Sunday, January 18, 2015

Episode Review: "Girl Meets Master Plan" (#1.18)

Episode Title: "Girl Meets Master Plan"
Episode Number: 18
Boy Meets World Episodes Borrowed From: It's its own main plot, but there's a subplot strongly evoking "Bee True."
Cory's History Lesson and Relevance: No class! Yay!

Episode Review: 

We begin with an absolutely lovely scene between Riley and Maya. It's Maya's 14th birthday (many have pointed out why this is off because a) 14-year-olds generally aren't in 7th grade and b) Riley only recently started being called 13, but whatever... Maya could easily have been held back. I'd have difficulty buying her as only just turning 13 now). There's a lot of funny back and forth here involving Riley being cheerily blunt about both of their eventual deaths, Maya pretending to not understand why Riley got two rings, and Riley being furious and wanting to intervene when she finds out Maya's mom apparently forgot her birthday. 

Riley and Maya get a lot of back-and-forth banter-y scenes like this, and sometimes they can be a mixed bags. They're both strong young actresses, but there's just a comic timing to these kinds of things that I think sometimes they're not quite experienced enough to handle always (Lucas and Farkle usually fare even worse). But, obviously, they're growing (Ben Savage and Rider Strong certainly weren't there yet at this age either) and this scene is delivered very, very well. Riley's in her manic head-in-the-clouds sunshine-and-rainbows mode, which is where I enjoy her most. Much like her TV father, Rowan Blanchard is stronger at comedy than drama, and when she has to anchor scenes from an emotional stand-point it usually rings false. It's better when they can use her in this capacity, and leave the drama for Sabrina Carpenter (again, perhaps a by-product of Blanchard being two years younger)

For some reason, the two exit into the next scene via... the front door... when they were in Riley's room. Maybe more time passed than I thought and they left for no reason and came back? I dunno. Anyway, Shawn's here! Audience woos! As I think I said before, while we knew Shawn had one more episode this season, I'm surprised it's so soon, there's only been one episode in between the appearances. They may have wanted to space them out more, so we don't get used to him - since I'm fairly certain it's the last we're seeing of him this season. But who cares! Shawn! Ahh!

Cory and Topanga arrive with Maya's birthday cake and Cory, ignorant of who is standing behind him as is his way, starts talking about how they should give the cake to Katy, in anticipation of her forgetting Maya's birthday. Topanga tries to clue Cory in and, surprisingly, Cory figures out Maya's behind him without looking. Maybe because this exact same thing has happened to him no less than twenty times. In Boy Meets World it happened so often that they had to be continuously inventive about the joke they'd make when Cory realized who was behind him, because they kept using all the obvious ones up. This one's so-so - with him acknowledging how much it happens, being smart enough to realize Maya's behind, but continuing to insult Shawn's mom in comparison ("UH OH! IT'S TUESDAY! I BETTER RUN AWAY!") since why would he guess Shawn's there? Shawn's episodes have featured quite a a few references to Virna, haven't they? More so than references to Chet, which is unusual because of how much more attention Chet got on BMW. I know some of it might be because Maya's issues are right now more with her mom (maybe Chet will become more a reference point whenever we get around to meeting Maya's dad, which I imagine we eventually will) but I also wonder if, with Chet long dead and buried, they decide to re-examine Shawn's relationship with his mother, which pretty randomly got a train run over it after their reconnection in Season 4. I also suspect they may have retconned away the bizarre eleventh hour  revelation that she was never Shawn's mother in the first place.

Anyway, this is another excellent scene with the five of them (Where's Auggie? Beats me.) and Rider Strong continues to not have lost a beat in playing Shawn. His delivery of everything is just really good and really Shawn. When the girls essentially ask him if he's seeing anybody, though, Shawn's answer (after confirming "Angela Time?" with Copanga) is to explain that fifteen years ago he was in love with Angela, who broke up with him. Which is stupid. What, is that your most recent relationship? Really? I don't believe that. I get that Angela's a big touchstone for the audience, but I resent the idea that Shawn's not had a real relationship since then because of her. I'd much prefer that she was just the first in a string of failed relationships and that she, specifically, wasn't really a factor anymore. They don't necessarily make this impossible with what they say, so it's what I'll choose to believe, and that they just didn't want to mention a lot of girls so as not to imply Shawn's promiscuous. Even though he's Shawn Hunter. And we all know how Shawn Hunter rolls.

