Last we left our crazies and our exes and our girlfriends, Paula was ready to unleash hell on Rebecca for sleeping with Greg. “I have devoted my life to you,” she rants and raves to Rebecca, who, by the way, has a UTI so bad she had to be hospitalized, so maybe cut her a little slack?
In a saucy “Mr. Cellophane“–style number, Paula demands respect and retribution for this betrayal. (As a reminder: Paula reaaaally does not care for Greg.) We already knew how obsessed Paula has been with the epic romance between Rebecca and Josh, but we also find out that she has secretly engineered Rebecca’s love life to a deeper, crazier, more obsessive level than anyone could have imagined. See: Paula putting a tracking device in Josh’s mom’s car and blackmailing Valencia’s boss. Grow up, Paula.
This is far from a new problem. Of all the characters we have met this season, Paula is the one whom Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has really stopped serving. In the beginning, her need for secondhand romance made sense; her marriage to Scott was dead and her sons were dangerous, blade-willing miscreants. Things were so bad, Paula contemplated blowing up her life with a smoky jazz-club affair. Then, she and Scott had a date night, and one shattered glass door later, her life resolved itself. The chip on her shoulder immediately evaporated. We never really saw her boys again. Last week, we didn’t even get to see Paula’s pie victory. The character who should have been the backbone of each episode’s B-story fell to the wayside.
All of which would be fine, except now the show demands that we understand and believe Paula’s outsized rage. It’s a hard ask, not least of all because we never saw see the covert ops she claims to have performed on Rebecca’s behalf. As I have said before, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend functions best as a deep-dive into a woman’s damaged psyche. That’s why it’s so unfortunate that Paula’s inner life has been given short shrift. As far as we can tell, her lunacy and subsequent rage are unearned. “The least you could do is be honest with your mother … I mean, your friend,” Paula sings. Can you imagine if the show had spent a solid chunk of time unpacking that wonderfully weird dynamic, beyond just the occasional Freudian slip? If Paula is the mommy, how does Mommy Paula feel now that Baby Rebecca is starting to grow up?
Or has she? No, of course not. Come on, people. This is still the woman who rented that party bus. Although Rebecca is peeved that Paula can’t let go of her meddling, she sure doesn’t mind pushing for a re-invite to Jayma’s wedding. (Which, by the way, only happened the first time because of Paula. The woman really did put in a lot of legwork on the Josh romance.) As established in a flashback to Scarsdale, circa 1995, actual Baby Rebecca falls in love with the idea of fairy-tale romance, carried along by the dulcet dream of “One Indescribable Instant” from a film called Slumber, which I think is made up? At the wedding, Adult Rebecca wants to be honest with Greg about her blossoming feelings, but she can’t help but get distracted by the layers upon layers of sweet, sugary delusion her heart has been swaddled in since childhood. Meanwhile, Greg is doubling down on playing it casual for the sake of his fragile heart. “Did you fart?” Rebecca asks him, which Greg casually confirms. Of course that’s Greg’s version of casual: just ripping hot farts in a woman’s face. No wonder Rebecca is lured back by the siren song of fantasy romance.
Speaking of fantasies, Valencia is caught up in the dream of marriage while Josh is quietly falling apart over Rebecca. “Let me do it in my way, in my own time,” he tells his girlfriend of 15 years about getting engaged. Even Greg can sense Josh’s complicated feelings for Rebecca. “It doesn’t bother me and I don’t care and it doesn’t bother me,” Greg tells Josh when it dawns on him that, oh right, my girlfriend was in love with my best friend. (Speaking of which, Greg is awfully quick to turn on his best friend over a girl, isn’t he? Though given how the episode ends, he’s right not to trust Josh as far as he can throw him, which is not far because you know Greg isn’t hitting the gym.)
