I wanted to give “Will Scarsdale Like Josh’s Shayna Punim?” an A grade, if only because The CW was merciful enough to renew Crazy Ex-Girlfriend for a third season this past week, thus securing another year’s worth of side income for your humble reviewer. But after going through all the trouble of rearranging its cast during last week’s double episode, Crazy Ex really needed to pare down and focus. It didn’t. “Will Scarsdale Like Josh’s Shayna Punim?” eventually landed on one of the most powerful moments of the series so far but it took one too many detours along the way.
At its core, “Will Scarsdale Like Josh’s Shayna Punim?”—let’s just shorten that to “WSLJSP?” for the sake of your humble reviewer’s fingers—is about that hollow feeling that comes when relationships don’t turn out the way you expected them to. Rebecca finally has Josh wrapped around her finger but, somehow, their puppy love hasn’t eradicated all of her personal problems. And Darryl is having a hard time adjusting to feeling more like Nathaniel’s employee than his partner at Plimpton, Plimpton, and Plimpton. Throw in a trip back to Rebecca’s hometown and another guest turn from the incomparable Tovah Feldshuh and, baby, you’ve got a sitcom stew going. But “WSLJSP” throws an excessive number of ingredients in the pot: an unnecessary scene with Valencia at the donut shop, a Josh and Father Brah heart-to-heart, an unexpected Audra Levine reappearance, and more. It’s not that I’m not happy to see these characters—I’ve got a soft spot for Father Brah, especially—but “WSLJP?” risks feeling more like a greatest hits compilation of guest stars than a fully-realized episode.
But speaking of greatest hits, “WSLJP?” has some of the best songs of the season. Josh and Rebecca’s sunny soul anthem perfectly captures the delusion of any relationship’s honeymoon phase. (A special shout-out to Vella Lovell, whose soul train dance was easily the episode’s best bit of physical comedy). And the Horah song is a hilarious rumination on the simultaneously-celebratory-and-tragic mood of Jewish holidays. (“Being happy is selfish / Remember that we suffered”). Even the “Period Sex” teaser manages to work its way into the episode and, please, for the love of Bloom, I hope we get to hear the full version before the season is over.
The last fifteen minutes of “WSLJP?” almost redeem the unevenness that preceded it. Nathaniel gets a disappointing phone call from his father, runs too fast on his treadmill to punish himself for his perceived faults, and falls flat on his face. Crazy Ex is a show about broken characters who are trying to find themselves so it’s refreshing to see the chinks in Nathaniel’s armor come into full view. And in a particularly brilliant scene in Dr. Akopian’s office, Rebecca finds herself on the brink of a revelation about how she is using Josh to escape from herself. (Of all the guest stars in this episode, Michael Hyatt is the best by far, nailing the crazed jubilation of a therapist whose hopeless patient finally comes around.) When Josh swoops in to propose to her at the last second, undoing all of Rebecca’s progress with the flash of a family heirloom, I somehow screamed and laughed at my TV at the same time—and that’s a reaction only an infuriatingly funny show like Crazy Ex can produce.
May Saunders is a professional dog walker living in Minneapolis and an occasional freelance writer. In her spare time, she enjoys hanging out with her cat, who does not need to be walked. Follow her on Twitter.