Leave it to Schitt’s Creek to bestow gift after gift upon us in these troubling times. The world may be burning, but at least for 30 minutes we get to bask in the glow of guest appearances by Saul Rubinek and Mr. Jack Bristow himself, Victor Garber, who arrive in Schitt’s Creek as Moira’s former Sunrise Bay colleagues. (Garber also starred in the 1972 Toronto production of Godspell along with Eugene Levy — and Gilda Radner, Martin Short, Andrea Martin, etc., etc. — so this is a gorgeous reunion of sorts.) This look back into the past means that all of my wishes have been granted and we get to peep an actual scene from Moira’s infamous soap opera. I mean, yes, what I am really craving is a 30-minute “behind the scenes of Sunrise Bay” special, but beggars cannot be choosers and I will treasure Catherine O’Hara and Garber’s soap scene for the rest of my days. Wow wow wow, what a time we are having!
When Moira gets a call from Sunrise Bay’s former executive producer Tippy Bernstein (Rubinek), she’s in a tizzy with anticipation. Could it be the reunion she’s been waiting for? Even Alexis, who is leaning deep into her post-breakup spiral, is prepared to get out of bed and put some actual clothes on to be there at the meeting. Moira persuades her daughter to stay home because she needs to continue her regimen of self-care and also stay “where no one can see [her].” It’s for the best, anyway, because Alexis is currently plowing through a box set of Sunrise Bay. Thanks to her epic binge, we get to see that aforementioned scene in which Moira’s co-star Clifton Sparks (Garber) tells Moira’s character, Vivian, that the only reason she’s chief of surgery is that she’s possessed by the soul of her late father, the former chief of surgery! And then Vivian epically slaps Clifton’s character and no description can do it justice and we are all forever changed as humans.
At the cafe, Tippy has a surprise for Moira: Clifton has come along, too. They have some news: There’s going to be a Sunrise Bay reboot — now in prime time — and they want Moira to sign on. It doesn’t matter that Vivian was killed off the show after Moira’s last attempt at contract negotiations went south; sure, Vivian was shredded, but they have writers to figure out a way to bring her back. Clifton just couldn’t imagine doing the show without her. The guys hand her a big contract to think about and promise to meet again that night to celebrate the gang getting back together.
When Moira comes home to tell Alexis the news, she has lots of questions. First of all, “Why did they kill off [Vivian] after [she] had just given birth to [her] ninth child and escaped from that cave with that secret about [her] lover?” (Her lover was a ghost, naturally.) But more important, does Moira know that there’s a rumor about Clifton having Moira written off the show because of jealousy? Moira dismisses what Alexis has discovered through her internet black hole on the Sunrise Bay Fan Forum, but Alexis won’t drop it. If Moira is going to go ahead and sign the contract, she should know how much she’s worth. And since, thanks to the Crows movie, she is the only original cast member currently making headlines, Tippy and Clifton need her, and there is “nothing wrong with asking for what you deserve.” Alexis Rose, a true feminist icon for our times.
Moira may have told her daughter to focus on “a little more housework and a little less mouse-work” after hearing her internet-fueled conspiracy theories, but when she meets Tippy and Clifton at the Wobbly Elm, she doesn’t hesitate to call Clifton out. And he owns up to it. He claims he was a different man then — it was before his liver transplant, of course — but the confirmation gives Moira some real ammunition. Of course she wants to get back to doing something she loves, something she hasn’t been able to do for a long time: slapping Clifton. As for the reboot contract, she has demands.
It’s not until she’s back with Alexis and David that we learn the end of that conversation. She tells Alexis that because of her intel and encouragement, she was able to negotiate a much better deal. She said she would come back only if they killed Clifton off by the death of Moira’s choosing. Also, she asked for more money. Also, a diamond tennis bracelet, because yes, sure, why not? But in the end, because Moira finally realizes how poorly she was treated on Sunrise Bay, she reveals that she wanted to make them an offer they had to refuse. She won’t be doing the reboot. She isn’t sad about it, though. In fact, it’s the opposite. She seems hopeful, and that’s mostly because she is realizing what an asset her publicist is. Because if Alexis could help her client that way from the throes of despair and in the middle of a soap opera binge, just “imagine what [she’s] capable of.” Moira and Alexis Rose are becoming a true dream team, huh?
