Last week’s “Bruges Me” was just a disaster of bad ideas, as the episode tried to flesh out the two Kevins, and failed miserably. “Win Me” is basically what “Bruges Me” should’ve been and more, righting the Marry Me train again, and giving the show a focus that was sorely missing last week, even if some of the bigger problems still pop up from time to time.
Now that there are two weddings coming up—Jake & Annie, Kevin & Kevin—we start to see that both Annie and her father have similar wedding tastes, and this might lead to a full-on daughter-father Bride War. But the lynchpin in this wedding grenade is Scooby, Wedding Whisperer and Ryan Gosling of parties, played by the always-great Nat Faxon (oh Ben and Kate, you’ll always live strong in my heart). When Scooby drops the bombshell that he’ll only be able to attend one of the two weddings, the two fight over who gets Scooby’s life-of-the-party style for their wedding.
In our first scene with the Kevins, we already get more character development on the Kevins than ‘Bruges Me” was able to give us in the entire episode. Kevin 1 (Tim Meadows) is much more grounded, realizing the escalating wedding war is just silly, whereas Kevin 2 (Dan Bucatinsky) is well, more like Annie, and grandiose in his actions. “Bruges Me” focused on the Kevins’ similarities, much to the confusion of Jake, whereas “Win Me” shows us their differences, and gives us a stronger look at what makes their dynamic work.
But the biggest flaws remain in the presentation of the minor characters. Even though they’re given a really fun premise for the B story, there isn’t enough time in the episode to make it all work. Kay and Dennah are still defined by broad strokes: Dennah goes on a lot of dates, Kay is gay, and that’s really all we know about them. The idea of Dennah and Kay watching a Law & Order marathon, then searching for Gil after they were supposed to meet him has such promise, especially when they try to find Gil using tactics from their marathon. Unfortunately, there’s just not a lot of time for this diversion, but there is that great moment where Gil realizes he has more in common with a group of sixth graders, than his usual crew of friends.
It’s hard not to think of David Caspe’s Happy Endings when thinking about the handing of the secondary friend characters on Marry Me. Almost immediately with Caspe’s last show, he was able to introduce all six characters and make us understand who these characters were, without very much work. Yet in Marry Me, we’re about a third of the way into a full season, and still we have two poorly-defined characters.
That being said, “Win Me” still improves upon everything “Bruges Me” tried to do. The Kevins are much more interesting, the supporting characters get a stronger focus (even if it’s not quite enough), and we even get a better musical ending, with the entire group getting invited to a secret underground Latin karaoke club. “Bruges Me” might’ve just been a slight speed bump, but Marry Me still has quite a few character problems it needs to iron out.
Ross Bonaime is a D.C.-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.