Hey, this was supposed to be a joyful, funny show about dancing!
Thanks to The Big Leap Season 1 Episode 8, some of our suspicions about Paula's diagnosis are confirmed. Her behavior makes more sense now.
Paula is dying, and Mike is about to face his worst heartbreak yet, along with the rest of The Big Leap gang and viewers. Despite knowing her prognosis was worse than she let on, it still felt like a punch to the gut.
Take the opening line of this review with a grain of salt because The Big Leap never pretended to be as simplistic as a happy dance show. It's always had a startling depth and edge of darkness beneath all that razzle-dazzle and fun.
Yes, it is filled with joy, laughs, and humor. Still, it has also incorporated this post-COVID realism that perfectly embodies how we're trying to approach life in the aftermath of something unprecedented.
It's shown life after the bleak, making its theme about a series for second chances timelier and more resonant than ever before as a result. Yet, the turn with Paula is such a dark one that both falls within the series' wheelhouse and feels much darker than we could prepare for after the season we've experienced.
The truth is that it's difficult to pinpoint how Paula's diagnosis feels, and the uneasiness is discomforting.
Piper Perabo is stellar, and there were layers on top of layers with her performance.
One layer visibly revealed how Perabo portrayed Paula as a conflicted, scared woman who would spend one second getting lost in the fun and carefree vibes of the show and these people. In another, it physically hurt her to keep her secret from an optimistic Mike.
When you consider Mike started as the man deep in the throes of depression and since evolved to Mr. Positivity and Sunshine, his journey is remarkable.
He's head over heels in love with Paula, and he's willing to do anything for her. He's determined to be by her side through it all, and it was precious how he kept making grand plans for what they would do at the end of her chemo treatment.
However, Paula's expressions and reactions to those plans were purely indulgent, and Nick was one of the only people who noticed that.
As the man behind the camera, he's tuned in a way that others are not and sees all. You could see it was pressing on him that Paula wasn't her usual self and withholding, but what proved impressive was the restraint he showed in that regard.
He sometimes lacks tact and care, but he took his time asking her about her diagnosis, and he didn't press and pry too hard when she didn't give into telling him what he probably suspected.
Whoa! Metal credit cards are a real thing? This sucker's got heft, huh? Is it giving you back problems?Mike
In turn, Paula felt comfortable enough coming to him on her terms to share the news about her cancer spreading to her bones and that she had lesions on her brain. She's not coming back from this.
Even with chemo, it'll only buy her a few months at best, and understandably, she doesn't want to spend her last days on this earth sickened further by chemotherapy.
Paula is a brave soul, and it took me by surprise how much that confirmation hurt. Perabo took us on a journey with Paula's teary-eyed acceptance of what was happening to her. She's made peace with the fact that she's dying.
It speaks to a cancer survivor's constant fear. It's distressing that they can barely enjoy remission because they'll spend the rest of their lives waiting for the other shoe to drop. The fear that their cancer will return and take them down this time is always present.
F*ck cancer, man.
Whoa! Metal credit cards are a real thing? This sucker's got heft, huh? Is it giving you back problems?Mike
And with that, we know that Paula and Mike's story isn't a happily ever after. They're not riding off into the sunset together.
At best, we can get a sweet celebration and declaration of love with a final wedding, so Paula can have the experience of marrying someone she loves before she dies, and Mike is the type of guy who would give that to her.
It'll be the most bitter-sweet thing imaginable. It's a cliched route, but it's something this series would take, and after everything else from The Big Leap Season 1, it's the one thing that will make this situation worthwhile.
My heart breaks for Paula, who isn't ready to die and still has so much life ahead of her. It aches for all the people who came to love her so fast and will be beside themselves when they learn the truth, and she's gone. She's been such a light.
From Julia and her girls to characters like Travelle, Aja, and Ladon, she's always around, uplifting others by being herself.
Like this reviewer, you could see how much that news affected Nick, and it surprised him. He constantly attempts to maintain a hands-off approach with contestants. However, we've seen his feelings slip through.
He was invested in Mike and Paula's love story, and Paula has such an inviting spirit that everyone responded to and adored that her admission sent him on a bit of an internal tailspin that had him reevaluating his life, too.
He has genuine feelings for Monica, and he'd like for their thing to be something more profound, but she always wants to call the shots, keeping him at an emotional arm's length even though she has feelings for him, too.
You don't hear something about how a person is dying and fail to think about how short life is and what you want.
The HR appointment was hilarious, and Bernadette is probably the most unpredictable HR rep ever. She spent more time trying to ensure that Nick and Monica went the long haul, and her Sam and Diane Cheers reference was golden.
During the therapy session with the group, Monica admitted that she pushes people away to protect herself, and she's doing that with Nick. It's safe to say that the two of them will likely have a more legitimate romantic relationship by the end of the season.
But Monica's behavior also extended to Justin, and it's a good thing she had her awakening, got over herself, and went to talk to Earl about him.
She genuinely cares about Justin, and she knows that he can be a powerhouse. Maybe Earl needed to hear that from a professional to get how talented his son is.
Monica and Justin's mentorship has been one of the season's most unexpected delights.
Focusing on Justin allowed him some good moments. Opening with his younger self dancing was cute, and we got to see how close he was to his mother. It was sweet how they danced together to Mary J. Blige in the kitchen.
For Justin, his mother was his person, so it made connecting with the men of his life difficult after she died.
Earl: We can talk about your mom anytime we want.
Justin: Do you still think about her?
Earl: Every day.
Justin: Yeah, me too.
