“The best predictor of the future is the past.”
That’s Paula’s warning to Rebecca as she hypes herself up to see her estranged father again at her wedding rehearsal dinner. It’s also the theme of this excellent season finale, written and directed by series co-creator and Devil Wears Prada screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna. In “Can Josh Take a Leap of Faith?” Rebecca’s unresolved past keeps coming back to her present: Her abandonment issues with her dad are neatly transposed over her forthcoming wedding to Josh, obsessive former classmate Trent is back to throw a wrench in those nuptials, and the memory of a mysterious lover from Rebecca’s college days named “Robert” hangs over the entire proceedings.
It’s fitting, then, that the episode is full of callbacks: There’s a scene where Rebecca is obsessing over a text to her dad that’s identical to a text she sent Josh early in season one. And there’s a brilliant, heart-wrenching musical medley of season one reprises—I heard echoes of “You Ruined Everything,” “The Villain of my Own Story,” “I Love My Daughter,” and “We’ll Never Have Problems Again”—with altered lyrics that reveal how ardently Rebecca is denying the problems with her harebrained scheme to rush Josh Chan to the altar.
This is an emotional, plot-heavy episode with a lot on its plate and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend sometimes falters when a single episode has to chew through this much material while doing this many callbacks. But McKenna brought some much-needed structure to the madness and ensured that there were plenty of twists waiting for us at the end. Some outcomes were pretty predictable—Rebecca’s dad was and always is going to be shady and withdrawn—but others were shocking. Josh deciding to become a priest after burning through three girlfriends in two seasons wasn’t something I saw coming, for example.
But the fact that Rebecca once obsessed over a married Harvard professor named Robert, burned his house down, and spent some time in an inpatient mental facility as part of her criminal sentence is the big reveal here—one that sheds new light on a character who we already thought we knew on an almost too-intimate level. Between that and Rebecca’s near suicide attempt, it’s clear once again that Crazy Ex-Girlfriend can find humor in depression and obsession, but it doesn’t see mental health issues as cute little character quirks. Rebecca has a lot of serious stuff to work through, but she sent her meds swirling down the drain in season one and she’s all but ignored her therapist in season two. What’s worse is that the season two finale ends as the season one premiere also ended: with Paula enabling her. With the wedding collapsing around her, Paula and Rebecca come to the conclusion that “Josh Chan must be destroyed,” hinting at a revenge plot in season three.
Near the end of the episode, a newly-enlightened Josh puts a folder marked “Rebecca Bunch’s past”—delivered to him by Trent—in the garbage can without looking at it. If Rebecca could figure out a way to put her past behind her, she might find peace, too.
Unfortunately, she’s still letting the past define her future. That won’t be good for her. Let’s hope it will be good for season three of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
May Saunders is a professional dog walker living in Minneapolis and an occasional freelance writer. In her spare time, she enjoys hanging out with her cat, who does not need to be walked. Follow her on Twitter.