As Crazy Ex-Girlfriend moves toward its grand finale — only a few months away! — we’re bound to see more episodes like this week’s “I’m on My Own Path,” which challenge what we’ve come to expect from Rebecca Bunch and her friends. This season is looking more and more like it’s going to be the episodic TV equivalent of an end-of-course assessment. What have these people learned? How have they grown? And where will they be headed, after we’re done watching them?
Throughout the entire series, through Rebecca’s ups and downs, there’s been one constant: She is, at the end of the day, an exceptional real estate lawyer. Sure, she’s bad at the simple workaday things like showing up at the office, behaving professionally around co-workers, and not flaking out at meetings. But like the brilliant student who never comes to class, never studies, and still aces tests, Rebecca’s a natural at reading contracts, finding loopholes, and drafting last-minute strategies. If she weren’t such an asset to Whitefeather (sorry… “Mountaintop”), she’d have been canned and banned years ago, rather than getting unlimited second chances.
But having already reassessed so much about her life’s goals, Rebecca returns to work this week wondering whether she’s back at Mountaintop because she wants to be, or rather because, as she tells herself, “This is what I do. It’s what I’m good at.” Within hours of arriving at the office, she’s already aced a meeting with the firm’s most important client, Wendy Legrand (played by Nia Vardalos). But no matter how much she tries to psych herself up about how great she’s doing — “This is objectively fantastic. Wow wow wow wow.” — she’s just not feeling it.
It doesn’t help that there’s a major distraction in the lobby of Mountaintop’s office building: a new franchise of the corporate chain Pretzel Central, managed by Rebecca’s former colleague Jim. He seems so content, having just left the law behind. He even sings a little song about it. In the New Jack Swing pastiche “Don’t Be A Lawyer,” he warns his employee Jay, “There are so many other professions / that don’t turn you into Jeff Sessions.”
Inevitably, it’s only a matter of time before Rebecca’s donned an apron and is down in the lobby herself, slinging salty snacks. She marvels at the simplicity of it all. Customers order pretzels. They eat pretzels. They’re happy. Nobody gets hurt.
While Rebecca’s dodging Paula’s concerned questions about whether or not she’s becoming a permanent pretzel-purveyor, “I’m On My Own Path” slips in a couple of subplots, both fairly significant to the overall direction of the series, in addition to supporting the episode’s overall theme.
The biggest bombshell is that Heather and Hector get married on the spur of the moment by a justice of the peace — initially just for practical purposes, so that her health insurance can cover the infected hole in his big toe. (As Heather so casually puts it, “Toe aside, just seems easier all around.”) She balks when he suggests they follow up with a proper wedding, but finally agrees to a ceremony just to help out Valencia and Beth’s party-planning business. Once the happy couple are at the church though, standing in front of their friends and family, everything feels right. Heather realizes that this actually is what she wanted; she just didn’t know it.
Meanwhile, Josh Chan has made the big decision to put himself back on the dating market, only to find that every woman who wants to go out with him has their own agenda, based on their preconceived notions of who he is. One wants him to be the popular hunk he was in high school, and gets turned off when he talks about the strange journey of self-discovery he’s been on the past couple of years. Another just likes the shirtless pics he put on his dating profile, and has no interest in making smart conversation. Both women fake getting phone calls from Uber, insisting that the app’s new service calls customers up out of the blue to offer rides.
Later, talking to Rebecca, Josh has a revelation: “I don’t want to be a concept or an object.” Maybe it’s Josh’s moment of clarity that convinces Rebecca of what she really wants. Or maybe it’s the fun she has inventing new pretzel flavors (and as a consequence, getting Jim shut down by his Pretzel Central bosses). Or maybe it’s the charming, Simon & Garfunkel-esque “We Are Only Pretzels” song that a couple of plain salteds sing from insider her display case. Whatever the reason, Rebecca finally calls Paula over, and announces her decision: She’s taking over Jim’s closed Pretzel Central space and is opening “Rebetzels.”
Three years ago, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend began with Rebecca singing the praises of “West Cooooviiinaaa…,” while riding on a giant pretzel. Rebecca may insist to Paula that she doesn’t believe in destiny anymore, but the TV writers telling the story of her life sure do.
• Hey, it’s the second big week of the season-four theme song! About halfway through hearing it, I started to worry that the repetition of “the many faces of Rebecca” each week might become exhausting, but the new “other Rebecca” stinger (“I live in this park!”) should give all of us something fresh to look forward to in the episodes ahead.
• I hope Rebecca’s first hire for Rebetzels is Jay, a snappy wit who gets a couple of this episode’s best lines. Like when she mentions dressing up as Rebecca the Rooftop Killer for Halloween, and describes the outfit she wore as “some white girl crap.”
• What was your favorite “narc” pun/name? For me, a toss-up between “Narc Zuckerberg” and “Narc-er Posey.”
• Everybody at Mountaintop keeps missing meetings because they’ve decided to share one watch. Clock-pooling: the new corporate fad!
• The reaction shot of the week goes to Rene Gube’s Father Brah, when he lets Rebecca say a few words at the wedding, and she begins by quoting “the greatest fairytale of all … the Bible.”
• Your excellent regular CXG recapper Allie Pape should be back next week. I’m grateful for the opportunity to write even just a little something about one of my favorite shows.