The previous week brought tragedy to the lives of many on the show Rise, so it served them well to start the show off with looking at the follow-up actions: Lou and Gail dumping all the alcohol in the house to help their son Gordy; Coach Strickland waking up alone in a cheap motel room after the announcement of their divorce to their daughter Gwen; and Lilette facing her boss and recipient of a beat up face from her mom Vanessa after he grabbed her ass at work. And this was all in the first 4 minutes.
The Show struggles to stay afloat
The consequences come in and now a new set of problems surface for a part of the cast. Lilette returns to work in hopes that she didn’t lose her job. She’s relieved to find out that she didn’t, but now she has to work afternoons that will conflict with the play. Being a kid that acts more like a parent, she’s trying to get her mom off the couch and get a job, but her mom’s pride is holding her back. She tries to resolve it by going and quitting the play, but Lou dismisses her resignation and ensures her that they will figure it out.
Tracey sees Sasha fighting with her boyfriend. She thinks that it’s just a breakup but finds out that Sasha is actually pregnant. Later in the episode, this gets complicated when it’s revealed that her dad has been unemployed for a year and is a complete mess. She wants to go to a clinic without his consent, but she’s trapped since consent is needed in that state. She’s between a rock and a hard place.
Robbie’s story continues to develop as he’s pulled between the play and football. While at practice he is missing plays and Coach Strickland comes out firing at him. He is benched and the backup is put in as Quarterback. Later we see the coach meeting with Johansen (the new Quarterback) and they all shook hands, it appears they are going to replace Robbie with the new kid. Robbie has a conversation with the coach and is told that unless he becomes “less distracted” then he will continue to be benched. Basically, it’s either football or the play and if he stays in the play then there is no way he will start in football.
The set is revealed and it could easily rival a Broadway designed set, but we find out it’ll be too expensive to make and more importantly there might not be enough time. They push forward and Lou makes it his personal mission to make this set the greatest of all time. The shop teacher (name unknown to me) is helping out, but the demands are too great and he ends up walking out. The show is slowly crumbling into fragments.
Romance in the air?
What’s a primetime drama without a little romance?
The tension between Simon and Jeremy is thick. They’ve been slowly adding more and more layers to their budding same-sex relationship. Simon’s struggle with his religious upbringing is making the waters even cloudier. We finally get a kiss from the two, which throws Simon into a panic, and he jumps in his car and leaves abruptly. So what does a young man struggling with his sexuality do? Jump into the arms of a girl to prove something, enter Annabel. Annabel is a sweet girl that has intense feelings for Simon. The two make an agreement to finally move things up in the physical realm and Simon, being a gentleman, grabs the first time essentials (condoms, candles, and mints).
Lou is struggling to keep the show going so he’s been obsessed with it. The obsession has begun to impact his life (seems like an addiction to me) and has missed various appointments with his kids and Gail comments that they are “ships constantly passing each other.” Lou agrees to a date night, which he fails to make and comes home late—again.
Gail is asleep and he wakes her up to discuss the torment that he is experiencing. The kids are all fighting each other, some are being pulled away from the play (more on that soon), and the set design is too expensive to pull off. What’s a man to do but go home and have a strong wife give him some perspective? He reveals that the play is set to help the struggling community he wants them to know that “we see you and you are not forgotten.” There is beauty in the town and this play is his way to remind them that times have changed, but the town is still special. She listens to him and then delivers. She reminds him that a fancy set isn’t what he needs to focus on, but he needs to focus on being resourceful, which is how he wooed her when they first started dating.
This episode also continued the slowly growing connection between Gordy and Gwen. The two do a bit of a switch as Gordy is now on the straight and narrow while Gwen is being more rebellious following the news of her father’s actions with Vanessa (Lilette’s mom). Gordy was strong but then in a scene at the steel factory he slips up and has a drink, something he’s been struggling with since episode one.
Bring Me Stanton
When all is going to hell, how do you fix it? You bring everyone together with a focused project. Lou shows up with a two by four and smashes the crap out of the model of the perfect stage. The kids are all given an assignment, to go out and bring back Stanton to the theater.
They are off. Robbie and Lilette find a jukebox. Others find old chairs, a chalkboard, railroad crossing. All of these are great pieces, but Gwen has the piece de resistance in mind. She takes a crew of kids to the old Steel plant where her dad used to work. A huge sign “Stanton Steel” hangs high above them, but it’s too big to take down. Defeat.
The kids break off. Gwen and Gordy continue to build a stronger connection, but Gordy relapses with a drink of beer. Annabel and Simon break off and start making out in hopes of finally making it around the bases, but sadly the Cops ruined it. They all run off but Gwen stays back to take the flack. Her dad comes in and she finally is able to get all her pain out and let him know what she’s thinking.
One by one the kids come in with their treasures. It’s looking decent when suddenly Coach Strickland comes in with the sign from the steel mill as an olive branch reached out to his daughter Gwen.
Wrapping it up
One of my favorite songs from the original musical Spring Awakening is “Mama who bore me.” The end of this episode concludes with Lilette singing as a montage of scenes flash. I love it when a song directly applies to the scenes playing and this ending gave me chills the first time I saw it (and the second time as well).
Tracey shows up to a trailer and is greeted by Sasha. They enter and sit down to tell her father that she’s pregnant.
Gordy confesses his drinking to his mother and she tenderly holds him as he breaks down.
Robbie was encouraged to call Coach Strickland’s bluff and decided to stay in the play. He is seen on the sidelines watching the game from the bench.
Coach Strickland is leaving his motel and looks up to see Vanessa in a maid’s uniform. She broke down after seeing her daughter Lilette singing and decides to step up as a parent and take any job to support the family, giving Lilette the freedom to pursue the one thing that she loves, the musical.