‘The Big Leap’ 1×06 Recap: “I Should Have Gone To Motown”
In preparations for the show’s premiere, Nick and the producers must put together a live aftershow. The episode truly belongs to the Lovewell family, though. When mother Tonya blows into town, everything falls to pieces. Adam Kaplan and Anna Grace Barlow steal the show this week, with the assistance of the always delightful Missi Pyle. Keep reading for my ‘The Big Leap’ 1×06 recap!
“Lovewells Against The World”
This week delves into the Lovewells’ backstory. The episode opens with a flashback to the 2005 ballroom dancing finals where the approximately 11-year-old twins dared to come in second. Tonya goes completely unhinged and berates them with the assistance of an unwitting fast food worker.
Throughout the episode, we learn little facts about the Lovewells that explain so much. For instance, they were onboard entertainment for a cruise ship as children. Their mother dated a guy who was imprisoned for stalking Vanessa Hudgens. The twins were completely isolated from anyone else growing up, with only each other for support.
As soon as Tonya blows into town, any growth the twins made fades. Simon describes her as a “cult leader,” and it’s true. Right after Simon kisses Justin for the first time, Tonya tells Simon he has to end things because the twins “aren’t interesting” as individuals. She completely gets into his head, and Simon crushes Justin’s hopes later.
For the past five episodes, Adam Kaplan has been the comic relief, and he has been a delight. This week, though, was when he impressed me the most. He was fighting so hard to toe the company line by being The Twin, instead of being Simon. He pleads with his mom to not do anything crazy for the live show, because the show is important to them. The layers he puts into Simon this week are phenomenal. I could spend hours unpacking everything we learned about him.
“Find A Way To Take Her Spotlight”
The dancers are forced to dance in “uncommon pairings” for a Motown package. Gabby and Brittney, Mike and Reggie, and Julia and Paula are the ones we get to see. At first, it seems like Gabby and Brittney might start to find peace. They find common ground as devoted fans of Rhythm Rhythm Dancer (the totally not-copyrighted version of Dance Dance Revolution).
Brittney invites herself back to Gabby’s house for Pizza Night with her mom Nina and Sam. It’s awkward, and Brittney has no idea how to talk to people. As Tonya constantly reminds Simon, he has to watch out for his sister because she doesn’t know how to make friends. It’s completely a self-fulfilling prophecy. Anna Grace Barlow has done a great job at the stereotypically bitchy role, but she shows so much more vulnerability when she’s at Gabby’s house. She seems like she’s actually trying to find a way to be Gabby’s friend, even though she can only find commonalities with her by dancing to “High School Musical.” When Brittney is coloring with Sam and finds the note Reggie wrote her, my heart broke a little bit for her.
Unfortunately, even though it almost seemed like Brittney was making progress, it all falls apart when she finds his note. It seemed like she was going to keep Sam’s parentage a secret. As soon as it seemed like Gabby had wronged her, though, all bets were off. She ran straight back to her mother and reverted to the worst version of herself. Tonya told Brittney to find a way to steal Gabby’s spotlight, and Reggie’s love note sent her sailing over the edge into the waiting arms of her psychotic mother.
There is not enough I can say about the genius casting move of Missi Pyle here. She is one of those actresses where I am always delighted to see her. She is truly just one of the greatest character actresses we have right now, particularly for comedic roles. Tonya was a joy to watch as she tried to match wits with Nick for taking control of the twins’ participation in the live show. Her entire relationship with Simon and Brittney was fascinating. I’m torn because Tonya is a monster, but she brings so much to the show.
“Don’t Tip The Season”
The bulk of the episode is spent in preparations for the aftershow, which network executive Zach has decided needs to be live. It would go a long way toward Nick being received “warmly” after the whole Atlantis fiasco where he got super sued. Naturally, the other producers think it’s insane to pull off a live show with two days’ notice, but Nick won’t listen to any negative talk. At first, things seem like they’re going to go well. Ally gets Jennifer Lopez as the host. Media training shows at least Paula can put together a coherent answer for the Q&A.
Then everything falls apart. JLo drops out as host. The live truck may not make it in time. Monica comes to pull Nick out of his existential crisis that he will never work again. He thinks his daughter is going to be ashamed of him, and no one will clap for him during the In Memoriam segment at the Emmys. It’s a delightful bit of comedy when Scott Foley cannot say the word “memoriam.” But nothing could have prepared me for Monica screaming her morning mantra at Nick. And if it weren’t for the fact my husband might divorce me for doing so, I would change my alarm to be Monica screaming “Get up, you stupid little bitch.”
