“Bunheads” 1/14/2013: Many Happy Returns from Camp Wannapamothpa

Cozette, Jeanine Mason, Bunheads

Cosette the Cosmopolitan: friend, foe, rival, or everyone’s new role model?

Last week on Bunheads was the mandatory conclusion in which the our broken-up old team finally set aside their differences and arrest warrants, and came together once more for the good of the town and the premise of the show. This week, class is back in session in the new episode titled “Channing Tatum is a Fine Actor”. Ballet recitals have resumed, and even the adult tap class is back on the schedule, if a bit jealous that no one ever pays to watch them perform The Nutcracker. That’s best for all involved, really — if Michelle had mistakenly maced these mothers and grandmothers, I can imagine several of them Macing her right back. The last thing Paradise needs is an all-out Mace war.

In happier news: Carl Cramer is back! Boo’s effervescent boyfriend returns after his annual six-week retreat at Camp Wannapamothpa, named after a Native American phrase so covert that it defies even Google’s almighty reach. Boo fusses about preparing for him first, but no such luck — good ol’ Carl (Casey J. Adler) is thrilled to see her, hand-carved her a Katniss Everdeen quiver as a gift, and doesn’t care that she’s sweaty and saw Magic Mike twice while he was away. Thus does Carl have the honor of seeing his sunny-side response to Boo’s confession used as the episode title. I didn’t make up that title myself.

The duo already have big couple plans: meeting each other’s parents. Boo’s dinner with the Cramers at Hunan Garden heaps awkwardness upon frantic awkwardness as Boo makes the crucial rookie’s mistake of taking Michelle’s advice. Sadly, Michelle’s post-Macing sabbatical in Henderson, NV, made her no wiser. Her idea of a winning plan: “Be whoever it is you think they want you to be.” Thus when Boo finds herself under light questioning by Carl’s mom Sweetie (Alex Borstein, a.k.a. Lois from Family Guy), Boo gets flustered and can’t decide whether or not she skis, hails from Poland, or likes any ballerinas with names. Youngsters of the world, learn well from this disaster: when your significant other’s parents are interrogating you, for the sake of all involved, be honest even if the answers disappoint them. If Boo and Carl work together so well that they end up happily married all the rest of their days, Boo will be faced with the choice of either (a) admitting she lied to Sweetie’s face; or (b) perpetuating a sixty-year-long charade that she’s an accomplished Polish skier. (And let’s face it: if you’re being dishonest with your sweetheart’s parents because you figure your relationship won’t last anyway, maybe you shouldn’t be wasting the parents’ time meeting them in the first place.)

During Boo’s Chinese restaurant meltdown, she also grossly misinterprets an overheard off-the-cuff remark to mean that Carl plans to propose to her even though she’s only seventeen. (Like her goofy lying, her silly misunderstanding is another symptom of a dreaded condition known as 24-hour Three’s-Company-itis.) Fortunately Carl’s cooler head prevails. He even returns the favor and hangs out for the night at the Jordan household, where Boo’s mom Nanette (Jennifer Hasty) fails at making paella, threatening to drown it in barbecue sauce just for the sake of color. Nanette is simultaneously babysitting the destructive Winkleburn kids and embarrassing Boo with stories about her old crushes. Boo’s fireman dad (Steven W. Bailey) wisely sneaks out to go fetch chicken parmigiana from his buddies down at the firehouse, but Carl is an unflappable trooper, even treating everyone to an impromptu dessert of Bananas Foster. Carl is such a Superman in this episode, it’s a safe bet that he’s about to die. Or maybe he and Boo will become the greatest cute couple currently on TV. Mostly I’m betting on the dying, though.

Meanwhile, our four Bunheads also find their world turned slightly askew when two new foreign students arrive at Paradise High School: claiming to be Bavarian nomads, Frankie and Cosette are brother and sister who also happen to be apex performers in every field they know. Frankie (Niko Pepaj) can play piano and violin, has a mechanic’s skill set, and is quite the accomplished sketch artist. When Ginny tries too hard to say hi and make weird small talk, Frankie spouts non sequiturs at her, and generally goes Johnny Depping all over the place. At the episode’s end, he rewards her confusion with a detailed drawing of Mad Ludwig’s Castle, because half the weirdos Depp has ever played would’ve wanted it that way.

