Previously, on Awkward.: After a fantasy-filled Jenna blogathon, our heroine made the decision to choose between hunky brunette and nice-guy blonde. In the final scene, Jenna grabbed her iPhone, dialed up a mystery number, and said hello to the man who will be her boyfriend for at least another few days, and we sat impatiently for a week as a jumpshot left Jenna's hand and we were left wondering which basket it would land in.
It was the perfect set-up for Awkward.'s Season 2 finale, even if it came from Introduction to Cliffhangers 101, because the entire series is built on one question: Matty or Jake? At the end of "Once Upon a Blog," Jenna's final decision was an even coin flip after a season-long game of tug-of-war pulled her heart into a dead heat between her two beaus. The tension was built up, the stakes were high, and we were all in to watch the magic unfurl. It was the moment we'd all been waiting for.
And we're still waiting.
Awkward. made what can only be called a baffling creative decision to jump forward [x] amount of days to the end of the school year, with Jenna's choice—the thing we all gave up our Thursday night for—made, accepted, and, like, totally old news. If I didn't know any better I would have assumed I missed an episode (and I did check our episode guide, Wikipedia, and 57 percent of the internet just to make sure); the time jump and total disregard for that epic moment was that jarring. Why would the show skip, for lack of a better term but really it's totally appropriate, the moneyshot of Season 2? Did creator Lauren Iungerich think the process of Jenna's decision (which we saw in "Once Upon a Blog") was more important than the act of executing it? Awkward. is smart beyond its years, but it's not as though we looking for something existential in the series. I think I speak for everyone when I say we live for reliving our teenage years vicariously through Jenna and the rest of the Awkward. universe; as such, this was one of the biggest moments of the series and, therefore, our memories.
It was Matty, by the way. She picked Matty.
Remember that moment in the Season 2 premiere during the New Year's Party, when Jenna was choosing between Jake and Matty and the house was chaotic and that music was jammin' and both guys were waiting for Jenna to find them and we didn't know who she would choose and the countdown to the new year was going on and just as the chant reached "1" Jenna twirled Jake around and planted one on his face and the confetti and streamers poured down and hearts exploded even in the coldest of Team Matty members? THAT WAS THE MOMENT WE WANTED AGAIN!
Instead, the season nonchalantly derailed into a new choice: Does Jenna spend her summer on a school trip to Europe for six weeks of eating baguettes and spaetzel or does she go to summer camp with head counselor Matty and get poison ivy on her ass from makeout sessions in the wilderness? I'm all for surprising television and risky choices, but sometimes the path that's the most obvious is the path one should take, and summer camp was without a doubt the most obvious of the obvious paths, obviously. I'm weary to say we were cheated out of what we all deserved, because really, we're just witnessing someone else's art, but if you were to say "The Other Shoe" is right up there with the Season 1 finale of The Killing in terms of not giving the public what they wanted, I'd nod my head in agreement.
So there we were with Jenna and Matty publicly an item, Jake alarmingly cool with it and getting more ass than an outhouse at a chili cook-off, and the tension in the series long gone, having sneaked out of the room somewhere between last Thursday and last night. There were actually two plots going on in "The Other Shoe," neither of them as enticing as a teenage girl's heart split in two. Jenna was experiencing something she hadn't had in years: a life without tumult. Things were going GREAT. She had a trophy boyfriend, her parents were back together, and her popularity was at an all-time high. I liked the idea of Jenna being disturbed by not having any problems to deal with, as one of her defining characteristics is dealing with tough decisions. But the idea was never planted long enough to grow into something to grab onto, and it wasn't long before that half-plot was forgotten and we moved forward to the next half-plot.
Instead of Matty vs. Jake, "The Other Shoe" became Europe vs. Summer Camp. The first hurdle for Jenna was getting her cash-poor parents to pay for the trip, a problem that was quickly solved with just a cut to the next scene. (Perhaps how Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton suddenly came up with the money and enthusiasm will be a story for next season?) But even the should-I-stay-or-should-I-go dilemma was easily answered when Tamara's procrastination in signing up for the Europe trip bit her in the ass and all the spots were taken. Enter Jenna, who decided to give up her place for Tamara, effectively making her decision to stay with Matty. Problem solved!
But there was still one more mystery to unravel: Who was the anonymous commenter on Jenna's blog who had been throwing her advice all season? If you were expecting a big blowout reveal in grand fashion, it was another disappointment. It was Clark, who simply 'fessed up to Jenna in passing, and that was it. Compare that to the similar mystery of Season 1, the identity of the letter-writer, and it's barely worth even talking about. I can't help but think this mystery got overblown, under-served, or both. It was Clark. And that's that.
In the final moments, Jenna's life once again intersected with her mom's past. Jenna thought she had everything she wanted, but the pessimist in her kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. While Jake and Tamara and the rest of her class danced to some youth-targeted party jams, Matty was the lone holdout and opted to sit down, dragging Jenna with him. It was what she wanted, but was it what she needed? Lacey asked herself the same question in a similar high-school situation, when she sat on Ben's lap while everyone else danced. She regretted spending all that time with Ben because she could have been having more fun with Kevin.
It again raised the question of whether or not Matty is the right fit for Jenna, or if Jenna would be better off with the more outgoing Jake. The same Jake who'd just made out with Jenna's BFF Tamara moments earlier, and the same Jake who would be strolling around romantic Paris with Tamara all summer. If Jenna thinks she made a mistake and should have picked Jake instead, this time she'll have to pry him from the hands of her best friend.
"The Other Shoe" was not the finale I was expecting from Season 2, and some really big opportunities were lost here. And for what? To set up Season 3? After a largely successful second season, there's no other way to put it: The finale was a disappointment.
– Wait a second. Passing in Spin the Bottle, which should be a punishment, means you drink?
– Since when is "getting blown" a bleep-able phrase? Damn you censors!
– A third guy for Jenna has to be introduced in Season 3, right? She can't just go back and forth between Matty and Jake for another season.
– Jake doing "Don't hate the player, hate the game" was... awfully white.
– Lovesick Sadie is BORING Sadie. Please remedy this for next season, Awkward. writers. Thanks!
1. What was the biggest moment for you in "The Other Shoe"?
... a) Jenna and Matty DTR'ing and being BF/GF
... b) Tamara and Jake gettin' it on
... c) Kurt and Ricky Schwartz!?
... d) All of it
2. Were you disappointed that we didn't see Jenna tell Matty about her decision and we just jumped forward in time?
... a) Ummm... in a word, HELLFRICKINYESSSSSSS!
... b) Nah, we found out she chose Matty. What's the big deal?
... c) Kind of, I would have liked to have seen it but it's cool that we didn't
... d) As if we needed another overblown dramatic teen moment
3. Tamara + Jake is...
... a) A bad idea! Don't hook up with your friend's ex!
... b) Going to cause lots of problems in Season 3
... c) Just a drunken pity hook-up
... d) All of the above
4. Season 2 of Awkward. was...
... a) Better than Season 1!
... b) Not as good as Season 1!
... c) Just as good as Season 1!
... d) Confusing, I'm not sure what to think of it now!
The correct (a.k.a. my) answers: B, A, D, D
THE JAKE VS. MATTY-o-METER
Jenna made her decision (Matty!), and of course now she's unsure of whether she made the right decision. Jesus, woman! Make a decision and stick to it!
Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom