Greek – “Gays, Ghosts and Gamma Rays”

“Gays, Ghosts and Gamma Rays”

September 16th, 2008

Operating at all cylinders, Greek taught the other Teen-like drama shows a thing or two as it continues a strong second season. It’s an episode where every storyline revolves around some sort of potential relationship or conflict, and yet in each instance it’s much more of an investigation into individual characters than it is broad cliches. Sure, I’m still a bit frustrated with Casey, but the rest of the episode (And her new beau) represents a sign that the ensemble is clicking together perhaps the best it ever has.

These (and the two reviews to follow) will be shorter than usual thanks to a busy schedule, but I do have to mention that Calvin and Cappie’s storylines, in particular, demonstrate something very smart for the series. If you’re going to be creating these one-off storylines, whether it’s Max Greenfield’s guest stint as Calvin’s boyfriend or the introduction of Joshua Whopper, you need to develop ones that actually have the potential to bring something out of these characters that weren’t there before.

That’s what the episode did for these two. For Calvin, he began to integrate further into local gay culture, and in the process discovered that Heath, newly single, is probably more “his type” as a first year college student than is his sophisticated boyfriend. Calvin’s identity issues have been sort of pushed to the side recently, but after Evan got to have his little meltdown last week it was good to give Calvin a chance to discover more about himself. It’s not that he’s in denial of who he is, but that his interactions with this environment have become dangerously isolated – this is a chance for him to break free, and ironically he’ll end up back where he started in the beginning, most likely.

Cappie, meanwhile, learned an important lesson about himself through the Phallis and the gender studies course: mainly, that he wishes he could change and that he missed Rebecca. Why I like this storyline is simple: no Casey. The presumption last week was that Cappie’s Phallis only grows for Casey, but that wasn’t the issue here: Cappie is trying to fix himself instead of just accepting the inevitability of the show’s central love triangle. I hope the show listens to Casey’s meta-comment about wanting to avoid the traditional triangle romantic entanglement: the show is smarter than that, and considering Cappie’s A in Phallis I think he is too.

The Casey storyline is working well, though, to be honest: I like Michael Rady as Max, as he brings this sort of awkwardness to Casey that actually kind of makes sense in terms of her general freakouts over it. While I usually presume that Casey is pretty useless when it comes to these situations, this is the first time where the show itself has allowed her to be this insecure, to feel this damaged. Max is literally haunting her dreams, and when by episode’s end they’re making out in the planetarium I buy it (even if dead girlfriend is a bit of a cliche). I still can’t say I like her character, and I don’t know if Max is really a long term cast member to the point where I can enjoy her storylines on a regular basis, but it’s keeping the show moving at a solid clip right now.

Elsewhere, the episode just felt smart: whether it was the introduction of yet another KT tradition, Ashleigh’s various jobs she isn’t willing to do (I love how the writers are clearly making no apologies for how stuckup she is), or just something as small as the hilarious series of double entendres that Rusty and Cappie snuck past the censors during their discussion on how to handle the gender studies course, this is a show that feels like it’s operating to its full potential right now.

Cultural Observations

  • Having Evan and Franny off on vacation is really for the best – I don’t need to cut their characters every week, they have their purpose, but the show seemed like it was moving in a better direction without them than with them, in most ways.
  • Love how Cappie admonishes Rusty for the pun at the end of the episode, and yet neither of them mentioned anything during the aforementioned entendre session – it’s a cute little callback without getting too self-indulgent.

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