Do my eyes deceive me or is that our Callie Adams Foster … having fun? And laughing? And getting into lighthearted shenanigans instead of life-threatening ones? Okay, well, actually, two raccoons are loose in the Coterie, and in my book, that is very life-threatening, but since this is a work of fiction, mostly it’s fun and their arrival gives Good Trouble a chance to take a breath after some pretty heady and emotional story lines and focus on relationships. Good Trouble excels at its thoughtful discussions of important topical issues and its ability to seamlessly weave them into its story lines, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I look forward to episodes like this each season — the episodes in which the whole Coterie gang gets together and antics are had, feelings are revealed, there are some nice heart-to-hearts, and a threesome is honestly like nine seconds away from happening in the rooftop pool. This is the fun part of communal living, right?
So what brings our Coterie citizens together this time? Well, Malika wants to get back into her spiritual practices, and after Dyonte buys her a truly giant-ass rose quartz and mentions the new-moon cycle (while flashing those very flirty eyes; Dyonte, we know what you are doing, kind sir), she decides to host a New Moon Ritual. She invites the usual suspects: Callie, Mariana, Gael, Davia (who invites Nice Teacher Matt — we’ll get to it), Alice, and, of course, both Dyonte and Isaac. Now Dyonte may be making those eyes at her and talking about how you can love more than one person and knowing how to charge crystals or whatever, but think of dear Isaac, who is not into this spiritual stuff at all but tells Malika that of course he’ll come — he wants to support her. Clearly, the show is heading toward Malika taking her relationship with Dyonte to the next level, which is understandable, but let’s not forget that Isaac is a dreamboat and does not deserve to get his heart broken.
The New Moon Ritual starts up on the roof, and there’s some heated hand-holding and knowing looks exchanged between certain parties, but one by one, people start going downstairs for different reasons and never coming back. We’ll get into the raccoon of it all, but what this means is that eventually Malika, Isaac, and Dyonte are left alone up on the roof. Both men know how much this ceremony means to Malika, so when she wants to cut it short out of frustration, they encourage her to move on to the next part of it. They’re in this with her.
The next part of the ceremony happens to be a cleansing ritual in the pool. Much like the Malika-Dyonte capoeira scene from the first episode of the season, this sequence is gorgeous … and it’s hot as hell. You know Malika wants to be with both of these guys. There’s so much sexual tension in that pool that I’m surprised there wasn’t steam rising from the water. And then a raccoon jumps in for a swim and the tension is lifted. It’s replaced with yelling and the flailing of arms. Which could also point to sexual tension, but not in this case.
How did that complicated triangle end up alone together? It starts with Mariana leaving the ceremony to take a call (no phones allowed once they get started!) from her friend Claire, who wants to talk about Raj. Ah, sweet Raj! We haven’t heard from him since the big breakup, and apparently he asked Mariana to box up his things and leave them on the kitchen table at the Coterie so he can grab them without having to see her. Mariana is having all sorts of feelings about it: She is happy with Evan, of course, but that doesn’t mean it’s not hard to fully let Raj go. She loves him. She always will. And she’s keeping his NASA shirt.
Claire just wants to let Mariana know that she and Raj have been “talking” and “visiting each other’s Animal Crossing islands” but that she wouldn’t take it further without talking to her friend first. So when Raj pops in to grab his stuff, Mariana can’t help but talk to him. Their conversation gets interrupted by some skittering about and some type of animal knocking over furniture until it turns on them and chases them into the bathroom, where they hide in stalls for protection. The banter that ensues between the two — about what the animal is, what to tell animal control, and, yes, Mariana asking some probing questions about Raj’s current relationship status (he says he has recently started casually seeing someone Mariana knows, but it isn’t Claire?) — is bittersweet. It’s so fun (especially Raj dumping on Mariana for wanting to call the Ghostbusters to catch a werewolf because “the Ghostbusters catch spirits, not mythic humanoids”) and a reminder of their great chemistry, but it becomes clear this relationship is officially over.
