Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Season 2, Episodes 8 & 9
“Who Is Josh’s Soup Fairy?” and “When Do I Get to Spend Time with Josh?”
Posted by Sage
How’s this for a meaningful coincidence? The sort-of hardworking employees of Whitefeather & Associates got their reprieve the very same week that the CW announced that Crazy Ex-Girlfriend will be back for season 3. Here in 2017, that feels like a political statement. That heat map that’s going around says that CXG is the Netflix show most popular in the liberal hotbeds of New York, California, and Oregon. Its ratings are minuscule in comparison to CBS’s block of comedies designed to bring out the very worst in your parents’ friends. But the CW doesn’t care that middle America isn’t tuning in to watch a size 8 Jewish woman sleep with a Filipino man and sing about her clinical depression. That’s one vote in favor of quality over quantity. Congratulations, you crazy weirdos. You deserve this.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend came back from its brief winter hiatus with a double-dose of episodes that did feel like two halves of a whole. “Who Is Josh’s Soup Fairy?” and “When Do I Get to Spend Time with Josh?” resolved the argument that’s been keeping Paula and Rebecca apart for weeks. It had to, because that storyline hit its highest point with their epic ’80s love ballad, “You Go First.” But what I wasn’t expecting quite so soon was another reconciliation between Rebecca and Josh, this time with Josh as the pursuer.
But first: the ladies. What really destroyed me about Scott’s confession is that it happened in a moment of imperfect domestic happiness. The Proctors don’t know how to send their delinquent children out into the world with a normal bagged lunch, but they’re up every morning doing their best. And Paula seems content with this life, as madcap as it is. And then it blows up, right in her face. It hurts too because Scott DOES love his wife, and more than that, we’ve seen this season how much he respects her. He stood by her decision to go to law school. He stood by her decision to terminate her pregnancy. But Scott is evidently feeling the strain more than she is and makes a really thoughtless, awful mistake. Paula kicks him out because she can’t see any other option. And then she brings all that baggage with her to work and has a meltdown over her daily iced mocha. I don’t think I’ve ever identified with Paula more than when she’s shaking empty ice trays at her coworkers and bellowing, “What MAN did this?”
When Rebecca spies a weakness in another person, she performs some quick mental calculus on how to use it to her best advantage. The standoff doesn’t stand if Paula’s in crisis; Rebecca can only apologize while under the impression that she has the proverbial upper hand. As her best friend cries, Rebecca simultaneously sees her chance to finally make things right AND misjudges the situation completely. Her dramatic display of being the bigger person doesn’t go over well, but it DOES pull a lecture out of Mrs. Hernandez, who evidently talks “all the time.” Never forget that Rebecca Bunch is one hell of an unreliable narrator.
The shaming doesn’t put her off though. Rebecca shows up to Paula’s house offering her unsolicited nannying services so that Paula can go on her “weird adult field trip” with her law school classmates without her house spiraling into the final act of a Hunger Games book. (“Just a dystopian nightmare. Children fighting for food, trying to kill each other…”) It’s a show of solidarity, and Rebecca legitimately wants to help Paula out. But it’s also a chance for her to try on motherhood for a weekend and prove that she’d be better than all the other moms. (“I could be a good mom if I wanted to be a good mom.” I MISS GREG.) She’s a philanthropist in the way that Cher Horowitz is a philanthropist: being nice to prove a point about how good she is at being nice. (“You know, if I ever saw you do anything that wasn’t 90% selfish, I’d die of shock.”) Paula tries to warn her that she’s volunteering for a suicide mission. (“Parenting turns you into well, me.”) But Rebecca has listened to half an episode of a child-rearing podcast and she won’t hear it. She sends Paula out the door to some New Jack Swing.
Rebecca’s plans for a quiet Netflix Saturday with Tommy are shot when they run into Josh “ohmigod it’s my ex” Chan, getting some supplies for his incoming cold. He wants to be in tip-top shape for a mysterious gig at a sponsored party at Spider’s, even though his lady won’t be able to make it. (“Let’s just say I’m ‘in-volved.'”) Another imperfection? It’s Rebecca’s kryptonite. The story of Josh’s sniffles prompts the most poetic chicken soup delivery of all time. (I love her Jewish rage at the lack of matzoh balls in West Covina.) In doing something nice for Josh, she sees her chance to give something to him that Anna isn’t. Rebecca’s professional ability to hide her own intentions from herself are on full display. But hey, a sick guy got his soup.
He’s so happy, too. Josh wants to be mothered. (Not like Hector wants to be mothered, but still.) He’s not wild about commitment, but I think that’s because he’s always had the power in the relationship. He’s very aware that Anna is cooler, richer, and more cosmopolitan that he is, so despite how freaked out he was playing house with Rebecca, here he’s grasping for some proof that Anna really is into him. So when the note gets ruined by some leakage, he assumes that Anna is his benefactor. Rebecca cannot deal with the idea that Josh be ignorant of who really gifted him that warm, broth-y goodness, so she drags her young charge to the club to take the credit.
