Christian and I already yelled at each other one-on-one over this episode, something that we desperately need to stop doing. Hopefully we can recapture that same energy here.
As we cringe our way through the opening scene, today's springboard becomes apparent: Riley feels insecure as she compares herself to her parents. You are not going to convince me that Cory's some sort of Bill Gates, but I agree that Topanga is a pretty big deal. This setup is one of the best things they've ever done with Riley. Three lines in the first six minutes cemented it for me:
1. "What am I ever going to do?"
2. Regarding Magellan, "They were afraid to go out?"
3. "So I have to go and find my own way. I have to go and create my own individual path."
This is more development from Riley than we've ever seen. Her insecurity isn't exactly new, but this is the first time she's actually standing the fuck up about it and taking action instead of just whining to Maya and waiting for her parents to say it'll all be okay.
RILEY FINALLY HAS A POTENTIAL DEVELOPMENT ARC. SHE HAS AN END POINT. Eric wanted to go to college, we wanted to see Eric go to college. Riley wants to step out of her parents' shadow, WE WANT TO SEE RILEY STEP OUT OF HER PARENTS' SHADOW. I have never been excited about her character before this episode. The thing that really burns my soul, though, is that fucking Christian, the guy who is ALWAYS defending Riley from my criticism, disagrees with me on this. So look forward to him explaining why this isn't a big deal. It makes me angry just thinking about it.
Like I said before, I personally don't see Cory as some superhero, and the nonsense at the circus did nothing to help that. However, I love what they're going for, so I'm willing to accept that Riley sees her father differently from how he's portrayed. And that's honestly not crazy. People raise up their parents on pedestals on the time.
The payoff for Riley is... underwhelming. The insertion-into-flashbacks is technologically neat, but I'm not drawing the same conclusions from them as Riley and Maya did. They're like "WOW YOU'RE YOUR PARENTS!" But... how is she like them? Just because she uses her imagination sometimes? Then I must also be the child of Cory and Topanga. And it's sort of self defeating, isn't it? She wanted to be out of their shadow, so the solution was to see how she's like them? That doesn't make any sense! Shouldn't we have focused on how she's different? It's stupid. "Stupid" is such a lazy word, but this ending is stupid. On the bright side, I'm convinced that this is merely a piece of a much greater story for Riley. We'll visit this theme more as time goes on, hopefully culminating in some grand act of independence.
So that's what I have to say about Riley. Those are the most important points. It started extremely strong, the trip to the convent was extremely strong (as it continued Riley's quest with a good splash of humor), then the circus was extremely weak (because it was total bull shit and lasted way too long), and then the flashbacks were Chernobyl.
We had a fairly rare system in this episode in that Maya was almost completely uninvolved in the story. She was mostly comic relief and dialogue-partner. And it worked! I wouldn't advocate for it in general, but for this particular story it was smart to shift Maya to the background, where she still managed to thrive.
Auggie functioned simply as a punchline delivery machine, but that worked as well. Very well. Easily his funniest moment in the series.
Kid needs a haircut.
And there's no PROBLEM with separate. Eric had separate stories all the time. But for some reason they tried to force a connection at the end and it didn't work.
I think that's all I have for now.
My thing is that I just think you're making too much of this. A storyline in one episode and suddenly this her whole character arc? The end point we're working to? We have no reason to suspect this isn't just "this week's thing." And next week she'll have a whole different thing. You're like all in about this in a way I just don't understand.
In addition to it not really working with Cory (and it doesn't, there's no reason to act like Cory's a big deal you have to live up to in-universe) it's also, I don't know, not really an arc I'd be into. It sort of makes Cory and Topanga into unwitting antagonists instead of people who help her with her problems (how can they help her, when they're the problem?). I don't really want to see her constantly struggling to get outside of Cory and Topanga's shadow. What would frequent episodes of that even look like? Like pitch actual episode ideas that advance that story.
Honestly, to make it work, you just need to turn Cory into a completely different person than the guy he's been, not only on his own show, but so far in this one too. Even Topanga didn't feel totally right, either - yes, she's always been awesome and the best at whatever she tries, but there was a haughtiness to her here too that I didn't like. She kind of undermined Riley a bit, only coming up with sleeping as something Riley's good at herself. She's done that before too in another episode in Season 1, only coming up with Riley wearing a cute top as a positive attribute of hers. Fuck that Topanga, I don't want to hang out with her.
