What’s a girl to do when she’s still stuck between men? Make pro-and-con lists, buy a new couture suit, dash off to Vegas and join a high-stakes poker game — everything’s on the table in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s antepenultimate episode. Perhaps in recognition that the end is nigh, it’s one of the daffiest, laugh-out-loud funniest, and most musical outings the show’s done in ages, cheerfully flitting through half a dozen storylines without losing sight of the big one: Rebecca’s choice of a boyfriend.
Josh opens the episode by officially throwing his hat into the ring alongside Nathaniel and Greg, telling Rebecca that he’s still in love with her. While the surprise announcement (presumably rehearsed with Dr. Man Akopian) knocks Rebecca for a loop, it also reaffirms that she really does need to choose. Cue a reprise of “The Math of Love Triangles,” only this time it’s a quadrangle of sexy, bespectacled backup singers, and Rebecca’s sexy-baby Marilyn Monroe act is no longer feeling so fun. (“Joke’s on you, bitch, you’ll never be free!”)
As Rebecca notes when she draws up her Darryl-endorsed columns, a key feature of all three suitors is that they are now, like her, “evolved.” (They’re also all “dynamite in the sack,” a qualification for which Rebecca claims some responsibility.) As the show has slowly nudged Greg, Josh, and Nathaniel into higher and higher levels of desirability, I’m surprised to find I no longer have any rooting interest among the trio. Others might feel differently, but I appreciate that the character work over the past two seasons has gotten us to a point at which Rebecca’s quandary feels genuine. Picking one of the guys really does mean losing out on aspects of her personality that the others bolster.
The closer the show gets to the finish line, the more overt it’s getting about offering meta-commentary on its plot choices. Rebecca straight-up tells Josh that her love quadrangle is a distraction, and the kind of thing that normally blows her off-course; she’s equally sanguine when A.J. points out her trip to Vegas to rescue longtime frenemy Audra Levine is just a distraction from that distraction, topped off with a little bit of schadenfreude. I’ve always liked these moments when Crazy Ex-Girlfriend taps at the fourth wall, though I could do without the added fan service of constantly sprinkling the dialogue with plodding snippets of past-season song lyrics that don’t stand on their own as jokes. (Well, except Denise Martinez; that callback I could sort of stand.)
Earlier in the season, Paula noted that Rebecca’s ongoing enmity with Audra was a loose thread in her story. I’m not sure I feel the same way — sometimes loose threads in life just don’t get tied into a bow, especially if they’re part of a 20-year-old tapestry woven from animosity. But if it really felt necessary to call a truce in Rebecca and Audra’s “JAP Battle,” I think this is about as strong a wrap-up as we could have hoped for. It makes sense that Audra would admire Rebecca’s daring escape from their high-pressure upbringing, and the “grass is always greener” reminder that Rebecca’s life might look fun and free-spirited to a married corporate lawyer with triplets is clever. Their compliment rap battle doesn’t hit the comic heights of the first one — the mid-song pause to pre-apologize to Twitter was beyond unnecessary, and better dispensed with in the original by a few well-placed jokes — but it still has some pretty choice lines.
The main point of the Audra storyline is really to provide a last hurrah for the #girlgroup4evah, which is likely to be shunted to the sidelines for the other big trio in Rebecca’s life. It leaves them all in imperfect but generally satisfying places. Valencia decides she doesn’t want to be like marriage-crazed Denise, and drops the wedding ultimatum with Beth. Heather is still saddled with the antics of ever-irresponsible Hector, but she does manage to make him assume a little accountability. And Paula has found her place at a diverse, hyperprofessional law firm, where she might even teach the staff a few things about Dress Barn.
The question now turns to what satisfaction looks like for Rebecca, and for the two (or possibly all three!) men she doesn’t pick. To a puzzled WhiJo’s eternal chagrin, Josh, Nathaniel, and Greg are all-in on her, nudging each other to “stand down” even after they see Rebecca’s damning pro-con list. Their solution (and likely the entire next episode) is a Dating Around of exes, with Rebecca going out for an evening with each before making her pick. Will dialing down this romantic crisis to “Slow Motion” be the solution, or is it only likely to reveal more problems? All we can really know: The Columns Wait For No One™.
• Clark Moore’s A.J. has been the secret MVP of this season. He had a ton of great lines this episode, most notably when Rebecca reminds him of the carnival pit Josh almost pushed her into: “I almost lost a nephew. It makes it so hard to love that carnival, but I do. I do love that carnival.”
• I loved Josh’s bizarre use of hyperformal language like “shall” and “shan’t” every time he declares his love for Rebecca to the other dudes. “I … I shall do samesies.”
• The full-body groans of the girl group every time Audra calls her boyfriend “Daddy” were perfection, as was Paula’s proud-then-horrified reaction shot when he told her, “I’m not usually up for three-ways, but the redhead can stay.”
• Perhaps as a consequence of her time in the corporate trenches at Home Base, Heather is up for a little light network branding: “Yeah, we’re basically heroes, Dare to Defy.”