Speaking of Angela, because we're only five minutes in and I've already written the first half of a novella about this episode, I think now's a good time to pause and have an unavoidable "Angela Time" of our own. As a guy who hung around Boy Meets World forums in the interim between the show's ending and now, I know that one of the most hotly debated aspects of the way BMW ended was how Shawn and Angela left things. This continued to be a point of contention when GMW was announced, and it became clear we were going to get some sort of definitive answer after all. It always struck me as obvious that Angela's final episode, "Angela's Ashes", was meant to firmly stick a fork in Shawn and Angela. Their final scene starts at 18:20 in this video.

See? Pretty cut and dry right? 'Goodbye' means it's over, so they better not say it! But Shawn says it. Though Angela acts as though this arrangement is only for a year, Shawn knows better. And, as we've seen, he's right. I never thought there was an implication that they'd get back together after that year because.... well, why would they have had to include all of that in the first place? Show was almost over, just leave them together and not even write this episode.

And I think that was the right choice. Most people don't end up with their high school girlfriend. I didn't, and none of my friends did either. I think I can think of one couple I'm aware of from my high school who actually have gotten married (and, at 26, it's a little premature to say they definitively ended up happily ever after either) Cory and Topanga did end up together forever because it's Cory and Topanga and of course they did. But, like... that's the one you get. You can't do that with their best friends too. It's just too hokey and ridiculous. On a show like this, you need to have some representation of how relationships at that age really work. I, personally, wish they'd been more Winnie Cooper with Topanga and not had her and Cory end up together, but that ship had sailed, so it was left to Shawn. 

To that same end, then, I do not want Shawn to wind up with Angela, and I would be extremely disappointed if they did. It's been fifteen years, they haven't seen each other, Shawn seems to have more issue with how often he's been abandoned, not specifically that Angela's not in his life anymore. I would like to see her in an episode, just because she was an important enough part of BMW to warrant a guest shot, and maybe it can provide some Shangela closure. My idea: Angela, who lives in Paris, comes to New York for work and makes plans to get dinner with Topanga while she's in town. Topanga mentions it to Cory, who immediately calls Shawn up and tells him, cajoling him in his Cory way to come and see her and see what, if any, sparks remain. Shawn's reticent, but eventually Cory gets him into the idea, and in a wacky shenanigan, Cory stalls Topanga from going to the dinner and Shawn's going to crash instead. Just as he approaches the table, Angela's phone rings and he overhears her talking on the phone with her husband and kids, and it's clear she's in a happy, stable, loving home. Shawn smiles, decides he's happy for her, and it gives him the closure he needs, and he slips out without her knowing he'd been there.

Good, huh? I think that's damn good. I should write a spec script. I'll find something for Maya and Riley to do too. 

Anyway, yeah, no Angela for Shawn. Not now, not ever. It was never going to be that easy for Shawn Hunter to find his 'the one', and I don't think he found her at 17.


Jesus, I'm still in the second scene. Oh well, I think I've already gotten out a lot of what I wanted to say anyway. Anyway, Copanga also tell Miley such an abridged version of the plot of "I Love You, Donna Karan" that there's no context to not make Shawn creepy, which is funny. And even better, Maya and Riley immediately cotton on to the fact that Shawn fell in love with a concept, not a person, and Shangela never had any hope, which is just an amazing conclusion for them both to have come to the moment they hear about her. Just to stick another fork in Shangela. Maya assumes Shawn left Angela because he couldn't commit, but he denies it. Althouuuuuuugh, to be fair, the storminess of Shawn and Angela's relationship does have its origins in Shawn's inability to commit to her once they started college. He led her on so much, she eventually had it, and that's why they broke up the first time and that stormy period dictated their relationship ever after. So... not so blameless, Hunter. Just saying. Still, Shawn and Maya bond over being "stayers" in a  world of "leavers." 

