Ben and Kate Review: "Bake Off" (Episode 1.13)
For a show about a community of friends creating a new family, Ben and Kate has certainly split up its core cast in the last few episodes. This isn’t a bad thing, as it’s good for the show to grow out of its main dynamic and let the characters flow into their own situations, which it has excelled at recently. Splitting up Ben and Kate has expanded what these characters can do, making the show less about how Ben is both a curse and a blessing to Kate.
Ben is continuing his Rail Mall business, which is going in directions that he doesn’t want now that with the help of Vera, he has business partners throwing in ideas. By the end of the episode, Rail Mall has become Rail Meal and has gone from a train-exclusive catalogue order system to a Yelp-style restaurant selection service for people on the metro.
Kate, however, has the stronger of the two main storylines. She is invited to a party by her ex Will, and she’s incredibly awkward around him. While at the party she meets Lance, a baker who works great with Kate’s lifestyle, since he has to go to bed early and it doesn’t make her seem lame for wanting to go to sleep at 8 p.m. When Will sees Kate and Lance, this makes him jealous, and he makes one last effort to get her back. But Will and Kate are the same people they were a few weeks ago. Even though Kate slightly wishes they could make it work, Will just isn’t right for her life. Lance does seem like a fun new character, and it will be great to see him interact with these characters, as every new cast member has been quite good so far.
We also get a very fun C-plot involving BJ and Maddie auditioning for a commercial as mother and daughter. Ever since the pilot, this duo has been a great combination, as BJ doesn’t seem to realize that Maddie is a child and sure doesn’t talk to her as such. It’s basically free rein for Lucy Punch to just go crazy with some improv, as she does when Maddie’s British accent isn’t up to snuff.
Once again though, the character who gets left out is Tommy. He gets stronger moments than he has recently, as his corporate plan is just to wear red pants and state the obvious, but really Tommy just seems like added wackiness on top of Ben, who is already at full capacity.
With the unfortunate Tommy aside, “Bake Off” gives each of the characters a way to spotlight their unique gifts they bring to the show. Kate is able to utilize her on-edge nature to great effect as she starts a new relationship with Lance while also standing up against Will’s advances. Ben at first shows his foolish business side, then later proves why he could be great in a corporate setting, bonding with coworkers and giving great improvements on his idea when he’s focused. BJ gets to be borderline-crazy, while also growing as a person who just might have human emotions. If only Tommy could join in on the fun in a more substantial way, “Bake Off” would have been one of Ben and Kate’s most well-rounded episodes to date.