OH! And I also thought some of the business with Cletus arriving at the house and hearing about Lucas and the bull were really awkward and weird and slow and just... off.
OH! You know what else in this episode sucked?
Nothing at all. This was a great episode. We've complained about this show telling rather than showing, but they showed everything here. Both in terms of the bull-riding and in everyone's feelings.
This was a very very cool way to handle the revelation of Maya's feelings for Lucas. Some people have seemed upset about the idea of Maya "stealing" Lucas from Riley, and in some cases it's because this is Riley's show and it feels wrong or like Maya's taking over it to have her get Riley's love interest. But, despite Maya now having feelings for Lucas, it all still felt like... Riley's story. Riley slowly figured it out, and Riley made the big move in the episode. This show is Riley's story, but sometime in your story things don't go the way you plan. I really enjoyed Riley in this episode, and I like her moves and how she handled things.
I like that they seemed to bring up the idea that Maya may *believe* Riley has no feelings for Lucas and thinks of him as a brother, but that doesn't actually mean it's true. Maya didn't talk to Riley about it, she could be wrong. I almost thought she was going to reveal that this was true when Riley said "I know you think I think of him as a brother, I know you've thought that for a while." And even though Riley confirmed it when talking to Lucas, she almost seemed to be doing that for Maya's sake. Which, if that is the case, I'm extremely impressed by Riley here. I was all concerned we'd get a story where Riley finds about Maya/Lucas, gets jealous, and Maya casts Lucas aside for Riley's sake. Since she had, like, dibs. But if Riley does that for Maya? (Even though, I grant, Maya never even slightly asked her to.) Then Riley's just the fucking cat's meow, you guys. Rowan gave a really good performance here. So did Sabrina. So did Peyton. My MVP will be one of them, but I don't know which.
Now, I don't know if it actually is that Riley's faking her disinterest for Maya's sake. It seemed that way, though, which is an odd wrinkle. And it also seemed like Lucas was totally not on the same page. He definitely seems into Maya and had the moment with the girls' clothes where he seemed attracted, but he also didn't seem as upset about Maya's declaration of never speaking to him again as she was, and it was Riley he wanted to watch him ride the bull and Riley he wanted to talk to after. It may be that he's sort of just... playing ball with the status quo, but I don't know. While he and Riley still don't have much chemistry, and he and Maya still have plenty, it did sort of seem like Riley was where Lucas' head is canonically at. I'm very interested to see how this resolves itself.
Lucas was good in this episode in general, and Peyton was. His fear over riding Tombstone was something they took their time with, really fully fleshed out, and it all worked, and he worked doing it. Really, Texas itself felt a lot more fleshed out than I thought it would. Pappy Joe wasn't the caricature I thought he'd be. He had some of that good ol' boy vibe, but he also felt like a real dude, thanks to the real portrayal of his actor (whom many may recognize as Mr. Friendly from Lost) I kind of wish this was just Lucas' father, not his grandfather.
Zay was good in this, and Amir Mitchell-Townes was good in this. But because of the Texas nature of this story, this is a story that lends itself to Zay. I'm still not convinced he works in the show in general. As evidenced, despite Farkle coming to Texas, he had almost nothing to do. Five is still one too many. Still, a good episode for Zay. He's fourth-in-line for MVP. He was legitimately entertaining throughout.
This is our first episode of Girl Meets World without Topanga, and I was wondering when they'd get around to doing that (considering how many episodes, like, might as well have not included her.) It brings the "Never missed an episode" crew down to just Cory, Riley, and Maya. That's cool by me. But I really don't want Cory to miss an episode. This is Riley's show, but this is Cory's franchise. He's never missed any episode in this universe, and I don't want him to. As for Cory? He was fine in his scene. Whatever. It kinda felt like the show also knows that not including Cory is sacrilege and so they wrote a scene to include Cory.
Lastly, my favorite part of the episode was Riley and Maya's different takes on Lucas riding the bull (once they properly understood the repercussions.) Maya was mad he'd even consider jeopardizing himself like that and tried to get him not to do it, Riley (though still seeming to understand the dangers) thought this was something he had to do and encouraged him, with trepidation. I like that neither was obviously right or wrong. Maya was understanding the dangers better than Riley did, who didn't seem to get that Lucas was really scared about this too and seemed to be a little enamored by the romanticism of it all. Maya was putting Lucas first, Riley was sort of putting.... the story of it all first. At the same time, Riley seemed to understand what Lucas was about and what he was going to do, and decided encouraging him was a better path than pouting and storming out, and I think she was right.
Based on Maya's concern, I felt certain we were really getting a "Lucas is hurt" story, but.... nope, Lucas was fine. And the bull-riding business was over. Because of that, it's kind of hard for me to see how we still have two episodes worth of material - besides that Farkle needs to try ribs for the first time. Sure, there's fallout because of the romantic stuff, but we don't have to be in Texas for any of that.
BUT WE WILL BE!
No no no Christian, you've got that scene all wrong. It went "Gaze upon my Bay Window, ye mighty, and despair." I'm pretty sure anyway.
