If I had to use one word to describe Good Trouble Season 1 Episode 12, it would be stunning.
Unfortunately for me, I have to push past my feelings, pick my jaw up from the floor and use multiple words to discuss this hour.
We'll see what I can do.
The penultimate installment had so much -- too much, packed into it. It combined with the flashback sequence storytelling made processing everything overwhelming.
Let's delve into the shocking cliffhanger which nearly left a girl slightly traumatized, in a pool of her tears, silently whispering "no." Dennis' arc was a blindside.
It's no secret Dennis is a personal favorite. He's the Den Dad, and he made a lot of mistakes in his life, but he's nothing if not self-aware.
He got dealt a terrible deck, and he did his best to keep himself together. The Coterie held him together. It didn't assuage his grief, heartbreak, pain, guilt, and depression, but it gave him something.
The montage of Dennis sharing moments with all the younger housemates who have become family to him was an emotional, beautifully shot scene.
It's an understatement to call it that given how it wrecked me. It confirmed he took to these younger kids as surrogates, and he loves (loved?) them.
It may also confirm he intended those final moments to be his goodbye to them. He was warm, playful, and affectionate, and the worst part about it is those were his normal interactions with the Coterie gang. There was nothing abnormal about his behavior during the art show to tip anyone off.
He's a guy deep in the throes of depression, and he has functioned thus far with those around him going along with it not paying attention to the signs or thinking anything of it. To the Coterie, he was Dennis.
So no radars went up when he didn't come home, and no one thought anything of his absence, and if not for Davia running into Jen, would they have realized something was wrong?
You were a shitty husband and a shitty father!Jen
Jen is supposed to be a sympathetic character. We know enough about her and Dennis' background to know she's not meant to be a terrible person, but it's hard to see her as anything but when she said those awful things to Dennis.
He has been an unhappy person who never recovered from the loss of their son and their marriage, and she knows it. It's something she harped on whenever they shared a scene, so using his former best friend whom she's sleeping with to retaliate against him was childish.
She used Nathan and interjected him in their spat, but then she got upset when she assumed Dennis was getting back at her through Nathan.
She was the one who wanted Dennis to take care of himself and get his life on track, but she was upset when he requested half of the house; in her mind, he owed her for everything he put her through during their marriage.
It was terrible, and it was deplorable how Nathan reneged on his deal with Jesus. What did Jesus have to do with any of this, and why did Nathan and Jen need to use him to get back at Dennis?
Nathan: Look, I was doing this as a favor to you to help you out financially, but now that you don't need the money --
Dennis: So this is about Jen? You're punishing this kid because she's pissed at me?
Nathan: I don't want to get between the two of you.
Dennis: You should've thought about that before you started screwing her.
Meanwhile, Nathan was happy giving Dennis a handout, but if Dennis wasn't gracious about it; it was a problem. Nathan can go right to hell is what Nathan can do.
The absolute worst moment, however, was a questionably enraged Jen screaming at Dennis and telling him he was a shitty husband and father. It was as if time was at a standstill. If Jen is so damn happy with Nathan, then why did she also need to make Dennis so miserable?
She better than anyone else in the world knew the extent of Dennis blaming himself, the guilt he felt, and how he was hanging on by a thread, and she spewed such ugly things at him to hurt him at the moment. It was inexcusable and the epitome of kicking someone while they were down.
The moment she appeared in front of Davia, it was evident something was wrong. Did anyone's heart sink to the pit of their stomach when Dennis left the message? He sounded like a broken man with nothing left to lose.
He sounded like a man who was prepared to end it all for good. Dennis sitting in his truck in an empty parking garage rooftop crying felt ominous.
Hey Jen, it is me. I'm sorry, and I never stop being sorry, and all I do is fail people. The truth is. I wish I would've died that day, not Jacob. I want you to have everything. I want you to have a great life. I want you to be happy.Dennis [crying]
Did he want to take his life or leave everyone behind? Were his words of a suicidal man or someone running away? Neither option is ideal for us Dennis fans. I am not OK!
