The season finale of Bunheads, “A Nutcracker in Paradise,” revolves around this whole Nutcracker in August concept, but the scheduling just doesn’t make any sense, so let’s hash this out so I can move on and think about other things. It’s in August (which already made no sense, but whatever) but they’re still talking about Sasha going away for the summer, and generally talking about the summer as though it hasn’t happened yet. And let’s not forget that last episode they were in school. During basketball season. I just don’t get why they decided this had to be happening in the summer. BUT WHATEVER. Moving on.
As a surprise for Fanny, Michelle choreographs the mouse battle dance, and uses it to present Sasha’s triumphant return. (This dance includes several quite competent male dancers I’m sure we’ve never seen before. But maybe they don’t go to the school and just auditioned for Nutcracker.) Fanny looks completely stunned, and is clearly touched – so touched that she asks Michelle if she’d run the studio alone for a while so she and Michael could go to Montana, which is apparently something they’d talked about for years. Fanny has gone so far as to rent a cabin for a few months.
Sasha’s reentry isn’t painless, of course. Fanny had brought in a dancer only known as “The Ringer,” who is terrifyingly focused. “If Marvel Comics had a crime-fighting ballerina, this ballerina would kick that ballerina’s ass.” Even Fanny is afraid of her, and no one can quite convince her that she needs to give the role of Clara back to Sasha, so she spends the whole episode following Sasha around, dancing. It’s pretty absurd, but hilarious. Sasha also comes back to find her social group in disarray because of the issues surrounding Charlie and Carl. She brings in Michelle, who makes a tenuous peace accord between the girls.
Despite Fanny’s skepticism, Michelle pulls off a wildly successful Nutcracker fundraiser at the Oyster Bar – and it’s full of romantic developments. Boo goes up to the mic and gives an embarrassing but sweet, heartfelt plea to Carl, as “Rainbow Connection” plays in the background. She ends with “If you ever decide you want Ginger around again, I’m here, Fred,” and wins him over: “Wow. You talked about me like I’m Ryan Gosling.” They dance together and it’s all ridiculously adorable. Sasha meets a cute boy from the basketball team. Less cute: Ginny accidentally headbutts Charlie while trying to kiss him, and Mel turns down Charlie’s best friend, who thinks they should date because it would be convenient. “Hell freezes over, I buy a sweater. I do not date you.” And Godot and Michelle finally kiss, even though he’s leaving for Australia next week.
But the big news of the night is that Michael announces he’s building a house in Montana – and Michelle, trying to fix things between him and Fanny, tells him about the cabin Fanny rented. Fanny’s upset that he’s leaving, so she’s in an awful mood going into Nutcracker performances. And Ginny sees Charlie with another girl, so she and Mel are fighting again too. Everyone’s feeling a bit shaky as the show starts, and Michelle is there with her gigantic “zombie apocalypse Vegas slut bag” full of everything anyone could need while performing. We finally get to see Fanny dance – she seems to be playing Drosselmeyer – but then Michelle accidentally maces the entire ballet company. The performance is a complete disaster, except for, of course, the Ringer, who is more than happy to go on after all. Everyone winds up at the hospital, where Michelle is worried about the kids and won’t let herself get checked, and Fanny is mad at Michelle. She says she’s worried about being sued, but soon admits that Michael has left and she’s actually angry that Michelle drove him away by telling him about Fanny’s cabin rental. “You are the bad luck. Ever since you got here. Ever since Hubbell – ”
And then Michelle falls into another audition dream. We finally get to hear Sutton sing again – “Maybe This Time – and Hubbell himself shows up as a judge. (Aww. Nice to see Alan Ruck again.) He tells her “You’re here to rock the boat” but she insists “I need glue. You’re my glue.” She’s still feeling guilty about the kids and about Fanny. “You should look around. Everything is different.” “I miss you.” “It’s funny when things happen.” Awww. She asks Hubbell whether it would have worked out between them, and he just kisses her hand.
Michelle wakes up in the hospital, where all the parents are upset and trying to make Fanny promise that Michelle will never come near their kids again. But the dancers, led by Sasha, reenact the “O Captain, My Captain” scene from Dead Poets Society, which is completely adorable. I know other viewers have protested that these kids would be unlikely to know that movie, but since the show nodded to that by having one girl straight-out say she didn’t get it, I’m giving them a pass. Michelle tries to make a joke out of it – “You know at the end of that movie the guy had to leave anyhow, right?” – but she’s clearly touched. She says thank you and leaves, and we leave Paradise until next season.
More favorite lines:
“This is the finishing touch. Me seeing what you’ve done to my dance and swearing about it.”
“Which one of you is going to be Heath Ledger?” “You always end a conversation one sentence too late.”
“Have you ever put ground glass in your rival’s toe shoe?” “No.” “Huh.”
“It’s my zombie apocalypse Vegas slut bag.”
“You’re like an X-rated Mary Poppins.”
(Image courtesy of ABC Family.)