Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Season 3, Episode 3 & 4
“To Josh, With Love” & “Josh’s Ex-Girlfriend Is Crazy”
Posted by Sage
It’s only going to get worse before it gets better. If it ever DOES get better.
In “Josh Is A Liar,” young Rebecca manifests in Rebecca’s psyche as a representation of her anxiety over the information that she just let fly to Josh Chan (and a church full of parishioners.) Rebecca talks to the version of herself that’s exactly the age where she was left by her dad as she expects her friends to all jump ship and leave her as soon as word trickles down to them about these events. (And she doesn’t even know about the Trent file yet!) At best, Rebecca’s zaniness helps the people around her discover things about themselves and lean more fully into their own uniqueness. At worst, she’s a toxic friend who’ll throw you over as soon as the other shoe starts to drop. And that shoe hit the ground with a resounding sonic boom in this first episode. There are going to be a lot of casualties in the wake of this one shoe.
First up, Paula’s dignity. Little Rebecca spells out for adult Rebecca that if she and Paula REALLY take Josh Chan to court, he’ll certainly air the details about everything she did for him that he didn’t ask for. And she knows that the fastest way to get Paula to drop the topic is to make her doubt herself. After everything these two went through last year to get over their first major fight, this betrayal really stings. Rebecca condescendingly tells Paula that she doesn’t think they’re ready – and puts that blame mostly on Paula’s relative inexperience. To an objective person, that criticism is ridiculous. It’s universally accepted that Paula is THE most capable person at this branch of Plimpton x 3. But her insecurities are being poked and prodded – insecurities that Rebecca has the privilege of knowing about, as Paula’s bestie. It’s nasty and desperate, and we’re relatively used to Rebecca just being the latter. But the worst thing that she can imagine, next to never being loved, is being considered crazy. And she’ll do literally anything to stop this spread of information, even purposely and remorselessly hurt her best friend.
Heather deals with a different kind of friendship crime: neglect. Rebecca is concerned with people only as they apply to her and whatever her objective is at the time. Heather’s whole thing right now – only the consideration of her very future, the trajectory of her life – is so far out of the realm of Rebecca-land that she can’t even bothered to pay any attention to it. Heather tries. She even tries to get Rebecca interested in their “third roommate” Estrella. But there’s no piercing that bubble, and Heather is forced to contend with the unthinkable idea that she won’t be a student forever. I feel like Pasek and Paul are in the crosshairs of this one, what say you?
Rebecca’s other scheme involves discrediting Josh before he can start telling people what she told him. So instead of talking to a feminist blogger about their lawsuit as planned, Rebecca spreads a bunch of lies about Josh stealing from the church, being a racist in other ways besides calling Hector “amigo,” and doing other unforgivable things. And while it may be a stopgap, unsubstantiated rumors (even if they do find a foothold) can’t hold a candle to a criminal record. This is far from over.
Oblivious to all of this is Nathaniel, who’s having an oh-my-god-I-think-I-like-her moment. And that’s a moment he’s tried to avoid with every fiber of his being. He’s so desperately in like with Rebecca that he takes advice from GEORGE (who’s living his best life with this). He gets a slow-jam club track that owes more than a little to the Chainsmokers to tell us all about the place where he can just reflect and be himself. Nathaniel loves the zoo (except for the zebras), and it’s such a perfectly wholesome, weird thing for a stunted adult who wasn’t permitted to have a childhood to find comforting. But neither the zoo or aquarium can help him get over Rebecca; instead they bring him a little clarity.
And while it should be cause for celebration that Nathaniel is finally admitting to himself that he cares – yes, cares – about another person more than he cares about his image, his timing could not be worse. (“The sex-making.”) Rebecca is in no position to process his feelings, let along reciprocate them. But she will use him as a white-ish horse out of this mess. (“Obviously, there’s something going on between you two. I mean, you’re doing an Officer and a Gentleman type of thing.”) Her insecurities have literally been talking in her ear all episode about how no one in her life really wants anything to do with her – how they’ve all just fallen for this picture that she’s painted for them and if they ever knew what she was REALLY about, they’d laugh in her face and abandon her. That’s all in her mind when Paula, fresh from her meeting with Josh and Father Brah, shows up at Rebecca’s place to confront her with the truth and offer her help. Rebecca would rather go start over with MORE brand new pals and ANOTHER new career in Rome, with Nathaniel (if she can get him out the door before he hears her dark secret). It’s one of the show’s most insane cliffhangers so far and the reason why I didn’t feel so bad doubling up these recaps.
