Meta-commentary gone wrong.
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Meta-commentary gone wrong.
I have to admit that I’ve been sort of dreading Lexi’s play episode. Not because of the obvious mess it would cause, but rather I just haven’t been able to buy into the storyline. I’m unable to see its point outside of an overt attempt at meta-commentary and an excuse for manufactured drama. There are already so many characters and storylines that need developing - did we need to stage a grandiose musical instead? I might be in the minority here, but outside of the jaw-dropping final number and its aftermath, I wasn’t a fan of this episode and think it was another prime example of Sam Levinson favoring shock and awe over substance.
Episode 7 has made it painfully evident that many storylines have been near stagnant this season. It’s the second to last episode, and we are still stuck watching the same Cassie/Nate sex scenes. We get it, she’s going insane and is madly obsessed with him, and we’ve seen the same variation of scenes between them depicting this over and over. The imbalanced amount of time spent with certain characters over others has been a major flaw of this season. One small benefit of the play was that it gave the wildly underused Austin Abrams a chance to shine as Ethan. It’s incredibly satisfying that Ethan and Lexi, two loveable theater nerds who’ve remained on the sidelines up until this point, collectively annihilate Nate Jacobs with an outlandish, hilariously homoerotic final musical sequence.
Maddy has some much-needed moments to shine in this episode, reminding us all that Alexa Demie is truly great in this role. I wish she had been given more to do this season, outside of being the victim of Nate’s abuse and Cassie’s betrayal. It’s nice to see glimmers of Maddy’s genuine character, such as the sweet scene where she does Lexi’s makeup when they were younger. We also spend this whole episode flashing to Fez getting ready for the play; it’s a clear attempt to build the -will he or won’t he make it there- suspense, but it doesn’t work when we know the kind of show we’re watching, meaning the darkest and most upsetting scenario will prevail. It makes these scenes feel meandering and frustrating, with a building sadness instead of suspense. We know something terrible is about to happen to Fez and Ashtray, and we’re forced to sit and wait for the inevitable.
This episode was ultimately a mostly unenjoyable mess. We constantly cut from the play to random moments in the present and past, making it impossible to really get anywhere storywise when so much ground is attempted to be covered at once. The last 5 minutes of the episode almost make up for the rest of it. The explosive final number naturally causes Nate to storm out with Cassie following behind. And of course, Nate ends it with Cassie in a split second, without a second thought. This causes Cassie, who has now built her identity around him and placed the entirety of her self worth in his hands, to completely lose her mind.
The unhinged, Carrie-esque shot of Cassie looking through the window panel of the theater door, her breath fogging up the glass, is a brilliant and terrifying way to end the episode. We are left on this well-executed cliff hanger, as to be continued… appears on the screen. Seeing Cassie go full Carrie will be satisfying to watch, I just wish it had happened about 3 episodes ago, rather than stretched through the whole season. Nonetheless, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited by the shot in the preview of Cassie storming the stage and what looks like Maddy getting some deserved revenge. Hopefully Cassie has some sort of epiphany after this complete and total mental breakdown. It will be interesting to see how Levinson manages to conclude such a rough season and whether things will end on a high note with shades of episode 5’s brilliance. The finale will be a tall order, as there’s much to be resolved and little time to do so.