It's troubling how he left Jen the message when it was dark outside, which means he left it at night or early into the morning, but it had to be the afternoon when Jen came to The Coterie and spoke to Davia.
It doesn't appear as if Jen jumped to the worst conclusion, although she's concerned and likely feeling guilty (as she should). However, upon hearing the message, Davia replayed Dennis' actions at the art gallery, and you sensed the second her panic set in.
Jen may not have feared the worst (although how you can hear a man say "it should've been me instead of our son" and not assume the absolute worst is beyond me), but Davia did (and so did I). Dammit, this show.
It'd be a poignant choice if Davia is the person who reaches Dennis in his time of need. They always had such a contentious relationship, but he cared about her. Of course, we're assuming it's not the last of Dennis, and one can only hope it isn't.
I can't shake how gutted I felt in those final moments as Dennis cried in his truck and left his message. When Josh Pence cries; we all cry. Pence's performance was exceptional.
You gotta call me the second you get this! I'm serious, Dennis! Please call me. Call me!Davia
If that wasn't stunning enough, we must now question Evan Speck's motives. Shoutout to my comment brother GremFandango who brought up the possibility of Evan having the hots for Mariana and a sexual harassment storyline.
Forgive me if I wade in Denial river. We don't know any of the details. All we know is something happened with a woman named Amanda, and she no longer works for the company. Is it the same woman who Casey mentioned once before?
Josh has ulterior motives for keeping Mariana and Evan apart, and it has something to do with whatever happened between Amanda and Evan. Josh is still Josh, though, and upon him requesting she keep Mariana from pitching to Evan or find a way to fire Mariana, Angela may have joined the Byte Club.
What does it mean? What happened with Amanda and Evan? We're led to believe Evan is attracted to Mariana and favors her, but is it the case or everyone else's speculation?
It already places Mariana in a position where whether or not she achieved something on merit is called into question, which is frankly bullshit. She has worked her ass off and overcame too much to have her work dismissed as Evan favoring her.
It was frustrating when Mariana was preparing for her pitch, and Casey shot everything down. It is well-established the majority of the employees were intimidated by or steered away from Evan, so it's presumptuous of anyone to assume they know him or what he wants.
Mariana: Hey, surprised to see you here! You say you hate going to parties.
Evan: I'm trying to get out more, get more involved. I have, um, social anxiety. Had it my whole life. The first day of kindergarten I stood by the door the whole day ready to bolt just in case somebody tried to talk to me. One day I threw myself down a garbage chute to avoid a girl I had a crush on.
Mariana: Garbage chute?
Evan: Yes. Ended up in a dumpster outside. I have a thing with germs, so that was a bad idea.
Mariana pitching on the spot at the opening was the best thing she could've done. Otherwise, she would've been discouraged before she could get into the meeting.
Fresh wariness aside, the scenes between Mariana and Evan were cute. He confided in her about his social anxiety and germaphobia. His stories about his childhood were endearing and funny.
He does appear comfortable around her in a way he isn't with others, and Raj had a valid point about it. He listened intently to Mariana's pitch after reminding her she'll never know how he feels about something unless she shares it with him.
Mariana's app was a sound idea. It could be of use for those organizing protests and big events, and Malika proved something like it could be of value. Evan liked and wanted to go forward with it.
It was something of which Mariana was and should've been proud about, but Raj burst her bubble. Raj meant well, and while it's clear he still harbors feelings for Mariana, the conversation with Josh and Angela confirmed his concerns are possibly warranted.
Raj: I worry about Evan's intentions.
Mariana: Intentions? You think he only likes my app because he likes me?
Raj: Evan's different around you. He looks through everyone else.
Mariana: He has social anxiety for your information. He's here for Gael. Does he have a crush on him too?
Raj: I'm wrong, obviously. I'm sorry I'm just --
Mariana: Projecting? Yeah, cause you're the only one who has proven to have intentions.
