Bunheads review – 1×10: ‘A Nutcracker in Paradise’

Courtesy of ABC Family

She dances and sings!!! It’s summer finale time on Bunheads and while things had been running smoothly for our girls, there was plenty of drama to be had in this episode. But who cares about the drama? Can we talk about the fabulous Cabaret number Foster did? Perhaps we should dish on the drama first.

Let’s review.

While Fanny (Kelly Bishop) is one of the main characters of the show, her arc this season wasn’t really significant. Much like her character on Gilmore Girls, Bishop seems to inhabit the Sherman-Palladino world to ground the kooky characters and introduce a level of grace that they seem to lack. Bishop is the type of actress that classes up a joint as soon as she walks in.

But this is not to say she had nothing to do. Her major narrative arc this season was concerning her relationship with Michelle (Sutton Foster), and although it started a little cold, in the end Fanny came to depend on Michelle – dare I say it- much like she would a daughter. And let’s face it, Michelle is in need of a mother figure to make sure she doesn’t screw things up too much (More on that later). Fanny did depend on Michelle a lot during this episode, and Michelle came through – that is until she screwed everything up. But that’s what I love about their relationship! They need each other equally. While Fanny needs Michelle for support and a connection to the girls, Michelle needs Fanny’s guidance and wisdom because, let’s face it, Michelle is a bit of a mess…

And all of this works itself out so well in the show, partially because this relationship has grown organically (albeit a little slowly) this whole season.

Courtesy of ABC Family

Then there were the bunheads. Although the show is named after them, they were given the short end of the stick at the beginning of this season as the show struggled to work out the relationship between Michelle and Fanny. Once that was cleared up, we were given more insight into their world(s). The finale touched a little on each of their respective stories this season. Most importantly: Boo (Kaitlyn Jenkins) finally got the guy. After screwing it up with Carl (Casey J. Adler) again last week, Boo decided to put herself out there and apologize, declaring her “like” for Carl in front of most of the town. Cutest scene evah!!! The best part of all of this (other than finishing it off with a dance) was when Carl broke out into the robot and Boo followed him in what looked more like a squirrel robot (Side Note: No, but seriously, what was that?)

Then we’ve got the Laverne and Shirley of the show: Ginny (Bailey Buntain) and Melanie (Emma Dumont). They seem to be the closest out of all the girls – in the background, always together, brightening up every scene they were in. In the finale they were forced to work out their issues concerning Charlie (Zak Henri)…twice! First Melanie got over the fact that Ginny wanted to date her brother, then Ginny got over the fact that Charlie basically moved on to another girl. Can we all agree now that this boy is Trouble (please note the capitalization)? Ladies, consider yourselves warned.

Which leaves us with only one bunhead remaining: Sasha (Julia Goldani Telles). Her angry girl routine took up much of this season, but this episode found her back in pointe shoes. It was great to see her back, especially as she unsuccessfully tried to fend off the ringer called in from San Francisco. And while she seemed to have let go some of her rage, I don’t think we are done with “angry Sasha” just yet. Love is in the air for this one, and the boy wears a chain around his neck (hence the boy is angry). Love is always exciting when you’re young and angry at the world.

Courtesy of ABC Family

And that leaves Michelle aka the whole reason this show exists. She’s been through a lot this season, from getting married, to losing her husband and then being left in a town she is unfamiliar with and not being sure what she should do with her life. And yet Michelle still managed to keep busy (and mostly positive). The big story for her was, of course, her decision to stay in Paradise, even though the finale left this up in the air as Michelle walked out the emergency room while the girls did their best Dead Poet Society routine (even if some of them didn’t actually get the reference. Ugh…I feel old). It was a touching scene, because Michelle has really affected these girls lives. The episode really made a point of showcasing this by having her talk to all the girls about their issues; from Ginny and Melanie’s fall-outs, to Sasha (lack of) anger management, to Boo’s boy troubles. She was there for them, macing them when it counted the most. Oh sure accidentally doing it during the big Nutcracker performance was tragic, but let’s all be honest: it was also freaking hilarious!

I can’t forget to address the dream sequence, in which we were treated to a song and dance number by Foster. Oh man, was I excited about this! She is seriously Broadway royalty and having her sing the classic ‘Maybe This Time’ from Cabaret was divine! Now I can go on and on about this but I will end with this wish: That the Broadway gods up above grant us the pleasure of another number, but this time let’s make it a duet…with Ellen Greene. Seriously, where have they been hiding her?

Of course the dream sequence wasn’t really about the dancing and singing; it was mostly about Michelle’s story arc: starting with the audition and ending with the question of whether she would have stayed had Hubble (Alan Ruck) lived. This isn’t exactly a new question since I’ve discussed the issue of Michelle’s residency in Paradise before (see episode review 4 and 6) and I can honestly say that I haven’t really understood why she stayed. While she might feel attached to Fanny and the girls, Michelle is a born performer. Her departure showed us that she’s still a fish out of water in this town and while I know that she’ll eventually find her way back to them, she needs to be certain that this is the right decision for her. If that’s the case, I’m sure we’ll all enjoy the second part of season one.

Other observations:

  • Loved the Battlestar Galactica shout out from Rico (Gregg Henry)
  • I was happy that Fanny got to dance a little. Kelly Bishop is just so elegant!
  • The ringer was seriously spooky. Is this a young black swan in the making?
  • So Godot (Nathan Parsons) is leaving?  Perfect summer fling!!

Best lines of the night:

  • Sasha (to the ringer): “Stop single white female-ing me!”
  • The ringer (to Sasha): “Have you ever put ground glass in your rival’s shoes?”

What did you all think? Was the dream sequence a little too weird? Did you love the song and dance number? Did you also think that Michelle’s Nutcracker number was an ode to the So You Think You Can Dance table dance routine with Sabra and Neil? Did you cry when the girls got on their chairs as Michelle walked out?

Bunheads completed its summer finale, but will return Monday nights at 9pm EST on ABC Family in the winter.

One thought on “Bunheads review – 1×10: ‘A Nutcracker in Paradise’

  1. I will not sass anything… but, I must say, I am tired of the “should I stay or should I go” story. I want to move on! Do you think Michelle will have recurring Hubble dreams? I’m not sure I like that. I didn’t believe the character when Michelle told Hubble she missed him. Really? After 36 hours? I hope the writers forget the possibility of a post-mortem relationship in season one’s second part. Fingers crossed!