Let's slow things down just a little bit. A slow bass line, a chilled out groove. Smooooth, daddyo. It's time to get technical. This episode didn't have a live audience. Does that make it a single camera sitcom? I'm not sure. I'm not an expert on cinematography, but obviously a lot of these angles (and the outside shots, obviously) wouldn't be possible in front of an audience. The best I can say is that it felt different, cinematically. Better, honestly. The lighting, the framing... It didn't feel like a Disney show, if that makes any sense. On the other hand, it's pretty weird knowing for certain that every instance of laughter is fake. I really wish they hadn't bothered at all. Why did they bother?
My biggest complaint coming into this episode was the inevitability of "Hollywood Texas," where literally everyone is a cowboy/girl and speaks with an accent. Zay doesn't have an accent. HOW CAN I BE SURE THAT HE'S FROM TEXAS? It's just silly, and it looks silly, but it actually does serve a purpose. We know exactly where we are the whole time. The exaggerated Texas-ness emphasizes the change in location. We're supposed to feel like we're somewhere else. It would get tired after a while, but for three episodes it works. And it raises an interesting point. Does the setting of New York even matter? If no one ever mentioned that they were in New York, I wouldn't know where they are, outside of stock footage. Did being in Philly really matter for Boy Meets World? I guess not... Interesting.
Regardless, that was my only real complaint, and I couldn't even hold on to it because of this line from Pappy Joe, "Sorry Riley, stereotypical cultural reductions are all I have left." That is fucking amazing. Point to any other show on this network that could pull off that line- that would have the gall to even try to pull it off. The writers for Dog With A Blog don't even know what that means.
Christian made a critical observation last week about Zay. Even when he works, and he worked spectacularly in this episode, he necessarily forces someone to the background due to the limits of a 20 minute show. Last week he neutralized both Lucas and Farkle, today it was just Farkle. Farkle may as well have not been there. (And that's okay, since he got Meets Farkle all to himself.) Christian thinks that this is grounds for dismissal, that this means he "doesn't work on the show," but I disagree. When Alan became the role model on BMW for an episode, it forced Feeny to the background, and those are still great episodes. "DID YOU JUST COMPARE ZAY TO AL-" Shut. Up. I'm comparing the situations, not the characters. If Zay wants to trade off with Farkle as "Male who I'm not 100% sold on yet," then I'm down to party.
Yeah yeah, don't let it go to your head, Zay.
As always, I would have preferred to hear about Lucas's sheep incident some few episodes ago. Why not show us Zay telling that story to the girls just as some throwaway joke? It's funny enough on its own, that would have worked. Regardless, they set up the groundwork extremely well to make us sympathize with Lucas in a way we never have before. Having the entire community look down their noses at Lucas makes us root for him. We want to see him succeed now. And who could have EVER POSSIBLY IMAGINED that it would be something that Lucas is
that would bring his character to life. Just like how Rah Rah breathed new life into Riley by showing us her inability to do cheerleading. You would have to be some kind of CRAZYMAN to suggest introducing things the characters are bad at, crazier still to, I don't know, write a blog every week saying THAT EXACT FUCKING THING.
HAVE TO BE
That's a haiku.
Somehow, though, that's not even the best part. As Christian explained, that award goes to The Conflict between Riley and Maya, regarding whether Lucas should ride Tombstone (an amazing name, by the way). I won't reiterate his points, but I will add something that it sounds like he overlooked. Cory didn't just serve as "Include Ben Savage" here. He set up the thematic throughline for the whole story.
|Pictured: Cory's "I just taught you something" face.|
"When you see how other people live, it changes you." This comes to fruition during The Conflict between Maya and Riley because Riley has seen how other people live. She's heard what everyone has to say about Lucas's past, so now she wants him to redeem himself. In particular, Pappy Joe's line "In my opinion, it's about facing life, which runs harder than any bull." This is their philosophy. Riley has been swayed. Meanwhile, Maya represents the "other people" that Lucas has seen who change him. Here's why this is mindblowingly awesome:
It's a matter of Past vs. Future. Riley not only represents Lucas's romantic past, but has now sided with his past lifestyle as well. Maya represents his romantic future, as well as his present/future lifestyle in New York. In conquering the bull, Lucas has conquered his past (and his fears), enabling him to move forward, in the exact same way that he is moving forward romantically. That is fucking beautiful. That is some Boy Meets World level shit, my friends, we're working on multiple levels here. We have transcended. I knew they could do it.
This is a story of Lucas moving his whole life forward, not just his romance. It's a damn shame that the entire world is like "Lucaya Lucaya!" when this episode means so much more for his character. But hey, that's what this blog is for.
I can only hope that the next two parts will represent "Present" and "Future" the way this one was about "Past." That seems likely, since Maya and Lucas will almost certainly have some sort of romantic development by the end. We despised Lucas for quite a while, but somehow he ended up with what looks like the most satisfying story arc (as much as three episodes is an arc) in the whole show. Quick mention goes out to Lucas consoling the "rival family" kid who fell off the sheep. That was a very sweet moment, showing us that Lucas is a good person, rather than having Riley and Maya gush about it while Lucas stands around. I'm looking at you, Season One.
