In light of the last episode’s twist ending, Bunheads had a lot of ground to cover this week. It was almost as if this was just “Pilot: Part 2,” rather than being a separate episode. We got to see the fallout from the previous events, as well as a glimpse of where the show will go from here. And even more characters were introduced (sort of), including one familiar face in particular. Plus, there was an opening title sequence! So after a pretty successful debut, how did Bunheads hold up? Let’s find out!
“For Fanny” basically picked up right where the pilot left off. In case you’ve forgotten, Michelle sums it up perfectly:
“Well, we got here, I bought a dress, went to a party, fought with his mom, had sex, danced with his mom, he got in a car accident and now he’s dead.”
Barely married for 24 hours, Michelle must spend her first night in her husband’s house as a widow. I can only imagine how weird that would feel. On top of the normal awkwardness that comes from staying in someone else’s home, she has lost the person that invited her to live there in the first place. And she now has to deal with a grieving mother-in-law who she’s known for all of one day. Talk about trouble in Paradise! (womp womp)
Of course everyone deals with grief differently, and in Fanny’s case that means planning an elaborate memorial service. What starts out as a traditional Buddhist ceremony somehow turns into a 500-guest event on an aircraft carrier, under a Ringling Bros. Circus tent, complete with a sitar player, a mariachi band, the Dalai Lama, and a life-size nude sculpture of Hubbell. Michelle thinks all of this is insane, but Fanny (& Truly) are shutting her out and won’t let her help with anything.
So out of frustration, Michelle goes on a walk. An old man in a trailer convinces her to take his dog with her, which ends up being my favorite storyline of the episode. Seriously, how could you not fall in love with the cuteness of that corgi? <3 I really hope that dog sticks around (and gets a name). I mean, they’ve already taken Alan Ruck from us, it’s the least they could do. [Update: You can now relive the cuteness in HBC's Weekly Gif Roundup!]
Anyway…after getting lost, Michelle drags the dog into a bar she stumbles across and bonds with the owner, Rico (Suave). But this guy isn’t just any hippie-surfer dude, it’s friggin’ MITCHUM HUNTZBERGER!!! It was so strange seeing him play Mitchum’s complete opposite, it really threw me for a loop. I did think the dialogue between Rico and his wife was a bit much, man, but I get that it’s all part of establishing the zaniness of the town, man.
Speaking of zany characters, this episode also introduced us to some of Fanny’s friends, though I don’t think we were ever told their names [Please correct me if I'm wrong]. One looked like Tyne Daly but didn’t say much, the second lady went along with Fanny’s crazy ideas but seemed to be fairly reasonable, which leaves us with the space-cadet sculptress. She agrees to create a life-size sculpture of Hubbell to be on display at the memorial service, but as the title of this post says, she only does nudes. So of course, she tracks down Michelle in order to get an accurate description of Hubbell’s junk. See, they should have just had an open casket, this way the real thing could have been on display instead of a replica. Too much?
Meanwhile, the young Bunheads have used the news of Hubbell’s death to skip school and end up seeing a Mark Wahlberg movie. They arrive late to dance class, but discover that Fanny is not even there. Boo feels so guilty for how selfish they have been acting in light of the situation, that she holds her fellow dancers hostage in the studio all day, just in case Fanny feels the need to teach as a distraction for her grief. In a lovely scene, Sasha gets fed up with waiting around and goes looking for Fanny, only to find her in tears. Sasha slips out quietly, and freaks out on Michelle, saying they need to do something for Fanny. By this point the other girls have started feeling guilty about their earlier behavior too, and they all cry about “Mark Wahlberg in France” and “Salma Hayek in a bra”.
Before I forget: At some point during this episode, it dawned on me that Sasha reminds me of a young Carla Gugino, circa Troop Beverly Hills. Anyone else see the Chica resemblance?
So Fanny, who has finally come to her senses about the extravagant memorial service plans, is tricked into going to the dance studio by Boo. There she discovers her students, Michelle, and a reasonable number of townspeople waiting for her. The girls have arranged a beautiful performance for Fanny, in place of a traditional funeral. It was very sweet, and so nice to see the cast actually dance.
Fanny is touched by the gesture, and finally acknowledges Michelle as her daughter-in-law. But of course, Bunheads likes to drop last minute bombshells (though this one isn’t too surprising): After getting married in Vegas, Hubbell called his lawyer to make Michelle his beneficiary. Which means the house AND ballet studio now legally belong to Michelle. I doubt Fanny’s going to be happy about that.
Given the subject matter, this episode was definitely more dramatic than the last. And this episode had to not only wrap up last week’s storyline, but it also had to continue setting up the basic premise of the series. Next week will obviously cement Michelle’s reason for sticking around, but it’s hard to say exactly where the show will go after that. Which I guess is actually a good thing. With most shows, you can sort of predict where it might be heading from the pilot. But with Bunheads, it’s pretty much up in the air. Obviously, the relationship dynamics between Fanny, Michelle, Truly, and the girls are going to be explored throughout. Other than that though, it’s anybody’s guess, which is kind of refreshing.
And despite the emotional storylines in this episode, the show still managed to be pretty funny. The younger girls were fun and sweet, and we’re starting to see their personalities round out more. This episode did a great job showing us other sides to the characters. Boo showed her tough, bossy side when she made everyone stay in the dance studio, and Sasha showed her more caring side when she witnessed Fanny crying. Sasha and Boo are more alike than they even realize. We also got to see a more serious, less quippy Michelle due to the circumstances, but she still had some funny moments too.
Favorite Quotes and Moments:
- “What are you doing?” “Reading the paper.” “Who does that?” — Rory & Richard Gilmore, that’s who.
- “Jesus will just have to share.” “Well, he’s put up with worse, so…”
- “TIN FOIL!”
- “I blame you.” “Me too.”
- “Well he made pies, I just ate them. They were so good.”
- Rico calling Michelle “The-sex-at-the-party girl.”
- The insecure sitar player who kept insisting on proving his talent over the phone. Sutton Foster’s facial expressions during that were especially brilliant.
- “A coupon for an aircraft carrier?!”
- “But, you know Fanny.” “Not really!”
- “You sold your grandmother?!” “And bought a ski-doo!”
- “I didn’t mean to scare you with hell.” “It’s okay, that’s what it’s for.”
- “Salma Hayek in a bra!”
- “I think I stole a dog.” — I don’t blame you Michelle, not one bit.
- “It was fun, for funeral dancing I mean.” –Oh that reminds me! When I was a kid, my Irish dance class was once hired to attend the funeral of an older gentlemen we’d never met, but who loved Irish dancing. While we didn’t actually dance, we did walk behind the coffin as it entered and exited the church, and we sat in one of the front pews in full costume. Just one of the many odd experiences in the life of an Irish dancer!