When Mariana doesn’t return to the rooftop, Callie goes downstairs to investigate (remember, no one has their phones). She sees the mess that was made, can’t find her sister, and then follows some suspicious noises into her loft, where she peeps under Mariana’s bed, only to find two glowing eyes. It is terrifying, and has no one at the Coterie heard of turning on a light?! She ends up hiding in her closet.
Gael is the next one to head downstairs. Callie pulls him into the closet with her, explains the situation, and the two suit up in as many layers of clothes as possible. Armed with hangers, they go looking for Mariana. They run into Davia and Matt, who made an excuse to leave the ceremony, and then the four of them come face-to-face with a raccoon standing on the kitchen table. There is an appropriate amount of screaming and running for the situation at hand.
Eventually, it’s Callie, Gael, and Alice who end up trapping one of the two raccoons in a trash can but soon learn these aren’t wild animals at all: Kelly is watching the raccoons — Lucy and Ethel! — who are part of a performing animal troupe, and she accidentally let them out without realizing it. There’s no need for animal control in the end. It’s a silly twist, but sometimes the Coterie needs some silliness. Plus, it’s certainly an inventive way to bring pairs (or trios) of characters together who were overdue for some meaningful conversations.
By the end of the night, Mariana and Raj (who misreads Mariana’s jealousy over his dating life and goes in for a kiss that is immediately shut down) put a firm period on the end of their relationship. She even gives him back his NASA shirt. Callie and Gael sip wine and giggle (yes, Callie giggles) about how “it’s fun having fun with [each other].”
And what of our complicated triangle? Well, after their horrific swim with a raccoon, Malika, Isaac, and Dyonte decompress with some drinks, and Isaac learns about Dyonte’s poly relationship … and that Malika already knew about it and didn’t tell him. Have two people ever chugged so much wine as fast as Malika and Isaac in this situation?
Back in Malika’s room, Isaac confronts his girlfriend about why she would keep that detail from him. She insists it’s no big deal, but Isaac’s not convinced. He asks her outright: Is she interested in having a relationship with Dyonte? Um, Malika, seems like you may have some explaining to do.
• Davia misinterprets something Nice Teacher Matt says during an Equity Committee meeting about the personal reason for which he feels so passionate about forming an LGBTQ Affinity Group, and she uses the New Moon Ritual as a way to set him up with Gael. Eventually, Matt explains that although he’s flattered, he’s straight — his twin brother is queer, and that’s why he wanted to start the group. Davia and Matt end up having a nice evening together, Matt says some very thoughtful things about Davia’s current situation with Dennis, and by the end, she asks if she can take him up on his offer to get drinks sometime. They’re both so smiley about it. It’s adorable.
• Oh, hello, it’s me, your recapper, over here just ripping my hair out because we see more of that Davia-Dennis phone call from the last episode, and when Davia asks if Dennis wants her to wait for him, he tells her that he’s in love with her but he doesn’t know how long it’ll be before he begins to feel whole again, if ever, and that he can’t ask her to wait. This is some straight-up bullshit, because we all know that as soon as Davia has moved on with Nice Teacher Matt, Dennis is going to come strolling back into the Coterie. And then what, Good Trouble?! Then what?
• Kelly outing herself as a Twilight and Edward Cullen superfan (she thought it was a New Moon watch party) was wholly unexpected and very, very welcome.
• Typically I’m against the fake-outs Good Trouble uses to mess with viewers every once in a while, because it’s a gimmick the show doesn’t need, but the one in this episode, although telegraphed from a mile away, was a hoot. In the show’s open, we come upon Alice and Callie flirting and kissing in Alice’s room. Later, Alice confesses to Davia that she’s in love with Callie now. We watch her sweat out sitting next to her and wanting to protect her from the raccoons. Of course, that initial makeout was just a dream Alice had, and that dream is more about her feelings over her non-relationship relationship with Ruby. Still, Alice in her softball catcher gear trying to defend Callie from trash monsters was great.
• Did you see how excited Gael was to run into Raj in the bathroom? So cute.
• Wait, wait, wait, do we really think the show is going there again with Gael and Callie? He told Davia that he wants to be with someone chill and fun and who knows what they want. That’s, like, the exact opposite of Callie when she’s not hunting raccoons.