Oh and it's crap that Riley is calling Maya out right in front of everybody at the end, although I'm sure they'll be interrupted or something. And I like the gigantic misdirect from this episode's preview commercial. Cunning.
I want to give it an A+, I wrote that at first, but the scene that introduced Cletus really wasn't very good... The Bay Window was oppressively stupid... I think I have to settle for an A. Still processing for MVP.
It's late and I'm a sleepy boy. So, I'm not sure I'm going to respond to everything here. I haven't even read everything here. But I felt I should get this in - a lot of sitcoms feature filming in outdoor settings. It's not wildly uncommon for the odd episode to have that. Yeah, it's still a sitcom and NO the laughter is not fake. What they do for the live-taping of those episodes is they film the scenes they can in the studio and then when they get to other scenes, they show them on a TV monitor for the audience and record their laughter. They do NOT do entirely laugh track. I think that's more or less something no one does anymore, since there's a huge stigma to it, and no one wants to be the show that did that.
Yeah but allegedly there was no prescreening at all. What you said makes perfect sense for shows with outdoor scenes, but for this one in particular I'm not sure what they would have done. Surely there would have been spoilers somewhere if anyone had seen this episode beforehand.
And if you're going to bed then I'm putting you on blast. Christian didn't follow proper blog protocol so I lost my entire write up the first time I wrote it and had to redo everything (which is why it went up late). And now homeboy ain't even gonna read it. Hard times.
Alriiiight, alright. I'm back!
While I agree that they could have shown us, not told us, Zay telling the girls' the story, I think they made the right call here for a few reasons. 1) We were already pressed for time here, and that may have been one beat too many, delaying the arrival in Texas. 2) Zay telling them that story had to happen a while ago for them to have time to discover the rodeo, enter Lucas in it, and get accepted. 3) I thought Zay's joke there about them making him was his funniest part.
Speaking of Zay, I have two things to say in reply to your comparison to Alan. I don't think it's totally apt to compare him to Alan (and not just because he's no Alan) because Alan and Feeny played very different roles to Cory. Father and teacher are very distinct relationships, and Cory's relationships with each were very unique. I never begrudged Alan because it meant time away from Feeny. BUT, you know who I DID sometimes begrudge because it meant time away from Feeny? Turner. Because he was another teacher, and in Season 2, all the good teacher moments came from him, while Feeny was largely left in the background (at best, at worst he was the lame conservative teacher) Turner was largely a successful character who added a lot to the show, but there's no denying that Feeny was best served in seasons where Turner wasn't around. I do think that may hold true for Farkle.
Still, like you noted, it's not like we're all on-board the Farkle train either. I'm still 'meh' on both characters, with larger loyalty to Farkle likely only because I've known him longer. But maybe if there was just one guy here, instead of two, I wouldn't be meh on two characters and instead would be all-in on one. Either way, this episode didn't bother me as much as last week's. Last weeks the overuse of characters made them all feel interchangeable and pointless, which is a big problem. In this one, Zay still felt distinctly like Zay, and Farkle distinctly like Farkle. It's just that there was almost no Farkle. And that's fine.
While I like your Past, Present, Future ideas in theory, it does seem like you maaaay be giving them a little too much credit. Still, it seems we're largely agreed on what worked and what didn't work in this episode.
Oh yeah, I can't believe I didn't say anything about Riley at the end. I thought Riley saying all that in front of everyone (just for purposes of upping the drama for the scene) was totally ridiculous and uncomfortable, and is a bad omen for today's episode. We will see. But it's totally not cool that she did that, it just embarasses all three of you. I loved the look on Zay's face though when Riley came out with that though, like "Whaaaaat? Is she really talking about us with Farkle and I here?!"
I also wanted to make sure I say I liked the establishment and mini-resolution of the Friar/McCullough feud. I like when shows have well-handled little F-plots like that. They didn't get too into it, didn't get into the backstory, didn't have a grand resolution. It was just a small little thing also going along on the sidelines, and they even took the time to resolve it. Nice.
Episode Rating: A- (It lost points for the same things you thought. But I'd say this is the fourth best episode of the season after Semi-Formal, Pluto, and Yearbook, in that order)
Episode MVP: I'm giving it to Rowan Blanchard, who I thought was really funny and entertaining throughout the episode's beginning, and then was suddenly thrust into emotional stuff at the end, and delivered. This was a GREAT episode for Lucas, and Peyton was good, but it was more the material that worked for Lucas. I'm not sure Peyton's *performance* was that impressive. Bronze to Sabrina. ...Tin? to Amir.
I knew you'd say I'm giving them too much credit. And you think YOU'RE the Mulder here, pshaw. I Mulder'd the hell out of this one.
I agree about the mini feud. It added some extra flavor without taking away from anything else. Great choice.
I'm giving a solid A, probably top 3 for the season.
Sarah wasn't in this one so MVP goes to Tombstone.