Riley sees all this, pulls Cory and Topanga in her room, and reveals her intention to magically turn Shawn, Katy, and Maya into a happy family. Then, they basically do the bake sale scene of "Bee True" again, recasting Eric with Riley, and changing "The Godfather" tone to more of an "Ocean's Eleven." It's... not as funny as in "Bee True". And it features what becomes a running gag of  freeze frames and text displays of nicknames and steps of the plan that happens throughout the episode - it's not nearly as funny as they think it is, and it happens far too often. Farkle and Lucas show up and become part of it too, Farkle because he's a computer genius even though in NO WAY does that become relevant in anything they do (It's like in the actual Oceans movies, where they keep using that Chinese trapeze guy, even though his specific skill was only relevant to the first heist, but because he was one of the 11, they want to include him, so they have him like... play businessmen and stuff for no reason, rather than bringing in a guy who can do that). Lucas as 'The Face'. Lucas is pretty funny in this one because he's deliberately portrayed as bland, pointless, eye candy that he is. I've got to imagine even the writers know Lucas is an abject failure. Also, the best part of this scene is Cory's delivery of the line "Shawn gave me mine when I was 25 years old. Your mother won't let me wear it."

Oh, also Farkle has this watch that tracks Riley and Maya's every movement, speaking to him in their own voices via Farkle having been recording everything they've ever said, and also forcing their voices to say stuff like "I love you, Farkle." Cory and Topanga chuckle at the revelation of this and warmly declare that they need him on their team, rather than kicking him out of their home, forbidding him to ever come near their family again, and calling the police which would be the right response. I really thought we were past the creepy stalker aspect of Farkle. They need to knock it off. It ruins him. 

Everyone reconvenes, and after some weirdness about exactly how much time has elapsed,  Cory and Topanga trick Shawn into going off to confront Katy (I'm skipping through this, but the scene of this taking place is fantastic), while the kids hog-tie Maya, who offers startling little resistance. This bit features my favorite line delivery from Lucas ever - him saying "Wanna see a rope trick?" He says it in this kind of sheepish/dumb way, where it's like he knows he's supposed to be distracting Maya somehow, doesn't really know how, and is like "Um...How about this?" It's cute. And it works! Scene's kinda dumb though.

So, Shawn shows up at the Nighthawk Diner, which I like so much more than the stupid bakery they own. Cory and Maya are already there spying when Shawn arrives (which shouldn't be possible, because Riley still had to do the whole tying up of Maya thing before she and Cory could leave, but maybe Shawn got lost?) Anyway, Shawn confronts Katy on everything with Maya, and at first they hate each other, but then they realize they have a lot in common, and Shawn realizes that a) Katy didn't forget Maya's birthday, she was just working a double shift to make extra money to afford Maya's present, which is a locket of her own, in a very nice callback to "Girl Meets Truth") and b) Katy lied to Maya about chasing their father away, so that Maya would still have some fond feelings about her father. I find 'b' a little unnecessary, since Katy being awful wouldn't have given him any sort of pass for also abandoning Maya, and it seemed like the dad was already portrayed as a schmuck before this episode. But whatever.

As for Shawn and Katy as a potential couple? Yeah. Chemistry. It's too neat and tidy an idea, and I don't see how Rider's going to be on this show often enough to be playing Maya's actual stepfather. And I think I'd rather his father figure-ness toward Maya remain honorary rather than official. But they do have chemistry and I'll let it play out more before I pass judgement. And, also, I like Katy. She's a good character. It's probably not a coincidence that her two episodes have been the two best.

Anyway, everyone comes back to the Matthews, Maya learns the truth, and clearly begins to be entertaining the idea of Katy and Shawn ending up together too. 

Episode Verdict: A solid 'A'. It's not perfect - the cheesiness with the "The Fixer!" "The Apprentice!" stuff, and everything with Farkle, but it's definitely the best episode of the series. 

