the abandonment issues that made themselves heard – loudly – at her failed wedding attempt. Paula still doesn’t know who Robert is, and neither does Josh, if he still hasn’t opened that envelope from Trent. When Rebecca decides to “fight back, fight back, fight back,” she’s merely talking about reclaiming her narrative, getting her reveeenge against Josh, and answering the question she’s imagining all of her friends and coworkers are singing in the streets of Ye Old Village of West Covina: “Where’s a woman’s pride without her man?”
As ever, Rebecca’s scheme involves her playing a role. She imagines herself as a person who does a thing, rather than doing that thing as her authentic self. Her performative comeback is inspired by Fatal Attraction and Basic Instinct, but how can she tell that she’s going about this in a tragically unhealthy way when everyone thinks she looks so good as a brunette? (“I have emerged from the cocoon of female submission as a scorned butterfly, dagger in hand.”)
Only her #girlgroup4evah will tell Rebecca the truth. Valencia, Paula, and Heather each have their own reasons for living vicariously through Rebecca’s extremes. And the shared one is that scheming a way to get back at Josh brings a little excitement to their lives. Whatever else Rebecca is, she’s something of an evil genius, and the first and only plan she presents to the group after her grand reemergence at Plimpton, Plimpton & Plimpton is met with even more disappointment than disgust. The girls were expecting something elaborate – a Double Indemnity kind of scheme. (Valencia is cool with murdering someone.) Something worthy of Rebecca’s execution. They weren’t expecting the Minny Jackson.
In the Season 1 song, “You Ruined Everything,” Rebecca encourages her imaginary audience to call her a “stupid bitch” to her face, egging them on with a “Yes, I deserve this!” And there’s a lot of self-immolation happening in this episode too. Rebecca wants to debase herself. She thinks she deserves this, too. And if she poops into a plastic container to send it to her ex-fiancee, then setting Robert’s house on fire isn’t rock bottom anymore. Paula treats her like a child who’s testing boundaries, but Rebecca is an adult on a mission to self-destruct. The girls soon work out that she’s not going to pull herself back on her own.
Either one of the Drs. Akopian would have a lot to say about the Plan B that Rebecca reluctantly works up after her poop cupcakes idea is shouted down. (She does it anyway, of course. Don’t tell this girl who low she WON’T sink.) Josh is missing for the episode, but CXG brilliantly casts Vincent Rodriguez III as a British actor with an uncanny resemblance to Josh who responds to Rebecca’s casting call. And how is Paula supposed to keep her cookie in check when the universe is playing games like this?
I can tell you right now that the odds of Josh making it all the way through the process of becoming a priest are slim to none, but Rebecca takes aim directly at the calling that pulled him away from her. Her “fake” sex tape will feature her Josh lookalike yelling “I hate Jesus” in a moment of carnal ecstasy, and then, what? She’ll send it to the Vatican? To Father Brah? It makes no sense, especially the part where Rebecca has to have fake sex with the guy. And the moment she gets a look at Colin Crawley, master of a million accents, the “fake” goes out the window. Paula has to pull the plug when Rebecca saunters onto set naked and declares to her friends that she’s going to fuck this stranger on film without a condom.
The only person who seems to believe that Rebecca is this new person she’s trying on is Nathaniel. His feelings have evidently progressed from “super quickly” getting their tension out of their systems to sending her artisanal pears and bath products and being genuinely hurt when his gift isn’t acknowledged. Considering what she’s gone through, I can’t blame Rebecca for relishing having power over a man, especially one with a habit for cutting her down. And while I know intellectually that they are a very, very bad idea and both of them have shit they need to personally wade through, I cannot help but ship it. The role reversal is just too delicious, with Nathaniel showing up to Rebecca’s door all sweaty, asking to “juice” his phone. (Sure, buddy, your “phone.”) But it takes one to know one and Rebecca is the “queen of, ‘I just happened to be here!'” Her taunting just makes it worse for the poor guy, who desperately tries to reassert his dominance by parading his Casting Call Magazine date around in front of Rebecca, failing miserably. Cue the “Let’s Have Intercourse” reprise!
Speaking of weird power dynamics, Scott and Paula. Since Scott slept with his coworker last season and Paula agreed to try and work it out, she’s been putting her husband through a very strict routine. Paula is nothing if not pragmatic and process-oriented. It helps her feel in control of the world. And Scott is willing to do anything to get off the couch, including signing in every night like he’s a guest in someone’s dorm room, and submitting to regular lie detector tests. (I hope Paula hangs on to that polygraph, because it could definitely come in handy in the future. Though, if she hooks Rebecca up to it, it’ll probably explode like that time Dana Scully used it on Homer Simpson and asked him if he understood how it worked.) This is already weird, but Scott is remorseful and enthusiastic.
