Since the return of Starstruck is quickly approaching, Vulture is returning to where the romance began with weekly recaps of season one. Rewatch along with us and check back next Thursday for season two recaps.
I’ll be honest with you, my Starstruck people (because I know you’ll get it): Writing this recap of the season-one finale is difficult because my first inclination is to simply write one long SQUEAAAAAAAAAAAL for the entire thing. Although I know that would not be the most informative of recaps, that is exactly how I felt watching this episode. Isn’t this show all about feeling anyway? I was just squealing with delight. The funny thing is nothing that happens in “Christmas” is particularly surprising. From the first episode, we all knew this show would end with Jessie and Tom getting together. Any rom-com fan couldn’t have been surprised that there was one last hurdle for our couple to get over. And any person who’s watched enough TV knows if someone notes that there are pot brownies just laying around, there is a 99.9 percent chance that someone else is going to eat those pot brownies unwittingly (just call it Chekhov’s Weed Stash). So, no, this final act in Jessie and Tom’s story isn’t the most surprising, but goddamn is it so, so satisfying. So, again, I am squealing.
Last we left Tom and Jessie, they were separately off being the saddest people — nothing about that has changed. Tom was feeling listless and dejected regarding his career and heartbroken after that disastrous fight in the hotel with Jessie. He can’t stop thinking about her. He’s participating in the age-old tradition of stalking the object of your affection on social media. Even a crushed-up macaron in his pocket is emotionally devastating.
Meanwhile, Jessie looked around at her life and saw something just wasn’t working, so she decided to leave London and move back home to New Zealand. Her early-Christmas send-off the night before her flight with Kate and their friends is cheery enough — aside from the “love is fleeting; loneliness is eternal”–type fortunes in their Christmas Crackers, obviously — but it is all tinged with sadness. Some of that sadness is simply that everyone will miss Jessie so much. And yet, leaving her friends and her life in London can’t be the only thing in that dark cloud over Jessie’s head. After almost a full year (remember, episode one kicked off on New Year’s Eve) of randomly bumping into Tom or him popping over or being able to attend events where she knows Tom will be, Jessie leaving London for New Zealand puts a hard stop to whatever their relationship was or could be. Jessie surely realizes this.
And then Kate forgets the custard. There is no way in hell she is serving a Christmas pudding without custard — they aren’t animals, she reminds them — and so she hops off to the nearby shop to find some. Thank goodness for the missing custard, because Kate runs into none other than Tom Kapoor the Movie Star at the shop. She sees the bouquet of flowers he stashed near where he is standing, and instantly Kate knows that Tom is contemplating coming by to see Jessie. It could’ve taken Tom hours to work up the courage to knock on Jessie’s door, but Kate gives him no choice.
After an awkward welcome interaction between Tom and the friends and an obviously made-up excuse about them all needing to go have a cigarette on the balcony, Tom and Jessie are left in the kitchen, alone together for the first time since that gutting fight. As hard as they are trying to make this seem normal, it’s super-awkward. When Jessie tells Tom she’s moving, it only adds pressure to whatever Tom was planning to do with this visit. They don’t avoid talking about their fight, and both apologize for saying what they did. You guys, the way Tom says “I’m sorry” with that face and those eyes and the utter sadness in his voice, I will never understand how Jessie doesn’t just kiss him right then. Kiss him!! That face!! And I’m not alone in thinking that — when Jessie goes outside to update her friends on the situation, they all agree that she should definitely be kissing Tom Kapoor the Movie Star. They even invent a ridiculous story about going off to visit a friend who’s dying but who doesn’t like Jessie because she didn’t donate to her GoFundMe page and therefore Jessie has to stay behind. Hey, whatever works, I guess.
With shouts of “don’t ruin this,” Jessie’s friends all leave, and she’s alone with Tom again. There is one problem: While Jessie was out on the balcony talking about how terribly this was going, Tom was left in the kitchen to think about how terribly it was going. Tom, full of anxiety, breaks his no-carbs rule and houses two of the brownies sitting out. He does not know what we know, which is that those brownies will get you super fucking high. And that’s exactly what happens to Tom.
