Well, I had high hopes after last week’s episode, but “Pass Interference” is a depressingly generic episode of Go On, delivering the same low-maintenance, lukewarm comedy I’ve come to expect from the show. It definitely works at times, but the main plot falls very flat this week. I loved that last week’s episode got Ryan out of a weird grief fugue state and made Anne the center of the emotional narrative. This week it falls back to Ryan, and the results are tepid.
I should state now, though, that of all of the expressions of grief Go On has showcased, dead wife Janie’s ghost is my least favorite. A projection/hallucination/spirit from another dimension that shows up when you’re kissing? That kind of thing is uncomfortable, yo. It’s way too out there and not nearly funny enough to justify… whatever it is we’re seeing. It’s nice that the other characters call out how crazy it is, but Janie’s ghost isn’t a plot device designed to illustrate that Ryan’s hilariously losing his mind—it’s a plot device that is supposed to make Ryan look funny while kissing a pretty girl.
Honestly, I found the whole thing too uncomfortable to find it funny. Maybe I’m especially sensitive to the reanimated dead. Because Janie is actually one of the funnier characters on the show, and her dead boyfriend is funny, too—he can stay. But I’m not able to embrace Ryan as a lighthearted protagonist when he’s delusional—it veers uncomfortably close to a reality where people in grief in fact do project feelings onto dead loved ones.
Coming off of an episode where Anne’s histrionics felt both like a real expression of grief and were also quite funny, Ryan’s adventures in spirit land are, sadly, neither. I have never fully bought that Ryan is grieving. It’s worked as a device in isolated scenes, especially at the beginning, but it’s never felt real, and I think that’s because Ryan still, still does not feel like anything more than an extension of Chandler Bing. I know that many of you disagree with me on this, and I’d really like to hear more on how these expressions of grief make sense to you. Where I am now, I don’t see it.
The rest of the episode doesn’t do much to redeem the main storyline. I like the continued gag in which Owen and Lauren have interchangeable bodies, but it fades in and out of being consistently funny. The wedding-dress scene awkwardly segues into this idea of a “Goddess Party,” the wedding of the Goddess “Sofanda.” Again, I like it in theory, but the execution is more confusing than funny.
“Pass Interference”’s narrative climax is just the episode’s main characters all yelling at each other; I find that to be a telling warning sign in a show (or film, or anything). As entertaining as I generally find yelling, if the writers are resorting to yelling to convince you of the stakes of the plot, then probably the stakes are not very high to begin with. Stripped of the yelling, the women are fighting over a party they invented to make themselves feel better, and Ryan and Simone are arguing over which one of them is “crazier.” Neither feels very important. Neither is very important.
And yet, of course, it could be. The stakes are all there, lying around, waiting to be used! Why hasn’t Lauren questioned her relationship with Wyatt again? How is Owen’s brother doing? Are Danny and Sonia going to start dating? What about Ryan and Carrie? I’m just continually confused with the show’s choices, and it strikes me that Piper Perabo is being wasted in a Manic Pixie Dream Girl guest role. Her final episode is next week, so I suppose things could clear up, but we’ll have to see. In the meantime: Julie White inhaling helium, Sonia singing jazz scat, and Mr. K’s hand of ring pops: These are the highlights of the evening.
- No Carrie or Steven this week. Shucks.
- “Tu rather than vous! Tu rather than vous!” “We can’t chant this!”
- I would see Sonia’s band play. She sounded great!
- Interestingly, this week Yolanda provided the emotional resolution! How new for her. Maybe she’s growing.