A review of episode eight of VH1's Single Ladies after the jump. You can read all my reviews of the show here.
Tonight's episode is by far the strongest one since the Isaiah Washington episode. A lot of this has to do with the fact that nearly every conversation between the characters felt like real conversations that these people would have in these situations. The girls' conversations, Val and Jerry, Val and Quinn, Christina and Omar, Reed and April, it all had the rhythm of real human interaction. Simply – the show is showing, not telling really for the first time.
We finally get some backstory on Malcolm and it explains some of why he's kind of controlling and also why he was so angry earlier in the season about the necklace being stolen (though it doesn't quite explain why he'd so easily forgive Keisha, but so much of their relationship's set up made little sense anyway that I wasn't that bothered by it.). Woodside and McCoy work much better in lovey dovey mode than they do when they are playing the pointless game of one-upmanship. I still don't really buy their relationship, but at least the story is going down smoothly now.
The show's strongest story revolved around the return of Quinn (Timon Kyle). As Val notes, Quinn is not the same man he was and that desperation only reinforces to Val that their relationship is over. It was nice that the show didn't have Val question whether she loved him – since the show made him such an asshole in his last appearance, there is just no way we can accept a reconciliation – even as it was completely believable that April and Keisha would ask.
It is also good because I really enjoy the Jerry-Val relationship and it is still a bit too soon to throw unnecessary complications in their way. Since he is essentially her dream man, Val has calmed down considerably and so we don't have to deal with any game playing or insanity like we did earlier in the season. Val is on her grown woman shit because Jerry would accept nothing less, but also because he seems to genuinely deserve her.
And finally, Travis Winfrey got the chance to do something other than drop one-liners. We find out that he is dating a man named Vincent (played by the reliably amazing Wilson Cruz). A vulnerable side to Omar is nice and Winfrey played it quite nicely. Winfrey and Cruz have real chemistry and I certainly hope we get more of this storyline. Winfrey is a real find and it'd be nice to see him get to play more levels of Omar.
On the downside, Christina is turning out to be a major dud. Christina's introduction in Episode 3 was so magnetic that it is a shame the show is having a hard time integrating her into the show. The truth may be that there just isn't room for her, especially in these random ass storylines.
I'd actually like it if the show got around to having Val be a true mentor to Christina.While I enjoyed the scene with Christina and Omar, I sorta wish it was Val who was there for her. Such a storyline would enable us to get a stronger sense of Val as a creative business woman – which we desperately need – and would give Christina some incentive to clean herself up. Right now, she just seems to wild out and then apologize later when it blows up in her face. Kassandra Clementi deserves more.
And I still don't really buy that April knows anything about music. And the cheesy songwriting scene with Tyler Hilton was yet another example of the writers not really having much of sense of how musicians might work (and, strangely, undercutting any ability to take Reed seriously as a talented musician, despite the fact that Tyler Hilton is quite talented). It's the kind of scene that you find in really bad music biopics. But in fairness to the writers, showing writers or songwriters at work in film is really very difficult because it's not an inherently visual thing. That said, Hilton and Charity Shea have excellent chemistry and it's actually quite nice to see a stronger, in-control side to April.
It remains to be seen, but tonight's episode felt grounded in a way no other episode so far has been. This is a good development and hopefully bodes well for the last couple of episodes of the season.