Moira is not the only one betting on a bright future. Johnny has yet another reckoning with his past this week, but as low as he gets, it ends on the most hopeful of notes.
As if Johnny Rose weren’t stressed enough: Just as he is welcoming his new Rosebud Motel team to the new property with open arms and free copies of his book, they learn that there is some extreme termite damage and it will cost a whole load of money to fix. He goes from that disastrous meeting to a food tasting for David’s wedding at a very fancy restaurant (seriously, where is this place?), full of beef tenderloin and lobster rolls and discussion of caviar for the “caviar crowd.” Johnny had promised to foot the bill for the food as a gift to David and Patrick, and he doesn’t want to back out now, but the man is stressed.
David notices how uncomfortable his dad is — it was the moment when the chef asked Johnny if he wanted to crack the top of the crème brûlée, and Johnny responded “If we break it do we buy it?” that gave him away — and assures him that he won’t have to pay for the extra table of eight they just added to the guest list. Patrick’s parents had set aside a nest egg when Patrick was engaged before, so they actually have more money than they expected from them. And then David goes off to join Alexis in her Sunrise Bay binge, believing he has solved his dad’s problem. In fact, the only person who knows the true extent of Johnny’s money problems and just how distraught he is over the entire thing is Stevie. She watches David and Johnny’s chat and sees how upset Johnny is afterward. “It’s not always gonna be like this,” she says, trying to comfort him. Johnny can’t help but think about the nest egg they had set aside for David’s dream wedding at one point in his life, and the thought of how he can’t provide for his family the way he once did almost brings him to tears. Seriously, guys, there are tears in his eyes. Is Johnny Rose going to be making us cry every episode from here on out? My tiny, broken heart cannot take it.
All hope is not lost, though, thanks to Stevie Budd and, in a roundabout way, Johnny himself. Johnny calls a meeting with Roland and Stevie to discuss the possibility of selling the second property, but Stevie has a better idea. What if they buy 30 motels right now and start franchising? It would bring greater dividends and could get them out of this hole. Where did Stevie get this inspired idea? Well, she read about it in Johnny’s book. “You did this before; I think you can do it again,” she tells him. And just like that, the Rosebud Motel is back in business.
The Wig Wall
• Honestly, every mention of Sunrise Bay on this episode is a pure delight, but aside from the “possessed by her father’s soul” storyline, Alexis’s recounting of Vivian’s final death on the show was my favorite: “You vomited a demon into a toilet and then fell in and drowned … And then they shredded you.”
• Fine, that part about Vivian being trapped in a crystal on the roof of a cave for multiple episodes was also great.
• Wait! Wait! There’s also that storyline from season three in which Vivian finds a time machine in the hospital broom closet. I would like more details on that.
• Okay, and also that little nugget about Moira playing her own brother for an entire season. So much gold here.
• Still howling over the fact that Moira thinks the last time she saw Clifton was when he starred in “that electrifying courtroom drama about the potty-mouthed feral child,” but as Clifton explains, that was an actual court case in which his daughter was trying to become emancipated from him. It was just on the news a lot.
• Clifton Sparks explains he’s looking so “fresh and dewy” these days because he “gave up the drink. Strictly a wine and scotch man now.”
• When Alexis finally stops watching Sunrise Bay, she explains that eight hours of it is making her feel “not right in the head” and Moira’s response is matter-of-fact: “It had that effect. The New England Journal of Medicine did a fascinating study on it.”
• Has David ever felt more alive than he did during that wedding food tasting? Honestly, I’d like a solid 30 minutes of watching him try out different meals and explaining them to his father.
• Daniel Levy’s face through the entire opening scene, in which Johnny is inadvertently forcing him to invite Twyla to the wedding, is a true master class.
• “All I’m saying as your publicist and your daughter and now the moderator of the Sunrise Bay Fan Forum, there is more to this story.”