Rebecca is the kind of person who would get a child a fake ID so she can take him to a bar. But this town is the kind of place that would let that kid into the bar even though he’s clearly not an adult named Manuel. It’s a bonkers plan that’s obviously going to end in disaster, but Rebecca can’t stand being an anonymous donor. Unfortunately, when she and Heather are looking all over Spider’s for Tommy, they miss Josh’s big “career move.” This scene is a triumph in the telegraphing of secondhand embarrassment. Erick Lopez and especially David Hull are magnificent here as two friends looking on in horror as their bro takes his male mall modeling debut with stone-faced seriousness. (“I’ve left my body. I’m floating above this room looking down.”) What I would give to have seen Greg’s reaction to this.
The display bursts Anna and Josh’s sex bubble. In the break-up, he realizes that she wasn’t his generous “soup fairy.” Hector (A PAL) calls the diner to see who the sender really was and everyone but Josh figures it out easily when they hear that the note quoted Shakespeare. He’s just been rejected by someone with more social capital; Anna’s not cruel, but she comes right up to the line of laughing in his face. (“It might have been when the sleeves came off? Oh my god, this is bad.”) So Josh ping-pongs BACK over to the one person who thinks he can do no wrong – that everything he does or says is worthy of worship: Rebecca. Is it healthy? Fuck, no. But his realization leads to another inspired Josh number: the Bieber-like “Duh.” (“It’s like, HELLO?”)
Rebecca arrives back at Paula’s defeated and less one preteen. Paula came home early, and Rebecca is prepared for her to sever all ties between them when she finds out she lost Tommy. But Tommy is home and he ain’t no snitch. Why would he rat out a babysitter who hands out hundos like they’re Monopoly currency? (Wow, Rebecca REALLY has a money problem.) Then Josh shows up and Rebecca has a way out. It’s finally happening. She can stop chasing him. And Paula gives her full permission to go. But Rebecca can’t walk out knowing that she very nearly lost Paula completely. She sends Josh packing for the time being and ‘fesses up to Paula. Paula’s like, bitch, I TOLD you being a mom was hard. (“Honey I lost him for an entire weekend at the mall once.”) No one knows better than Paula how Rebecca can turn off her huge brain and small amount of decency whenever Josh wants her. But she postponed their reconciliation to be with Paula, and that means everything.
“When Do I Get to Spend Time with Josh?” picks up a week later. Scott is still living somewhere else. And I would have loved a full episode with Rebecca being Paula’s wife. But Paula points Rebecca in the direction of her pile of gifts from Josh (“It looks like a children’s cancer ward in here.”) and tells her that it’s fine. It’s really fine, she’s figured out how to manage everything. And it helps that Brendan is still on the lamb somewhere. Paula opens the door to reveal Josh, waiting on her doorstep like a retriever. “Go be in love.” WEST COVINA REPRISE.
The frantic sex period of their first go-round has been replaced by matching PJs cuddle-time. Rebecca is in HEAVEN. She doesn’t have to trick Josh into wanting to be around her. On the morning that Darryl finally finds Rebecca via Heather (“He’s stalking my whole life”), Josh is calling off from Aloha Tech so that they can spend the day together at the water park. On their way, Rebecca stops by the office to see what’s so important. (“Karen did you try to cook a chicken in the microwave again?” “Not today! But it can be done.”) Instead of the usual shenanigans, she finds that the peaceful suburban happiness made possible by her low-stress job is about to be stolen away by your enemy AND mine: a straight, white, disgustingly handsome man in an expensive suit.
Darryl sold half of the company over the weekend, against the advice of WhiJo. (Everyone should ALWAYS LISTEN to WhiJo.) His new partner is Nathaniel Plimpton, the son of a big-time Los Angeles attorney. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has not given us an honest-to-god villain until now, and he’s the PERFECT choice. Nathaniel is basically a ghost from Rebecca’s past. He’s everything she hated about her old life and career: cynical, cold, and motivated only by money and productivity. He also has the chops of a great litigator. It doesn’t take him long to identify Rebecca’s weak point. While he gives her the old “things are going to look a lot different around here” speech, he sprinkles in insults against Josh in all his West Coast townie glory. Rebecca makes a grand show of quitting, but does a 180 when Nathaniel tells her that he’s been instructed to clear up $250k in the budget and he plans on doing that by firing four people.