Where it really gets weird is when Paula does allow him back in the bedroom. She’s very much not in the mood, but gets herself there by asking Scott to call her Tanya. Only an academic like Heather (she’s thinking of becoming a life coach) could work out why the hell Paula wanted to roleplay her own humiliation. She doesn’t get her groove back until she…let’s say “workshops” Valencia’s idea to sue Josh for leaving Rebecca at their wedding. When Paula feels smart and powerful, she also feels sexy. And Scott isn’t about to question why so much of her self-worth is wrapped up in whatever’s currently going on with Rebecca, so for now, these two are back to their regular post-Wheel sex sessions. (“All the big hitters were there.”)
If only every couple on this show could be as open and healthy and respectful as the gold standard of TV couples (apologies to Barry and Iris, who are BROTHER AND SISTER), White Josh and Darryl. When last we left the pair, Darryl countered WhiJo’s anti-marriage stance by suggesting they have a baby together. He’s still fixated on the idea, which is successfully driving WhiJo crazy. He wasn’t enthusiastic about the idea when it was first brought up, nor has he seemed to particularly warm to it since. But Darryl is such a pure, eager being; he cannot stop himself from inserting baby puns into every conversation, even when the topic is WhiJo’s ant protein bars. WhiJo wants to take it slow; he hasn’t wrapped his mind about this idea, and saying that he wants to concentrate on this new venture is just an easy way to buy some kind of time. Darryl, because that’s who he is, takes WhiJo’s reasoning literally and decides to get his business booming for him so that they concentrate on being some lucky kid’s “two cool dads.”
The anteater costume is a bridge too far (“honk honk”), so WhiJo books a therapy session with the other Dr. Akopian. And THEN. THEN, you guys, they actually talk through their problems, give each other credit and validation, and work out a compromise. Darryl will ease up on the baby talk to let WhiJo catch up with him. And WhiJo will stop being patronizing to his boyfriend because Darryl is not as cool and collected as he is. Darryl’s speech about knowing his worth is SO important, considering how they got together (Darryl being the baby gay in this scenario – unless baby bi is a term we use now?) and their age difference. WhiJo’s friends call him “judgey” all the time (and god, do I love him for it where they’re concerned), but only Darryl doing it can make him stop and think about the way his black-or-white philosophy makes other people – again, mainly Darryl – feel. I don’t want WhiJo to be guilted into taking a life step he doesn’t want to take, but wouldn’t these guys be the best co-parents ever? I volunteer as tribute for their trial run.
So that about wraps up the episode, except for one small detail. After Rebecca’s fake porn idea crashes and burns, the ladies pop open the rose and embark on a primal ritual that women have been participating in throughout time. It’s called “Men Suck” and it’s reductive and stupid but also healing and cathartic. They go full Pointer Sisters in the ensuing number, the already iconic “Let’s Generalize About Men.” It’s the theme song of so many female friendship groups because we KNOW not all straight men are the same (except that they are) and we KNOW that they don’t all have the same irritating characteristics (except that they do) and yeah, in our hearts we know that not ALL gay men are perfect (okay, Milo alone disproves that one.) But when we’re hurting or in need of some bonding, it’s low-hanging fruit to do some commiserating. And there ARE some truths to be found in there. (“That’s one of the things that I am really mad at Josh about: he turned the smartest person I know into a sad wannabe porn star.” “Brutal but true. Trutal.”)
This is already one of my Top 5 Crazy Ex-Girlfriend songs ever, and I’ve listened to it at least 20 times since the episode. Let’s enjoy it again, shall we? This time please take special note of how Gabrielle Ruiz is SLAYING THIS:
The sad reality is that Rebecca is past the point of just wine and girl talk. She still needs serious help, but as long as she keeps lying about Robert and her breakdown, she’s going to avoid getting it. Of course, Trent’s envelope of evidence is still floating around somewhere in West Covina like Checkov’s background check. So she may be spared the burden of telling the truth herself.
The Situation’s A Lot More Nuanced Than That
- She brought her own chair.
- “Tell that to my reiki practitioner who figured out I have a ghost in my foot.”
- “This is what you meant when you texted ‘surprise time.’”
- “Sir, I’m going to call it for today. My best to Princess Kate, the new People’s Princess.”
- “My friends all say I’m judgey, but I never listen to them or care what they say because they’re stupid idiots.”
- “I don’t want Tanya.” “That’s good though, cause I killed her.”
- The styling in “Let’s Generalize…” though.
Listen, I don’t know why this show doesn’t have a million Emmys. Let’s talk about the Season 3 premiere and, if you like, generalize about men in the comments.
Featured Image Source: The CW