Bunheads: The Astronaut and the Ballerina

Another piece of Michelle’s past arrives in Paradise this week on Bunheads in “The Astronaut and the Ballerina,” when, just as she’s reviving her flirtation with Godot, her brother Scotty (played by Sutton Foster’s real-life brother Hunter) shows up and disrupts everything. He’s running from his fourth marriage to a near-stranger, so obviously this family has some issues. They have some cute sibling bonding time at first, as Scotty teases her about Godot (“Seriously? Even Mrs. Robinson’s giving you a weird look right now.”) and her bad relationship with the coffee place (“I’m going to check out the rest of the town. What stores have you not alienated yet?”), Michelle gently tries to convince Scotty to get to know women before he marries them, and they both admit that their lives have not quite turned out as planned.

But when Scotty follows Michelle to the studio to watch her teach, she quickly feels that he’s undermining her by saying he can’t picture her as an authority figure and telling stories about her to her students. He can’t or won’t accept that Paradise isn’t just some brief whim for Michelle or that her students genuinely like and respect her. “You’re a mermaid. You’re Tinkerbell.” Ouch. And when Michelle protests that she’s putting a lot of hard work into her new life, Scotty wounds her in that way only those closest to us can. “You got drunk and married a guy. Hard work.” Wow. They have a huge argument, and it turns out that at least some of this is about their toxic mother – Michelle cut her out of her life years ago, and Scotty resents feeling like he has to deal with her alone. But Michelle’s not buying it: “And if you choose to continue having negative influences in your life, then you have to prepare yourself for the consequences.” She tells Scotty that her mother-in-law taught her that, that she is making her own family and her own life. “It doesn’t matter if you believe it or not. The address has changed and my life has changed.” Go Michelle. At the end of the episode, they seem to wordlessly reconcile, at least a bit, as they adorably sing and play the ukulele together.

Ginny and Melanie are both unspooling this week, in interconnected ways. Melanie has been skipping out on dance classes and plans with her friends to try roller derby, and as Ginny’s father’s wedding approaches and her mother loses her mind, Ginny feels the absence of her friends even more than she usually might. Ginny is caught in the middle as her mother Claire drinks lots of wine and tries to undermine the wedding and her father’s fiancee Faye makes increasingly weird plans to try to combat this – and makes Ginny wear a bridesmaid dress that looks like a shower curtain, because apparently seeing Ginny’s boobs reminds her of Claire’s boobs. That’s . . . normal.

Anyway, things come to a head when Faye moves the photoshoot up to a week before the wedding so Claire can’t interfere, but of course Claire finds out anyway and shows up and throws fruit punch all over everyone. And Melanie, who was supposed to be there for moral support, is nowhere to be found – because she was at roller derby and forgot about the photoshoot. Ginny tracks her down at the rink and Melanie has a brief breakdown as she tries to explain that her father is putting pressure on her about college and roller derby was the release she found for that. She apologizes, but Ginny doesn’t really accept, because promises are promises and all the pressure in the world isn’t really an excuse for letting down your friends with no warning. I love that everything isn’t magically forgiven but that at the same time they obviously still love and care about each other. Ginny takes out some of her anger on Frankie and Cozette, yelling at them to stay away from her friends, and of course – as her family is in the middle of a huge change, it’s perfectly natural that any threat of change to her social group would be enough to push Ginny over the edge. Poor thing.

For some reason that’s never quite explained, Jordan is suddenly leading some classes at the studio, and he’s completely ridiculous, yelling at everyone and holding them to impossible standards. When the younger girls admit to having crushes on him, Ginny is unimpressed. “He’s been a jerk forever, Matisse. Are you just catching up?” Michelle tries to rein him in, but it doesn’t take, and Boo, who has been under a ton of pressure this week, finally snaps and scares him into stopping his nonsense. The episode ends with him alone in the studio, dancing and yelling at himself. I don’t know if this is going somewhere or if it was just a one-off oddity.

So, yes, Boo: Because of her mother’s bed rest, presumably, she and Carl are losing their minds taking care of a bunch of kids. (I don’t think they’re all Boo’s siblings.) I hope they get a break soon, because this cannot be good for them, either individually or as a couple. We don’t get Fanny or Sasha this week, though we do have a mention of Sasha finding her own apartment. I do of course understand that budgetary reasons mean every character can’t be around every week, but I still miss them.

More favorite lines:
“See, it’s the perfect thing for us, because you’re an expert on the ocean and I like talking fish.”
“I talk, therefore I am.” “Not always a bad thing.”
“What are they celebrating?” “Tuesday.” “My favorite holiday!”
“Baryshnikov never looked weak. Even in Sex and the City, the man never looked weak.”

(Image courtesy of ABC Family.)

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