“Driver’s Seat” does not offer up any answers on the Malika/Isaac front after leaving us with a cliffhanger last week, but it does offer up a distraction: dates. So many dates! First dates and maybe-dates and fake dates for training purposes. We’re having a fun, sexy, angsty time at the Coterie this week, and it feels good.
Davia takes Nice Teacher Matt up on his date offer and it is, as many first dates go, awkward at first but oh boy, it turns into something really wonderful. Before leaving, Davia runs into Gael, who, because he is the sweetest boy, reminds her that she should try and give Matt a real chance. He’s a good guy. And he hasn’t fled to the shores of Malibu to wear cozy sweaters and be emotionally unavailable LIKE SOME PEOPLE WE KNOW.
Davia knows this too, so when Dennis starts texting her photos of a hike he went on and interrupts her very sweet conversation about what Matt’s cotillion was all about (I refuse to believe Davia has not seen all of The O.C., but fine), she rushes off to the bathroom to read her texts. Thankfully, she decides this isn’t healthy and puts that man on Do Not Disturb. She is giving Matt a real chance.
She gives him a real chance all the way back to the Coterie kitchen, where he tells her about learning the waltz for cotillion. When she comments about how romantic the waltz looks in movies, he reaches out for her hand and they waltz around the dining table and friends, it is just so lovely and doesn’t Davia deserve a little romance in her life? Of course, when the perfect moment to kiss arises, Davia starts to think about Dennis and pulls away from Matt. It’s awkward and unfortunate and she is clearly not ready to move on from Dennis yet.
If it wasn’t clear then, well, it should be when Davia video-chats Dennis that night and the two tearfully duet to Sara Bareilles’s “Gravity.” Listen, I readily admit that I have the first Davia/Dennis duet, “Falling Slowly,” downloaded so that it is at my disposal anytime I need to simultaneously weep and feel joy, and that scene from season two is maybe my favorite of the series and I understand wanting to recapture that magic, but this duet felt a little less organic than the first and I spent most of this scene thinking about how there is no possible way everyone in the Coterie can’t hear Davia just pouring out her heart through song. But, like, I get it: Emma Hunton and Josh Pence’s voices are magic together and they just should go make an album as a duo immediately, so it’s tempting to have them sing on the show as much as possible.
Anyway, like Sara Bareilles says, something always brings Davia back to Dennis. That is, until Alice mentions that Dennis might be giving up his loft soon. (You see how much it pains Alice to say this in front of Davia — Alice is the biggest Davia/Dennis shipper of us all!) And that hurts. Davia isn’t going to waste her time on this handsome, angel-voiced fool anymore! So the next day, after an Equity Committee meeting, she apologizes to Matt and tells him that if she had a time machine, she’d go back and do the whole thing differently because she is ready to move forward. And then Matt grabs her face and they kiss and it is so romantic. Nice Teacher Matt coming in for everyone’s heart here.
As for the maybe-date: On one hand, revisiting Gael and Callie’s feelings for each other seems like well-trod territory, but something about how this story line plays out in this episode makes it all feel fresh again. Maybe it’s Callie’s fabulous green dress? Maybe I just want everyone to find love? Brb, gotta go listen to “Falling Slowly” for a minute.
Okay, that’s better. Now: Gael invites Callie to Yuri’s gallery show for “moral support.” He definitely needs that after Yuri screams at him for going rogue on the painting he tasked Gael with creating for Yuri to pass off as his own in his show (just so many things wrong with Yuri). Yuri declares that Gael’s painting has so missed the mark that it is unusable and Gael has failed him. So yeah, Gael needs some support at this party. But obviously we all know that Gael has invited Callie because he still has feelings for her but isn’t sure where she stands. On the flip side, we have Callie getting noticeably dressed up and admitting that she has feelings for Gael but is unsure if he wants anything more than friendship (she did break his heart last time, after all). If Gael would listen to Davia and Callie would listen to Mariana, these two dinks would just say what they want and they’d be together and things would be easy-peasy.
Things are not easy-peasy. The gallery show goes well — Gael and Callie are flirting and making eyes at each other and Gael makes some real connections with heavy hitters in the art world. Even Yuri is being unusually kind. And then Yuri asks Gael if he can have Callie’s number. Ugh, Yuri sucks again. After the show, as Callie and Gael sip wine on the rooftop and Callie puts on her special “Oh, I think this is happening” lipstick, Gael brings up Yuri’s interest in Callie as a way to gauge her feelings. But Callie hears it as, If Gael’s setting me up with his boss, he’s definitely not into me, and she declares that she’s not really up for dating anyone and takes off. So the lipstick was a waste and these two need to learn how to communicate with honesty!!
Gael’s situation goes from disappointing to enraging pretty quickly: The next time he’s at Yuri’s studio, he walks in on two people about to purchase the painting he had made that Yuri trashed … but now Yuri is signing it with his own name, pawning it off as his work, and making $50,000 in the process. Gael’s brain might explode? Stewing, he texts Callie late at night because he needs her (perhaps both emotionally and physically?), but she doesn’t get that text — she’s too busy hooking up with Tony at the office. Callie and Gael need to GET IT TOGETHER.
Hey, maybe they both need to attend Mariana Adams Foster’s School of Dating for the Weak-Willed, because it works wonders for Alice. Mariana notices Alice seems down and Alice explains the whole situation with Ruby. Mariana has seen enough: She’s taking Alice on a date to teach her how to be more assertive. She needs to figure out what she wants and then go after it. Alice and Mariana don’t typically get paired off in story lines, but they should. Sherry Cola and Cierra Ramirez have a fun chemistry together.
After several attempts to get Alice to stand up for herself on this date from hell (Mariana gives her all shades of bad dates: too clingy, apathetic, bitchy, the girl who wants to give you bangs), Alice gets the hang of saying no and standing up for herself and taking charge. It looks good on her!
Back at home, she and Ruby start texting and Alice comes clean about pretending to be dating around. She tells her flat out: What she really wants is to be in a relationship with Ruby. And guess what? The sky doesn’t come crashing down around her. Instead, Ruby responds with, “Let’s talk about it.” That’s good! This is progress. Alice gets an A+ from her instructor.
• The “date” with Alice makes Mariana think about the relationship in her life in which she is never in the driver’s seat and needs to be more assertive: Her relationship with Callie. This scene in which they sort of yell at each other, Mariana at Callie for always dismissing her and Callie at Mariana for lying about certain things, is great. In just a few minutes they go from being angry to agreeing to compromise and right back to normal. I love a nice moment of authentic sisterhood.
• Callie may not be getting what she wants in the Gael situation, but she shows much more determination and tenacity when it comes to work. The team is trying to punch holes in the timeline of the murder case to prove there is reasonable doubt that Tommy had time to murder his best friend on the night in question. They retrace Tommy’s movements that night, and thanks to Callie noticing that the time on the security footage from the liquor store where Tommy stopped ahead of Zac’s death is off by several minutes, they realize there’s no way Tommy had enough time to kill Zac. This defense just might save Tommy. Callie celebrates her huge win by humping Tony in the office, as one does.
• The episode kicks off with an animated sequence that has all of our Coterie friends driving cars around and it pretty much gives us a little preview of what everyone will be dealing with in the ep: Davia at a stop sign deciding to turn toward Dennis or Matt, an obstacle always stopping Gael and Callie from being together, Alice most definitely not in the driver’s seat. It’s cute. It’s fine.
• Can someone do an illustrated map of the Coterie? I need the full layout of the place.