Bunheads: 1.10 “A Nutcracker in Paradise”

[Note: This recap is unusually long not just because I had a lot to write about this episode, but also because I included my thoughts on the season so far, and I am not really good at writing non-snarky critiques, so procrastinated for about five weeks. I also planned to write about the Shonda Rhimes black ballerina controversy, but dropped it because I realized I can’t write about race without basically sounding racist. If you get exhausted reading, please take a brief milk break.]

Season 1 Episode 10
Airdate: August 20, 2012

The dance class will put on The Nutcracker soon, the famous musical named after my bitch ex-wife. Ticket sales from the two week run is how Not Emily Gilmore makes all her income, so it’s important that it goes perfectly. Despite this, NEG has allowed Michelle to direct one of the dances. Michelle warns NEG that she put her own personal touch on it. “Are they wearing pasties and g-strings?” NEG asks. NEG is the best.

NEG is stunned to see that Sasha has returned to take the lead role of Clara. Sasha dances among a group wearing black suits. Maybe it’s from watching Quentin Tarintino movies, but I immediately assumed a bunch of guys wearing black suits are a criminal gang. Especially since the dance studio kind of resembles a dojo. The dancers in suits are the rats in the play, and Michelle explains she wanted them to look like people on Wall Street. “Wall Street guys are like rats,” she says. Michelle just found out about Occupy Wall Street yesterday.

Later, NEG asks Michelle, “What would you say to running this place alone?” NEG is thinking about going to Montana with Michael for a while. Michelle is totally up for it. Finally, she will have the place to herself like a big girl. She can stay up all night eating nachos and watching the naughty stuff on Cinemax! And she will, every single night. If NEG is gone for more than four nights, Michelle will be dead.

“The Ringer” from San Francisco arrives. She is an exceptional young dancer who can do high kicks while reading. When NEG thought Sasha was gone for good, she ordered the girl from the Umbrella Corporation as a replacement. NEG doesn’t know her name; everyone only refers to her as the Ringer.

In the dressing room, Michelle has to resolve the dispute the girls have over Charlie, Melanie’s brother, who Ginny and Boo both like, but Charlie only likes Ginny. Melanie takes Boo’s side because Boo was hopelessly lusting for him first and those are the rules. Sasha was away with the cheer team and doesn’t know what is going on. Her is Sasha’s excellent take on the dispute:

“Boo likes Charlie, Charlie likes Ginny, Mel says Ginny can’t date Charlie because Boo liked him first but Ginny thinks since Boo likes Carl she should relinquish Charlie who should revert back to the open market and me? I WISH WE WERE ALL LESBIANS!”

Michelle gets Mel to agree to let Ginny date her brother so long as Mel doesn’t have to hear about it. Also, Boo agrees to let it happen because she likes Carl and is reminded that she is only allowed to be in love with one boy who isn’t interested in her. In exchange, Melanie and Ginny agree to stop making fun of Carl being short. Finally, Israel agrees to return to the 1967 borders. Negotiating teenage girl disputes is about as complicated as Middle East peace.

Sasha informs the Ringer that her services will no longer be needed. The Ringer refuses to leave (or stop dancing as they talk) and doesn’t believe Sasha is a serous ballerina after learning she was briefly a cheerleader. “No, you don’t get it. When I wasn’t cheering, I dressed in all black. It was a weird contrast.”

There is a fundraiser for the dance academy held in the oyster bar Boo works at. The dancers are all in their Nutcracker outfits. Carl has grown cold towards Boo. Carl is like, “I’m going to camp this summer.” It’s Jewish summer camp, so it’s all indoors. Michelle’s advice to Boo is to go make it right with the boy. So she goes up to the microphone and tells everyone how much she likes Carl and apologies for being rude to him. Then they dance. It’s all good.

NEG tells Michelle she does not like Montana, but Michael bought some land to build a house there. He’ll be the first black guy to live in Montana. Everyone in the state will refer to him as Mike the Black Guy. So Michelle decides to tell Michael about NEG. Michael talks to her in coarse tone that either indicates he is drunk or just doesn’t like Michelle. Probably both.

