There’s only nine episodes left to go until Rebecca Bunch’s story comes to a close but rather than building to a particularly exciting ending right now the show seems to be treading water a little. Perhaps it’s down to the extended episode count with the fourth season containing eighteen episodes, and just like the first season which also had the same amount while there’s still a huge amount to enjoy certain episodes feel a little by the numbers and unfortunately this was one of them.
One of the issues I have with this week’s episode is that it feels like there’s currently a few too many characters vying for screen time, this used to be Rebecca’s story but now she feels like a subplot in her own tale. While she had to deal with sexual frustration and unfortunately getting a yeast infection due to wearing cheap leggings, too much of the episode revolved around Daryl’s return to work. In a storyline that was unfortunately fairly bland he became jealous of new boss Bert and so acted like a dick around him, giving great presents to everyone else and offering to take them to Disneyland so that Bert’s night out was ruined. I don’t know why they’re doing this with Daryl, sure he’s always been insecure but they’re taking it to such extremes that he’s becoming pretty repugnant and hard to like, and when he physically attacked Bert it was completely out of character. If they’d explored this a little further it might have been of interest but they resolve everything in a pat and convenient manner by the end of the episode rendering the whole thing pointless.
More fun is Greg and Nathaniel’s subplot where the two become friends without realising that they both dated Rebecca, as White Josh panics about the fact that he’s responsible for them meeting, it leads to at least minor dramatic tension amongst some very funny moments with Nathaniel’s obsession with being considered nice. I’m still not quite on board with the recasting of Greg (once played by Santino Fontana but now by Skylar Astin) though, he’s too nice and normal, sobriety and two years in therapy is supposedly the reason why he’s changed but the character’s no longer that appealing which is a shame. This might be a problem that I have with Astin’s take on the role however, and I’m hoping to become fonder of him over the rest of the season given that he’s going to be a big part of it.
At least Rebecca’s sections of the episode contained some real highlights, the Cats spoof included some great songs with very funny lyrics, and her desperation to get laid once again showed off Rachel Bloom’s comic talents and way with dialogue, with the line “Stop ruining my vagina like you ruined musicals” making me burst out laughing. Guest stars Riki Lindhome and Fred Armisen were on top form, and the final moments of the episode where all of Rebecca’s ex’s meet outside of her house at least vaguely contributed to the season arc as one of them will presumably end up with her in the season finale. Or they might blind side us and have a completely different denouement, I really don’t mind as long as something interesting starts to happen soon.
It pains me to criticise the episode as this is still a show I love a great deal, but I had high expectations after the stunning third season which delivered real insights in to what it’s like living with a severe mental illness and how those around you often react, but this fourth season feels so much flimsier. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad to see Rebecca deal her issues and become a happier person and there have been some really strong episodes in the run, with the previous one which re-introduced Greg being all rather stunning, but there’s also been a few too many filler episodes like this week’s and I really hope this is the last of them, or if there are more they’re at least a bit more entertaining.