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Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Recap: Encores

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

I’m Finding My Bliss
Season 4 Episode 14
Editor’s Rating *****

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

I’m Finding My Bliss
Season 4 Episode 14
Editor’s Rating *****
Photo: Greg Gayne/The CW

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is back from hiatus and ready to unleash its final four episodes. And in the grand tradition of show conclusions, “I’m Finding My Bliss” is already embracing a circular view of the shows characters, taking them all right back to where they started and examining what has and hasn’t changed.

Rebecca’s first appearance in the pilot was in a summer camp production of South Pacific, and now she’s finally returning to the stage to do what she finally believes will make her “truly happy.” (Hey, where were the butter-ad echoes on that one?) That means trying out for a community-theater production of Encore, Elliot!, a thinly veiled riff on various Stephen Sondheim revues like Putting It Together and Side by Side by Sondheim. Though Rebecca still can’t sing all that well, her enthusiasm impresses Connie, the theater’s self-important, exuberantly scarf-flipping director. She even awards Rebecca a big number: a country-western parody of the Guys and Dolls classic “Adelaide’s Lament.”

Rebecca’s zeal causes several of her friends to catch the acting bug as well. Valencia, caught up in a tiff with Beth over her lack of a marriage proposal, lands a song where she gets to play a bride. And Nathaniel’s mere handsomeness while delivering some legal papers ends up scoring him the lead, though it turns out he also played Jesus in both Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell between sports seasons in high school. Josh is also on the scene, having conveniently “rediscovered” his love of theater tech if it means more time spent in proximity to Rebecca.

Yes, all three dudes in Rebecca’s life are still hopelessly enamored with her, even if they’re not willing to confess it to the other people (and surprisingly judgy pet starfish) in their lives. Rebecca, once again, is on a self-declared break from dating, though that doesn’t keep her from being drawn in by Greg’s homemade lasagna or Josh’s thoughtful opening-night gift of their original South Pacific camp program. Meanwhile, Greg is discovering that he has what it takes to hack it as a restaurateur in his dad’s old spot, and wondering if he might want to stick around the Cov’ after all.

A lot of this ends up tying back to the people the characters were when we first met them. Greg, once resentful of West Covina’s provincial nature, is now perplexed to discover that everyone in the town loves his restaurant. As his perceptive ex Heather points out, maybe he only hated the town because he hated himself. In a brief reprise of “What’ll It Be?”, Greg decides that he actually has a future in West Covina, with or without Rebecca, and decides to stay.

Valencia’s also finding herself back where she was at the beginning of the show, waiting on someone else to deliver a proposal that seems to never come. (Really, she’s the one who should be singing “Adelaide’s Lament.”) But instead of moping after Beth like she did with Josh, she stands her ground, telling Beth that she wants a ring on her finger, or else she won’t be going back east to buy a condo with her in Jersey City.

The biggest shift comes from Paula, who’s fully recovered from her heart attack and officially on the job market for first-year attorneys. Darryl, still desperate to be both her boss and office bestie, doesn’t take the news well, and tries to keep her at MountainTop by wooing her with expensive wine and porchetta. But Paula is no longer willing to be the office drudge she once was, especially if she can earn a fat salary elsewhere that will cover Tommy’s college tuition. That leads to Darryl’s own full-circle-growth moment about separating work and friendship, even if the realization comes from a silly throwaway song about apples that Tim sings in the stage revue.

Rebecca’s plotline, though, offers the biggest hint at where Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s conclusion is likely to land. After realizing that “Etta Mae’s Lament” is not just dated, but wildly sexist, she changes the lyrics to make them more feminist. Connie hates the changes and kicks both Rebecca and a supportive Nathaniel out of the show. But the experience kindles a surprise passion in Rebecca for creating musical theater, instead of just performing it. Rebecca’s path is now syncing up with Rachel Bloom’s own: she’s not just acknowledging that cultural portrayals of women are all wrong, she’s discovering the creative power to change them.

For Rebecca’s revised Etta Mae, that means caring about true love, but not just for the sake of “lassoing a husband.” Can Rebecca thread that needle for herself, or is it important that her path to future happiness be solely hers before any dude can join it? Based on that near-miss kiss between her and Nathaniel, it seems like the show’s going to keep viewers guessing on that count until the last possible second.

Other Notes:

• Happy to see that Darryl’s waiting-room romance worked out! Chalk up another win for Cough Boy.

• Michael McMillian’s Tim is a scene-stealer as usual, especially in that profoundly goofy apple song. Though if I’d had to guess which CXG bit player was secretly a hyperinvolved community theater nerd, I’d probably have gone with George?

• As usual, this show is laser-attuned to new novelty business categories: Valencia preps for her potential engagement with “a quick zap in the cryogenic chamber.”

• Chris is back! Greg’s little bar buddy, who Heather accurately notes “was like, 10 years old five seconds ago,” is now a teen with a driver’s license. He’s also the food critic for the Daily Covina, which is simultaneously adorable and a sadly accurate piece of commentary on the state of local journalism these days.

• Funniest line goes to one of Rebecca’s prison pals at the free legal clinic, who can’t understand why she rejected Nathaniel: “Why would a 7.5 turn down a 9.6? I took 0.4 off because your breath smells almost too good.”

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Recap: Encores