The next morning, Nick and Alan are preparing for that night’s live show. They have had no sleep and more than a little Adderall. They are the definition of unhinged. Then a light falls on Nick’s head. So, now he gets to add a concussion to his mess. He refuses to go to the hospital. Former Raging Waters lifeguard Alan thinks he should probably go to the hospital, but he may be fine as long as he doesn’t look at screens. Nick decides he doesn’t need medical attention, much to the chagrin of both Wayne and Monica. Before the show starts, Monica sprays Nick with a water bottle to keep him from falling asleep. I mention this only because it was a great moment of chemistry between Scott Foley and Mallory Jansen.
The live show finally starts. Monica is the queen of the “fake excited” voice. It’s like she is an entirely different person. Reggie ends up as the host. Monica is asking Reggie to “dish the hot goss” about the behind the scenes romances. She’s an entirely different person, and it’s hilarious. During the clip packages, the cast members are talking amongst themselves. Gabby lets Brittney know she got her a present for the premiere. Julia asks if Paula’s okay, because Paula got a call from her doctor and then was weird.
Simon breaks away from his mom’s demands slightly when he says Justin is the person who surprises him the most on the show. Mike and Paula are asked about their relationship status. Mike tries to extend an olive branch and says anything is possible, but Paula says they’re just friends. Reggie and Gabby talk about how much they’ve supported each other, and the yearning looks that man sends Gabby are making me melt. Then it all falls apart when Brittney says her inspiration has been Gabby, which she follows by dropping the bomb about Sam’s father.
The show devolves into chaos. Producers keep asking Nick if he wants to cut to the Motown dance package, but he refuses. Literally everyone turns on Brittney. A water bottle flies at Brittney’s face. Brittney and Raven almost get into a fistfight. It seems like Simon might have his sister calmed down. Then Brittney lets out this primal scream, rips the chair out of the floor, and hoists it above her head like she’s going to take someone out. And then Nick finally cuts to the Motown package.
After the show, Nick sits with Monica and Wayne as they have a “funeral for dignity.” Nick admits he feels bad for Gabby, and that’s such a huge moment of growth for him. Unfortunately, the network is thrilled at what a hot mess it was. Zach literally leaps into the room in glee to deliver the news that the show is trending.
Producer Jessica finds Brittney to give her the gift Gabby got her. It’s a drawing Sam made of him with Gabby and Brittney. If it feels like a knife to her heart, then good. It should. Simon sees the note from Reggie and asks if that’s why Brittney did this. She tries to blame their mom, but Simon finally stands up to his family and leaves. It feels so much more triumphant when we see how hard Simon has to fight to stand up to his family.
“You’ve Gotta Move On. The Rest Of The World Has.”
Before we get to the end where all my ships set sail at once, we have to talk about Mike. The episode starts with him and Reggie practicing their Motown moves together. All of Mike’s friends are there. I’m going to need Mike’s friends to routinely be on hand to give Reggie love advice because they’re delightful. Mike’s friends are not happy Mike is still mad at Paula. They praise Reggie for making a thoughtful gesture by writing Gabby a note. No one believes Mike when he says he is thriving. Fortunately, Mike’s friend Joel breaks Mike out of his endless pity party by literally slapping him in the face. He tells Mike that Paula likes him and makes him happy, so he needs to embrace life and go after her. And again, I reiterate that Mike’s friends are my favorite tertiary characters.
Meanwhile, Paula and Julia are on their way to becoming best friends, of which I fully approve. Anything involving Piper Perabo and Teri Polo together is a delight. Paula persuades Julia’s daughters to come to the premiere, even sending her driver to get them. Unfortunately, Paula gets a call from her doctor. All we have to know is that she has brought up her cancer diagnosis in this episode, so it’s definitely back.
Following the show, Mike goes to Paula’s house and tries to tell her he wants to move on with his life. He’s hoping she might be a part of what the rest of his life looks like. She tells him she wasn’t lying. They are friends, and she shuts the door in his face.
While Mike’s doorstep declaration of love doesn’t go so well, other couples fare better. Simon catches up with Gabby as she’s leaving the studio with her mom. Nina is comforting an upset Gabby and apologizing for not being there for her over Sam’s dad. Simon runs over to apologize for Brittney (even though it’s not his fault) and hands her Reggie’s note, which she very clearly had not seen yet.
Simon then runs straight to Justin’s house. They talk about their respective messes and then they kiss as the door shuts. Gabby goes to Reggie’s house with the note and asks if he wrote it. When he confirms he did and he meant it, they kiss and the door shuts. This episode taught me that I should not put on a face mask for the last 20 minutes because it’s kind of hard to scream for joy while wearing one, so I had to internally explode as all of this happened.
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Adam Kaplan did a remarkable thing, here. He has been creeping out of a pure stereotype for weeks, and HERE he actually found a way to be the stereotype AND a fully-fleshed-out character, finding depth within the stereotype rather than forcing him to drop his mannerisms entirely. What a statement that makes: people can fit a mold AND surprise us not by shedding a layer, but adding several.