Bunheads' Summer Finale: At Least Michelle and Fanny Are Enemies Again

Bunheads S01E10: "A Nutcracker in Paradise"

It’s good that Bunheads is going on hiatus: I have a ton of affection for this show, but after last night's clunky summer finale, I realized how badly I need a break. There’s so much potential here—and occasionally, moments of genuine greatness—but the series is still finding its footing. That was especially obvious in "A Nutcracker in Paradise," which tried to do way too much and ended up macing itself in the face.

I know Bunheads wanted to go out big. I appreciate the effort. The problem is, this show has been very much about smaller conflicts and subtler character relationships. This episode tried to give us big dramatic scenes—almost all of which fell flat—as well as some truly absurd moments. (Michelle maced the girls. She pepper sprayed the entire cast of The Nutcracker. I can’t.)

The point was to put Michelle and Fanny at odds with each other again. Makes sense; the back-and-forth between these two has been the highlight of the show from the beginning, and if they’re getting along swimmingly, there’s not a whole lot for Bunheads to do. But there are ways to do that, ways that feel a lot more organic than Michelle nearly blinding all of Fanny’s students. That was equal parts horrific and silly: truly awful to think about, but also too ridiculous to be taken seriously.

Bunheads has never exactly been a realistic show: It’s about a Vegas showgirl who ends up teaching ballet in the sleepy town of Paradise, because—well, don’t ask too many questions. Fine. It just seemed like recent weeks were working toward a more grounded series, and I’m willing to accept a ludicrous premise to get us where we need to be. But this was just too much to handle. The macing. The creepy ringer. That unbelievably awkward dream sequence. Pull it back, Bunheads—you’re better than this.

Even the moments that I wanted to see (Boo and Carl getting together, Michelle macking on Godot, Sasha returning to class) were way too rushed. Perhaps it’s because the writers weren’t sure Bunheads would be picked up for a full season, but this season finale tried to cram it all into one episode. There’s no reason for that—I’d rather part ways from a show with a little uncertainty than choke on all the plot it tried to cram down our throats. Even if Bunheads had ended, I wouldn’t have minded a few loose ends. That’s what fanfic is for, isn’t it?

But with all that said, I’m glad Bunheads is returning. Looking back on the first half of the season as a whole, I’ve greatly enjoyed the show, and I still think it’s closer to Gilmore Girls than anything else on TV. If you know how much I miss Gilmore Girls, you know that’s a good thing. This wasn’t a perfect half-season debut, but I think ABC Family made the right choice in giving a mostly very enjoyable series a longer shot at working out the kinks. All good dancers know they need to stretch first!

Besides, I’m excited about what’s happening next. Now that Michelle and Fanny are enemies again, we can look forward to more great Sutton Foster-Kelly Bishop showdowns. I’m also down for Michelle and Godot hooking up some more, so I hope he’s not in Australia for too long. Plus, the dancing is still great, and the summer finale was an especially good showcase for that: Give me more toe-tapping and soft-shoeing and I will endure any poor narrative choices made in the future. Give me more of Michelle singing numbers from Cabaret, and I won’t even complain in my review.

QUESTIONS:

– So much happened in the finale. Which plot point deserved more time?

– Is Michael gone for good, or can Fanny win him back?

– Will kissing Michelle give Godot second thoughts about his indefinite vacation?

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Awesome finale ending! Totally disagree with the review...nothing negative can nor should

be said here...it was just brilliant like the rest of the season (especially the second half).