I’ve talked before about what rock bottom means to Rebecca. And I think rock bottom is only rock bottom if you face it. It’s the process of looking at yourself and saying “how have I become this?” that creates that moment. Otherwise, you’ll just shrug your shoulders, move on, then do something worse/more degrading. So the arson wasn’t that for Rebecca, because she never fully dealt with what she did. She tried to run from it; that’s what was creeping up behind her as the New York City promotion loomed. And even with Paula holding the proof in her hands, Rebecca can’t acknowledge it. As the rest of her friends show up to support this makeshift
intervention convention of loved ones, Rebecca deflects in a truly heinous and heartbreaking way.
Part of having true friends is knowing what they’re ashamed of and what scares them. That’s powerful ammunition to have. Rebecca knows now that they’ve all got it on her, and she just can’t hear it. She can’t. So she gets them before they can get her. Everything she says rings of truth – Rebecca has never been dumb. But it’s all presented without context and without humanity. She strips these judgments of anything that might soften them and it was so hard to watch that I couldn’t do it again, even to take notes. Not everyone with a mental illness lashes out like this, but Crazy Ex-Girlfriend looks at the toll that Rebecca’s untreated condition takes on the people who love her and, yes, have enabled her.
But bless their hearts, none of these people washes their hands of Rebecca. When she escapes out into the night, they go looking, in spite of her verbal attacks. Those revelations provoke some awkward conversations, particularly the one between Valencia and Paula. I don’t know a single woman who hasn’t eventually made friends with a person they thought was nasty and shallow based on who she was with or how she looked. And Valencia has to swallow that her girl group – really, the first group she ever had – first came together, in part, through dutifully hating her. But I love that Paula doesn’t try to wriggle out of it. She says they were wrong, and that what she feels for Valencia now is real. It’s the first time we’ve seen a heart to heart like this with the two of them, and it’s a good reminder that Rebecca’s arrival in West Covina brought some people together who may not have found each other otherwise.
Meanwhile, Heather, who’s bad at making decisions and taking risks, throws caution to the wind and does a little flirting with Hector and his smooth arms. (“Just naturally silky. Good for surfing.”) And White Josh and Darryl wait until the search party is over, but eventually face the fact that their lives are moving in different directions. I’m all for hard truths, except in this case. If even WhiJo and Darryl can’t make it work, then what hope is there for anyone? I expected this episode to be dark, but threatening this pair in such an immediate and inescapable way is a bridge too far, Bunch.
By successfully pushing her friends away, Rebecca has freed herself to go out and get the revenge she feels like she needs. And she’s encouraged in this endeavor by a backpacker named Jarl and his obsession with the actress Erika Christensen. You know we love us some trashy thrillers, so the extended Swimfan reference went over like gangbusters. (How appropriate to this show’s audience too. No one outside of that older millennial age group has probably ever seen it.) If she’s the crazy ex-girlfriend, then Rebecca is going to be good enough for the big screen. She changes her own narrative to horror this time, and just leans right in to what she thinks the world expects of her. (“That’s what I’ve been needing to do this whole time. Go full Christensen!”) While Josh, who spent two more weeks pursuing the priesthood than I expected, tries to get his job at Aloha back, Rebecca uses his rapport with Lourdes (she gives good parent, remember) to drag her to one of the creepiest locations in suburban USA: a traveling carnival.
