Crazy Ex-Girlfriend s4 ep 5

Everything is going well for Rebecca… right up to the point at which Valencia announces that she’s going to New York, and Heather announces that she’s moving out. Not only is Rebecca’s squad breaking up, but everyone else seems to be further on in life than she is. “I see life as a contest”, she confesses to Dr Akopian. “And I am now losing”. I hear you, sister.

But she’s not the only one reluctant to cope with unwelcome changes: Paula has been on good terms with her son Brendan for about five minutes, and he’s successfully applied to the Peace Corps. Darryl and WhiteJosh, meantime, are no longer a couple, but still hanging out together wayyyy too much. Unless you’re the rest of the cast, of course, who are still shipping them hard, as they illustrate in a delightful Oklahoma!-esque song-and-dance number, ‘The Group Mind Has Decided You’re In Love’. Darryl eventually has to throw water over WhiJo to bring him to his senses and get him to put himself out there again. 

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend isn’t the sort of show in which people don’t get to move on, so by the end Rebecca and Paula have both had to accept that as others change it might hurt them. The pain is both real and recognisable – most viewers, I imagine, will have experienced something similar – so the episode hits home. However, my pain will be amplified if this is the last of Gabrielle Ruiz (Valencia) and, particularly, Vella Lovell (Heather), who has been the show’s wry under-the-radar star turn for quite a while now. There’s also a nice running meta-gag about the way in which people consume TV these days, which helps to keep this episode in the comfortably-above-average category.

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Crazy Ex-Girlfriend s4 ep 4

Rebecca’s half-brother Tucker turns up at her new pretzel stand, claiming – very obviously falsely – that his mother knows he’s there. He charms Rebecca by seeming to have all of the behavioural quirks which she had as a child; actually, it’s astonishingly creepy, but Rebecca is so desperate to establish a relationship with him that she doesn’t pick up on that. As it happens, Tucker has found Rebecca’s childhood diary and is using that as a sort of guide to how to impersonate her; and his main reason for being in West Covina is so that he can go with Rebecca to Los Angeles and just-by-coincidence come across an audition for Peter Pan. It’s not clear to me why he couldn’t just have said that to Rebecca, rather than contriving this elaborate deception, but I may be missing something.

Rebecca is entirely forgiving of him when she finds out what’s been going on. Less so of Nathaniel, who is undoubtedly in love with her, but who makes the apparently relationship-ending error of spending some money to try and make her happy. There’s a fair amount of dishonesty involved here as well, mind you, and he’s an adult, but still. And Paula bonds with her sons at an escape room, in the least consequential part of an episode which succeeded in doing little more than annoying me. But the rapey 90s ad for ‘Take Me’ cologne was good, as was Tucker’s song “I Want To Be A Child Star”.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend s4 ep 3

Rebecca has decided that it’s time to go back to work, but isn’t entirely sure that she wants to be a lawyer any more. This point is rammed home by Jim – formerly an attorney with Rebecca’s firm, but now happily running a pretzel stand in the foyer – who performs a terrific New Jack Swing pastiche entitled ‘Don’t Be A Lawyer’ in which the title is rhymed with, among other things, “guaranteed soul destroyer”. Unpopcult is 100% made of lawyers, incidentally, and appalled by this. (On the other hand, there are indeed “so many other professions that don’t turn you into Jeff Sessions”.)

One of the very best things about Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has always been that, whatever else is happening in Rebecca’s life, she’s never anything other than great at her job. And even after all that she’s been through, that continues to be the case: one of the firm’s most important and difficult clients is in the office, somewhat dissatisfied with the way in which her case is being handled, and Rebecca knocks it out of the park. But she still isn’t happy, and to start with she joins Jim’s pretzel business, then takes it over herself.

