Even by the standards of a show that thrives on fanservice, this episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is really for the heads. Longtime viewers know that Rebecca despises Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats. So a musical parody was inevitable, but the show ups the stakes by making it an episode-long one, with each, uh, pussy as a different manifestation of Rebecca’s downstairs. This is peak Rachel Bloom, and all I can do is look on in stunned amazement that we live in the kind of world that will air it at 9 p.m. on network television.
The episode, written by Elisabeth Kiernan Averick, does a good job letting its essential weirdness shine without overcomplicating things. Unlike Cats itself (as Rebecca bitterly notes), it has a clear, simple plot arc: Rebecca needs to get laid. Still fantasizing about her threesome of exes, she’s determined to get back on the horse with Jason, the “Sex with a Stranger” guy who really was sick when he canceled on her (with poop and puke selfies to prove it).
But her vagina has other plans, expressed with the show’s usual zeal for all things scatological, female, and showtune. The casting and choreography of the various cats is exceptional, with some great moments of pure singing and dancing from Garfunkel and Oates’ Riki Lindhome as an aggressively horny cat and Drag Race favorite Todrick Hall in the role of bacterial vaginosis. (I can’t believe I just typed that sentence.) Fred Armisen and The Good Place’s Megan Amram also show up in full Rum Tum Tugger drag, though my MVP of the group is Glow’s Rebekka Johnson, who takes full advantage of the opportunity to goofily dance around like a madwoman in a rainbow cat costume.
Rebecca’s lady garden may be in better shape, but her erotic rabies will continue to torment her a while yet, as her assignation with Jason is thwarted by Greg and Nathaniel. In a rehash of a White Josh/Nathaniel plot from last season, the unlikely duo become pals at the gym, where they’re both trying to get over Rebecca from underneath a weight bench. Blissfully unaware that their crazy exes are actually the same woman, their budding friendship is pure torment for WhiJo, who’s not sure how or when to break the news. It’s an old-school plot, but executed with charm, and Scott Michael Foster and Skylar Astin have surprisingly great screen chemistry.
The MountainTop crew also gets one of their best plotlines in a while, as Darryl returns from paternity leave to discover that Bert has usurped him as paterfamilias of the office. Between buying ping-pong tables and hosting “Wine and Whine” Saturday dinners where everyone gets to complain about their office gripes so he can fix them, Bert may be the only boss on the planet more permissive than Darryl. But Darryl still feels like he’s been replaced, with even his signature mustache now adorning Burt’s face.
The competition between Bert and Darryl eventually turns into a battle of divorced dads, each trying to win back the “kids” with vintage Rioja, Spice Girls karaoke, and tickets to Disneyland. (The joke is nicely subtle until it starts triggering George’s trauma over his parents’ actual divorce, which is comedic overkill.) Father Brah, diversifying his counseling business, eventually steps in to mediate, and Darryl and Bert agree to share the stewardship of the office and become the gay co-parents their “kids” need. It’s a fun, silly plot with a fun, silly resolution, a perfect fit for Pete Gardner and Michael Hitchcock’s comedic styles.
As for Rebecca, her love life remains an open question, with all three dudes in her life still interested, if annoyed (Nathaniel, Greg) or oblivious (Josh, who clearly has no idea about the effect his walking around in boxer briefs has on people). We’re now past the halfway point of the season, and there’s a lot of ground to cover before the end of the series … of holidays. Men: Can’t live with ’em, can still say axioms about them.
• If you love references to old CXG songs within episodes, this is the episode for you! Besides the two obvious Jason-related nods to “Sex with a Stranger” (“I know he’s not a murderer” and “Keep yourself horny, stay in the mood!”), there were also callbacks to “Textastrophe” (“Barbecue saucepocalypse?”), “I’m So Good at Yoga” (look at Valencia, she’s so good at spinning!) and “I Gave You a UTI” (Rebecca gets her yeast infection from spin class).
• Maya hitting on Father Brah might have been the highlight of the episode. “I’m a priest!” — “And I’m a Capricorn, I think this could work!”
• Speaking of Maya jokes, no way the lady in the tiny top hat was going to let Neil Patrick Harris completely live down that Tonys shade he threw.
• The rapping dog who briefly appears at episode’s end is actually Jack Dolgen, who co-writes the show’s songs with Bloom and Adam Schlesinger.
• The “other Rebecca” jokes in the theme song appear to be going off the rails, with the boom mic guy bailing this go-round when Debra says she’s dating her uncle. Maybe this whole thing is actually some kind of long con?
• Is “Stop ruining my vagina like you ruined musicals!” the most Crazy Ex-Girlfriend line ever to be spoken on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend? I think yes.