‘The Big Leap’ 1×03 Review: “The White Swan Lives!”
This week’s episode of “The Big Leap” takes a road trip to Chicago to see the Ballet Precis perform “Swan Lake.” We get some behind the scenes flirtation as I realize I am up to four potential ships. We learn more about some characters. Sadly, we say goodbye to one before we really got to know him. The true standout of the episode, though, is Raymond Cham Jr as Justin. Keep reading for my “The Big Leap” 1×03 review!
“Sometimes They Both Die In The End”
This week’s episode does a lot to flesh out Monica’s character. She is by no means cuddly and fluffy by the end, but she’s understandable. The Ballet Precis happens to be her old company. She clearly has some feelings about going back there after her career-ending injury, which the show flashes back to in the opening scene. Once Nick drops the bomb that the dancers will be performing part of their show for the professional dancers in a very misguided contest to win a car, Monica loses it. She goes on a rant about how embarrassed she is for the dancers. Nick, in one of several jerk moves this week, ensures all of the dancers can hear her degrading them.
She seemingly reassures Gabby that her time as an understudy could turn into fame because her former understudy is now famous. She tells Gabby that she just has to keep working hard and being patient. Monica’s message gets undercut a bit when the Meter Maid discovers that Claude, who is set to play the Prince, overstayed his visa and is not a legal citizen. Instead of having Gabby dance the Prince role, even though she knows it already, Monica gives the role to Justin.
Gabby is convinced Monica doesn’t want a big girl in the role. That very well could be true. I’m still a bit confused as to why Monica is so anti-Gabby. However, Monica tells Justin he is the best dancer they have. She spends the night teaching him the choreography. Later that night, she tries to convince Nick to cancel the performance. Justin is doing great, but she’s worried about everyone else. Nick doesn’t really try to reassure her. Instead, they talk about how awful it is to sit in discomfort. Naturally, they end up sleeping together again.
The performance is a disaster, for reasons we’ll address in a little bit. However, she does inspire Justin to become a better dancer. She also seemingly decides to start getting pain-blocking shots in her knee, which will not cure her injury, but they will ensure she can do something stupid like try to dance on it again.
“Just Follow My Lead, Baby”
Nick continues to stir the pot in the Reggie/Gabby/Brittney love triangle. When Nick tells Brittney that Gabby told him about the blowjob, Brittney starts a rumor that Gabby has genital warts. Obviously, everyone finds out. When everyone gets on the bus for Chicago, Gabby makes an extremely uncomfortable speech about how she does not have genital warts. Somehow, she ends up apologizing to Brittney for gossiping about her. It ends with her telling Reggie and Brittney to “have fun and get some.” I went back and forth between cringing and laughing so hard during this scene. Simone Recassner just truly killed it.
Meanwhile, Reggie seems like he’s still trying to get closer to Gabby, but she’s all but shoving him at Brittney. I am so fascinated by Gabby throughout all of these scenes. I always gravitate more towards romantic relationships, and this pairing firmly has a grip on me. When Gabby tells Justin she can’t stop being weird, I felt that in my soul.
Brittney also has some unresolved feelings about going to the ballet. She was bullied in her ballet class by all of the dancers after she bullied them individually and they teamed up against her. She spends a lot of the episode drunk. Drunk acting can be super grating and over the top, but Anna Grace Barlow does it with perfection.
Justin again reassures Gabby that she should go for it with Reggie. After she is passed over for the Prince role, Reggie rushes after her to make sure she is okay. The two end up crashing a dentist convention and having a great time dancing together. There’s a wonderful montage cutting between Gabby and Reggie on the dance floor with Justin and Simon practicing the choreography with Monica. It is extremely clear that Reggie feels something for Gabby. I want to believe he has romantic feelings for her. It’s blatantly obvious she feels something romantic for him, but Reggie is a little more complicated. As he takes Gabby back to her room, an incredibly drunk Brittney wanders into the hallway and drags Reggie into her room for a party.
Things turn out great in the end for Gabby, though, because Brittney is too hungover to perform the next day. She is puking into a purse levels of hungover. After Monica agrees that Brittney can’t perform, Gabby just grabs Brittney’s headdress and boops her on the nose. It was such a cute moment where Gabby is clearly relishing in the fact that she’s gotten one over on Brittney. Gabby is ready to shine, and that she does. In fact, she is the only part of their performance that goes well.
“Imperfections Are What Make Us Beautiful”
The biggest surprise of the episode for me was how much I am gravitating towards Mike and Paula as a couple. I thought they were cute in the first couple of episodes, but now I’m firmly shipping them. Just before a costume fitting, Mike finds Paula freaking out. After her cancer, she had a double mastectomy and implants, so now her body feels completely foreign to her. She freaks out at the thought of fitting. Without missing a beat, Mike goes in and has such a completely unhinged breakdown that he gets both him and Paula out of the fitting.