To me, this was just a combination of two things: 1) mapping the real-life issue some BMW fans have with this new kid meeting the world. Cory and Topanga are a lot to live up to as characters, so they act like they're a lot to live up to as people. But Riley's not Cory and Topanga and she doesn't have to be, she's Riley and she'll be her own person and maybe it won't be the same show but it's okay it's not supposed to be and blah blah blah, and 2) an excuse to get copious Copanga flashbacks into the show.
I think it's a gimmick episode, nothing more. You got uproariously ahead of yourself on that.
That said, I mostly thought the non-flashback parts of the episode were alright. I ADORED that bit was Auggie, it was absolutely the best use of him in this whole series. I really thought Sabrina Carpenter was fun throughout this entire episode, and I mostly liked that opening scene with Riley and the spaghetti and Cory reading Maya's paper and stuff.
The flashbacks really sucked and I hated them, though. For a few reasons. There's the obvious fact that flashbacks are lame, and flashbacks that involve characters going back in time... in their heads... and perfectly recreating (simultaneously) exactly what happened back then, like they're in a fucking Pensieve from Harry Potter, is especially lame. But it also felt off tonally - like they were forcing these flashbacks to fit in to scenarios that they didn't fit in. Riley and Maya of them were standing around gaping and marveling at pretty unremarkable stuff. And the conclusions they drew didn't always fit the scene. At the end of the basketball scene, they conclude Cory was a goofball as a kid but Topanga was as awesome as ever. They got that from that scene? Cory was way more normal in that scene than she was. She spoke like a robot, didn't understand the fundamental rules of basketball, and made her shot by walking up to the basket and delicately placing it in. It's a great scene, and she's fun in it, but you don't want walk away from that scene thinking "Wow! She was a superhero even back then!" Really, she's more impressive in the second scene with "Doughnut in the Sky" which shows a decidedly soulful young Topanga.
Meanwhile, Cory's not half as goofy in that scene as he is nowadays. Season 1 Cory was basically a normal kid, albeit a bit of a loudmouth, and that's exactly how he was depicted in that scene. Season 1 of BMW has gotten the most flashbacks, and I'm not sure I get why. That's hardly the "golden" era of the show, and the Cory and Topanga of then, who I liked as a couple quite a bit actually, have just absolutely nothing in common with who those characters became. Plus, what are they in these scenes, 12? Heck, Riley and Maya are older than that, and feel older. I think they have more in common with the gang circa Season 2. Shoulda done flashbacks from there.
Also, "I know there were other bay windows...." First of all, I'm so not into the bay window as like... an icon. Yeah, they sit on a bay window sometimes and talk. I think they think I pay attention it more than I do, they're even doing an episode called "Girl Meets Bay Window" later on this season? Get over the bay window. But, seriously, did anyone ever notice or care about that, I guess, bay window tucked into the very back of the Matthews' kitchen by the stairs? I didn't. No one ever sat on that bay window. Hardly anyone was ever over there. If you told me that had never been there and they inserted it CGI-ily into this episode, I'd believe you. And they set it up like "Oh, you know which bay window we mean!" Uck. God, all of that was uck.
Yeah, the Farkle/Lucas stuff just felt like "Yeah, we need something for Farkle and Lucas to do, I guess." It was fine, whatever. I didn't care about it.
Overall, the episode probably would have been in B territory without the flashbacks, the flashbacks were D stuff. So, let's say average it out...
Episode Rating: C
Episode MVP: Sabrina Carpenter (Sean didn't like this, but though it's a Riley episode I thought her performance was better than Rowan's)
You are so righteously nonchalant, aren't you? "Oh, you're so worked up Sean, why don't you be less worked up like meeeeeeee. I'm so alooooof." I'm excited because there has been literally nothing ever before to be excited about. What the fuck are we even DOING here if not "Hey this might be something!" You're right, I could absolutely be wrong, maybe this episode will get swept under the rug, but I don't understand why else we're here. Are we only allowed to comment in hindsight?
We were like "This is what Jack's story COULD be!" I didn't need to show up to work with skeleton'd episodes of Jack's story to say it might be a good idea. But now, what, it's "Ehhh there's no reason to think this is a story." It honestly feels like you're committed to disagreeing with me on this. Especially since the "end point" I've theorized is exactly the end point you claimed to want just a few days before we watched this episode.
Okay, fuck yourself with "uproariously," Christian. I'm not ahead of myself, I deliberately said "POTENTIAL development arc." You're so proud of yourself for not being excited. Excuse me for having an ounce of fun for once. 90% of the time I'm barely treading water trying to say anything positive about this show, and now you're trying to shut me down. Well I'm not backing down. Needless to say, I'm very interested in seeing the comments on this one.