Paula’s extremely detailed lament aside, this season finale is a great rumination on the unspoken. Besides Paula, everyone is a simmering cauldron of deeply buried regret and desire. You know, like actual people. Valencia suspects Josh isn’t dying to get married, but she’s willing to silently wait for him to come around. Greg suspects Rebecca will want Josh again, but his teeny flicker of hope forces him to suppress that concern. Rebecca is slowly realizing Greg can’t fulfill her childhood dreams, at least not in the way she still fantasizes Josh can. For the first time in his adult life, Josh is struggling with the idea that he shouldn’t be with Valencia. Then, on top of everything else, Darryl and White Josh wear matching tuxedos and hold hands. Oh, has anything ever been so romantic in all the world?
And it all comes to a head at a wedding that features the vocal stylings of Lea Salonga as Josh’s Aunt Myrna. “What was this Pinterest? Ironic juxtaposition?” Greg scoffs when he sees the Arabian-Jewish-Filipino Nights motif of the venue. Come on, Greg! Now that Rebecca and Greg are on a proper date, their underlying issue bubbles to the surface. Their issue? Greg, of course. Or more specifically, Greg’s cynicism in the face of Rebecca’s romantic instincts. She just wants to dance and twirl, not fake laugh over his snide asides. But Greg is a guy who “hates dancing.” A guy who, rather than deal with his paralyzing fear of emotional wounds, pretends to be a bad boy, gets stinking drunk, and ignores his date. “He cares, but he’s just Greg,” White Josh tells Rebecca after Greg collapses on the bar. “It’s who he is.” How can the most delusional romantic on the planet deal with that hot mess?
She can’t — and because Valencia realizes she shouldn’t wait her entire life for Josh to commit, she doesn’t have to. In the end, Valencia dumps Josh, as he stands in front of his beautiful, cruel girlfriend with an heirloom engagement ring and does nothing. And after 15 years, too! Good for you, girl. #TeamValenciaForLife. Sensing Rebecca’s distress, Darryl drags Paula out of her house and into wedding attire. “Rebecca is sad,” he tells her. “She needs you.” Paula realizes she can’t just demand Rebecca listen to and obey every piece of advice she gives. (Again, this is a woman who rented a party bus. With a stripper pole.) Paula sweeps into the wedding and embraces Rebecca. Pure romance. More Paula next season, please.
And speaking of those magical moments, Josh and Rebecca finally have their own. Suddenly free to do what he wants after a woman made the decision for him — and with Greg out of commission — Josh sweeps Rebecca away on the sexual equivalent of a magic carpet. As the wonderful
Lea Salonga Aunt Myrna sings the fairy-tale song of her childhood, Rebecca and Josh do it on the hood of the sickest, sexiest red convertible. Josh: a handsome, ripped Disney prince. Greg: the guy who rips hot farts in your face and all over your dreams.
My God, there is no comparison.
What better way to destroy all of Rebecca’s emotional progress than to deliver Josh, finally and willingly, into her arms? What development more loaded? What choice more fraught? Rebecca is so over-the-moon, she tells Josh everything: She did move to West Covina for him, she knew they belonged together, and now their romance can truly begin. “I knew you were the answer to all my problems,” she coos. Josh’s silent, horrified bug eyes say it all. Across town, in between bouts of vomiting, a lonely Greg whispers to himself, “I should have said, ‘I love you.’” There’s no other option that would have set up a more interesting second season. Paula aside, what a dream come true.
Cheerful Romantic Twitterings From the Cartoon Birds that Float Six Inches Above Aunt Myrna’s Head at All Times:
- “You’re nothing without me and my creativity / I created you. You lived in my womb / I mean, figuratively.” Paula, having a totally normal reaction to her friend’s choice of sex partners.
- Valencia, on why it’s totally fine if she wears white to the reception: “Technically it’s ivory, and Jayma’s dress is Alaskan Snow.”
- A $2,499 Lladro statue of a cupid and a peacock: the amazing reason why Rebecca gets a new wedding invite.
- Heather, doing her best to tell Rebecca what’s up: “The moment you’re talking about is not rooted in real emotion. It’s a script dictated by our society’s patriarchal love narrative.”
- “She’s just the worst.” Josh’s Mom, about showboating Aunt Myrna
- The Garfinkel ring is still at large. Until further notice, it’s basically my Chekhov’s gun. Maybe next season!