Episode MVP: Oh man! That's hard! Almost everyone's deserving. Sabrina Carpenter and Rowan Blanchard were both great in this episode, and, though I didn't talk about it much, so was Danielle Fishel. But still, it's really down to Rider Strong, Ben Savage, and Cheryl Texiera. But since Ben was part of the lame part of the episode too, and Cheryl Texiera didn't even show up until the end, I'll give it to Rider Strong.


  1. Grade: A. Favorite episode since Home for the Holidays. Also, just above Girl Meets Maya's Mother.

    MVP: Sabrina Carpenter. She was the cornerstone of the episode. The focal point. And she delivered on every emotional level asked of her in spades. Happiness, understanding, fear, sadness, anger, and loyalty. All shone through, and at the end, she had hope. It was a great performance on her part.

    I had two things I really loved about the episode, the first you already pointed out. The locket. To call back to that was really smart, and something Disney shows have a bad habit of not doing. It made the episode, and Shawn's helping to pay for it, mean more. That's why Katy wasn't there in the morning, she was working to get the one thing we all knew Maya wanted. Perfect.

    The other thing I really loved were the scenes where Maya was tied up. For the first time so far in the series, we saw her be truly scared. The thought of Shawn leaving was the worst thing possible in that moment. Even her anger towards Riley didn't seem to compare. To me, that really cemented the relationship that Maya wants w/ him.

  2. there's just a comic timing to these kinds of things that I think sometimes they're not quite experienced enough to handle always

    I found Rowan worse in this episode than the last one I watched (Home for the Holidays) by far. The way she over-pronounces every word (HAPPY birth-DAY, MAYA!!!) is painful.

    Maya and Riley immediately cotton on to the fact that Shawn fell in love with a concept, not a person, and Shangela never had any hope, which is just an amazing conclusion for them both to have come to the moment they hear about her.

    Yeah, that was really good, and 100% accurate (although it was funny how that episode was all about how Shawn liked 'Purse Girl' because she shared his interests, and in this one he flat out says 'I like people who remind me of me!')
    I think Angela seemed to like him well enough, although she was more guarded than say, Topanga, emotionally; but Shawn projected so much 'We need to be like Cory and Topanga!' onto her, it could never work long-term.

    So... not so blameless, Hunter. Just saying.

    Yeah, that made sense for how they started retconning Shawn and Angela's relationship in Season 7 (where they went from S6, with Shawn basically treating Angela like crap to 'Angela's Men' when he makes the first effort to actually pursue her and it's treated like she's been pushing him away all along and that the fear of commitment was always on her part.) and also how Shawn tended to push Angela away generally while expecting her to keep hanging in there; but it was kind of a dick move of him to make her out to be the bad guy there.

    I like Katy. She's a good character.

    Yeah, I liked that she stuck up for herself, it makes sense that Cory, Mr. Traditional, wouldn't be a big fan of hers, and even that Maya would rather believe she 'repels' men than that her dad doesn't seem to be an involved father; but it would be gross to introduce a single parent figure and fall into the 'she humbly admits her failings and bows to the nuclear family's authority' bit. Although I'm not sure why Cory and Riley seem surprised that Shawn and Katy end up arguing, since they basically send him off with 'this stranger needs you to confront her on her bad parenting'.

  3. It was convenient that this episode aired around the same time we talked about Family Trees. I think you're right that stripper mom isn't canon anymore, I can't imagine they'll ever bring that up again.

    It's hilarious to me that I didn't even realize Auggie was missing until I read this.

    It's also hilarious that Miley immediately called out Shangela as a terrible idea. Thank you for admitting that, Michael Jacobs.

    As for Shawn and Kay, "It's too neat and tidy an idea". I completely agree with you. It's the neatest, wrapped-up-in-a-bow-est idea ever.

  4. "Oh, also Farkle has this watch that tracks Riley and Maya's every movement, speaking to him in their own voices via Farkle having been recording everything they've ever said, and also forcing their voices to say stuff like "I love you, Farkle." Cory and Topanga chuckle at the revelation of this and warmly declare that they need him on their team, rather than kicking him out of their home, forbidding him to ever come near their family again, and calling the police which would be the right response. I really thought we were past the creepy stalker aspect of Farkle. They need to knock it off. It ruins him."

