Bunheads Review: O Captain! My Captain!

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There were so many fun elements to the summer finale of Bunheads, "A Nutcraker in Paradise."

Sasha returned to the school, the bunheads had an armistice over their boy situation, Boo declared her intentions toward Carl in front of a packed restaurant and Fanny asked Michelle to watch the school for a few months in the hopes she and Michael might spirit away to Montana for some time together.

But in between all of this was a ringer. Not only an actual ringer to play Clara in The Nutcracker because Fanny thought Sasha was unavailable... but Michelle. Michelle has been a ringer of sorts since she arrived in Paradise, and if her dreams have any clarity into her psyche and what little she knew of her husband, Hubbell, that was the intention all along.

The Final Dance Recital

Things were going great for Michelle up until the performance. She and Fanny were getting along very well. She had earned the trust of Sasha, Boo, Melanie and Ginny. The locals believed in her and showed up in droves for the fundraiser she planned for the ballet school. She was fitting in. 

The thing about Michelle is she has a giant heart and wants everyone to succeed where she fails, whether it be in their career, their love lives or friendships. But since she hasn't had the best of success in those areas, her ideas aren't always the best for the situations at hand. The truce between the bunheads worked, but drove a wedge between Melanie and Ginny, because it required them never to speak on the subject of Charlie. A practical impossibility for both of them.

When Michelle learned how hurt Fanny was that Michael had a completely different Montana dream in his future than the one Fanny had built for the two of them, she shared that vision with Michael, possibly driving him out of Fanny's life by forcing something on him that Fanny had never been interested in doing herself. 

The physicality of macing the entire production of The Nutcracker was a symbolic gesture. In her attempt to help them cool off with the waning air conditioning via a cool mist of water, she instead sabotaged the entire show and put everyone in jeopardy. I found the entire setup quite brilliant.

As exhaustion and despair set in and she fell asleep in the hospital, Michelle found herself in the familiar dream of auditioning. But this time the song and dance were different, as was the judge. It was Hubbell, and his response was a simple, "Wow." Through her dream conversation with Hubbell, Michelle learned it was always Hubbell's intention to take Michelle back to Paradise to shake things up. To do to Paradise what she had done to him.

Where she continued to say things were broken and couldn't be fixed, he calmly told her how things had changed. He pointed out that Fanny had always wanted a girl. He talked about how different the bunheads were while their silhouettes danced behind them. Michelle asked of him the one question she would never get an answer before she awoke, would they have made it? 

As much as dream Hubbell tried to show her the why of her trip to Paradise, the successes and positive changes, when she woke up she heard the parents calling for her head. Once again being called the town hussy for her behavior at the fundraiser with Godot, wanting her neck for putting their children in peril by macing them and she decided to slip out the back door. But not before Sasha saw her, and remembered the scene from "Dead Poet's Society."

As an homage to the life lessons John Keating taught his students, she stood on a chair and shouted "O Captain! My Captain!" The other girls followed suit, but Michelle reminded them that he still had to leave in the end.

Quite a pitch perfect summer finale, and it would have worked well as a series finale should it have come to it. Surely, it would have left us forever wondering about the fate of the friendships forged and lessons learned, but still quite an accomplishment. Thankfully, we'll have more Bunheads later this year. Will you be back?

Let's not forget our cultural references for the week!!

  • The Craft
  • Bilbo Baggins
  • Strawberry Fields
  • Kofi Annan
  • Justin Bieber
  • Prince
  • The Muppets
  • Iron Butterfly
  • Wham!
  • Single White Female
  • U2, Where the Streets Have No Name
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest
  • Dead Poets Society


Editor Rating: 4.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (82 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.


And I want to see Michelle grow and change with the people around her.
This show has the potential to be another Gilmore Girls, I think, beloved by many and forgotten by none who watched it.


I LOVED this season finale, though I agree with the comment that Dafydd (Welsh, are we?) made about the painful cover of Rainbow Connection, a song that I could have sworn that no one could ruin.
Still, there were some terrific moments interwoven with the disasters, such as the Oh Captain, My Captain part that the bunheads did from one of my very favorite movies, Dead Poets Society. That movie always makes my cry, just like Field of Dreams does, because they are about people learning to believe and have faith and hope. I also had a professor much like Robin Williams character in Dead Poets Society who inspired me to do things that I never thought I could do, and that is what Michelle has done here for the bunheads. She has opened everyone up and changed things, some for the better, some not. Still, she deserves a second chance, and I am thrilled that they're coming back for season 2. I want to know more about these people in this bizarre little town. And I want to see Michelle grow and change with the people around her.


Michelle referenced Dave Eggers' "What is the What" when looking for a candy bar at the beginning.


So I have a theory, that is supported by Michelles Dream sequence. Hubbell's mother seemed to be everything to him...Hence why she had control of the house he owned...But he could never truly make her happy, as he says she would of preferred a daughter. Hubbell never meant for him and Michelle to last as a marriage. He found the daughter his mother always wished she had, brought her to paradise to change everything, then killed himself in the car accident (a one car accident) to ultimatley make his mother happy in the end...another clue would be that He changed the will to Michelles name on the WAY back from Vegas to ensure that she would stay. Thoughts?


Reviewer, you missed "The Red Shoes" reference. Victoria dancing nonstop. Sasha asked the ringer "aren't you're shoes supposed to be red when you do that?" Classic ballet reference.


Dafydd " I understand how Michelle macing the girls was meant to work as a metaphor, but if Michelle mistook it for hairspray, then why was she spraying it in the girls' eyes in the first place? " I'm pretty sure it's supposed to be water not hairspray. The air conditioning is on the fritz and the dancers are felling a bit warm.


One of my fave episodes of the season. I loved the fundraiser scene! And when she maced everyone? That's def going to become a bunheads classic scene! And the end had me choked up a bit! I can't wait for more!


This is my favorite new show of the year on any channel! I love it and all the characters.

Sarah silva

This was a great episode! I think Michelle will head to Australia with bar guy but we all know she will be back!


TV Guide already reported that eight new episodes had been ordered for early 2013. The saved the best episode for last. Took awhile to get there, though, with a lot of rough spots along the way.

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Bunheads Season 1 Episode 10 Quotes

You need a fourth. Watch The Craft.


You always end the conversation one sentence too late.