Time sure does fly, doesn’t it? It wasn’t too long ago we watched the pilot of this little show with a funny name, unsure of where it would lead. Fast forward ten weeks and we’ve already reached the summer finale! It’s been a fun, albeit bumpy ride, so I’m a bit sad it’s over. It feels like we’re still just getting to know these characters, after all. Good news though: Bunheads has been picked up for more episodes, so it should return sometime next year for a winter (half-)season. But since this is our last chance to chat about a new episode for awhile, let’s get right to it!
It’s summertime, and you know what that means…time for The Nutcracker! [Disclaimer: No nuts were harmed in the making of this recap.] As the Bunheads gear up for their first performance, it seems all is well in Paradise. But it doesn’t take long for disaster to strike, which puts everyone’s futures in question. Ominous, right?
Fanny has put Michelle in charge of just one dance in the show– the Evil
Rats Mice Dance. Michelle turns it into a Wall Street themed number, since Wall Street guys = rats. This dance marks the return of So You Think You Can Dance‘s Kent, who is basically the Gordon Gekko of the piece. Michelle also takes a risk by casting Sasha as temp-Clara, since she’s technically still on the outs with Madame Fanny. They needn’t worry though, because Fanny not only loves Michelle’s interpretation of the dance, she’s happy to have her true Clara back too.
Part of Fanny’s happiness is due to the developments in her relationship with Michael. She’s planning to rent a cabin in Montana for three months or so, as a surprise. Michelle agrees to take over the dance studio while she’s gone, and it’s clear how far these two ladies have come since the first episode. Sadly though, their progress unravels as the episode continues, which we’ll get to later.
Unfortunately, before Sasha’s return, Fanny had already shipped in THE RINGER from San Francisco to play the part of Clara. Fanny’s too scared of this cutthroat ballerina to tell her she is no longer needed, so she hilariously makes Sasha do it as punishment for her previous behavior. I really loved this whole scene. It was just plain funny first of all, but it also managed to tie up the Sasha drama storyline pretty swiftly.
Now Sasha has to spend the rest of the episode avoiding the pointe shoe psychopath who is Single White Female-ing her. “Have you ever put ground glass in your rivals toe shoes?” YIKES! Sasha is like Mother Teresa next to THE RINGER.
It’s not all bad for Sasha though. She actually gets a potential love interest (who isn’t Boo– sorry slash shippers). Tyler/Roman is a cute jock turned rebel, similar to Sasha’s arc, and they hit it off. I like that she had to (at least somewhat) resolve her issues before she could get a love interest of her own. And I have to say, something about their scene in the hospital reminded me SO MUCH of the Ferris Bueller scene with Charlie Sheen & Jennifer Grey. Considering Alan Ruck’s appearance in this episode, I wonder if this was intentional or not.
Meanwhile, the other girls are still upset with each other over their own boy drama. Michelle convinces them to let each other be happy with their respective love interests. Boo lets Ginny date Charlie. Ginny and a reluctant Melanie agree to stop making short jokes about Carl, and help Boo win him back. And Ginny promises not to talk to Melanie about Charlie. This seems to work at first, until Ginny spots Charlie hanging out with another girl. She blames Melanie for not being supportive, and Melanie clearly just misses spending time with her best friend.
After getting advice from Michelle, Boo attempts to win Carl back with a public declaration of her feelings. Now normally I would cringe at something like that, but the fact that it was supposed to be awkward made it that much cuter. And I especially loved Fanny & Michelle’s reactions to her speech. It also helped that Boo reminded me a lot of Drew Barrymore during that scene. Her speech worked and Boo & Carl finally got to perform their Fred & Ginger routine (to a “Rainbow Connection” cover by Weezer and Hayley Williams no less). At least they got a happy ending in this episode, even if Carl did get his face stepped on!
One not-so-happy couple is Fanny & Michael. Unaware of Fanny’s plans, Michael bought a house in Montana for himself. She’s upset that he has finally chosen to settle down permanently without considering her. Thinking she’s on a roll with her advice-giving, Michelle tries to fix things by telling Michael about the cabin. But this just makes it worse, as commitment phobic Michael ends up leaving Fanny.
Despite all this personal drama, the show must go on. The Nutcracker starts out strong, but soon enough all hell breaks loose. Backstage, Michelle accidentally grabs a shiny bottle of “pretty mace” from her Mary Poppins bag instead of hairspray, blinding herself and the entire cast (with the exception of THE RINGER, of course).
The production is ruined, although THE RINGER does take advantage of the situation to get in a solo. They all end up in the hospital to get their eyes flushed, and Fanny lets Michelle have it. The screwup could cost her the dance studio, since the dancers’ parents are outraged. In the heat of the moment, Fanny blames Michelle for everything that has gone wrong in her life since they met, including Hubbell’s death. Ouch!