The talk between Justin and Earl was long overdue, and while they probably still have a lot to work through together, they're in a better place in their relationship. I appreciated that Justin got to see things through his father's eyes a bit. Earl said that Justin's mother was the love of his life, and he lost her twice, in a way.
It was hard for him to accept that the love of his life found that love somewhere else and was afraid to be herself. He loves his son enough not to want that for him.
They spoke about her fondly, and it was impossible not to smile during the scene of them lying beside each other on the bed and reminiscing about the woman they both loved. You could understand how Justin's similarities to his mo was hard on Earl and made him miss her more.
It's good that they've reached a place where they can talk about her openly. Justin went years thinking that he couldn't speak about his mother with anyone, and it must've been harder knowing that she was his biological mother and his brothers didn't have the same kinship to her.
I'm sorry for what I said. This isn't nothing. I don't know what it is, but I know that I'm your friend, and we should probably help each other through this.Monica
But Justin deserved to do more than work on gutters. Mike's friends are the absolute greatest, and it's adorable how the series has made use of them throughout the season.
The Big Leap crew have truly become a family, which extended to Mike's friends. They lost their jobs, so it's endearing that they showed up to help and got paid for it. Everyone wins.
While beautifully shot, Justin's dance in the street was more distracting than anything else, though. How did he do all of that dancing without his AirPods falling out?
Not a soul rode down the street the entire time he was dancing in it? It's the little things like that.
Justin's return was welcomed since the casting shakeups wreaked havoc on the show. Plus, it means we'll get back to Justin and Simon, and we need time to make sense of that. It's easy to assume that Justin was pushing Simon away a bit with how focused he was on his family. You could sense Simon felt rejected.
The two of them need to work on their relationship and figure out if they're on the same page.
Outside of the hilarious liquor run and dance in the gas station, the twin who shined most was Brittney.
Poor Wayne's hissy fit was hysterical. He's right about all the work he puts into making sure that everyone is okay and nurturing all of them when Nick and Monica rarely give a crap outwardly. He gives them his all.
He tried so hard to get them to hash things out, and maybe the lockdown sleepover was excessive, but it had its perks.
Brittney locking him in the stairwell was a little gift. But Wayne got his revenge in enacting the therapy session that they all needed.
Everyone revealed some things about what their "wizard" was, and it was a wonderful moment for all of them to bond. Characters like Travell, Aja, Landon, Miriam, and Raven all got some more airtime, too.
And it served as another gut punch when the b-boys both revealed that they were EMTs during the pandemic, and the show was their way of finding light again.
I used to think my wizard was my haters, but now I'm realizing that it's me. I'm so good at tearing people down, like really good at it, and I don't know why I do it. Gabby, I know that what I did to you and your family was really cruel. I really liked hanging out at your house and then I ruined it because I was selfish, and I was jealous. I messed up. I messed up, and I'm really sorry. And I really hope that one day you can forgive me because I would really love to be friends again.Brittney
Cameron shared that she was an ICU nurse. Travell taught children, and he missed those connections when the pandemic took away the classes and his kids. The humanity of it all made you feel things.
But Brittney finally acknowledged that she's her worst enemy, and she costs herself issues and friendships. Her apology to Gabby during that moment was the most genuine, and for once, you could tell she wasn't doing it for the only point of getting back into everyone's good graces.
Brittney and Gabby made up, and that's great. We don't have to worry about these two duking it out over a guy.
Unfortunately, we now have to worry about how Gabby will react when Jessica and Nick exploit this footage of Marissa kissing Reggie.
Reggie's first day back on the field was tough, and he's not shining as much as the new kid who replaced him. As awful as it sounds, maybe football isn't Reggie's niche anymore, but he can spin that into so many other things. He has the personality for television, and he could still host sports shows or something.
The sports industry is unforgiving to those beyond a certain age, and it sucks.
He should've suspected that the cameras would continue following him for the duration of the show. But it was such a fluke that Jessica and the cameraman caught Marissa kissing Reggie but didn't get anything else. They made a big assumption, and the worse part about it is that we know Reggie won't get the benefit of the doubt.
This place is like a museum of clinical depression.Justin
We're at the portion of the series where Reggie breaks Gabby's heart, but it's all one big misunderstanding.
The downside of that is that Reggie didn't share what happened when he met up with Gabby again. It'll come back to bite him in the ass.
They're such an adorable couple that it'll suck for this to come between them after they've found bliss with each other.
But with couples constantly shifting and changing, should we even be surprised that Linus showed up again, and he was still trying to ask out Julia?
She's having a rough time amid her divorce with a husband who took off on her and the girls. Fortunately, she reconsidered her reservations, and she's letting herself be courted and appreciated.
Linus and Julia are so freaking cute. The series hasn't disappointed with the couples yet.
Thank goodness Julia is coming to her senses. It would've been a disappointment if she didn't climb that hot Aussie sound man like a tree in July. Screw your trashy husband, madam!
Over to you, Big Leap Fanatics.
How do we feel about this Paula news?
Are you worried about Gabby and Reggie?
Are you relieved Justin and Earl made up?
Hit the comments.
You can watch The Big Leap online here via TV Fanatic.
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is an insomniac who spends late nights and early mornings binge-watching way too many shows and binge-drinking way too much tea. Her eclectic taste makes her an unpredictable viewer with an appreciation for complex characters, diverse representation, dynamic duos, compelling stories, and guilty pleasures. You'll definitely find her obsessively live-tweeting, waxing poetic, and chatting up fellow Fanatics and readers. Follow her on Twitter.