April 21st, 2008
Ah, good ol’ flashbacks – where people have awful facial hair and magically have conversations with an alarming amount of prescience on the present. It’s also a world where Grey’s Anatomy was more successful than it actually was (The series debuted to decent but not amazing results in early 2005, while in September (Where the flashbacks are found) it was merely a decent success – here it was treated as the phenomenon it now is), but that’s really not the point of the episode – just a little quibble.
It was an episode of humorous hairstyles (Beaver’s blonde locks), awkward foreshadowing, and ultimately an opportunity for the series to rewrite one of its characters in a light that seems too precocious for its own good at times. Was Casey ever actually so on-the-nose with her commentary that I want to throw things at her? And was Cappie really ever this sensitive and observational of Evan’s struggles before quickly developing into a sarcastic slacker?
Well, I buy one of these, and guess what: it’s not Casey.
The flashback is really quite simple: we get the full details on what we really already know happened: Casey dated Cappie, who was friends with Evan, who eventually would date Casey. What we got here was the nuts and bolts: that it was during rush that it all started, and that the turning point fell at the All-Greek Ball, which due to raucous events in that year is only returning to the social calendar in the show’s present.
I’ve always appreciated Cappie more than pretty much all of the other characters, but there is something about his story that just rings true: he gets sucked into the Greek system largely based on Evan’s push in the right direction. With his goatee and his laidback style (Not unlike his brother’s apparent story), Evan welcomes Cappie into a world where he’s a superstar – whether it’s open mic night or ice luge, Cappie overshadows Evan and becomes a big fan of himself in the process.
I think it does a lot to explain Evan’s character, and Cappie’s – they each found the life they always wanted, but it was not the life they had planned to find. In order for them to find their path, they had to split down the line: over Casey, over identity, and over futures. While we get mostly drunk and annoying Cappie in the flashbacks, it is clear that he understands in the present his mistakes. His character has always had this knowing look of self-awareness to his actions, knowing that his reputation requires certain actions he might not otherwise take.
Perhaps I say this because I have a soft spot for Cappie, but the episode didn’t really paint a negative portrait for me: even though he forgot Casey at the ball, present Cappie seems to be honestly apologetic about his actions. His speech to Casey is heartfelt, and even when we don’t particularly like Rebecca Logan it’s nice to see he’s come to terms with his new identity.
I don’t know if we get the same image of Evan here, as his decision to take Casey to the ball is definitely selfish even if their friendship was in dire straits. His brawl with Cappie is intensely personal, and you feel as if you get a sense of his entitlement. That he hooked up with Casey with a giant black eye and being padded with a damp towel is kind of damning, and it was clear that he didn’t get the same present day epiphany that Cappie did – so, I guess we aren’t supposed to like him in the end.
The other character who received an epiphany from the flashbacks was Casey, who we learned was once Frannie’s precocious little sis, and who was caught between Cappie’s charm and Evan’s heart. This storyline doesn’t work for me, mainly because I don’t particularly like Casey: her decisions were just a bit too angelic for my tastes here. While Cappie and Evan both seemed to make rash decisions, she waltzed around as an innocent victim when, as we know in the present, she really is not so perfect.
Her epiphany, that Frannie stood up for her two years previous at the Greek ball, only really made present Casey realize she was being a bitch to someone who is actively trying to be nice to her. This really doesn’t change that she was being a bitch in the first place, and didn’t change my opinion of Casey in the process – if anything, Frannie became stronger in my eyes.
With the Flashbacks dominating the proceedings, the rest of the cast was cast adrift: Rusty tries to figure out why the Kappa Tau’s aren’t going to the ball (Providing an excuse for flashbacks), he and Calvin try to sort out their friendship and can’t quite make the phone call to make their mandate happen, and Dale sets up a USAG Ball that we never get to see.
All in all, I think it was a worthwhile trip into flashbacks, but really only for Cappie’s character – it didn’t do anything to change the existing dynamics all that much, so hopefully the fallout can be seen in weeks ahead.
- The episode really wasn’t as philosophical as the above commentary suggests, I think I’m going through academic withdrawl with the school year over.
- Evan’s facial hair was atrociously ugly – if my facial hair is currently that bad (I don’t think it is), then I hope somebody tells me I look ridiculous.
- While I am always a fan of love triangles, this one is now weird: Cappie and Casey had some great moments, but Evan is pretty much out of the picture and the dramatic tension seems to be lifting. They either need to return to the oppressive dean or mix things up a little to keep the overall plotting moving after this trip to the past.