by Bethany McHugh
Contrary to what ABC might have you believe (they introduced this week’s episode proclaiming the “all-new season of Cougar Town”) we’re now quickly approaching the halfway mark of the third season, and it’s with this episode that we find our lovely Jules facing her big crisis of the season. Although she promised Grayson that she would “go on any adventure with him” when it comes to having a child, the pair must deal with the reveal of Grayson’s daughter, Tampa.
Of course, because this is “Cougar Town,” Laurie is the godmother of said baby, so the news doesn’t come as a shock to all. The true test of how good a comedy series is lies in how well it can hit the emotional notes, not just the funny ones. “Modern Family” did a similar take a few weeks back, with much success. “Cougar Town” seems poised to do the same, balancing each beat of true conflict with believable, heartfelt outcomes.
But with the Jules and Grayons’ predicament taking center stage, it would be easier to subsidize this with a filler B-Story. Instead – because “Cougar Town” is just that good – two strong sub-plots emerged that will definitely carry out for the remainder of the season. Laurie and Travis further explore their relationship when she realizes that the lack of quality time they’ve been spending is based on Travis’ belief that flirting with her is fruitless and won’t end up anywhere.
“I just miss the guy who wants to put a smile on my face”, she humbly admits. But Travis is powerless to Laurie’s charm, and a smile he places on her face when she participates in a step-dance event with a fraternity on campus. This is why their relationship works–they wonderfully compliment each other. When Travis wants to sit inside and hide away from the world because of his helmet, Laurie reminds him that there are still opportunities out there, waiting for him. But Travis provides the rationale to Laurie’s often misguided and ill-conceived reactions to her life, proving that opposites might really attract.
The Ellie and Bobby arc of this episode provided a beautiful buffer between these two rather intense storylines. With Jules reminding us earlier in the episode what a horrible husband Bobby was, it often times doesn’t make sense why Ellie, a woman who literally hates everyone, would oversee his slights and remain friends with him. It probably has a lot to do with the fact that he’s endearing and heartfelt, albeit one that’s not very bright. Bobby becomes determined to teach Ellie how to surf when she insists that she’s rather “ride the raves” (aka, just sit on her surfboard and nap.) While not a bad plan on her part, Bobby’s dedication to “help” Ellie – or what he thinks is helping Ellie – reminds us that hey, he’s not all bad; just a good guy who once did some bad things.
MVP: Dan Byrd. Because I’m a hopeless romantic and I’m going to really miss that helmet.
Best line: “The head nurse said I had to arm wrestle with her to get it… so I stole them.” – Tom
Bethany McHugh is a staff writer. Email her at email@example.com.