We then see Michelle’s recurring audition dream again, but this time it plays out a bit differently. After a wonderful performance of “Maybe This Time” from Caberet, it is no longer a critical Gary Janetti watching her but an encouraging Hubbell. She tells him she’s ”tried really hard not to rock the boat,” to which he replies, “You’re here to rock the boat.” He also says that Fanny “would’ve liked [to have] a girl.” So basically, Hubbell brought Michelle to Paradise as much for Fanny’s sake as he did for his own. While the surreality of the dream seemed to come out of left field, it actually addressed some recurring themes from this season. Michelle’s still not over Hubbell’s death or her career issues. And despite everything that has happened these last ten episodes, she still doesn’t feel like she truly belongs in Paradise. The dream itself did feel a bit on the nose, but I enjoyed getting to see Hubbell again. So I still don’t really know how to feel about this part of the episode.
When she wakes up from the dream, Michelle walks down the hospital hallway, seeing the mess she has made. Realizing Michelle could be walking out of their lives forever, Sasha pulls a Dead Poets’ Society in desperation. The other dancers join her, and Michelle is completely touched by the gesture. But as she points out, “You know that at the end of the movie the guy had to leave anyhow, right?” She in turn repeats Robin Williams’ line, thanking them, before walking out the door. This ending was very sweet and super emotional. I think they played it brilliantly, particularly Sutton Foster and Julia Goldani Telles. We know there would be no show if Michelle didn’t return, yet I still believed her emotions in the moment. Well done Sutton, well done.
So this episode had a lot going for it. There were many sweet and funny moments before the episode took such a dramatic turn. And I love that what seemed like a silly storyline there just for laughs, ended up being so pivotal in moving the story along. Fanny & Michelle’s relationship may feel one step forward, two steps back, but the characters have come a long way. Michelle has come to enjoy her role as a teacher, something she was reluctant to do. Likewise, Fanny has willingly relinquished control of her studio to Michelle multiple times, and has even trusted her as a friend.
And we can’t forget our younger set, particularly Boo and Sasha. Boo went from being the girl who hides in the back of the dance class, to the girl who stands on stage and announces to everyone that she thinks Carl is hot. Sasha has gone from being critical of Michelle, to being her biggest supporter. Even if she doesn’t fully realize it yet, Michelle has had a good impact on this town. Just as Hubbell predicted she would.
In addition, I love how much dancing we got to see in this episode. I especially appreciated the way they filmed those scenes. Instead of using flashy camerawork and tons of editing, I like that they kept it simple and just showed us the actual dancing. This way we get to enjoy the choreography as if we were in the room watching it.
Favorite Quotes and Moments:
- “Which one of you is gonna be Heath Ledger?” “You always end a conversation one sentence too late.”
- “I don’t know her name. She’s always just been called THE RINGER.” — HA! (How old is she supposed to be?)
- “If Marvel Comics had a crime fighting ballerina, this ballerina would kick that ballerina’s ass.”
- For THE RINGER, taking a break means dancing while reading a book. — BRILLIANT.
- “And me? I wish we were all lesbians.” — aka the moment the Boosha fandom died and went to heaven!
- “I haven’t called him Bilbo Baggins yet.”
- “YOU’RE WAY TALLER THAN PRINCE!”
- “Try the veal!”
- “Wow, this kid should be a nun.”
- “Yeah, I’m still more Fred Armisen than Fred Astaire.”
- “It’s just easier. THERE’S ONLY SO MUCH ROOM IN THE CAR!” — I love Dez’s logic. I’m still holding out hope for this ship.
- Charlie & Ginny’s disastrous attempt at a first kiss.
- “The Toe-Shoe Terminator.” — Hmm, you mean like Cameron?
- Ricky from SYTYCD! Wish he was featured more, the way Kent was.
- “It’s my ‘Zombie Apocalypse Vegas Slut’ Bag.”
- Michelle also apparently has a “‘Follow U2, Where the Streets Have No Name, I Love You Bono’ Bag.”
- “At least I have a name.”
- Sasha’s middle name is Henrietta.
- Michelle to Hubbell in her dream: “You’re my glue.” — Veddy eenteresting.
- “O Captain! My Captain!”
- “I don’t know what that means…I don’t watch cable.” — She is only 12 after all.
- MORE TRULY!!! ← This one is an absolute must. Where was she in this ep?
- More scenes with Melanie & Dez interacting. That combo is hilarious. Or even just more Dez period.
- Charlie’s comeuppance. That boy deserves it.
- More California town references. I missed them these last couple of episodes. (Still waiting for an IV shoutout!)
- Bring back the director and/or the PRIVATE ROAD resident for Michelle. Me no likey this thing between her & Godot.
- Bring back Eye Patch Zack for
- Continue incorporating the smaller characters into the scenes and stories more, like they did with Matisse in this episode.
- Let Carl stick around, whether or not things work out between him & Boo.
- MORE TRULY!!! This can’t be said enough.
Thank you, readers. Thank you.