If Frankie is a formidable talent, same goes triple for his sister Cosette, played by Jeanine Mason, winner of the fifth season of So You Think You Can Dance. Cosette brings multiple outfits to school for constant costume changes like a runway model; so far speaks English, French, Japanese, Latin, Farsi, and Urdu; and naturally she’s a ballerina, albeit with a style all her own. What can Frankie and Cosette want from Paradise? Why are they here? Can they impart their gifts upon the rest of us? And can they forgive Sasha for trying way too hard in tossing out a contrived reference to J. D. Salinger’s Franny and Zooey?

Meanwhile in the world of adults, Michelle and Truly go Odd Couple when Truly’s landlord raises her rent 40%, meaning eviction for her and for her dress shop, Sparkles, unless she can scrape together another $1200 per month. Michelle’s calm is damaged when Truly turns the apartment into a makeshift storefront, using it to hold the Sparkles annual fall open house (though earning Michelle a few extra bucks selling her possessions to Truly’s customers on the side). Michelle attempts to play peacemaker with the landlady, Milly (Gilmore Girls alum Liza Weil), only to find that not only is Milly Truly’s own sister, but she’s also the woman from whom Truly stole Hubbell, before he dumped Truly for Michelle and then died. Strangely, Milly feels charitable to neither of Hubbell’s exes, so the new living arrangement remains in effect by episode’s end. (Not even Michelle’s playing of the sisterly-love card works. Milly says they have two more sisters to spare: “One’s okay. The other’s an actress.”)

Michelle’s pal Talia also sets up Michelle on a blind date with a mustache named Marion that’s reportedly attached to a man. We never see him in person; we only hear descriptions of his puzzling natural disfigurement. The date happens offscreen, goes nowhere, and convinces Michelle she needs to get out more. I presume this is laying the groundwork for an eventual love interest, or maybe it’s just another reason for us to pity her life at this moment.

Of our other two Bunheads, Melanie once again is limited to comic relief, as she spends the episode speed-reading The Great Gatsby, Fahrenheit 451, and other classics from the summer reading list she put off till after school began. Sasha keeps trying to spend time with Roman away from her house, but her choice of the dance studio as their hangout spot never works because of Michelle’s annoying timing. Making matters worse: Sasha’s mom (Julie Claire) announces that divorce proceedings have begun, and that her dad is officially moving out, yes again, this time for good, yes again again. Her mom plans to dump their house and flee Paradise to go party or whatever in some other town. Sasha takes serious umbrage at this plan, which jeopardizes her own Joffrey School plans. Apparently they don’t take nomads.

To be continued!

The bonus extra enclosed below is Cosette’s soundtrack for her first dance on the show. From English composer Benjamin Britten’s Friday Afternoons, op. 7, “Cuckoo!” was based on an obscure children’s poem. This haunting version, as performed by the Boys’ Choir of Downside School, Purley, was previously released Stateside on the soundtrack for Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom. Enjoy! Or just be really unnerved, whichever feels right.

* * * * *

Missing an episode of Bunheads? Be sure to check ABC Family’s official site for recent episodes posted online, consult your local Video On Demand provider, spend money on them over at iTunes, try Hulu if you’re so inclined, or check out past episode recaps here at MCC. Your handy episode checklist is provided below, along with recap links where available. Enjoy!

6/11/2012: “Pilot
6/18/2012: “For Fanny
6/25/2012: “Inherit the Wind”
7/9/2012: “Better Luck Next Year”
7/16/2012: “Money for Nothing”
7/23/2012: “Movie Truck
7/30/2012: “What’s Your Damage, Heather
8/6/2012: “Blank Up, It’s Time
8/13/2012: “No One Takes Khaleesi’s Dragons
8/20/2012: “A Nutcracker in Paradise
1/7/2013: “You Wanna See Something?

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