Oh, jeez. Rebecca really did it this time.
Up until now, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has artfully teased apart the “crazy ex-girlfriend” concept, exploring the various meanings of “crazy” as it applies to Rebecca’s social and emotional well-being. And in this episode, Rebecca suddenly behaves like a prototypical crazy ex-girlfriend, which shifts our focus from “the emotional journey of a narcissistic but ultimately well-meaning neurotic” to “the emotional journey of our protagonist, who has committed breaking and entering.”
But I’m getting ahead of myself. “The Text Was Not Meant for Josh!” starts with a hilarious little tale of how technology can and will ruin your life. Rebecca has a huge presentation or lawsuit or something at Whitefeather. (Can you tell I don’t know much about the law?) Before she heads into work, Greg stops by for an awkward interaction, then she swings past the boba hut and runs into the Beloved.
Flush with excitement after running into Josh, Rebecca writes Paula an incredibly comprehensive, emoji-heavy text: She lays out how much she loves him, her wish for them to be together, her inexplicable belief that he loves her and, oh yeah, that she moved to West Covina to be with him.
And then she accidentally sends it to Josh.
After learning what happened, Paula interrupts the case or litigation or whatever to tell the entire room about Rebecca’s mishap. The other lawyers, clients, and judge are HORRIFIED on Rebecca’s behalf. “This is a living nightmare!” the plaintiff gasps. “What are you going to do?!” the opposing counselor wonders. Luckily, Josh mentioned that he forgot his phone at home and is off at a tae kwon do … exhibit? Recital? I don’t know. Valencia isn’t home either; she’s teaching yoga. So, Rebecca can prevent Josh from finding her mash note by surreptitiously entering his home, cracking the code to his phone, and deleting his messages.
This is a horrible, horrible, horrible idea.
To make matters worse, it’s a horrible idea that Paula cannot help her with, as she has dinner plans after work with her husband, Scott. “You’re having dinner? With your husband? In your house?” Rebecca shouts in disbelief. Turns out, Scott is trying to save their marriage. Who knew he had it in him?
The troubled Proctors ask the extremely hot Father Brah to help save their union. “Mr. Brah was my father. I’m Father Brah,” he tells them warmly. Using the extremely relatable analogy of a boat with a hole in it — or, as Paula puts it, “Our whole marriage is a boat and God is watching. Or something,” — Father Brah advises them to reconnect over a romantic dinner alone. “Babe, we’re sinking. Let’s just do whatever he says,” Scott pleads. “Be the boat, not the hole. Nobody likes a hole,” Father Brah urges.
So, Rebecca has to break into Josh’s place on her own. She races to his apartment while the other lawyers and judge wail the ’80s hair-metal jam “Textmergency,” which features a fun cameo from the malevolent ghost of Steve Jobs. (“I control you from the grave! “Technology is slowly alienating everyone from their loved ones!”) As the band recounts their own embarrassing technological episodes, Rebecca scrabbles Josh’s Buddha sconce, finds his spare key, and lets herself into his apartment. Once inside, she tracks down his phone and correctly guesses his code — it’s Valencia’s birthday. “Ah god, he really loves her,” Rebecca muses to herself. She laughs with delight, though, as she deletes the text. She’s in the clear!
Until, that is, Rebecca stops to smell Josh’s shirt. Ugh. She opens the door to sneak out … only to find Josh standing outside his front door, shocked and baffled to see her.
It. Is. Excruciating. The best part of the episode, besides Ghost Steve Jobs, is watching Rebecca try to explain why she’s inside Josh’s apartment. This scene feels like it lasts an eternity; I had to hit pause several times to get through the whole thing. It felt so viscerally uncomfortable to watch. Rebecca is desperately trying to rescue herself from her worst nightmare and doing a terrible job of it. With Josh’s inadvertent coaching, Rebecca explains that someone smashed her window, triggering a blind panic, and she fled to Josh’s apartment in a frenzy. (Also, she found his key on the Buddha sconce. Josh holds her and tells her it’s going to be okay. They hug, and just for a moment, Rebecca is happy.
This is some real crazy ex-girlfriend shit, right?
Because Josh is an incredibly decent human being, he offers to escort Rebecca home and clean up the nonexistent broken window. Uh oh! Rebecca nervously agrees, before surreptitiously calling Paula to request a solid: Please leave your marriage-saving dinner and throw a rock through my sliding glass door. GIRL.
Luckily, Paula and Scott have arrived at something of an emotional détente. Paula confesses that she almost slept with that dashing, jazz-loving, widowed real-estate tycoon. Scott admits he almost cheated with Misty from the shipping department. Paula admits that, yes, she has been distracted … by the magic and excitement of Rebecca’s love life. She permits Scott to come with her to Rebecca’s apartment, provided he asks no questions. Together, they scrounge around in the dark until he finds a rock. Paula asks him to trust her, then asks him to hurl the rock through Rebecca’s sliding glass door. He does and they run off, energized and giggling.
