Bunheads (“The Astronaut and the Ballerina”)

Season 1, Episode 14
Date of airing: January 28, 2013 (ABC Family)
Nielsen ratings information: 1.115 million viewers, 0.563 million viewers with Adults 18-49, 0.4 rating with Adults 18-49

For a while I thought that BUNHEADS is more than just a solid show, because it was hammering out one solid episode after another, without a lot of weaknesses towards the bottom. But with the actual season finale approaching, maybe the writers didn’t have much of a clue as to how to approach the characters and keep the show going. Because this episode felt like an effort to find out what the show can be about, if the show wasn’t about ballet all the time. This episode seemed like a step towards a direction of making BUNHEADS a show with variety in the stories, so that the Palladinos didn’t have to deal with dancing and teenage romance all the time. Actually, I’m surprised how good GILMORE GIRLS was from the beginning, because the Palladinos managed to create storylines from the beginning and they created this smalltown feeling that created a whole different genre for the show, but 14 episodes into BUNHEADS and I am not seeing that. Yeah, the stories are there, but somehow I don’t know if they mean anything and I’m unable to connect to the characters.

At least Melanie had the biggest story of all the bunheads this time around, which seemed like a surprise, considering the way she has been treated as a character by the writers over the course of the first ten episodes. Unfortunately, her Hulkian tendencies in the previous episode only led to the Roller Derby in this episode, which seemed a bit tame because it didn’t do a lot with Melanie as a character. She looked like she was having fun, but she wasn’t connecting with the characters over there, and I didn’t even get the rules and meaning of Roller Derby. As someone who has been subjected to Roller Derby for the first or second time in my life (it was part of a date in a recent episode of THE BACHELORETTE), I still don’t know what this sport is. But there was something to the story that made me wonder if Amy was trying to make her work more LGBT friendly. That little nod to Cozette during her first rolling experience almost looked like Amy was planning to couple up Melanie and Cozette – especially when both tried to talk to each other right before the ballet lesson, but Ginny got in the way with her troubles which I didn’t get at all. Considering that Amy and the other writers didn’t give Melanie a guy so far in this show, it would almost show that she was indeed gay, and that the story was about to come to fruition now, with the help of Cozette.

Siblings can’t stop talking even though they have to get to work.

Who happened to be taking Melanie away from the main characters now. At first it was the school and various students. Then it was ballet. Then it was Fanny, and maybe even Michelle. Then it was Matisse in the previous episode, and now she seemed to have successfully taken over Melanie’s life. Maybe Cozette is the relationship destroyer, and she steals all she can get and cocoons it in her own way, so she can keep it forever, but maybe Cozette is just a happy-go-lucky young woman, who might be gay, and who might have a bit of an interest in Melanie. And maybe Melanie has been closeted this far in her life, or she is simply just starting to realize her sexuality for the first time. It looks like Cozette has been thrown into the show for some specific reason after all, which makes me happy, even if Cozette hasn’t broken out of this “weird character” moment at all so far.

Meanwhile, it was Ginny who weirded me out in this episode. I guess it was important for the Palladinos to show that she was about to lose her friends, when she needed them the most, and while I was impressed by Ginny’s long, uncut monologue about whatever she was talking about before Frankie interrupted her, I didn’t get at all what all of this was about. A wedding. A wedding dress. Being a bridesmaid. Um, okay, so where exactly was the problem and what did it have to do with Melanie? I probably spaced out for a second or two, when Ginny was going crazy during her monologues, but that happened because I was unable to connect with the characters. Still, the notion of Ginny losing her friends to Cozette (whom she might see as a villain now, but maybe just because her brother happened to be interested in conversing with her) is interesting. Maybe Ginny will turn into the jealous type, if Melanie and Cozette really were supposed to come together in a romantic relationship, and Ginny is being threatened with losing all of her friends when she is in need of them right now.

Roller Derby is going to be brutal today.

And then there was the arrival of Scott, which also weirded me out. Apparently he and Michelle were perfect siblings for a long time, but then all of a sudden, a conflict arose, and it was all about Michelle having to prove that she will make it in Paradise, so her big brother won’t have to make jokes about her all the time. I get that Michelle was subconsciously hurt by Scott’s jokes, but why was it blowing up in such a scene near the end of the episode? And why did Scott turn out to be an awful character in that scene, when he was pleasant throughout the first half of the episode? Has Michelle been burying her feelings for all these years and they were about to burst out like magma out of a volcano?

I must say though, I’m impressed about how the show has been handling the Michelle/Godot coupling. The two already had a moment, and if it wouldn’t have been for the macing incident, maybe she would have given him a goodbye fuck before he went to Australia. But the writers made him smart, and the writers grew him up from the moment he stood shirtless in front of Boo to give her life support. As if he turned out to be the best character on the show, after he started BUNHEADS as this sexy boy everyone was swooning over, which he definitely realized was happening and he might have been happy about that kind of attention. But that all means the writers may have rewritten and rebooted the character slightly between the Nutcracker disaster and the eleventh episode, simply because maybe Godot was destined to be Michelle’s love interest, but he couldn’t be that while also being an uninteresting surfer dude.

And then there was Boo, who definitely had the better story of the episode. The “flash-forwards” into her future life with Carl and three kids was kind of hilarious. Carl bitching that those kids weren’t his and Boo’s made me laugh, because that was the moment he went back to the present timeline of his life — he woke up from the future trance and went back to his real life, and he didn’t have any intent of saving Boo out of that future trance. And of course the kids needed to be assholes all the time, although I would have loved to see how Beaver would have turned out as a dancer. Boo should have left him on the stage, and Michelle should have realized Beaver had hidden talents — maybe that would have made the story a little more hilarious. Boo blowing up on Jordan was also a great scene, and it fit with the tone of her being a more mature person in this episode. She not only had three kids for an hour of television, but she also reprimanded the mean Jordan like she was his mother.

The evil dance instructor finally gets his attitude cleaned by Boo.

Best part of the episode: The end credits scene was meaningless, but it delivered an idea of BUNHEADS having hilarious end credit scenes, putting the spin on a joke of the episode. It’s one of the better ideas that has come out of BUNHEADS lately, which is why it’s such a shame that it wasn’t a permanent thing.
Worst part of the episode: Yeah, maybe it was that huge argument between Michelle and Scott at the end. It could have meant so much for Michelle as a character in the show, but it did not work for me. It was also sort of hypocritical of Michelle to blast Scott for making jokes while she wants to do her job, when it was her who made jokes to Fanny as she was doing her job.
Weirdest part of the episode: Roller Derby. What is this sport and can I do it, too?
Player of the episode: It’s Melanie’s first real story of the show, which is the best thing that could have happened to her, now that she had time to be given a story (because Sasha was absent for this hour). Please, more of Melanie, and quickly.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s