Crazy Ex-Girlfriend recap: Rebecca dips her toe into the community theater world
With its fourth and final season, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is once again proving that it’s the most emotionally complex show on television. While this week’s episode, “I’m Finding My Bliss,” might lack the Very Special quality of the previous episode — in which Rebecca and company taught us that it’s A-okay to take antidepressants — we’re back to character basics and moving at a steady clip toward Rebecca’s endgame.
After having a profound emotional realization while hiding in morgue, Rebecca comes to the realization that the thing she loves more than any boy might just be musical theater. But this about-face, from lawyer to pretzel shop owner to thesbian, feels completely earned. After all, Rebecca fell in love with Josh when they were at musical theater camp, and that was the happiest she’d ever been. And this entire show has used songs to represent Rebecca’s point of view; musical theater is how she sees the world.
And so a newly energized Rebecca signs up for a community theater revue of songs by the fictional Elliot Ellison and assumes it’s going to fix her entire life. Valencia’s the one who offers the episode’s key moment of wisdom: “Sometimes the thing or person you think will make you happy doesn’t.” Ding, ding, ding, we have the central theme of the show. From the first episode on, Rebecca thought moving to West Covina, Calif., and being with Josh would make her happy. The truth is, unhappiness usually starts with No. 1.
That’s a realization that Greg also comes to in this episode. He’s back in West Covina, re-opening his dad’s Italian restaurant as a one-night pop-up as his thesis for business school. Greg comes into the experience assuming that West Covinians are uncultured yokels who rejected Serrano’s because they didn’t know real Italian food. Turns out, though, people do appreciate good food — Greg’s dad was just an alcoholic who ran the restaurant into the ground. The success of his pop-up leads into a reprise of “What’ll It Be (Hey, West Covina)” that will make anyone who ever doubted Skylar Astin eat their words. That boy can sing. You knew that boy could sing, right?
And every one of our main trio of boys gets a chance to shine tonight. Propelled by their desire for Rebecca, both Nathaniel and Josh join the community theater production: Nathaniel as a Prince Charming character (naturally) and Josh as a stagehand. They both get moments of lingering gazes that are utterly heartbreaking. Who am I even rooting for anymore? I don’t know! All of them!
Rebecca’s singing voice might not be quite as good as Rachel Bloom’s is in real life, but she still gets assigned a song: a brassy character-actress number about being a brothel madame who wants a husband. But like a lot of old songs, the lyrics don’t hold up. They’re completely sexist, upholding the virgin/whore complex and about half a dozen other problematic elements. While Rebecca is rehearsing, she finds a way to make a few helpful tweaks, which don’t go over well with the community theater director, Connie (guest star Cheri O’Teri). How dare this upstart tweak the lyrics of a theater genius?! (And when has a male genius ever been sexist?)
Rebecca’s lyrics are nixed, but Nathaniel pulls out a big romantic gesture, using his time on stage to perform her version of the song before he’s booted. But seeing him sing her song gives Rebecca another realization: “I’m not a writer-performer! I’m not Ike Barinholtz!” Maybe she’s just a writer. Could writing songs be Rebecca’s destiny?
In B-plots, Paula gets offers to work for other law firms and make more money than she would with Darryl, and Darryl needs to get over his fear of abandonment to let her soar (and pay off a child’s future college tuition). And Valencia, ever self-aware, knows she wants to get engaged, and she gives Beth an ultimatum.
Like Avengers: Endgame and Game of Thrones, we’re wrapping up story lines and moving pieces into place. And Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is just as epic and important. Rebecca is finding her bliss, and she’s getting closer by the day.