“Hey Nonny Nonny”/“Fatal Blow Out” S1 / E5
- B Community Grade
If there was any question about whether the NBC show Best Friends Forever should be given a chance to find its audience after being abruptly pulled off the air in April (just four episodes into its six episode initial run), tonight's final two episodes made the case. Shown back to back as a sort of last hurrah, the newcomer comedy's last two episodes (as of now) prove it offers up plenty of laughs and deserves a fairer shake than NBC was willing to give it. It even rooted itself long enough to spark online petitions urging the network to save the show and made #BFFday and #SaveBFF trending topics on Twitter. That's great news for those holding onto hope that the show might resurface down the line on NBC, though there has been nary a peep since it was yanked and then given the chance to air its final third of the series.
In the first of tonight's episodes, "Hey Nonny Nonny," Joe and Jessica must deal with their first, real interloper — that's not each other — in the form of Lennon's old dance buddy, Ken Haskin (played by Adam Campbell). Lennon is overjoyed to find her flamboyant, English dance bud twirling his way into her studio as she's just days away from her dance studio's sign-up open house. He's now an established, professional ballet dancer in London but offers to dance at the open house as a gesture, so long as his old dance partner Lennon agrees to get on stage with him. She's nervous about being too rusty to keep up but excitedly agrees.
Meanwhile, Joe is putting the final touches on the video game he's been developing on his own, Fatal Blow Out. He encounters an unexpected snafu when he realizes one of the children's voices he recorded (for a demonic child that appears on-screen) didn't make it into the game and he has just a few days to find a child actor who can record the lines. This leads to a delightful business deal with sassy, downstairs neighbor Queenetta who barters a brand new doll in exchange for the recording sesh. Fans of Lady Q, as we'll call her, will get a nice, hearty dose of her in the episode as she steals scenes left and right, particularly when Lennon tricks her later on into recording the dialogue mid-sass-rant.
The real treat is English-Or-Gay? Ken, who sashays his way through the room, alternately throwing around impossible demands (wanting "tin tips" on a backdrop for the open house performance that can only be acquired from a woman named "Ping Mai" in Chinatown, because tin "has a nice, scintillating quality.") and failing to remember a single thing about Jessica even though she spent two, memorable weeks visiting him and Lennon in London. Between his slurping down Pimm's Cups and practicing intimate dance moves with Lennon, Joe is not pleased and finally blows a gasket when he sees them rehearse the day of show.
We learn that gay-seeming Ken has ulterior motives after all, after he repeatedly tried to kiss Lennon just moments before they take the stage (to which she finally asks, "Are you broken in the head? Get out!"). He leaves and in order to not disappoint the tiny crowd assembled in her cute dance studio, Lennon must perform the dance with Jessica standing in for Ken, wearing his snazzy soldier costume. Jess sweetly flails and stumbles through it but is unable to pull off the final lift of Lennon, requiring Joe to throw his jacket off and hop to the stage to save the day. It's all more symbolic than you need me to point out, of course, but undeniably sweet and funny. And for anyone keeping count, it's another top-notch moment of Jessica-Lennon dancing that's thankfully woven its way into nearly every episode.
In the season ender, "Fatal Blow Out," things keep moving right along. Joe has finished his game and is excitedly taking it to Atlantic City for the gaming conference, Atlanticon. His pals and best lady are carpooling their way down, too, even though his best bud Rav has a new love interest named Naya who is leaving for Brazil in a matter of days. And of course, things have been increasingly flirty between Jessica and Rav.
At the conference, gamers seem to genuinely love Joe's game, which gives everyone high hopes that he might win the coveted "Fan Favorite" award. That is, until they cross paths with Joe's (simply perfect) nemesis Kurt (Paul Rust), who scoots around in a wheelchair while blasting T-shirts from a T-shirt gun. He's there to promote his own game, Carnal Justice, and has all kinds of heavy-duty promotions up his sleeve, including a foam party scheduled for later that night. While Joe is confident he can win the award without the silly bells and whistles his competition might need, Lennon and Jess aren't so sure. A quick check with Queenetta back at home (who has somewhat magically figured a way to hack into the conference's computer system while inside Joe and Lennon's apartment) shows that Kurt is poised to win, in fact.
Rather than let Joe lose to the foam-and-free-t-shirt-loving crowd, Lennon pow-wows with Jess and decides to woo the remaining gaming contingent with a good, old-fashioned nerd fest. Fluorescent lights are kicked up, sub sandwiches laid out, and Harry Potter shots lined up in order to woo the game nerds. While the gamers party it up at the Fatal Blow Out "bash," Jess lets it slip to Lennon that she and her old pal Rav made out in the elevator earlier, reigniting a flame that was coming from a mile away.
When Joe walks into the party, he's upset to see the lengths Lennon and Jess have gone to behind his back. He stays upset through the next day, when he wins the Fan Favorite award, believing he'd been robbed of the opportunity to win based solely on the quality of his game and not via cheap gimmicks and an "embarrassing party." Once he and Lennon have smoothed it out, they team up with a disheartened Jess who is having trouble making sense of the Rav smooch. From Lennon and Joe, she learns that Rav had actually been broken-hearted after her wedding (to her now-ex) and actually disappeared for a whole year to sort out his feelings for her. In a pitch-perfect, rom-com-style flurry, the trio go flying out of the hotel bathtub they'd been sitting in to find Rav and let him know. Except, before they can find him, Joe checks his phone and learns he's left Atlantic City… for Brazil... with Naya.
There's the cliffhanger, folks! The bummer is that audiences will likely not get to find out what happens between Rav and Jess. Or, what happens to Joe after the success of his first video game. Or, what strange, late-'90s memory Jess and Lennon will reminisce on. Or, how the three leads will continue to navigate their complex, Venn diagram of a relationship.
Outside of the need to wrap up loose ends, it's a shame to know that a promising show was given such a tiny window to prove itself. There's been more than enough written about the ever-diminishing time frame that networks give shows to find their footing, but BFF certainly stands as a fitting example. At its best moments, it showcased zingy, smart writing without getting ahead of itself or too showy. Even its leads had eased into more naturalistic characters by the later episodes, toning down the rat-a-tat, rapid-fire delivery that marked its first few episodes. It would've been lovely to see how the show might have evolved, had it been given more time. Alas, that's the way this cookie crumbled. Or, how this Scoop cracked.
Superfans of the show (or anyone who appreciates earnest gratitude by nice-seeming people) should also check out the thank you letter that Lennon and Jessica wrote to their fans via the Huffington Post. It's undeniably sincere and gives hope that these two will be given a chance to create some more television sometime soon.
• Queenetta having "burgled" Joe and Lennon's apartment.
• Ahhh! Joe's Lucky Beetlejuice Wig! Why, oh why, did we not get to see that on?
• Queenetta wanting to go to Atlantic City, too: "Just put me in a nice dress and call me a small lady. Who's gonna call you a liar?"
• Kurt to his crowd of foam party gamers: "You're my maniacs!"
• Lennon to Jessica during the nerd party re: the kiss with Rav: "Show me on your hand! If you show me on my face these nerds' penises will go insane."
• Those three wet butts as the last shot is just too much.