Awkward.: Jealousy, Table For Four!

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Awkward. S02E05: "My Love Is a Black Heart"

I have to feel sorry for a lot of you members of Team Jake right about now. There's trouble up ahead, and though Jake is the white knight that gets to walk Jenna Hamilton to her doorstep at night and plant one on her face, it's Matty McKibbin that's getting her hot and bothered. The war has always been Jenna's heart (Matty) versus Jenna's brain (Jake), and sorry, for a teenage girl that's like a S.W.A.T. team of ninjas with flamethrowers versus a baby riding a puppy. It's just a matter of time, Jake. Just a matter of time. MUAHAHHAHAHA!

Ahem. Last night's "My Love Is a Black Heart" wasn't up to snuff from a writing standpoint (much of the dialogue was what you would expect an adult writing for whip-smart teens would sound like), but it tackled one of the most fascinating emotions of human behavior: jealousy! Regardless of the self-suffering she put herself through, Jenna has always been in the driver's seat when it came to being control. SHE was the object of affection, SHE got to make the choice.

Well somehow, Matty got the keys to the car last night. I'm sure there's supposed to be some question as to whether or not he's dating this fresh blonde meat with the sole purpose of rankling Jenna or not and winning her back, but in my head there's no doubt. Matty is playing her like a keytar by taking page 1 out of "How to Make Your Ex Jealous."

What made the whole thing interesting was watching Jenna turn into a raging ball of rage balls. She's always been ridiculously sympathetic, and even when she did things we didn't like (like purposefully mounting Jake in front of Matty a few weeks ago to plant her flag on Jake), it was all part of the game that was being played. We expect this kind of behavior from Matty, but we do not expect it level-headed Jenna. And that's what made it so fun.

Watching Matty take his bimbo on Jenna's "perfect date" sitting right next to Jenna and Jake was awesome and only amplified how divided Jenna's heart was. Jake's sweetness was all over the place as he did everything he could to make the date just right, and Matty played his head games but also showed how much better he knew Jenna (he knew her allergies, Jake didn't) and how sweet he could be, too. It was the thing nightmare dates are made of.

But the nightmare for Jenna faded at the end of the date. Unfortunately, it looks like it just began for Jake. Post-dinner Jenna and Jake were Matty-free, giving Jenna time to realize that the troubled date was her fault. She let the jealousy in. She let Matty get to her head. Jake also scored big time with the flowers he picked because it caught Jenna off-guard. She may think she knows what her perfect date is, but Jake showed her he might know how to make it even better. And caught up in the moment, Jake blurted out an, "I love you," sending Jenna's aflutter. But that look on his face right after he said it was a big "Ooops." That looked like some premature I-love-you-lation.

This was all set against Valentine's Day, and while the school's reaction to the holiday wasn't as cool as it was to the winter dance, it set up the perfect scenario for people to couple off and generally feel horrible about love. And leading the charge was Tamara and her continuing heart fight with that scumbag Ricky Schwartz, the man she just can't quit.

Awkward. is always good for at least one heartbreaking moment, and Tamara catching Ricky sitting on the women's throne with Sadie straddling him in a hardcore M.O. session popped her overloaded bladder in front of the hatiest hater in school. That was a brutal moment to witness, and Tamara's sobbing retreat to Jenna's room wasn't much easier. I wish they had taken it a bit further, though. Tamara sprung back quickly from such a traumatizing experience, and while I don't think Tamara is going to be all honky-dory when she gets back to school (no way dude, she's going crazy town), I think there was a golden opportunity to really stick a stake in our hearts with a nice slice of teen angst.

That's two good episodes after three GREAT ones to start the season, but Awkward. is going through some second-season growing pains as it figures out how to branch out and tell stories about the rest of the school and juggles the Matty-Jenna-Jake triangle in a way to keep it interesting and unresolved. For the most part, it's getting good grades in that. And I can't help but wonder what's going to happen between Matty and Jake when Jake learns the truth.


NOTES

– Is it just me or is Beau Mirchoff turning into a pretty darned good actor?

– Not a lot of Lacey, Kevin, or Val in the episode. I would have loved to have seen Val go off about Valentine's Day or hit on Kevin, but I guess we'll have to wait.

– A negative side effect of telling more stories outside of Jenna's life is inconsistent rhythm. One of Awkward.'s trademarks is Jenna's voiceover. As long as Jenna is on the screen, which is obviously all the time, you'll hear her off-screen, too. But when the show moves outside of Jenna's presence, she isn't providing running commentary. One device the show could explore is doing a few special episodes where the voice-over is done by someone else.


POP QUIZ!

1. What was the biggest moment for you in "My Love Is a Black Heart"?
... a) The accidental double date at Bisto's
... b) Jake saying, "I love you" to Jenna
... c) Tamara peeing her pants in front of Sadie
... d) Ming getting some!

2. Are you prone to horrible bouts of jealousy?
... a) No! I'm completely comfortable with myself
... b) Yes, I will rip out the hearts of those who have what I want
... c) Sometimes, but most of the time it's no biggie
... d) Why? Who told you I was? Was it that bitch Karen?

3. What did you think of Jenna giving her V-day gift from dad to her mom?
... a) Not fair. Now Lacey thinks he gave it to her
... b) Sweet gesture. Lacey needed a break from her Lifetime marathon
... c) Oh that's gonna be bad. Lacey needs to spend more time in the dog house for what she did
... d) Harmless. It won't be a big deal.

4. Matty dating the blonde...
... a) Ugh gross! Stop it Matty, you're killing me!
... b) The perfect head game! Go Matty, Go Matty, Go Matty!
... c) That's just cruel. He doesn't even like her and he's messing with Jenna's head. Grow up, Matty.
... d) Awww, come on guys. What if he really likes her?

The correct (aka my) answers: C, B (the only acceptable answer, if you answered anything else you're lying), A, B



THE JAKE VS. MATTY-o-METER

Matty is playing the slow game, and playing it well. He knows winning Jenna back isn't going to happen overnight, and each day he pretends to not be into Jenna anymore while also being there for her (big points for bringing ice to Jenna before Jake did) gets him one step closer.



Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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