Shirtless Bartender tells Michelle he is going to Australia next week. Michelle asks what he will do down there. Surf, obviously. Australia is like the perfect country for him. It’s the most laid back nation on Earth. Because Australia is a beach culture. Now, you may say, what do you mean, most of Australia is made up of a huge giant desert away from the ocean, the Outback. Yes, but no one lives there, it’s kangaroo country. The human population is concentrated along one little stretch of the coast, right on the South Pacific. It’s also really sunny, so the average Australian spends his whole life on the beach, which equals a lifetime of relaxation and peace. Have you ever met an Australian? They don’t give a fuck about anything; they’re awesome. In America, we live in smoggy cites or lonely farm towns or places with too much snow and not enough sun, which piss us all off, meaning we are all stressed out and miserable and hate each other and have the Tea Party.

Australia is the way to be. But the danger of being a beach culture is that if you spend too much time lounging in the sand, you grow too laid back, and nobody is around to make sure the economy and things don’t go to shit. It’s why Greece is such a mess, as well as Italy, and Florida (Florida is nothing but beaches, but everyone there is an asshole; they aren’t doing beach culture right).  Generally, countries that have nice beaches are poor (Mexico), and rich countries are lousy places to go swimming (Sweden). Australia is the only place in the world to have prosperity and good beaches. I think because they usually remember to check into the office in the morning or early afternoon when it too cold or hot to swim, just to at least fire up the computer and see if everything is doing OK. If it is, then they check the temperature to see if it’s good to go to the beach. It’s a good work/life balance. In my vision of Australia, people wear swim trunks to the work.

Anyway, Shirtless Bartender and Michelle share a long kiss in the middle of the restaurant.

Crunch time. Or more like cracker time! Get it? Hahaha!!! The dancers are in the studio, as final preparations for the show are made. The Ringer is still here and continually shadows Sasha, watching for any sign of weakness. Ginny is telling a girl who is not one of the Four Girls about her plans to have sex with Charlie, despite the girl’s desire (and ours) to not have to hear it. Melanie overhears this and Ginny has to apologize. “A certain boy was boning me last night, but we as per our earlier agreement, I wouldn’t tell you who.”

Showtime! Michelle helps the girls get ready backstage. Sasha gloats to the Ringer about being the lead. But the Ringer just smiles—an evil smile! This is the point the episode needed dramatic organ music.

Also, the girls are back to being bitches because Charlie found a girl who is not Ginny. I think this would be reason to bury their argument, since the catalyst and is out of the picture. What, is Ginny going to demand Boo give her Carl? She could probably fit him inside her purse and carry him around.

Nutcracker Time!!! It starts kickass. Sasha dances while the others dance around her and there is totally a nutcracker even.

Things are going so smoothly of course Michelle is going to fuck it up. And she does in the most disastrous way short of shooting someone, by accidentally spraying all the girls with mace. Then she wonders what in this can could cause so much pain and sprays herself.

No one backstage can see, which causes confusion and banging into each other. The girls are pushed onto stage blind, which throws the whole performance into chaos! Absolute chaos!

When Sasha is on the ground and half blind, the Ringer stands over her and declares, “I told you I’d be Clara.” Was the mace the Ringer’s scheme? No, I refuse to attribute her malice to what Occam’s Razor tells us is more likely Michelle being a fuckup. She has immunity from the mace due to the T Virus. The Ringer takes the ribbon from Sasha’s head and goes on stage to continue the dance as other girls are on the floor in pain, frantic parents try to deal with the turmoil, and sirens are heard outside.

The whole class is taken to the hospital. At least Ginny and Mel make peace again after Ginny says she hates Charlie. “I do too,” says Melanie.

Melissa is taken into a doctor’s office after she tries to speak with a cardboard cutout of a nurse. It’s there in the lobby for when they get uninsured patients.

Sasha hits it off with a boy who looks like Billy Joel Armstrong of Green Day. He says he is here because a “Mosh pit got a little too intense.” Sasha is able to one up him by saying, “My ballet teacher maced us.”

In doctor’s office, NEG berates Michelle for macing her entire class. She has had to cancel the two whole weeks of shows. Looks like it’s back to prostitution for NEG! She wonders if her old pimp is still alive; his name was Colonel Silk, which was his rank in WWII. “I used to work nights at Times Square. Had a very long client list, I might add. I shall make plans to return to New York. Give it a go again at my old corner.” Also Michael left, which NEG blames on Michelle. “You are the bad luck!” NEG declares. “Ever since you got here. Ever since Hubble…” NEG has to leave the room before she can finish.

Pages: 1 2