Awkward., Ep 2.08: “Time After Time” displays dramatic capabilities of the show

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Awkward., Season 2, Episode 8: “Time After Time”

Written by Erin Ehrlich and Lauren Iungerich

Directed by Lauren Iungerich

Airs Thursdays at 10:30 PM on MTV

Relationship baggage can be a tricky thing to navigate with. No matter how much people try to avoid it, their past experiences with other individuals invariably colours their current romantic entanglements, often in a negative manner. A lack of understanding of how to handle one’s own, and the partner’s, baggage stemming from the life both had prior to the current relationship, has rung the death knell for many couples, and has also been the subject of numerous movies, books, and television shows. Knowing, as we do, what Jenna’s baggage was comprised of in her relationship with Jake, it was only a matter of time until that came up to the surface, and with Sadie throwing a match on this particular set of logs at the end of last week, the show deals with the fallout of those actions this episode, and while ending in a somewhat cliché manner, still delivers a mostly heartfelt half-hour.

The theme of the episode does seem to be how to deal with baggage, and it gets filtered through the lenses of three women; Jenna, Lacey, and Tamara. Unlike two weeks ago, when the show inserted strong doses of humour in Jenna’s attempt to determine if love and sex were hopelessly tangled together for her, the fight between Jake and Jenna this episode didn’t stray from the dramatic. At the same time, however, the writers and actors also manage to keep it from getting overly melodramatic as well, with Ashley Rickards deserving special mention for infusing genuine heart into numerous scenes that could have easily gone over the top. The emotionally taxing fight between the two has an air of authenticity about it, as do their actions, and the end result makes the consequences feel that much more concrete, rather than simply obligatory.

It was very interesting to note the differences in the Jenna-Jake relationship and the Lacey-Ben relationship. Lacey is a character who’s shown her lack of maturity numerous times before, especially compared to Jenna, so the former’s rekindling of her old affections  stands in stark contrast to the latter’s destructing relationship. The writers make an interesting point with regards to emotional vulnerability, and how its not tied to maturity in any real sense, and that gets communicated very effectively by juxtaposing the two relationships. How her realisation of her parents’ relationship affects her in the coming weeks should be interesting to see. Likewise, the Tamara-Ricky Schwartz dynamic, which could have potentially been boring and tedious, was made intriguing by Ricky’s return to Tamara, as well as Tamara’s rejection of him following her prior pining. Their brief interaction this episode seems more of a set-up for a plotline where Ricky ends up cheating on Sadie, and while it’s too early to tell what the writers plan on taking things, how it affects the Tamara-Sadie dynamic will be something worth looking out for.

The ending, however, feels like an unnecessary turnaround from where the Jenna-Matty dynamic was heading in the past few episodes, and for most of this episode. The show has slowly been building towards reconciling the two ex-lovers as friends who are comfortable relating to each other despite their romantic feelings, a path which has been rarely explored in shows of this nature. Having the two of them fall into each other’s arms in a moment of desperation, however, rings false in light of their prior progress, and undermines the steps Jenna, Matty, and Jake had taken with regards to their relationships with each other. A conventional love triangle has been explored numerous times in many television shows, and if Awkward. chooses to revisit that idea, they run a risk of falling into a trap of familiarity that might make the show boring. They have been able to avoid these traps before, however, so how they tackle this new wrinkle may surprise the audience yet.

Overall, however, it was another fun episode of the show. Ally’s drunken shenanigans remained entertaining throughout the episode without becoming overbearing, and Valerie’s veteran experience with being a bridesmaid, right down to knowing exactly how to work the crowd when delivering a speech, was an interesting joke that was made funnier by its lack of acknowledgment from other characters, almost as if it was expected. With the wedding now wrapped up, how Ally figures in the life of Lacey now that she seems to have accepted the end of her marriage should be interesting to see. The wedding and its associated complications have meant a reduction of screentime for Ming in recent episodes, and hopefully she makes a return appearance in Jenna’s life before the end of the season. This episode proved the show can effectively handle dramatic moments as well, and combined with its prior track record, there is hope that the audience will be in for a treat in the last third of the season.

– Deepayan Sengupta

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