I hope this will continue for at least 6-8 seasons and i've got a feeling it will!
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The first half of this episode was cartoonish and hopelessly rushed, but then things took a turn for the dark and it improved a lot. I LOVED the dream sequence. It was meditative, and I felt like it summarized the show. The ending was beautiful.
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For me what will make me come back is the "Oh Captain, my Captain" moment. Otherwise I would probably have been bailing on the show but that moment just got to me because of Dead Poets Society. If you have to steal - steal from the best :o)
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It took 10 episodes, but kudos to the Bunheads creative staff for finally unleashing Sutton Foster for the "Maybe This Time" number. When you have the biggest Broadway star of the decade in your TV show, it makes no sense not to feature her awesome talents on a regular basis...even if it has to be in dream sequences that allow Michelle (whose character is written to be little more than a showgirl) to display Ms. Foster's Tony-winning singing and dancing skills.
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Loved the macing!!! Loved the dragging them by their feet to get them under the curtain! It's cracking me up just thinking about it! Can't wait for this show to come back. Who would have ever thought I'd love Summer TV??
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It seems so funny that everything you dislike about this episode is what I thought made it rock. I thought this episode moved, shook, danced and played better than most. I found it ambitious and quite successful. The only part I found out of place (and could have done without) was the Godot kiss. That was more random than the dream sequence, which I thought was a touching and fitting segment considering all that was going on. I can't even answer the questions because the only one worth answering is the middle one...and I don't have an answer.
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Everything was going great for Michelle and our other Paradisites (Paradisians?) until just after Boo won Carl over with her speech, which was such a great moment. That dance (set to one of my favorites, Rainbow Connection) on the other hand was a horrendous train wreck, but I guess it was meant to be? And it was all downhill from there, including the untimely kiss with Godot. Why force it in here unnaturally? Should've saved it for next season, IMO.



The macing scene, while awesomely hilarious, was equally implausible since Michelle knew quite well (and was extremely proud of) the pretty mace canister. So, ultimately, it was a big turnoff for me because it forcefully and unrealistically manufactured the cliffhanger drama at the end. I would have much preferred the Michael situation to be the big blow-up between Michelle and Fanny, keeping in line with the understated tone they've set forth in the show this season. And with everything that was going on, it's like ASP went "Oh crap, I've only got one episode left to tell a thousand stories. I better cram as much of it in as possible." Still, the Dead Poets moment at the end was touching and sweet and sad all at once.



All in all, it was a very good first half of the season and I enjoyed being a part of Paradise. Looking forward to the back-end of season 1!
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I agree they could have found a more organic way to refuel the Michelle/Fanny feud, but I did find the mace scene to be hilariously funny. Creepy ringer girl was in fact creepy, but I loved Fanny's reaction to her.



I would have liked to see more of a lead in to the Michelle/Godot kiss. I actually really like their scenes and could get behind them being together, but I need to see more of a build-up, not just a couple of scenes here in there, nothing for a week and then boom, kiss and move on.



As big a fan of Michelle/Godot as I am, I'm equally as big a fan of the Fanny/Michael fan. Michael is fun and he brings a different kind of energy to the show. He and Michelle have a good chemistry as do he and Fanny. He reacted like a typical man to the thought of a seriously committed relationship, but I'm hoping he'll be back. It could be interesting to see Fanny try and win him back.



I hope kissing Michelle will have Godot reconsidering his vacation. They could be good for each other and even if it never turns into anything serious, I would enjoy seeing a no-strings type relationship. I'll basically take the two of them any way I can get them.
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Dead Poets Society has always been one of my favorite movies since my teacher recommend it years ago. Maybe this time is one of my favorite songs. Needless to say, I was beyond thrilled to watch this episode.
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I actually liked best the two things you liked least. The macing scene cracked me up and the dream sequence was sweet. It was nice to see Hubble again, plus I like any excuse for a showtune musical dance sequence. Did anyone notice that the four broken frog statues represented the girls and their relationship that Michelle felt was "broken"?



I also disagree that this episode makes Michelle and Fanny enemies. Despite the chaos, it seemed to me that Fanny was defending Michelle against the parents. Once they got home they would definitely not be best friends, but not mortal enemies either.



I also liked the "My Captain" reference. Especially since Sasha led it, for one of the few times that she was thinking of someone other than herself. (The other time being when she gave Boo the new shoes.)
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About the frogs, Hubble said "These four are okay." The girls weren't things she broke, they were all happy and back on track when Fanny left.
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i liked it. it had to be ridiculous, in a way that we can't imagine she would leave because of it. and it had really funny moments.

i just didn't like michelle kissing godot in front of everyone. i actually thought that would be the reason for a showdown.



but it was fun, and i like the girls way more than i did at the beginning. and why couldn't alan ruck look like that before? was it just me or did dying made him cool?



does it have a date for return? i can't keep memorizing gilmore girls episodes.
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The kiss? What is this, 1950?
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I agree with the review. While I don't in any way expect the show to be fully realistic, I do think it it should - like any show - strive for a certain minimum level of realism. The macing scene was just absurd. Michelle had just five minutes earlier proudly presented the contents of her bag. She had always had the bag with her throughout her career, and she knew exactly what it contained. She even took out the can of mace to show Fanny! And then we're supposed to accept that she mistook it for a larger hair spray (?) can? Not even the intensity of the moment explains her mistake. Forcing a comedic moment like that just makes it cringe worthy.