I like Raj, and he has proven to be a great friend to Mariana, but it's unfair if Mariana can throw in his face his part in her harassment or his feelings for her at will whenever it suits her. Every disagreement shouldn't go back to that.
The innuendos of Evan harboring inappropriate feelings for Mariana are unsettling on many levels. Their burgeoning friendship is sweet, but the power dynamic can cause many issues. There is no aspect of Mariana's job of which anything came easy.
Angela giving her the salaries of the men may be a blessing or a curse for Mariana. Angela is hard to read; did she give Mariana the information to help the cause or is this what she'll use to stop whatever relationship could be brewing between Evan and Mariana and cost her the job?
Callie's job may be in jeopardy too. Did you catch Wilson watching her while she and Jamie were speaking to Jamie's contact? She's attempting to prove something shifty happened to contribute to Tate's dropped charges.
The thing is, what's going on with Wilson and other higher powers is unfortunately nothing new or unexpected. How it's affecting the Jamal Thompson case is unsurprising but disheartening.
The series did something rarely done; it showed a trial of this caliber years after one of these events which happen so often keeping up with the names of victims is difficult. It showed us something we haven't seen, but it's realistic enough where justice for Jamal could be unattainable.
It was one of many aspects of this hour which weighed the hour down with this heaviness. There was little time to catch a breath during this installment because of how the hour threw so much at us in one sitting.
Of course, Callie's issues were beyond what relates to work and the Thompson case. The love quadrangle came to a head during this hour, and while everyone involved in it are pretty as heck, the blowout was ugly as can be.
Where are we with the Callie and Gael 'shipping? They have smoking chemistry, and the characters are mostly great, but it's getting harder and harder to want the two of them together.
It's a five-year time-jump, and Callie's love life is still a royal pain in the ass. It's exhaustive, and those same issues from The Fosters regarding her love life have seeped into this series.
Gael was trying to piece together everything for his art show, and some last-minute criticism compelled him to create a new piece for the showing. His solution was to call Callie, and maybe he danced on the line calling her.
However, she's his housemate, his "friend," and she is also an artist. It wouldn't be an issue if they were platonic, but they aren't. They have notoriously used art as foreplay since it's something which bonds them.
The worst part was Gael was dishonest with Bryan again. He lies to Bryan or deflects, then he gaslights him. While Bryan is by no means problematic-free in this ordeal, Gael does not treat him well, and it isn't fair to him.
Gael: I never should've agreed to be exclusive. Sorry.
Bryan: It's her, isn't it?
Gael: No. We're not right for each other. We both know it.
Bryan: Don't tell me what I know. You were shut off from the start. Until you figure that out, the only thing I do know is that you won't be right for anyone.
Bryan shouldn't have pushed so hard for something he admitted Gael isn't capable of, and he shouldn't have turned their relationship into a competition. It was cringe-worthy when he left the Coterie and told Callie she "won."
You can't win a person. It's not a game; it's a relationship. Bryan's explosive outburst was a long time coming, and the intensity of the scene was unmatched. Gael is not a bad guy, but there was some truth to what Bryan told him, as well as Jazmin.
Is there a chance Gael is still having issues figuring things out as it pertains to his sexuality? Bryan told Gael until he sorts himself out he isn't going to be fit for anyone, but Jazmin mentioned Gael is incapable of choosing a guy with whom he can settle down.
She mentioned a guy named Elijah; it was another name drop to pique curiosity. It seems the only thing Gael wants right now is Callie, and I'm sure most of us can agree it shouldn't happen anytime soon.
Jazmin: He always drink like this?
Gael: What's your problem with Bryan?
Jazmin: I don't have a problem. You do. Always picking guys you can't actually get serious about.
They have made a mess, and the most innocent party in all of this is Jamie. Jamie has been nothing but kind, supportive, and helpful, and even bought Gael's piece anonymously for no other reason than wanting it and being supportive. Whether Callie is aware of it or not, she has done nothing but use him, and it's gross.
What can we gather from the final scene of Callie with her sharp Rachel Duncan bob casually drinking wine while a pissed off Bryan snaps at her and storms off?
