Moving forward means making tough decisions.
During Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Season 4 Episode 1, many of our favorite characters are thriving while some are still struggling to be happy again.
Underneath it all is the reminder that life is all about trying and taking the necessary steps to do better.
Rebecca adjusts to the short experience of being in jail, a place she willingly put herself, while Paula tries her best to free her. Meanwhile, Nathaniel goes on a wilderness retreat to take his mind off what happened, and Josh decides he has a mental illness that he decides to diagnose through online quizzes.
"I Want to Be Here," written by Rachel Bloom, was a stunning setup to a story that is shifting gears to its conclusion. That doesn't mean the characters have it all figured out, but the desire to get there is obvious.
There are still plenty of problems that everyone needs to deal with, but right now, they are moving to a point where they may know how to handle them better.
This premiere also set the course for the next step in Rebecca's journey of self-discovery. It is apparent how much she has changed, but beyond that, she is showcasing promise for the future.
Rebecca's Prison-Themed Avoidance
Rebecca's time in jail was both too short and yet perfectly structured for the sequence of the show.
It was strange to consider how things would work if Rebecca was just in jail the entire time. That wasn't the essence of the show, yet the idea of prison seems so final.
Paula: If you don't wake up now and confess to everything, I am going to call Princeton and tell them to take back your degree.
Trent: Actually, I went to school in Boston.
In a funny turn of events, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend uses that to force Rebecca to confront her issues and bring up a valuable topic in the process.
The whole time Rebecca spent in jail was all about her. She selfishly wanted the short stint to absolve her of the decisions she made and by extension, earn forgiveness from the people she hurt.
Rebecca's heart was in the right place when she elected to go to jail, so she couldn't just sit there for a few weeks and think that would make up for everything.
At first, Rebecca pleading guilty was a beautiful way for her to take responsibility tangibly and prove to Paula that she wanted to change.
But that quickly became her looking for something she could use to prove that she was getting punished for her actions.
That doesn't exactly work when the destruction caused was deeper than the consequences and needs to be faced directly.
Thankfully, Rebecca caught on, even if it took the whole premiere of doing anything but listening for it to happen.
She needs to figure out a way to move forward while working on the chaos she caused around her, and that needs to be done while she is free.
Additionally, acknowledging the extreme privilege of Rebecca choosing prison while everyone else had no choice was a nice parallel for the season.
I'm not killing myself, George. I'm going on a Death Wish adventure!Nathaniel
There is a lot that Rebecca could still learn and helping the incarcerated women plays a significant role in her future.
Furthermore, it was great that she finally realized the proactive steps she needs to take. She didn't get caught up in love, even if it was so very tempting; instead, Rebecca made the critical decision to prioritize doing better instead of doing what she usually would.
Nathaniel's Nature Themed Avoidance
Nathaniel's arc was strange because I was on his side until the very end.
How could someone who claims to understand what Rebecca is dealing with request something so wrong from her?
It was evident that Rebecca was trying to be better and that weird trip came out of nowhere.
Paula: The good news is that I'm getting you out of here and I will probably do that before you do Cats.
Rebecca: I would never do Cats. Come on, I'm not that much of a dork.
Or maybe the idea of Nathaniel became more promising during the wait for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Season 4, only for the sharp reminder that he isn't perfect either.
He is, in a way, just as selfish as Rebecca and Josh are right now. He is a good guy who still can't seem to understand when it isn't about him.
Getting angry when Rebecca pled guilty was one of those examples, and then there was that trip.
Nathaniel must have had a plan for Rebecca when he wanted her to plead not guilty, but he knew the guilt was eating away at her and for once it couldn't be about him.
It may have been an idea worth considering, but it was Rebecca's choice, and Nathaniel took it personally without putting himself in her shoes.
The same thing happened when they reunited; it was like he understood her until she didn't line up with what he wanted.
The trip was an example of Nathaniel thinking Rebecca understood when instead, she wanted something else.
Nathaniel needs to learn to understand that differences can happen, and it is essential to listen to Rebecca, especially when she is struggling, and he should be there for her if he loves her.
Still, they ended things very suddenly, and hopefully, that is an impulse more than it is a deciding factor for their relationship.
Also, Nathaniel's relationship with George is a fun new way to give his character some clarity within the upcoming season.
Their friendship was unexpected, but it makes sense in some strange way because Nathaniel needs the type of outside opinion that keeps what is best for him in mind.
Josh's Online Quiz Themed Avoidance
It has gotten almost impossible to relate to Josh now that he is off on his own. But in terms of comedic relief, nothing beats Josh saying things that just come to mind without a second thought.
That is what Season 4 itself seems to be touching on right from the start; Josh has been in clueless limbo, but if everyone around him is trying to find redemption, then maybe he should too?
During Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Season 1, Josh related to Rebecca, allowing him more room to be that version of himself.
Look, Josh, I really respect your search for self but these are actual disorders people suffer from and you're treating it like you're just identity shopping.Heather
Our attention was on Rebecca and the chaos she was creating, so Josh slipped through the cracks until now.
And yet, now Rebecca is working on herself, and Josh is no longer on her mind. It isolates Josh in a way that means he now has space and time to reflect on himself.
There is no need even to discuss how offensive it was of Josh to decide that he could just point at the first mental illness he found online and use that as an excuse for anything he didn't like about himself.
It was offensive, and it even shed more light on how little Josh must have cared for Rebecca if he didn't respect a legitimate disorder that she was working through.
No one is saying he wasn't the victim of many incidents where Rebecca crossed a line, but it is still essential to understand why.
Maybe this gives us a glimpse of how Josh processed that, not truly understanding that Rebecca was struggling but more likely seeing mental illness used as an excuse.
There may be a need for them to talk again once Josh is educated on what Rebecca's illness, and she is more firmly on the path of fixing all that she managed to break.
Still, if Josh is going to be explored separately, the best thing for him might be therapy.
The show is wrapping up, and Josh needs a sense of purpose; it would be nice to end his story knowing he is heading to a place where he finds happiness.
Comedic relief can probably still be found through his therapy sessions, especially with the enormity of the breakthrough he might need.
What did you think of the episode? Do you agree with Rebecca, Nathaniel, Josh, or none of them? Where do you see their stories of redemption going next?
Who else has their fingers crossed for more Trent content in the future?
What other character were you most excited to see again? What musical number was your favorite? What are you hoping to see more often? What are you hoping to see less often?
Let us know what you think below.
And don't forget that you can watch Crazy Ex-Girlfriend online, right here on TV Fanatic!
Yana Grebenyuk was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She retired in April 2021.