Thoughts on Episode 18 after the jump. As always, reviews of previous episodes can be found here.
I had no illusions that Episode 18 would be as great as Episode 17. But I do have to say that I was disappointed by some of the choices the writers made with two of the three stories.
Let's start with Melanie's unhappiness. In general, I thought they wrote Melanie really well and I appreciated the conversation with Melanie and Tasha where Tasha points out that Melanie is largely a spoiled rich girl. Tasha kept it real, but she also showed that she cares about Melanie.
What I didn't like was how thoroughly unsupportive Derwin was. I guess he's not necessarily coming down from feelin himself after the Kwan Kirkland incident, but I just felt like even if he didn't really support Melanie fully he wouldn't be so callous. He came off like a straight asshole and it felt out of character even for this "brand new" Derwin.
The other thing is really that the show has never really taken seriously the fact that Melanie did give up a lot to be with Derwin. She did give up a great opportunity only to have the love of her life cheat on her with a young pop startlet. Just because Melanie and Derwin got back together doesn't really erase that. For both Tasha (if somewhat jokingly) and Derwin to focus on Melanie's selfish qualities felt like overkill and a little heartless.
That said, this story might have played better if we had gotten an explanation for why Melanie chose not to practice in the first place in Season 4. It's been a big gaping hole in the BET version of the show that the writers seem unwilling to address. We've just skipped to the drama about her going back to work. But all I could think while watching tonight's episode was "we don't even know why you never practiced."
I mean, did Derwin ask her? Convince her? Did she voluntarily make the decision? Was she scared? We don't know and that makes it hard to care about it now, even with Tia Mowry-Hardrict doing her typically great work.
The "Malik tracing his footsteps" story backed into something really interesting, a structural choice that I found really annoying. I don't actually think that Malik is an alcoholic/drug addict so much as Season 4 fabricated a stupid ass story that made no sense at all. So when Malik falls off the wagon and spends the entire episode trying to figure out what the trigger was, only to find out that he's nervous about having to be QB1…all I care about is Malik being nervous about taking back his spot.
That's an interesting story. There's an interesting story about someone as arrogant as Malik having to prove himself again. I get that he'd be nervous. I don't much care that it made him drink again. I would much prefer an episode devoted directly to his nervousness, rather than backing into it like the writers did here.
All of that said, man – I really love the Jason/Chardonnay romance. The show has done a beautifully subtle and nuanced job building this relationship and showing Jason getting in touch with his feelings and being vulnerable.
It makes sense that after professing love for this woman, that Jason would be a raw, exposed nerve that would feel a little threatened by Chardonnay flirting. But as the show has remembered, this is about Jason's growth as a person. So of course he comes in and apologizes. It was genuinely adorable to have Jason – hat in hand and oh so vulnerable – try to get Chardonnay to say "I love you too." I extol the greatness of Coby Bell alot, but this storyline has been great for him and just shows that there is nothing that he can't do.
Overall, this wasn't a great episode, but it was fairly enjoyable with some genuinely funny moments. I still think that these last 6 or 7 episodes are stronger overall than the first 10 of the season.
Which is good.
- Why the hell is Bryce Wilson doing pointless, random cameos? Dude – go produce more hits.
- I loved all of Tasha's slavery references in the episode. My two favorites? "…while I'm out there pickin cotton in the hot sun" and "everything! slave!"
- I like that the character of Tee Tee is so important to the Macks, but Barry Floyd is not a very good actor at all. His quasi-deadpan delivery works fine for laugh lines, but kills any chance of him selling a dramatic one.
What did y'all think?