Not knowing what they’ll find, Rebecca is relieved to discover her apartment filled with shards of broken glass. See! She didn’t make up that story at all! Josh starts cleaning up. He insists on calling the police, but Rebecca quickly ushers out the cop with a wave of confident legalese. Then, she pours them a glass of wine. She tells Josh how safe she feels with him. She orders a fondue for two. (A fonduet?) If you squint hard enough, they almost look like two people in love.
Of course, that doesn’t last. Josh finds the rock that had been hurled through her window. It’s a decorative rock … from inside the apartment. It’s actually part of a set that’s sitting on the coffee table, which Scott must grabbed while looking for the bathroom. Rebecca struggles to explain herself.
Okay, look. As far as I’m concerned, there is no topic you can’t make funny. Mental illness, obsession, paralyzing loneliness, loveless marriages, party buses: CXG has riffed on them all. But it’s a big shift, narratively speaking, for Rebecca’s kooky obsession to now involve explicitly manipulating Josh to her whims.
Why is that such a huge change? Well, the answer comes down to tone. Although the show’s musical numbers (and general absurdity) set the stage for dark humor, Josh is not a part of that heightened reality. Valencia might tear her clothes off, Darryl might talk to a slug, and Rebecca might pole dance on a party bus, but Josh remains an uncomplicated, muscular sweetheart. He’s oblivious and childlike, sure, but he’s also kind and devoted to Valencia. Perhaps this episode, and Rebecca’s actions, would have resonated differently if Josh had his own dark quirk to level the playing field, but he doesn’t. So when Josh suddenly realizes Rebecca has been bullshitting him the entire time, it’s played with reality in mind. And in reality, he is understandably freaked out. He didn’t even stay for the fondue.
Like always, Rebecca is devastated by Josh’s hasty retreat. At that exact moment, Greg “happens” to wander through her backyard … and Rebecca flings herself into his arms, desperate to drown her sorrows with a man, even if it’s just dumb ol’ Greg. This time, however, Greg isn’t falling for it. He notices the fondue for two (fonduo?) and knows he’s just a stand-in for Josh. He has a girlfriend. Even if he isn’t happy about it, he needs to leave Rebecca alone. Greg leaves, and Rebecca falls apart. Sometimes you’re the boat, and sometimes you’re the hole.
Meanwhile, a little destruction of private property has lit a fire under Paula and Scott’s relationship. They feel more “in it” than they have in years. Paula is so happy, she even tries to credit Rebecca with their newfound connection. “You’re a put together-er. You know what you put together? My marriage,” she insists. “Who knew a little vandalism would be the best foreplay we ever had?” Nah, Paula. If anyone deserves credit for bringing Paula and Scott together, it’s Father Brah. No wonder he’s blowing up on social media!
In fact, Paula has continually insisted that Rebecca is a good person. Paula projects her hopes and dreams onto her, but from what we’ve seen, Rebecca is just barely bordering on not great. That’s not to say we can’t love an imperfect heroine, or even an anti-heroine. It does, however, reframe the romantic relationship at the center of this show. So far, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has largely revolved around the question, “How can Rebecca be happy?” or in a more abstract sense, “How can people overcome their shortcomings and find happiness?” The show hasn’t necessarily asked, “How can Josh be happy?” but as tonight’s episode seems to suggest, it’s not by dating Rebecca.
I mean, someone breaks into your apartment, gains access to your phone without your permission, asks her only friend/co-worker/surrogate mother to destroy property to trick you, and then lies about all of it to your face? That’s a deal-breaker, gentlemen!
Of course, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is self-aware enough to know the score. Alone again forever, Rebecca sings a suitably harsh break-up ballad to herself. “You ruined everything/You stupid bitch,” she croons, smiling at an imaginary crowd. Just like platitudes about how “being different is cool!” can’t quell the loneliness, acknowledging how badly Rebecca has screwed the pooch doesn’t change the scary reality that she really, really did.
So, now what? For what it’s worth, I feel like this decision signals a big, Josh-free arc. Rebecca will either go back to her therapist, or spiral further down an emotional K-hole. I think you know which one it will be. And what happens if they still somehow end up together? If Valencia is an unsupportive narcissist now, imagine how horrible she’ll have to become to pull that off!
LATE TEXT-TASTROPHIES FROM YOUR CRAZY EX
- Is it just me, or was everyone’s hair and makeup amazing this week?
- Where the hell is the Darryl and White Josh love story I demanded? I was going to call them Dwosh!
- Rebecca, on how to navigate her hard drive: “Tell Heather not to open the folder named Taxes. If she’s looking for porn, there’s a folder named Porn.”
- The plaintiff/drummer of the ’80s band (Pitch Perfect’s Ester Dean), on trying to get everyone refocused: “Guys, what about that lawyer chick?/We’ve really gotten offtrack?”
- Scott, the expert criminal: “First I gotta use the bathroom. You know how my body deals with excitement.”
- Paula, on romance: “You and Josh are on a journey. There’s going to be peaks, but there’s also going to be valleys. And yes, maybe a long, dry, flat plateau called “My Kids Are Little. Don’t Touch Me.”