You're all in on "this is a meta episode about BMW vs GMW" and I disagree just as strongly.
You REALLY think this show on this channel is doing a meta episode for maybe the half (AT MOST) of its audience that watched Boy Meets World? And why was Topanga so heavily involved? If it were purely a "Riley vs Cory" episode, we could at least have a conversation. But if it were merely a gimmick episode to differentiate main-characters, then why is Topanga so important?
Fortunately, I can stand to look at you again once we're past that. The show does have this weird obsession with Season 1 of BMW. That's when Corpanga worked the best, but those characters do not at all resemble the Cory and Topanga of Girl Meets World. It's very strange that all of GMW's flashbacks have come from season one. Oppressively strange. And the "Bay Window" needs to stop. It's like trying to make an icon out of Chubbie's, or pretending that "The Row of Lockers" has symbolic significance. It was just a place where the characters frequently ended up. My computer chair is not symbolic, it's just the place where my ass goes.
Well, you sure turned me right around on that "worked up" thing... YOWZA! I'm not being righteously anything, nor am I feigning nonchalance. I'm legitimately nonchalant over this. I have no chalance. There isn't a drop of chalance to be found.
It really didn't come off as theorizing. You genuinely seemed came off convinced, to me, that this is exactly where they were headed. If it's really just that it's where you hope they're headed, then, fine, okay. I still am not wild about the idea, though. For the audience who wasn't there to hear my idea of how the show should end, I eventually boiled it down to a situation where after graduating high school, Maya's planning on not going to college and goes backpacking around Europe, and Riley comes with her for the summer, with the plan to come back to the states in the fall to go to Pennbrook. Eventually, through the course of the episode, they would switch. Riley would ultimately decide she needs to discover herself more and eschew what is expected of her by friends and family and she doesn't come back to go to college and instead strikes off on her own. Maya, on the other hand, realizes what she wants is to come home and establish some stability in her tumultuous life, and be with her family (which would now include stepfather Shawn, and a baby sibling) and maybe give a real romance with Lucas a try (but, maybe not, Sean HATED the idea of Maya and Lucas ending up together when the show ends so much I dropped it)
That's kind of a gimmicky ending too. The switcheroo, the idea that kind of "Hey, Maya was the Cory and Riley was the Shawn all along!" thing, but I still like it. Anyway, I don't know. I genuinely didn't make any connection between this dumb episode and that until you made it, and while I get it, it's also like... that isn't how I want it. Not via apparently an arc's worth of episodes of Cory and Topanga being THE BEST and Riley being sad about it and not feeling like she's as good. I'm not interested in that at all, I think it'll make me kinda stop liking Cory and Topanga. Either way, my issue was mainly just that I didn't get why you seemed so convinced this is what they were planning. Now that you say it's not that you are, it's just what you want, I don't have a ton of issue.
And are you KIDDING with paragraph four? Do I really think they'd do meta stuff relating to Boy Meets World? To quote one of Season 1 Cory's catchphrases, "What are you, new?" Have you MET Girl Meets World? Of course they'd do that. They do meta jokes about Boy Meets World all the damn time. They're obsessed with doing little meta jokes and meta commentary about Boy Meets World. It's like their absolute favorite thing in the world. Girl Meets Gravity was one entire meta joke (with a lame eulogy at the end). They're obsessed with meta. Yes, I'd absolutely think they would do that. I'm surprised it took them this long. And, really, as far as meta jokes go, it's not a terrible one. It just wasn't handled well. But I'm 100% convinced that this was all meant to be a little meta story, a parable for fans of the show that just because Riley isn't Cory and Topanga and GMW isn't BMW doesn't mean you should write it off. I couldn't be more convinced of that.
As for why involve Topanga? Why not? There's two BMW characters on this show, not just one, so involve them both, especially since they get to do Copanga flashbacks which they seem to love. Plus, as little sense as Riley idolizing Topanga AND Cory as people makes, it makes even less sense if it's just Cory she's idolizing, while her mom's sitting here being objectively better in every way.
THAT BRINGS US TO TONIGHT'S POLL!
I think those are more like references than meta jokes, but I get your point. I don't know, if it's supposed to be a retrospective comparison, why invent a bunch of new stuff that makes Cory and Topanga look good? They aren't comparing Riley to the real Cory and Topanga from Boy Meets World.