Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s biggest annoyance is that it crams way too much plot into some episodes, then twiddles its thumbs in others. This episode is a prime offender. Clearly an attempt to pair up actors who haven’t already gotten to work together before the show sunsets, it centers on an equally grab-baggy “road trip” theme. The result feels as authentically, excruciatingly endless as a drive across Southern California—with one notable exception.
That would be the near-miss kiss between Rebecca and Darryl, which I’m just going to skip ahead to because… what the hell? Sure, Darryl is a sweetie, and Pete Gardner is hilarious. In a vacuum, I wouldn’t object to a May-December relationship, or two people having a baby before falling in love, or the implication that Rebecca can’t have a platonic male friend (actually, I might object to that last one). But as a potential endgame for the series, it hits on a lot of rom-com tropes for a show that once took glee in busting them.
It’s possible this is an overreaction; the almost-kiss is played off as a one-time slip-up between friends who’ve gotten a little too lonely and horny, emphasized by a couple of other comic “kiss moments” between characters who don’t smooch. But if this is really a one-and-done, then it seems odd to have Darryl definitively end things with WhiJo, shave off his mustache for no real reason, and in an eye-rollingly unprogressive aside, cheerfully inform the audience that he has a huge dick (uh, thanks?)
Perhaps this potential relationship needs a once-over from Therapy Josh, who’s making his own unexpected transition from lovable sex idiot to cognitive-behavioral acolyte. The concept of Josh becoming more emotionally “woke” would be funnier if it wasn’t buried in a snore of a plot, with Paula inadvertently hiring him as an app-based “bro with a truck” to help move a desk into her new office.
As Paula’s nearing the end of law school, it’s understandable that she’s ambivalent and procrastinating, afraid to confront her new expectations and responsibilities. But emphasizing the obvious with scene after scene of her dithering in a nice Craigslist lady’s house, examining her collection of ceramic cats, gets tedious fast. By the end, I was rooting for Josh to just pick Paula up one-handed and load her up with the desk. It’s one thing to show a character wasting time—it’s another to waste the viewer’s.
The Nathaniel-Heather storyline is slightly better, if only because those characters are so obviously oil-and-water that their conflict feels natural. Interestingly, Heather tells Nathaniel that she’s hated his relationship with Rebecca from the beginning—a very reasonable character choice that it would have been much more fun to actually see play out on the show.
Instead, we get another look at the softer side of Nathaniel, who we all know by now is a giant softy. He needs to get to Santa Monica ASAP to deal with the contents of a mysterious package, which turns out to be the ashes of his longtime au pair, Heidi. The whole plot feels hacky, down to Heather snatching the package and getting a face full of ashes. (Let’s not even talk about Heidi’s poor family in Austria, who will hopefully never know she was laid to rest in a storm drain.)
Despite being a miss plot-wise, the episode does turn in a surprisingly good song: “Trapped in a Car,” which seemingly starts out as a Frankie-and-Annette-style beach-blanket tune, but is actually a whip-smart parody of the career arc of the Beach Boys, from their tripped-out Pet Sounds days to the hellish “Kokomo” era. The song’s jokes aren’t much on their own, but the bigger meta-joke is a ton of fun, and the costumes and visuals really sell it. Josh and Darryl singing “Ontario, Alhambra, we already said Alhambra” says more about the late-period Beach Boys than a massive biography ever could.
The episode wraps with the expected growing-up stuff: Paula studies, Rebecca decides to get back into dating, and Nathaniel decides to start being nicer to Bert (and everyone else). And Darryl’s mustache sleeps with the fishes, along with his beard oil and his backup beard oil.
• I desperately need to know what Maya is doing in Solvang with Emma Watson.
• Shoutout to the props department for amassing that insane collection of ceramics and tchotchkes in the desk lady’s house, including a one-eyed taxidermied squirrel. That must have taken a solid week of thrift-store shopping.
• Unsurprisingly, Rebecca is a terrible boss, and has confessed a ton of inappropriate stuff to A.J., including a suspicion that her hymen is growing back.
• Every character being so down on Josh living with Hector’s mom kind of bothers me. Has anyone on this show talked to a poor millennial lately? For a part-time DJ/gig-economy furniture mover seeing a therapist that doesn’t take insurance, being able to live with a friend’s parent is probably all Josh can afford. It makes me miss the first season, when the show was more real about money.
• Speaking of money, I’m not surprised to see that helicopter parent Darryl sprang for a Snoo, the pricey robo-bassinet. Nothing but the best for Hebby.