(Note: this is kind of a joint review between the last two episodes, focusing on last night's episode "Homewrecker Hamilton")
All season long we've been waiting for Jenna's life to get Hiroshima'd by secrets getting out of their cage, and three episodes ago it did when Sadie, in a bitch move even for the queen B herself, told Jake that Matty humped Jenna. Took a slice of the Hamilton pie, I believe were her words. Awkward. always knew this would happen and spent hours in the writers' room pre-Season 2 figuring out how to handle it. Do you make it part of the season finale? Do you drag it out as long as possible? Do you drop it right away?
Instead, they wisely held it for the tail end of the middle of the season to turn the midseason sag into chiseled abs as we head into the final episodes. Jake finally finding out about Matty has been deftly stretched out for three episodes, because let's face it, there's plenty to milk from it. If "Another One Bites the Dust" was the release of the secret and "Time After Time" was the reaction from the secret, then last night's "Homewrecker Hamilton" was the fallout from the secret and the Return of the Jedi in the three-episode trilogy. But as everyone knows, Empire Strikes Back is the best of THAT series, and "Time After Time" was probably the best episode of the season so far.
There were amazing moments in last night's episode, namely the fisticuffs between Matty and Jake (more on that later) and Jenna's shocking actions at the end (more on that later, too), but two things slightly bothered me about "Homewrecker Hamilton" as I watched it, just like those stupid frickin' Ewoks.
Why did it take so long for Jenna to realize it was her past with Matty that made Jake break up with her? I would think that would be on the forefront of her mind ALL THE TIME. Like, she would wake up in the morning and have a panic attack that Jake would find out, then brush her teeth and cry in the mirror because maybe Jake found out about Matty and her right there and then. Then a terror-stricken breakfast of eggs and toast and fear about Jake finding out about her secret. Point is, teenagers are as good at keeping secrets as gypsies, so I'm not sure why she was so confident she was in the clear.
Second, why on Earth did she think it's okay that she made out with Matty right after Jake broke up with her, and why was that the basis of her argument? Semantics, girl, just semantics. If you want to get technical, no it wasn't cheating, it was just a really, really shitty thing to do to Jake. Like one of the worst things to do and about as disrespectful to Jake as taking a shit in his pillow. And that goes for Matty, too. And no, sleeping with Matty before dating Jake isn't cheating either, but keeping that bit of information from him isn't trust-building for a fledgling relationship. Cheating or not, you screwed Jake over, Jenna, and you knew that information would eventually find its way out.
I understand that typical high-school students are as knowledgeable as out-of-date textbooks at a public school, but I expected Jenna to be smarter than this. Maybe it's just her being a rookie to love and the whole relationship thing, but she could have handled it a lot better. Matty, too. And after screwing her boyfriend over and after screwing his best friend over, Jenna and Matty spent more time in public together than before. Not smart.
But that doesn't make for good television, and the ends justify the means. And if I may rationalize here a bit for the sake of defending smart, teen-based televised entertainment, this is the kind of stuff that happens when things like this happen. Teenagers, especially high-schoolers, spent 90-percent of their lives screwing someone over because teenagers are selfish wastes of space caught between pre-adulthood and post-childhood that don't know better. Yes, that was me too on one end of a weird love triangle back in high school. And that's the tricky line Awkward. has to walk, depicting high-school behavior as is, which is essentially an increasingly growing pile of bad decisions.
But then Jenna made a bold, smart decision, really impressing me. Jenna threw her once private blog out there to the public for all to see, the social media equivalent of Xeroxing your diary and handing copies out at Homecoming, and aired out everyone's dirty laundry. Jenna's, Matty's, Jake's, even her mom's. And while I don't think that was her intention (she only wanted Jake to see her timeline, I think?), it's like pushing your self-destruct button hoping the scraps can be used to build something better or scorching the Earth to give new saplings a chance. The Band-Aid has been ripped off and a lot of skin came off with it, but at least we can finally see what was under there and no one can hide behind lies, secrets, and shame. It seems like social suicide, but it's going to prove to be the move that sets her free.
What I love about this move is that it splits the entire threesome up. Jake is mad at Jenna and Matty. Matty is now mad at Jenna, and given his fight with Jake, probably not to keen on Jake, either. And there's Jenna in the middle, both of her options for happiness completely irate with her. This could have easily been written as a way for Jenna to fall back into Matty's arms, but instead, Jenna inched back towards redemption and we get to watch her try and repair all the relationships she had a part in destroying. That's much more interesting than seeing her crawl back to Matty with her tail between her legs.
– Again, sorry for the inconsistent coverage of Awkward., but I swear I have a good reason! I'll only say that involves something similar that happened in the previous two episodes.
– I still love Valerie, but Awkward. needs to know when to tone her down. Her talk about men fighting over a woman being her fantasy with Jake and Matty in the office after their fight was inappropriate even by her standards. She needs to be pulled back down to Earth a little bit.
– Why does it seem so perfect that Matty can take three punches from Jake, but Jake gets dropped from one from Matty?
– Ming's sidestory with Becca was good, but ill-timed given how deep the shit was with Jenna, Matty, and Jake. Anytime Ming's stuff came up, I was dying to get back to Jenna and company. Still, Ming is awesome, and the smile dance she does with Becca is great.
1. What was the biggest moment for you in "Homewrecker Hamilton"?
... a) Jenna taking her blog public
... b) Jake and Matty's fight
... c) Jenna getting the text pic from Jake
... d) "I f***ed your girlfriend!"
2. Who do you think the anonymous commenter is?
... a) Kevin, Jenna's dad
... b) Clark, the gay kid
... c) Matty, being super sneaky
... d) Other [please say who]
3. What did you think of Sadie telling Matty he was the villain?
... a) Wrong, bitch! YOU are the villain, Sadie! (You're welcome)
... b) She's got a point. This is all Matty's fault.
... c) She's got a partial point. It's really Jenna and Matty's fault, together.
... d) These kids are all screwed up! It's everyone's fault!
4. Have you changed allegiances at all re: Matty and Jake?
... a) I used to be Team Matty, but now I'm kind of Team Jake because he got screwed.
... b) I used to be Team Jake, but now I'm Team Matty because Jake is a puss.
... c) Still Team Matty! Always will be.
... d) Still Team Jake! Always will be.
The correct (a.k.a. my) answers: D, D because I have no idea, C, A
THE JAKE VS. MATTY-o-METER
Well, I'm not sure how much this thing applies anymore given that everyone is blown up. But Jenna's brush-off of Matty after Matty and Jake's talk with Val indicates that she might be blaming Matty for her problems and still wants back with Jake.
Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom