'Life Unexpected': Let's dance
It's time for the teen drama staple – the dance episode. But because "Life Unexpected" is also about the parents of the teenager who are still stuck in their own teenage drama, we also got to follow Cate (Shiri Appleby), Baze (Kristoffer Polaha) and Math (Austin Basis) to the dance.
Step 1: Get a date. Jones (Austin Butler) asks Lux (Brittany Robertson) to go to the winter formal with him as friends. I've watched enough teen dramas to know that "friend" in this case means, "Let's go as friends with the potential for more, and I really hope the more happens."
Math, still crushing on Cate from afar, decides to ask her to chaperon with him. For him, it's the culmination of 15 years of unrequited love for Cate, but for her, it's more about spending time with Lux, because they're in the middle of a cold war.
Step 2: Get a dress. Hoping to thaw that cold front Lux has been sending her way, Cate takes Lux shopping for a dress. Cate refuses to follow the no-talking rule, which leads to a fight about how Cate keeps ragging on Baze. Lux tells her to buy whatever dress she wants and storms out. The fighting on this show is starting to follow a lather, rinse, repeat pattern. Cate goes with the pink bubble skirt that cost so much that Lux wondered if it came with a limo. Lux opts for sensible -- matching sneakers instead of the painful heels Cate picked out.
For Lux, the talk is made worse by the fact that she doesn't even need to sit through it. There'll be no episode here where our heroine loses her virginity to the wrong guy or the right guy at the wrong time (see: "Gilmore Girls," “"he O.C.," "Felicity"). It's kind of nice not to have to await a very special episode in which Lux loses her virginity, because Lux wasn't even a virgin when we met her. In fact, Bug (Rafi Gavron) is back in the picture, and the two of them were just hanging out half undressed on Baze's couch. While hiding from Baze and Lux during the sex talk, Bug finds out that Lux is going to the dance. Just like that, he's back to treating her like dirt.
Step 4: Go to the dance. Dance a little. Watch the night completely fall apart because, as Cate says, "high school dances suck no matter how old you are.” How cute were Jones and Lux dancing? It was nice to see Lux so carefree and happy. Math and Cate dancing later in the episode was also adorable. It seems like people never fast-dance during these special dance episodes, "My So-Called Life" excluded.
Baze shows up at the dance to confront Jones about the condom he found, which Lux reveals doesn't belong to him. Cat's out of the bag – she's not a virgin – and Cate and Baze are tied for Worst Parent of the Year. And what's a dance among former high school classmates who conceived a baby at winter formal without the dredging up of painful memories? Turns out there's more to Cate's harsh outbursts at Baze. Back in high school, Cate thought she and Baze would be an item after they had sex. No surprise there, but what was shocking was the hurtful things Baze said about her to his friends, like that he'd only sleep with her if she had a bag over her head and tape over her mouth. Again, no surprise here, but Cate heard him.
Step 5: Get the guy. Lux gets the guy, but it's not the one she came with. Bug shows up at the dance with flowers – he even wore a button-down and tie! -- and says he wants to be better for her. Just like that, Jones is out and Bug is back in. Lux is kind of a flip-flopper, isn't she?
Meanwhile, Baze actually says something nice about Cate -- "I kind of love that about her," he says of her weird pronunciation quirk -- before sleeping with her sister. At the same time, Cate arrives at his place to make amends after she realizes she can't keep making Baze feel bad for the past. You can't undo the past, but you can redo it, so she and Baze toast to "new friends" with some Zimas. It's a sweet moment that bodes well for a fresh start if you ignore the fact that Abby is probably getting dressed in Baze's bedroom.
Readers, do you think Cate and Baze can really start fresh? Are you glad Lux and Bug are back together? What other teen dance staples did you enjoy in the episode?
-- Vlada Gelman (Follow my TV musings on Twitter: @stayingin)
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Photo: Lux (Brittany Robertson) and Jones (Austin Butler) hit the dance floor. Credit: Jack Rowand / The CW.