The awkward title of this episode could have easily been adjusted to better communicate the contents of what actually happened. Here are some that I would have considered:
Too Many Secrets
Lost and Afraid
You’re doing Great!?
This is not About You
And my favorite, “Behind the curtain of Shame,” so let’s ride with that one for now.
Behind the Curtain of Shame
The story arc for this episode revolves around various secrets and lies that are being dealt. It’s apparent that the characters struggle to be real and authentic as they deal with deep shame and guilt. They each are playing a part in their life, but until they are able to deal with their demons, they will continue to repeat the same mistakes and never fully grow. This is perfectly paralleled in the musical that they need to perform in the coming weeks.
A Show in Shambles
We start off the episode with Lou and Tracey placing the poster of the show at the entrance of the school. The principle then walks up and we learn that tickets aren’t selling. Lou quickly responds that the sign will be the saving grace of the play and sales will soon spike, but he’s wrong. He tries to encourage his class to buy tickets and they laugh. The principal later informs Lou that this show is a mistake and nobody wants to see it. He adds that due to mounting budget cuts and layoffs, the theater budget for next year will be whatever money the show makes. With pressure mounting, Lou buys thirty tickets in hopes to help the show out.
It’s also tech week for the show. Tech week is when the lighting, sound, props and all “technical” aspects of the show are ironed out. At first, Lou is enthusiastic and feels that they are in a “great place,” but as he forces everyone to go through the entire play it’s obvious that they have a long way to go before show time. Actors are struggling with the dance routines. The prop master is missing items. The sound guy misses’ queues. Robbie, the male lead, is flat and unemotional during the most dramatic scene in the show. It’s all crashing down around Lou, and his family life isn’t getting better.
Poor Gordy. He’s struggling with alcohol and he actually wants to get better as we found out last week when he confessed to his mom. This week he is placed in a support group in hopes find a way to overcome this addiction. The lead counselor is optimistic and positive when Gordy, Lou, and Gail are all together. In a private meeting with the parents and counselor, we find out that the sessions aren’t going well and that Gordy is closed off and not letting others in; he’s not being real and authentic.
While in school, Gordy struggles and has severe anxiety as he battles his addiction, but he has found peace in Gwen. A simple look from her will “comfort” him. This growing tension between Gwen and Gordy finally comes to head when Gwen takes Gordy out and they make love by a bonfire on the sand (no idea where the ocean came from, guess it’s a magical lake that just appears for love scenes). Gwen at the same time is escaping the strong pain she feels with the looming divorce of her dad, Coach Strickland.
Coach is staying at a motel and his mistress, Vanessa, starts a job at the same motel. This is a perfect recipe to ignite old flames, and they don’t disappoint. Their lust is in full force. Rolling around on the bed, making out, playing dominoes in the room; but it’s all in the room. Not once did they go out for food, or take a stroll along a magical, romantic shoreline (see above). Near the end of the episode, Vanessa calls him out on this and he asks if it’s OK that they keep it a secret for a little bit while he “figures things out.” She agrees.
Gwen continues to shut out her dad when she tells him that she doesn’t want him to give her rides anymore. Feeling bad, she shows up to his hotel with the peace offering of a piece of pepperoni pizza (fairly pathetic). She pulls up and watches as her dad and Vanessa enter his room.
Let’s be honest, it’s not a secret that Simon is not attracted to women. This secret continues to build this episode. We start off with a tender moment that Simon and Jeremy share while “performing” on stage (but honestly it was real and authentic). Annabel notices the connection and mentions it to her boyfriend Simon, but he shrugs it off as good acting. Annabel then invites Simon over to her house on Friday so they can finally go all the way.
Jeremy sees the two talking and asks the other cast members if they are really serious, and finds out that they have been sexually active. Jeremy, feeling upset and confused, confronts Simon about this and Simon continues the lie that he is straight. Jeremy responds by telling Simon to not touch him and their once beautiful scene is now flat and emotionless, like Robbie’s performance.
Robbie Falls Flat
“QB 1” is in his own world of hurt. He tried to call the coaches bluff last episode, but the coach was unfazed and the episode opens with Robbie sitting on the bench with Gordy as he swats away mosquitoes.
The downgraded Quarterback is next challenged with acting in the climax of the musical. In rehearsal, he is flat and unemotional. He struggles to connect with his emotions and butchers the scene. Lou and Lillete both tell him that he’s “doing great” and to “not worry about it”, but these falsities don’t help Robbie. He’s left feeling alone as those that should be honest with him tell him what they think he wants to hear.
Let’s Get Real
Personally, I really connected with this episode. Granted, there were some scenes that felt contrived, but the characters struggle with being real and vulnerable is something that I’ve struggled with for years. As I watch, I keep hoping for them to break through and finally be real.
The last scenes we get this resolution. First, we see Gwen and Gordy connecting intimately. Secondly, Simon is in bed with Annabel and can’t finish. Finally, Lou leaves the campus to go home and sulk when he hears the kids in the theater singing their hearts out. He stops and goes back in. They are singing “touch me” and he is touched (sure this is over the top, but it’s a musical people). They beautifully perform this song, after swearing that he messed everything up. The scene ends showing a single wet tear make its way down his left cheek. The cast got real.