If seeing Tom be sulky and pathetic at the hotel a while back made Jessie more attracted to him because she got to see him be a little more vulnerable, well, this whole situation must have her horny as hell. High Tom is a disaster. He thinks he’s dying. He thinks the ceiling is falling on top of him. He is very sweaty. Jessie promises to take care of him and will do anything he asks in order to distract him. This includes: pushups, learning dances from YouTube instructional videos, and demonstrating how her one dress has several different strap options. Surprisingly, none of this really works. Eventually, Tom does come down enough that he isn’t seeing colors shooting out of Jessie’s head, but still high enough that his inhibitions are still gone and he can maybe say a few things he wouldn’t normally.
Aghhh! This whole conversation between Tom and Jessie on the bed is just so sweet and funny and lovely. It’s this great payoff for all their other moments of banter throughout the season. We’ve watched them be cute and funny, but now they’re those things and they’re being honest about how they feel. What growth! Tom admits that he had a plan for tonight in which he was going to ask Jessie to come to Ireland with him while he shoots his next film. He tells her he’s wanted to call her and see her so many times but was worried she didn’t want to see him. “I like seeing you,” she says. I like seeing you! What a thing to tell another person. More people should be saying that to each other.
Tom tells her he thinks about her all the time and thinks he’s falling in love with her. I’m sorry, my soul just left my body, I think? Yes, Jessie calling Tom out for how ridiculous that phrase is — “it’s like saying, ‘I almost have an emotion’” — feels right and good, but still, that Tom is dropping the L-word is a big deal. And he isn’t deterred by Jessie brushing him off. He tells her he “feel[s] things. Strong things. For [her,] specifically.” She has no choice but to admit she feels them too.
Alas, a few things still stand in their way. One: Tom is still high, and Jessie doesn’t think it would be right to hook up with him like this. Two: She’s leaving for New Zealand in a few hours. They decide it would be wiser just to stay friends. And yet still, Tom holds her as they fall asleep.
The next morning, Jessie has to head out for the airport, but Tom just can’t do it when it comes time to say good-bye. He walks with her to her bus stop — it is the friendly thing, after all — but he hops on the bus with her when her bus comes. They sit side-by-side on the top of a double-decker in silence, because what can they really say? It’s clear Tom can’t let her go. But what can Jessie do about it? I’ll tell you what she can fucking do: When the bus gets to her stop, she can just not get off. She can stay where she is, next to Tom, and let the bus keep going and miss her flight and not go back to New Zealand. Jessie can’t let Tom go either. As the bus pulls away, Tom can’t help but smile. Jessie turns to finally say something to him, but before she can get anything out, he has to kiss her. He has to! And so he does! And that is the end of the episode and the season and now you know why I was squealing so much, I swear it is not a medical condition!! It took a full year for these two dummies to get over themselves and their insecurities enough to finally admit that what they really wanted was right in front of them, and they went for it. How freaking wonderful is that?
While season one of Starstruck can certainly stand on its own, after getting to know and love Jessie and Tom over six episodes, surely people might have questions about what happens after the happy ending. Good thing for us, we’re getting a second season and will get to see how this whole thing plays out. Goddamn, aren’t rom-coms the best?
• Kate tells her friend she’s sure she is going to die without her and plans on keeping Jessie’s room exactly as she leaves it as a shrine “like [she’s her] missing child.” “That is the sweetest thing that anyone has ever said to me,” Jessie replies.
• Jessie is vehemently against people bringing pot brownies to parties because the last time she had one she completely freaked out and ended up spending the night watching “Jim Henson funeral videos on YouTube.” Starstruck is really top-notch with the random and so, so specific references.
• When Tom asks who would ever put weed in brownies, Jessie’s answer is simple and true: “total legends.”