April 6, 2010

Abandonment Issues

This is the 5th first sentence I've written for my review of last night's Life Unexpected. I can't seem to find my thoughts on this one because I liked the episode but I'm not sure I like how it fits into the weird puzzle that is this show's general direction.

For example, the writers are still trying to make me like Bug and I'm still not having it. Tashia's old boyfriend / Bug's former roommate tracks him down in the alley behind the bar one day. You remember him right? He was one of the people that we were supposed to see as Lux's family back in the second episode when Cate and Baze went to Bug's roof for a barbecue. Now he's a massive dickhead who's brought some of his jerky friends to beat Bug up for selling the stash that he left in their apartment when he up and moved out with no notice MONTHS ago.

Baze comes out in the middle of the beat down and the little criminals disperse but Baze - in a move that seems particularly un-Baze-like - picks the freshly beaten Bug up and tells him that if these kids come back, Bug's fired. Um, WHAT? I doubt Bug invited a handful of hoodlums to your alley to punch and kick him for FUN! How about you call the cops or something? No, that would make too much sense and the writers of Life Unexpected are stridently against things making sense. Instead, the hoodlums return the next morning and vandalize the bar.

Fortunately for him, Baze sleeps like a dead person so he remains oblivious that his bar now looks like a freeway underpass. Fearing for his job, Bug asks Lux to trick Baze into closing the bar for a couple of days so that he can clean it up.

Meanwhile, Cate, Ryan and Lux are planning the wedding dealing with a million small annoyances - like a lack of RSVP from Baze (because now that he's realized he's in love with her, he doesn't really want to watch her marry someone else), seating charts, the lack of something old for Cate to carry - when Cate accidentally discovers that her dad didn't actually abandon her the way she thought he had all those years ago when she finds a stack of birthday cards he sent her every year throughout her childhood that her mother never gave her. She's furious with her mom and then decides that the best course of action is to drive to his home in Lake Tahoe and show up on his doorstep unannounced after 26 years...with her own daughter in tow.

Lux sees this road trip as an opportunity to get Baze out of town and away from the bar so she plays the "important opportunity for family time" card and despite Baze trying very hard not to be in a position of spending a lot of time around Cate, before you know it, Baze is shutting down the bar and driving the girls to Tahoe while Ryan stays home and plans an entire wedding in four days.

There's a lot of typical road trip shenanigans with music and lost cell signals and trips to famous corn dog establishments before Baze rear ends a chicken truck, puncturing his radiator and stranding the three of them in one room at a frilly bed and breakfast for the night. To start off, Cate and Lux are sharing one bed while Baze is alone in the other but Lux flails like a crazy person in her sleep so Cate slips out of bed and over to Baze's bed with a "wall of pillows" to avoid awkwardness. I was instantly reminded of the episode of Dawson's Creek when they all go to Dawson's annoying aunts house and Joey and Pacey have to share a bed a mere week after they've decided to pretend that he never kissed her and they don't totally want to kiss again. And Joey is all "get your butt away from me" and Pacey is like "my butt wants nothing to do with your butt" and then when they wake up the next morning he's all smelling her hair and she's laying there pretending to still be asleep while he smells her hair and you could cut the sexual tension with a knife.

That's kind of what happens here when she says a bunch of really nice stuff to him about how she's having fun with him and he's a great dad and he lays there falling more and more in love with her and then fake snoring so he can continue to pretend he isn't in love with her. The difference here is that she is completely oblivious (despite an earlier sniffing incident!), that he's all goo-goo for her.

Whatever, the pillow wall comes down during the night and when Baze wakes up, Cate is snuggled right up to him. A small freakout ensues and Baze decides it'd be better if he left but Lux won't allow it (trashed bar) and the three truck over to Cate's dad's house. There is a sweet but awkward reunion and then Cate and Lux go to the store to get some food for dinner and Baze stays and has an intensely uncomfortable conversation with Gary (that's the dad's name) wherein Baze keeps telling him how he can relate to the weirdness of having a kid show up on your doorstep all these years later but how great it is and Gary's all "yeah...kids are...awful." I mean, I'm paraphrasing based on the tone he used but both Baze and I were like "oooh...kay."

Everyone sits down to dinner then and Cate puts all her cards on the table and asks Gary to come to the wedding. He accepts but in that way that people do when they clearly just can't think of a nice way to say no and Baze can see the whole tragic thing playing out and is not happy.

When Baze confides to Lux that he recognizes something shitty in Gary that used to exist in him back when he was the kind of guy who'd tell a girl he knocked up to eff off. Lux cautions Baze that if he tells Cate this, even if he's right, she will only get angry at Baze. He knows Lux is right but when he walks into the hotel room later that night to hear her telling Ryan how she's going to have Gary walk her down the isle, he can't help himself. She takes it exactly as well as Lux told him she would and Baze bolts back to Portland leaving his girls to catch a ride with Gary the next day. Oh, before he goes he's all apologetic to Lux because he knows how much this time together means to her but he promises he'll make it up to her and that's when she's all "um, well...the truth is I just needed to get you away from the bar so Bug could try and clean it up." Baze's little heart is crushed. Kris Polaha was so adorably sweet in this episode.

The next morning the girls wait on the steps for Gary to come but he never does. He then calls the B&B and asks the desk to tell them that "something" came up. So Cate shoves Lux in a taxi and hauls ass out to Gary's place to confront him about how she doesn't need him to be perfect, she just needs him to be in her life. But he kind of comes clean that when he left all those years ago, it wasn't because he didn't want to be married, it was because he had no interest in kids and he just didn't want that to be part of his life. And those stupid birthday cards, as Baze so astutely pointed out, were nothing more than a way to alleviate his own guilt.

Cate is heartbroken and turns to leave when she sees that Baze has come back for them and she breaks down in his arms. He holds her and comforts her. It's beautiful. And sad because I swear, I really like Ryan and really want her to marry him but I also really like Baze and now that they've made him this great guy and made him fall in love with her, I sort of want them to be together. It's infuriating!

In the end, Cate tells Baze that she's sorry she's spent all this time taking out all her abandonment issues on him because she does see that he's changed and she's glad that he's in her life. Then she gives Ryan a big kiss and Baze's heart breaks some more. Lux goes home with him to help clean the bar but really it's so they can have a private moment to ask him how long he's been in love with Cate. He fesses up that it's been since she came back and that he kept thinking if he ignored it, it'd go away but now he doesn't want it to go away. Then Lux drags him back to Cate's to tell them both that she loves them and wants them to adopt her.

Next week, the season (we hope - please renew this show, Ms. Ostroff!) finale and the wedding.

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