Gael should've broken things off with Bryan a while ago since his heart wasn't in it, but after all this carnage, do we want to see Callie and Gael resume their addictive, torrid love affair?
Keeping with the pattern of unease and unsettling behavior and developments, Malika's behavior is concerning as well. She had graduation coming up and a graduation party (Dennis wouldn't leave her before he could cook for her party, right?! RIGHT?!)
It was a big day for the protest of which she organized, but from the looks of her text messages at the end, she didn't show up. Where is she?!
She wasn't in the right mind-frame throughout the entire hour, and it makes one think back on Isaac's words about her needing help without her being the independent woman who can do it all.
She saw her brother Dom everywhere, and it was haunting. She couldn't focus, and she realized Dom changed his number. But now he needs her, for what though? For Malika, the stress is too much for her, and in addition to everything else dumped on us to the point of having our heads spinning trying to process it all.
The insertion of Vivian, Davia's homeless student felt random and ill-placed, but what if it served as more than a chance to have the girls argue again over their perspectives during their race conversations?
What if it connected to Malika's situation? Maybe Vivian was a reminder of what Malika had endured, and she was a trigger for her in addition to everything else.
Davia: So now you want to educate me? So what is it, Malika? Should I go get a book and figure it out for myself or should I wait patiently for your next lecture?
Malika: Why are you getting so defensive?
Davia: Because you're attacking me when I'm just honestly trying to understand. I'm on your side, but it feels like there is nothing I can do to convince you of that.
Malika: If the truth feels like an attack, you need to check your privilege.
Davia: I didn't know it was a privilege to have a conversation with my friend without feeling patronized or judged.
I would say Alice was the only one in the best place during this installment, but it depends on how she'll respond to Sumi's confession. Sumi admitted she still has feelings for Alice, and up until Alice started dating Joey, she had feelings for Sumi too.
It's a mess waiting to happen. Our sentiments echo Joey's in all of this; is this wedding going to happen? Doubtful!
Meera is head over heels for Sumi, but Sumi was about to call everything off when she spoke to Alice, and Alice is stuck in the middle knowing this and not being able to say anything to Meera about it.
Meera and Bryan may need to get a couple of drinks together and swear off of ever stepping foot in the theater house by the time the season is over (which is far too soon for my liking).
Alice and Joey are cute together, but Sumi's admission may have thrown everything off. The wedding probably won't happen; it shouldn't happen, but should Alice and Sumi rekindle things? Hard pass.
Of course, with Dennis gone, Malika not herself, and the eventual blowout which could happen between Davia and Gael after Gael broke things off with Bryan for Callie, Alice has a lot on her plate as resident Den Mom.
That wedding's not happening is it?Joey
Was there anything else the series threw at us during this installment which went unaddressed in this review? Jeebus they packed a lot into this hour.
Oh, Jazmin's settlement.
She was offered money from the catering company, but part of her wanted to take the case to trial on principle. It was tough because of valid reasons for making either choice.
Jazmin is fiery and passionate, so she was leaning toward taking the case to trial on behalf of the trans community, and she was right about it being a necessity.
She also needed the money, so there was nothing wrong with her wanting to take it and do something to help herself and pay back Gael for all of his help. Did she make the right call? Is there a right call here?
Oh, and Jeff is still trash, and Davia needs to dump him. She's standing firm in not going back home to be his mistress, and Dennis' (last?) words of advice touched her.
Jeff: Should I be ready to duck and weave?
Dennis: No, just be good to her.[to Davia] Be good to yourself.
Davia, it's best to throw the whole Jeff away.
Remember when I wondered if Dennis and Davia would have "hate sex" by the end of the season? I miss the innocence of that. Where's Dennis?!
Over to you Good Trouble Fanatics, the season is winding down. What did you think about this stunner? Which storyline has you the most interested at the moment?
Are you over Gael and Callie? Do you have doubts about Evan now? Hit the comments below.
You can watch Good Trouble online here via TV Fanatic!
Jasmine Blu is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.