Despite it being January, the bunheads returned to school after summer break in "Channing Tatum Is a Fine Actor," a line that was uttered by none other than Carl. I didn't see that one coming! Michelle is happily ensconced in Paradise again and things are back to normal.
Did I say normal? If there's one thing you can count on, things are never normal in Paradise. How abnormal things got is just a matter of scale.
After spending the summer at camp, Carl returned prepared to reignite the romantic fire with Boo. She was equally as excited, until she remembered they had promised to meet each others' parents. Apparently that's just not her thing. Instead of having faith in how much Carl likes her (he carved her an archery set at camp for goodness sakes!), she went to Michelle for advice. Oops!
Michelle's advice was to be exactly what his parents expected. That worked out about as well as a lead balloon since Carl's mother had one strange way of communicating. Boo came off as a wishy washy girl who didn't know herself, hardly the strong young lady we've come to know over the first half of the season. Dinner at her house was easier, but no less strange. If those two kids can make it through their parents, they have a solid future ahead of them.
At school, the big news was two new students, a brother and sister pair called Frankie and Cosette. My immediate take is that they are brilliant artists and their persona as mysterious and unique will most likely be an act, but we'll find that out as time goes on. For now, Ginny ("Regina") is taken with Frankie, and Cosette has infiltrated the dance studio. I look forward to them shaking things up in Paradise.
Michelle had her hands full with Truly after the latter was locked out of her shop by her landlord. I was confused why Truly needed Michelle’s little bungalow to relocate Sparkles and didn't use her own residence, but that's all a part of the magic of Bunheads. Her landlord turned out to be her sister Millie (guest star and former Gilmore Girls alum Liza Weil). A quick conversation uncovered Truly stole Hubbell from Millie, and since Michelle married Hubbell, no deal was struck on the rent. Oh what tangled webs we weave!
Sasha is still seeing her fella, who Michelle calls Dude, but appears to be called Roman, if Sasha's texts are right. She's also not spending much time at home. A home she apparently won't have much longer as her mother found her to tell her she's moving away and her father moved out. Will that mean Michelle's destined to become a foster mother to Sasha? They've been dancing around that sort of a relationship, and I seriously doubt we'll see a time when Sasha leaves town.
What I don't get about the Sasha thing is how all of her friends' parents have missed the turbulence in her life. Maybe I've assumed the bunheads are better friends than they seem to be when they are dancing. Would Boo's mother really have let Sasha stay in the broom closet for weeks? It's not as if she couldn't use an extra hand around the house. As much as it pains me to say this, we need a bit more insight into the lives of the girls and their relationship to each other.
Just how close are they?
Notably absent was Fanny. As Kelly Bishop lives on the East Coast, I expect her appearances will often be scattered throughout the episodes, but I'll say again I think the show suffers from her absence. As much as they try to write strong stories for Michelle without her, they fall flat.
What was the business with Talia and the blind date with a man named Marion? A man who looked like a woman with a moth eating his face? A lot went into that little plot line, and all we saw of it was Michelle leaving the date to find Sasha hiding out at the studio again. Quirky is good when it fits the story, but not necessarily just for quirky's sake.
Unfortunately, I think the expectation was that Jeanine Mason, a So You Think You Can Dance winner joining the cast as Cosette, would be enough to energize the episode. That didn't happen. It was hardly one of the strongest episodes to date. Sure, she had a lovely dance at the end, but nothing else about her character set her apart as anything other than a new cast member. And I don't know if her status was meant to, it's just something I noticed.
What did work was the relationship with Boo and Carl. Carl has turned into a favorite. Casey J. Adler is a gem of an actor and you can't help but fall in love with him. I couldn't have hand picked a better young man to fall for Boo. He's not sexy and brooding as is all the rage these days, but grounded and kind. We could all use a little more of that in our lives.
It's been a while since we've had a rundown of the cultural references in the show, so let's leave with a list. Don't forget to share your thoughts on the episode in the comments!
- Donald O’Connor
- Flash mobs
- Bob Barker
- Fiorello La Guardia
- Claire Danes
- John Wayne
- F. Scott Fitzgerald and the Great Gatsby
- Channing Tatum and Magic Mike
- Hunger Games
- The Scarlet Letter
- Fahrenheit 451
- Franny and Zooey
- Condoleeza Rice
- Rachel Ray
- Elvis (falling asleep on his throne!)
- Love Story
- Barry Gibb
- Rockford Files
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.