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. 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.