And… apart from Heather and Hector getting married, Josh dipping his toes back in the dating pond, and some excellent “narc” puns – my favourite was Narc-er Posey, but YMMV – that’s kind of it. It’s worth noting that, as might be expected from such a female-centric show, there’s plenty of stealth role-reversal. It’s Rebecca, rather than Nathan, who crushes the meeting with the difficult client; it’s Hector, rather than Heather, who wants the traditional wedding; and it’s Josh who frets about being seen as a sexual object. All of which helps to give a charming and lightweight episode something of a point. Not too much of one, though.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend s4 ep 2

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend found top form again this week, with an episode which was sparky and fun. It also unveiled what will presumably be its last theme song, which allows me to conclude that, overall, seasons 1 and 2 are in a tie for best – “nuanced” vs “Blam!” – with 4 maybe a little better than 3, which I was never on board with.

Anyway. At the start of the episode, Rebecca finds out that the Daily Covina headline’s reads “Rooftop Killer Set Free Despite History Of Mental Instability And Stalking”. As this is kind of true – well, more or less entirely true – she can’t really complain. What she shouldn’t do, though, is read the comments; and what she sees there is, understandably, enough to give her agoraphobia. And send her in search of gay male porn. She also thinks her apartment is haunted by the ghost of Devon, the girl who was murdered there – a throwaway plot point from earlier seasons now made to work for its keep – and holds a séance with Paula, Heather, and Valencia.

Meantime, another long-dormant plot is revived, when the law firm’s silent partner Bert takes a more active role in the firm. There isn’t a whole lot going on here, although it’s entertaining enough, particularly the costumes. By which I mean Tim the peach. (Also, in other plots, Snailor Swift and Katy Beary.) In fact, if this episode has a problem it’s that, as the Crazy Ex-G women have risen to the top, the writers aren’t always sure what to do with some of the men, who one suspects are characters – and actors – they like. Daryl’s plot this week, in which he agonises over his inability to provide his daughter with breast milk, sources some on the “white market”, and is then reassured that he’s a great father anyway, is nice but pointless. And Josh – who, let’s not forget, was the pivot for the whole show in its first and second seasons – is really no more than just there.

By the time Rebecca and her friends get to the graveyard where Devon is buried, though, any doubts I might have had are blown away as Patton Oswalt, returning as creepy security guard Castleman, storms through ‘The Cringe’, a delectable pastiche of ‘Monster Mash’. I normally hate Hallowe’en episodes, but this was great.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend s4 ep 1

Although at the end of the third season we left Rebecca facing imprisonment, we kind of know that she’s not actually going to end up with a conviction for attempting to murder Trent, even if she pled guilty. So the judge refuses to accept her plea and gives her six weeks in jail to consider her position. Rebecca is fine with this, because she’s consumed by the idea that she deserves what is happening to her. About which, not for what she did to Trent, she might have a kind of point.

But ultimately it’s ridiculous, and the show calls her on it in a number of ways: her fellow prisoners, not entirely unkindly, lose patience with her when she hijacks their session with nonprofit theatre group Bright Lights in the Big House – hee – and turns it into a production number, during which she starts to realise that she’s just being self-indulgent. Then Heather skewers her as a “rich white lawyer lady who pled guilty for dramatic effect. It’s kinda gross”.

If Rebecca’s #privilege is going to be a theme, it’ll be interesting to see how this is balanced with her genuine health problems. But the greater problem, I think, will be finding a way to move the show, and its characters, towards a conclusion. The episode’s big number, ‘No-One Else Is Singing My Song’, is performed, singly and in harmony, by the whole cast, and it kinda sorta acknowledges that they’re all stuck: Nathaniel, rejected by Rebecca, goes on a survivalist adventure, from which George rescues him; Josh (absurdly) is convinced that he has some sort of disorder, and needs a session with “Dr Man-Akopian” to put him right. And when Rebecca gets out of prison – Paula taking the necessary action to ensure that Trent tells the truth – she re-unites with Nathaniel and it seems as if everyone’s really back where they started.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, though, is nothing if not knowing, so it rearranges things just a little in its final scenes: Rebecca declines a holiday in Hawaii with Nathaniel, in favour of returning to jail, this time to offer free legal advice to the inmates, presumably to bring her face-to-face with people who suffer real prejudice. It’s a slightly subdued episode; not bad by any means, but perhaps a little weary.