How convenient for Josh that he’s allowed himself to forget all those times he left Rebecca at home alone when they were living together. She cancels their water park date and he sulks. But she has jobs to save – the jobs of “Screechy Blonde Oversharer, Dumb Canadian Joke Guy, Mousy Glasses Girl, and Red-haired Sarcastic Mom Lady,” to be exact. And Nathaniel can throw them all out if he wants; he scammed Darryl, buying his ex-wife’s share in the firm so that he can be majority owner. He’s everybody’s boss. (Darryl: “I am but the jester in this house of feathers!”) Undefeated, Rebecca calls around to book new business, not above talking up her “ample bosom” to dirty, old mortgage brokers. Nathaniel admires the hustle but still doesn’t believe she can do it by the deadline. It’s a deadline that Rebecca isn’t sharing with her coworkers for fear they’ll sabotage themselves, but they’re already suspicious. So suspicious in fact, that they sing about it in one of the show’s rare non-parody songs. This one’s just meta, with the Whitefeather employees asking why this character has been introduced into their lives “this far into the season.” (Me: Because he and Rebecca are totally gonna bone, obviously.)
Rebecca puts her morals on the backburner to woo a potential client: a country club that wants to purchase a new tract of land in order to expand their stuffy, racially intolerant empire. She’s got them on the hook, but they won’t commit right away. And Nathaniel is taking near sexual pleasure in watching her squirm. (See above.) That is, he’s having a great time wielding his power until Rebecca hits on HIS weak point: Nathanial – like so many other rich boys – is desperate to impress a withholding father. Uncomfortable that his armor has been dinged, Nathaniel fires the first person he sees: Glenn. I mean, George. At least he goes out singing his truth.
Nathaniel won’t extend the deadline for the rest of he firings, and he even crashes Rebecca’s dinner with Josh’s parents and their matching argyle cardigans. While he waits for the only cheese-less steak in West Covina, he sprawls in his chair, distracting Rebecca with his pompous gaze. (“Why are you spying on me, you inglorious bastard?”) With him staring at them, everything Nathaniel’s said about Josh the “human flip-flop” feels true for the moment. “Blah blah blah puka shells,” Josh is droning in her head. When Rebecca can’t handle Nathaniel’s old money scrutiny anymore, she runs, offending Josh’s mom and dad. (They still like her better than Valencia.)
When all seems lost, that’s the one and only time you should go grave-robbing. Paula and Rebecca have only been back together for one episode and already Paula is six feet under wearing a head lamp and digging up skulls. They find the proof that the cemetery that’s suing the country club for the land is using illegal burial practices. When the cops show up, Rebecca runs for it. Paula is left to negotiate with the security guard, promising to accompany him to the aquarium the next weekend to touch some fish. (“I don’t wanna talk about it.”)
They race back to the office, covered in dirt and human remains. Rebecca’s plan failed. It’s 8am and she hasn’t been able to deliver that $250k in new business. But she can’t let him win. Not this fucking guy with his water polo and his liquid diet and his stupid symmetrical face. This is her sanctuary and he’s not allowed to have it. So, as any strong woman would, Rebecca grabs one of his expensive pens and chases Nathaniel around his office, trying to stab him. The country club guys arrive just as she’s pinned him with “The Flying Squirrel.” They fall easily for Paula’s Epi-Pen lie and announce that the cemetery did drop the suit. They can see from her appearance that Rebecca did go above and beyond as she promised. That’s the new business Whitefeather needed, and her friends are safe “for today.”
They’re safer than Josh and Rebecca’s bubble, which has already been infiltrated by her latent hate-crush on Nathaniel. Enemies-to-lovers is a popular fic trope for a reason. And the show hasn’t gone there yet. Rebecca and Greg had that playfully antagonistic dynamic. And the “shit show” of their relationship was that Greg was forever at Rebecca’s mercy and always ready for more abuse. Meanwhile Rebecca and Nathaniel are mentally compatible but emotional opposites. Rebecca didn’t want to be attracted to Greg because she knew it was right. Rebecca is helplessly attracted to Nathaniel because she knows it’s SO WRONG. And it’s going to be REALLY fun to watch them navigate their hostile chemistry.
The Situation’s a Lot More Nuanced Than That:
- If Paula’s father isn’t already dead, I’m going to kill him.
- “I know you’re older than 8 and younger than me…Vamanos, Boots!”
- Tommy’s adolescent obsession with breasts prompts a “Heavy Boobs” callback!
- I want to hear the rest of Rebecca’s douche lecture.
- “It’s a picture with my selfie so it’s a selfie.”
- “Don’t douche and drive.”
- “Okay that is not the proper usage of ‘woke'” “Whatever, white man.”
- I laughed way too hard at “Dr. Spiders.”
- “None of his dream catchers work in here.”
- “I just heard someone say ‘penis.’ What’s wrong, Karen?
- Hi, Patton Oswalt.
- “Speak from the heart and don’t lie or I’ll know.”
Are you also into Nathaniel against your better judgement? Let’s talk about these episodes in the comments!