Since Rebecca already sabotaged him professionally, Josh doesn’t think it’s outside of the realm of possibility that she would really hurt his mom too. But taking Lourdes out was just bait; Rebecca’s calls and texts and facetimes were all going unanswered, and all she’s ever wanted from Josh really is his undivided attention. Like Jarl says (and her rabbi and Dr. Akopian and many others), he isn’t the source of or the solution to her problems. Josh represents something that Rebecca feels is missing from her life. It’s something she’s not good or loved enough to have. That ease, that almost generic normalcy. And I know I’m hard on Josh a lot, but there’s really nothing that he can do to save her, except by grasping her hand before she falls into that hole. (Such a good moment, because neither of them are monsters. Just profoundly fucked up people.)
There’s no where else to turn at that point but to a symbol of her safety net. Rebecca goes to the bar where Greg used to do his binge drinking. And maybe it’s because she knows her friends would be looking for her in Home Base, but I think it’s for other reasons too. I held my breath when she saw his name on her caller ID, even though I knew that the show wouldn’t give Rebecca a convenient out like that. But he’s the last person she can think of who’s left to validate her. And the set-up for her ACTUAL rock bottom moment is when Marco Serrano tells her that Greg has fully moved on. Out of options and in a metaphorical hole, Rebecca does something WILDLY inappropriate with the next person who’s kind to her. Imma try to keep the Team Greg hope alive, but damn, my girl fucked his DAD. It’s as if Rebecca needed there to be another reason why she and Greg were completely done other than him just loving someone else more. He killed it, she had to set it on fire and stomp on the ashes.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend moves through plot at a clip. Here we are after episode 4 with Rebecca’s secrets exposed, friendships in the crapper, and two relationships past the point of no return. There’s a weird sense of hope to all of this, however. Because Rebecca finally has to stop lying to herself. All of her carefully crafted delusions are gone, save one. As she walks home, she fantasizes about one of our greatest living vocalists serenading her about this revelatory moment. Nothing’s better than an inspired use of Josh Groban, and “The End of the Movie” is certainly that. Rebecca’s mistakes can be tracked back to her obsession with writing and selling her own story. But she’s applying screenwriting conventions to her existence and that of others, and that’s only going to lead to more disappointment. She has to let go of the idea that everything will make sense or mean something; that no one she loves will ever hurt her, either accidentally or on purpose; and that she herself has to always be one thing or another, as opposed to a real human being with complicated emotions that will sometimes change without warning.
She also has to realize that she doesn’t deserve Paula. Then again, how many of us are always 100% deserving of the kindness and concern of our friends? Sometimes people just do stuff for you because they want to, whether you’re fulfilling your ideal of yourself or not. Regardless, it’s Paula, who Rebecca saved her worst accusations for, who cares enough to set her up for some tough love. She may be a pill, but besides Rebecca, Naomi is the only other person who knows what her daughter went through. And when Rebecca returns from Scarsdale, we’ll probably be watching an entirely different show.
The Situation’s A Lot More Nuanced Than That
- “And I thought maybe you threw your back out, and I have a massager. Actually, I have two: one, two.”
- Corset is my favorite Crazy Ex-Girlfriend analog to anything.
- I don’t know what Home Base Bacon Boppers are, but I want.
- “Are you sitting down? It’s about Crichton.”
- “Ah, the smells of a man’s boyhood. I am that man. And that boy. And I have a hood. God, I love it when sentences work out.”
- Chris is like a MAN.
- “I re-read The Art of War last night George, we’re way past all that.”
- “Let sleeping Chans lie.”
- “Wearing high heels, and a short skirt made of murder.”
- BUTTER CAN’T SAVE YOU NOW.
- “Wow. I have crazy relatives, but all we do is talk about them when they leave, like a normal family.”
- Susie Reynolds reference, drink!
- “Truth? You’re not the most attentive parent. Brendan’s my weed guy.”
- “Hey, can you guys keep it down? Penny and George are asleep. They’re so beat.”
- “What’s, um, what’s her first and last name, and just in case it’s common, what’s her middle name?”
Are you SHOOK or what? How are you feeling after Rebecca’s rock bottom faceplant? Let us know in the comments.
Featured image source: CW