While Paula is clearly starting to feel something for Mike, he’s still hung up on his stupid ex-wife. Paula convinces Mike to post some photos on Instagram and even take a selfie with her because it might make Paige jealous. Before the ballet, the two sneak off to get Portillo’s together. They do not make it back in time, so they get to just sit outside and chat during the first act. Paula brings up a few more things that are weird about her boobs now. Finally, Mike asks if she just wants him to look at her boobs, and she admits she just wants reassurance that they’re normal.
They find a private spot and he looks at her boobs for a while. What starts off as a comedic moment turns super sweet. When Mike isn’t focused on his boring marriage, he is a really great guy. Jon Rudnitsky and Piper Perabo have this funny, but sweet chemistry together. By the end of the episode, it seems like Paula is about to ask him out, but Paige asks him to fix her oven. Again, his stupid marriage ruins everything.
“You’ve Got Bigger Problems”
I’m feeling much more positive about Julia’s plotline this week. They seem to be softening her “anti sex-work” stance to be really just about the issues with Raven and Kevin, which was where I was hoping the storyline was going to go. Julia clues Raven into connection and they have a nice moment together talking about why men seek out Raven’s services. It seems like they’re going to be able to come to some sort of understanding when Raven offers to stop seeing Kevin. However, that falls apart when Raven discloses that Kevin gave her $10,000 for her life coach certification. Julia’s problems only get worse when she finds out that Kevin never showed up at home to stay with their daughters while she was out of town. Instead, he booked a flight to Costa Rica, and he may have drained their bank account.
“You’re An Amazing Dancer”
After Nick finds out that Justin’s dad Earl kicked him out when he came out, he decides to engineer a “heartwarming reunion” by getting Earl to come watch them perform in Chicago. He badgers Justin into talking more about his relationship with his dad. Once he sees what a deep emotional wound it is for Justin, he and Alan find Earl. His version of Justin’s coming out is different. Earl says he didn’t kick Justin out because he was gay. He kicked him out because the Lions were down by three and Justin wasn’t wearing his lucky hat. Somehow, that seems worse.
Everything lines up perfectly after Justin replaces Claude as the Prince. He’s doing great, until he looks out in the audience and sees his dad sitting there. Once that happens, the entire performance falls apart. Justin jumps off stage to confront his dad. He talks about how his dad kicked him out, but he really wants to talk about his mom. Earl never visited her when she was dying. Earl finally tells him that his mom didn’t want him there. She wanted her best friend Tracy, and Justin should do the math about what that meant. In the worst possible moment, Reggie comes over to take a selfie with Earl. I can’t tell if that was Reggie trying to break the tension or if he just was not reading the room at all.
Justin leaves and the whole camera crew follows him. He talks about how his mom always encouraged him. He just wants to hear his dad tell him “good job.” At this point, if you were not an emotional wreck, I don’t even want to know you. In his redeeming moment for the week, Nick tells Justin he needs to find the people who will say it to him if that’s not his dad. He’ll be the first to start. Justin’s response is quiet and sweet and everything I wanted it to be. It would have been easy to go big with that moment, but both Scott Foley and Raymond Cham Jr kept it simple.
Another camera crew interviews Earl, who admits the reunion didn’t go so well. He smiles as he talks about how his son is in the main part, though. There’s still some hope for them yet, and I’m really looking forward to seeing more of this story.
Back upstairs, Gabby finds Justin. She engineered a small party, which has turned into the entire crew. In the most impressive choreography of the episode, we’re taken through the entire floor of the hotel as everyone is dancing. It looks like it might have all been filmed in one tracking shot. It’s vibrant and fun. It all ends with everyone circling Justin, as he realizes he has his people now. It’s a great comparison to when he was dancing alone in the bowling alley. In just two episodes, he’s finding his community.
That would have been a great spot to end the episode, but there is still the matter of the car. As everyone gets back from Chicago, Wayne and Monica call Gabby’s name. Monica praises her for stepping into a difficult role and keeping her poise. Wayne says they also found out about the party she instigated, which was a great morale booster. Even though he thinks the competition was stupid, the car is hers. She starts to drive off in her new convertible, but Brittney tells Gabby she’ll pay for this. Gabby does not care and inches the car forward like she’s going to hit her. It makes me love her even more.
The show truly keeps getting better from week to week. The characters are fleshed out and no one is coming off as cartoonish. I cannot wait to see what happens next. What was your favorite moment of this week’s episode? Find us on Twitter to share your “The Big Leap” 1×03 thoughts. Be sure to check out our site for more content!