Susan P back with more Bunheads. We've reached the winter’s penultimate episode. At this point, the series has built a great foundation with likeable and interesting characters. Nathaniel and I are both hoping the show has enough backing from viewers and ABC Family to be renewed for a summer or fall return.
This Week on Bunheads…
I found this week’s installment, “It’s Not a Mint” inconsequential when compared to some of the earlier episodes of this half season. It had the feel of a set-up episode, moving characters (and relationships) into their proper place for the winter finale. That said, there was still fun to be had and ideas to be explored, like the need for shelter and protection. The episode’s title is referring to this idea since the object that’s “not a mint” happens to be a mysterious condom that Sutton Foster’s Michelle finds hidden in the girls’ dressing room.
The studio is transformed into an evacuation shelter when the town is threatened by fire. This brings together a number of Paradise regulars including the young bunheads and the boys who they like, Milly (Liza Weil), her sister Truly (Stacey Oristano), visiting bride-to-be Talia (Angelina McCoy) and Bash (Sean Gunn, reprising his role as the barista who clashed with Michelle in an earlier episode). The latter (with his team captain cap “CAP”) is in charge of running the evacuation center with Fanny, but Michelle has to step in since she’s “out of the country.” Tellingly, Michelle’s cap doesn’t fit her head, which, as you can see in this clip, Bash claims is “too big.”
In addition to juggling her co-captain duties, Michelle is also dealing with Talia’s wedding plans. It turns out her friend, who’s pregnant, wants the emotional and financial security of marriage versus the uncertainty of pursuing her Broadway dreams. Michelle had that secure feeling for all of 24-hours with Hubbell before his sudden death. She knows how fleeting it can be. She’s not only transferring her own Broadway dreams onto Talia, but projecting the anxiety and fear that accompanies love: the fear of its loss. As a result, she’s less than supportive of Talia, but comes around in the episode’s most emotional scene.
For the younger cast, the trapped atmosphere of the studio leads to a number of not-so-surprising discoveries. Melanie (Emma Dumont) realizes her brother’s seemingly dim friend Dez (Paul James Jordan) may be someone she could actually like. Ginny (Bailey Buntain) who continues to moon over Frankie (Niko Pepaj), finally recognizes his sister – rather than a threat to her friendship circle – could be a powerful ally.
The mystery condom figures into a revelation from Boo (Kaitlyn Jenkins). While the condom isn’t hers, she’s on pre-emptive birth control for when she and boyfriend Carl finally do have sex. They’ve targeted the night before their prom (more than a year away), figuring they’ll get the deed over with before the prom, freeing themselves up to actually enjoy the event (the prom, not necessarily the first-time sex).
The condom, with its pretty pink packaging represents literal protection, but also the perils of getting older and navigating the tricky waters of sex and relationships.
What I’m Loving…
This was an episode of little moments that made me smile, versus big emotional ones. Buntain continues to win me over with her portrayal of Ginny. I especially loved her little bounce of joy after Frankie offers to give her drawing lessons. It’s such a spontaneous, youthful display of happiness.
I’m not a fan of Roman’s guyliner, but I do enjoy the chemistry Garrett Coffey has with Julia Goldani Telles as Sasha. The episode begins as Roman comes to her aid when she suspects a burglar has broken into her apartment. This is mostly played for laughs (Roman is broadly channeling Annie Hall when he discovers a spider of unnatural proportions in her bathroom). My favorite moment was the little smile they share after the chaos of this opening sequence.
Inspiration from Annie Hall’s famous spider scene?
Reference of the Week…
The Twilight Zone episode “It’s a Good Life” gets a shout-out after Milly displays her awesome powers of intimidation. That 1961 episode of the series (remade in the 1983 film version) featured a young boy who can control his neighbors with his mind, banishing those who displease him to the “cornfield.” Milly, with her overbearing personality, apparently instills a fear of cornfield hell into Paradise residents, none of whom will call her out for cutting the evacuation check-in line.
Michelle observes this, then deadpans: “Note the group successfully avoided being wished into the cornfield.”
Milly, confused, responds: “Why does everyone keep making the same cornfield joke?”
ABC Family better renew Bunheads or I’ll consider them “very bad men” and wish them to the cornfield!
The kids perform a light and shadows (with hardhats) rendition of “I Predict” a 1982 single by Sparks, which the band performed on Saturday Night Live. I liked the sequence, but it didn’t have the emotional punch of other recent musical moments, like last week’s audition. Also, how did they pull that routine together so quickly? [Watch as the girls dance in the dark]
Michelle quips that the evacuation center has descended into Altamont-like chaos after Bash agrees to let her take on more responsibility. She’s referring to the infamous Rolling Stones concert where Hells Angels members were hired as security guards. It didn’t go so well.
The incident was chronicled in the 1970 documentary film Gimme Shelter, directed by Albert and David Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin.
So, did you like the episode, or consider it a letdown after some recent series high points? Please share your thoughts, unless you’re too busy watching Hope Springs and working on your Tommy Lee Jones impersonation.