Paula and Rebecca both let out their inner obsessive meddlers
Now that Josh is out of Rebeeca’s life (and the show’s episode titles), is Rebecca just going to end up repeating the same patterns with Nathaniel? That’s the central question of “Nathaniel Needs My Help,” and the question Rebecca frantically puts to her doctor when she shows up to her therapy appointment wearing Nathaniel’s shirt under hers because she just loves how much he smells so much.
On the surface, it seems like Rebecca and Nathaniel’s relationship should work: They’re both intelligent and high-achieving, both slightly obsessed with status in spite of themselves, and Nathaniel’s cold, WASP-ish emotional reserve seems nicely balanced by Rebecca’s effusiveness. But Rebecca has Borderline Personality Disorder — and where another show might turn a diagnosis into a one-off “very special episode” and conveniently ignore it when another plot beckons, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is magnificently consistent in never allowing its characters to fully escape the tethers of their real-world problems.
And so, naturally, even though she’s not obsessed with Josh anymore, Rebecca is still obsessed… only now it’s over Nathaniel (his smell, his shirts, etc.). But unlike Josh, Nathaniel isn’t a project; he already likes her. They’re already dating. And so Rebecca Bunch does the most Rebecca Bunch thing possible and manufactures a scheme for herself. She pries into Nathaniel’s childhood, learns that maybe, he sort of wishes he was on better terms with his aloof father, and decides that it’s her primary duty as girlfriend to help make that happen.
Back at Whitefeather (or rather, pardon me, Plimpton, Plimpton, Plimpton & Plimpton), Paula’s own obsessive tendencies are coming to the forefront. After breaking up with White Josh, Darryl is moving ahead with his plan for a baby via surrogate and egg donor. Paula immediately springs upon the egg donor book and spends the afternoon finding the best possible donor. In the end, Paula decides on a single, perfect candidate, the only donor in the book who fits her exacting criteria of things, like not being a smoker and having even dimples on both sides. Darryl agrees, but there’s one hiccup when Paula calls the donor center and learns that even though the egg is still there, the donor withdrew consent to have it used.
But that’s no deterrent for “No Plan B” Paula who mastered the art of stalking back when she was trying to ensure Rebecca and Josh would end up together. She finds the woman reading in the park and begs her to release the egg. The woman is justifiably weirded out by the strange woman who stalked her all day and then demands some of her reproductive cells and threatens to call the police. But Paula makes her case and leaves her card, and the next day, the woman reappears outside the office and says she changed her mind. Paula and Darryl can have the egg under one Chekov’s gun of a condition — but Paula interrupts before she finds out what that condition is. Never a good sign.
In the camp of co-workers helping co-workers, Rebecca blackmails poor, hapless George into helping her with her helping Nathaniel scheme. Every benevolent Slytherin supervillain needs a sidekick after all. The two of them get Mr. Plimpton’s schedule, and plan on casually running into him while he’s playing golf, when they notice Mr. Plimpton get into a woman’s car, drive with her to her home, and greet a smiling young girl who calls him “old man.” Rebecca assumes that Nathaniel’s father has a second family and an illicit daughter, but instead of being horrified by that information and at her own behavior, she’s gleeful. She got Nathaniel a new sister!
In one of Rebecca’s poorest judgment calls to date, she arranges a meet-up with Nathaniel and his “sister” by hitting the girl’s car, only to find out they already know each other: they’re not siblings, because of course not. The girl’s mom is Mr. Plimpton’s longtime secretary, and he pays for her daughter’s college tuition.
Disaster also hits back with Darryl and Paula, when it turns out that “condition” the egg donor required was for Darryl to keep paying her a ton of money. Oh, and surprise: She was a smoker all along. Paula desperately tries to stop the fertilization process but she’s too late, and so when she hears that the fertilization was unsuccessful, she’s blissed out with relief — at least until she sees how disappointed Darryl is. Eggs are expensive: He’ll need to wait at least another year before he can try to be a father again.
Nathaniel is obviously mad at Rebecca, because she acted completely out of line. But this is an adult, grown-up relationship between two functional people. And so, Nathaniel forgives her. Those over-the-top gestures of trying to help even when it’s ridiculously misguided are part of the reason he loves her. But just because a relationship still exists doesn’t mean it should. This is season three Rebecca, more self-aware than she was with Josh, and she recognizes exactly how toxic her behavior was. And so, it’s Rebecca who, heartbreakingly, tells Nathaniel they need to talk.
This episode was an emotional heavy-hitter, but it also included the funniest song of the season so far: Darryl’s pop-rap about his healthy sperm (I am almost fairly certain there is not a single line I would be able to quote here while I’m at work). “My Sperm is Healthy” for song of the summer 2018?