Rebecca gets a diagnosis and Valencia gets a little Dear Evan Hansen
After last week’s massive episode, it makes sense that now we’re getting a bit of a recovery period, along with Rebecca, who survived her suicide attempt and has been brought into the hospital where her friends are holding camp in the waiting room.
“I knew she’d be fine,” Valencia says. “The minute I heard that’s what I told myself.” Her multiple self-references are not an accident: Valencia is self-centered, and she always has been, even if the last half season it seems like she’s just been a perfect member of Friendtopia. This episode is the first hint of that narcissism, an attempt to make her more of the flawed character we remember from season 1. At first it seems like she’s just getting a little too interested in seeing her own face in video updates for Rebecca’s friends, but by the time she’s singing her unfortunately poop-themed anthem “This Is My Movement,” it’s obvious that she’s gone full Dear Evan Hansen on Rebecca’s suicide attempt, using Rebecca’s sad story as a catalyst to create an online community of people who want to be inspired.
This episode also gives us hints that Paula’s co-dependence with Rebecca might become a problem down the line. Paula is constantly by Rebecca’s side, holding her hand and walking her through the steps of recovery instead of spending any time with her family (Dr. Akopian seems to pick up on that too).
But this episode is almost entirely about Rebecca: her thoughts and feelings and hope (or lack thereof) after hitting rock bottom on a plane to Los Angeles and taking a handful of pills. She wakes up in the hospital, with the heartbreaking admission that she didn’t even want to die. “I just wanted the pain to stop.”
A new, super hot doctor Dr. Shin (or Dr. Dan or, as Paula calls him, Dr. DAYUM) is offering Rebecca hope in the form of a new diagnosis, and this episode continues Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s spot-on depiction of mental illness by capturing the misplaced elation Rebecca feels with a Broadway-style song. Rachel Bloom shows off some bona fide belting chops in the earnest number, in which the world seems ripe with possibilities and Rebecca, in a sunny yellow dress, believes all of her problems will be solved by just knowing if she’s schizophrenic or bipolar II.
Turns out, the answer deflates her elation like an untied balloon: According to Dr. Shin, who consulted with Rebecca’s therapist Dr. Akopian, she has borderline personality disorder. Even though he tells her not to Google it, of course Rebecca immediately does. “I read two and a half sentences about it and they were the worst sentences ever,” Rebecca says. The Google results freak her out so much that she skips group therapy and goes home where, to a live-video-blogging Valencia’s chagrin, she isn’t the peppy inspirational story that invites free swag from admirers. “It’s not something I have,” Rebecca says about being saddled with a personality disorder. “It’s something I am.”
Meanwhile, Nathaniel’s been having trouble writing to Rebecca, or sending her any sort of note of support. Every time he thinks of her, he begins shaking and glancing at the photograph of his mother on his desk. It’s not until he storms home and confronts his parents directly during their beautifully WASP-y martini hour that we find out what’s been going on: He remembers his mom trying to kill herself when he was 10. Their repressed excuses (she had the flu! She spent a month sailing in Rhode Island!) no longer make sense to the grown-up Nathaniel who’s old enough to recognize that people with the flu don’t go sailing.
Although his mother slinks off from the confrontation and his father cedes no ground, Nathaniel returns to figure out the truth, which his mother gingerly offers with the most emotional honesty a repressed WASP can muster. “I made a mistake with my sleeping pills,” she delicately explains. “And I went to a place where I learned to sleep without pills.” The light on her and Nathaniel’s face when they realize they had a real conversation is the best moment of the entire episode: a much-needed emotional buoy to what is a justifiably grim story arc.
Paula, in full fixer-mode, is desperate to give Rebecca the easy answer that Rebecca wants. And so, the obvious recourse against Dr. Shin is to get a second opinion. This time, they can go straight to Dr. Akopian, who’s known Rebecca for much longer, even if it means storming into the in-process session with Kevin who saw his father shoot his mother in cold blood (Kevin is happy to give Rebecca his time).
Miffed but willing to speak, Dr. Akopian slowly goes through the checklist of traits that indicate borderline personality disorder, explaining it in calm, clear detail. Out of the nine traits on the list — things like mood swings and suicidal thoughts — Rebecca has all nine. Hearing more about the diagnosis allows her to accept it, even if it doesn’t make the way forward easier.
Nathaniel comes to Rebecca’s house bearing roses his mother grew and Rebecca’s stuffed alligator, Ruth Gator Ginsburg (we get a diagnosis and the gator’s name the same episode!), but it’s the small moment in which we get to see Josh at the end of the episode that’s the most interesting. The gang reunites at Rebecca’s house — along with Darryl who appears for the first time all episode badly sunburned having been on a camping trip with Whi-Jo and frantically fighting his way back to West Covina the minute he heard the news. Darryl says he wants to kill Josh for what he did to Rebecca, and what he made Rebecca do to himself, but Rebecca is surprisingly insightful: Josh didn’t make her do anything. He is, as the episode title suggests, irrelevant. She wasn’t thinking about him at all. Of course, Josh was outside the entire time, accidentally eavesdropping on the conversation while carrying a puppy he was presumably about to give to Rebecca (of course Josh, who never thinks things through, would think the responsibility of a pet would be a good gift right now).
If Josh really is irrelevant to Rebecca, it might mean the scales are about to tip: Maybe Josh is about to feel the pain of being tossed aside. Maybe he’ll become the crazy ex for once. Or they’ll both move ahead with their lives in a healthy and productive manner. But you know, probably not.