    This is the most disgusting thing Farkle's done so far and it makes me livid. It's not an exaggeration to say that if Lucas so much as looks at Riley, Cory hauls her away against her will. That actually happened in the finale. But if Farkle literally STALKS his daughter and her best friend and admittedly records them for years without their consent so as to manipulate their voices to stroke his sexual desires, Cory just smiles and says they need him for a scheme. That's fucking gross!

    Even when Maya's furious about being spied on and breaks the watch, the writer's piss on her justified anger by turning it into another joke, therefore showing the narrative's support of Farkle's disturbing as hell male entitlement and overall sexist behavior. The entire joke of Farkle's character is the fact that the girls don't consent to his come-ons, but he refuses to respect that and his pursuit of them becomes more and more deranged. He actually has a conversation with Lucas about how whatever girl Lucas doesn't date, he automatically gets the other. They writers treat this crap like it's "funny" and "cute" and yet to women this is the real world and it's terrifying. To its younger audience, it's normalizing this behavior, telling girls that it's okay for boys to treat you this way - to stalk us - and for boys saying that it's okay to treat girls this way. This is appalling. Especially from the writers who gave us such an important message about crossing the line in "Everybody Loves Stuart." Farkle crosses the line constantly, this episode being the most egregious, yet they pat him on the head and tell him to keep at it, eventually he'll be rewarded by getting to talk with Cory about Riley as if she's cattle that can be traded to him and Maya being forced to go on a date with him. What the hell! Crossing the line is still crossing the line, even if the person is a "friend" and not a professor.

  5. literally will friedleOctober 26, 2016 at 10:57 PM

    I've already forgotten enough about most of the other episodes in this season to know whether I actually think this is the best one of the season, but WHATEVER SURE IT IS. The freeze-frame bit was incredibly out of place, as I can't remember any instances of anything remotely like that in BMW, but eh, I guess they can change things up if they want. It pulled me out of the episode, though.

    And the best part was easily the Miley friendship rings bit with Shawn on the couch ("Ring power!" "Ring power!" "Thunder!" "Lightning!").

    and i didn't write anything about the last episode on its review page, but it was pretty lulzy when maya asked cory if he felt better after his freak out. it felt like a very shawn thing to do.

  6. "And even better, Maya and Riley immediately cotton on to the fact that Shawn fell in love with a concept, not a person, and Shangela never had any hope, which is just an amazing conclusion for them both to have come to the moment they hear about her. Just to stick another fork in Shangela"

    Problem with this is, it ignores what Shawn tells her in "First Girlfriend Club"- "I think you have to be friends before you fall in love"
    That whole episode was made to address all the girls that Shawn hurt, because he told them things they wanted to hear and he wanted to feel. He told Angela that he cared too much about her to do that to her. Plus back in the Purse episode Cory told him what he felt for the purse wasn't real. I agree with the fact that after 15 years you can't just put two people back together. It's not realistic. But as rare as it may seem to some people, it is possible to marry your high school sweetheart. It happens. So had it been done well and written realistically, they could've kept those two together at the end of season 7. Love has no rules, sometimes it's simple. They kind of earned a happy ending after all the went through. They worked hard to get past the problems of their relationship. At the end of the day, they're not Corpanga. But they never had to be to last. I think that's the whole reason Shawn, wanted them to be like Corpanga. Because he saw that as a model relationship, and if he and Angela were like that, their relationship would've had longevity. That's all he wanted, was Corpanga's longevity and destiny-style story. They didn't need to be like Corpanga, and I think they eventually figured that out but, when it came down to fighting for their relationship to continue on the way it did, and letting Angela have time with her Father, Shawn let her go, because he loved her, more than the idea of being with her. So yeah, GMW, missed a few beats on explaining that whole situation well enough. But nonetheless, we'll always have BMW, which never missed the mark.