And what about the weird moment backstage when Ginny and Melanie were suddenly snapping at each other? In their scene before that (when they saw Charlie in the car with another girl), there was nothing to indicate that Mel and Ginny would be angry at each other. It's like the editor had left out a scene in between those two scenes that would have explained their sudden hostility towards each other.



I didn't hate the episode. I still like Sherman-Palladino's quirky writing. But there are some inconsistencies, and sometimes the pacing is off. The characters can mull over small things for ages, but then suddenly the issues are resolved just like that. I hope that in the future the writers manage to grind down the few sharp edges of the show.
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Love this show. And I didn't think it was nearly as bad as you did. That said, I think this "midseason" finale thing has gotten just a little too out of hand. Midseason is not always the best time for a critical episode/moment, but whatever. Also, I thought the ringer and the whole mace thing were hilarious. Especially when explained by the Vegas Boy Scout Dancer Purse-Bag.



-I would have liked to see just a little bit more time on Ginny-Charlie, like why exactly she Ginny liked him in the first place unless really that was the point, she liked him because he liked her and she doesn't know any better, but I might be the only one.

-Michael is by no means gone for good. Not even a little bit. Fanny will win him back eventually.

-Maybe, maybe not. I mean, their entire attraction at this point in time was solely based on physical attraction and had nothing to do with emotion or intellectual connection (or at least, if it was, that wasn't shown to us on the show).
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i think michael went to montana to sell the land.
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That's an intriguing idea, but if that's the case he needs to work on his communication skills.
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Well the macing was the best part of the show made me laugh so hard thats what i love about this show its a serious show but there always laughter thats what makes it fun...

If i can make a suggestion they need to put in a main actor in a male role thats dancing with more than a few lines much like a actor like billy elliot, someone that everyone will get behind its not just about girls in Ballet....

I never watched Gilmore Girls so I can't comment on the difference but overall the show is good but only 10 episodes for the first season come on there should be a full season of 22 episodes..

Well the finale should of had a bit more with Fanny and her lover and not so much with Sasha( She is one Actress that really anoys me she needs to be taken down a peg or two)

Michael better return to make Fanny Happy Again....

Godot( what a stupid name) no he should come Down Under to Australia this is the best place for Surfing especially in Bells Beach and then come back with a even more meaner Tan and hair bit blonder from the sun and the surf as Australia is the best place but i could be a bit bias as I live in Australia lol..

I Can't wait for the return of this show....my Favourite Actress is Boo in the show u really feel for her.....

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Season 7 of GG was awful without ASP and kind of screwed it up for me. The macing was absurd but kind of possible and kinda fun. I really don't think its possible for Michelle and Fanny to be enemies like Lorelei and Emily and I like that aqbout this show. I love having Bunheads in my life although I thought I never would. I love these people like family...
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Completely agree about season 7 of GG. Without ASP the show was totally sucks.
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Nearly every season of the Gilmore Girls had at least one of the girls off on a vacation during the break. I'm betting the open of next season we'll see Michelle coming back from Australia.



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I agree. I think they had to have the Godot kiss so there was a reason for her to go with him to Australia. (Just guessing.)
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I deeply and sincerely hope NOT!
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I think the show will pick back up at the end of the summer, because so many characters were not going to be there for the summer anyways.. that will also give fanny time to heal from her wounds and Michelle to realize she likes it in Paradise
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I agree, the macing was a little too much and I thought the interference with Michael was a little too much too. I did actually really like the dream sequence, as Michelle was trying so hard to fit in but that wasn't what Hubbel liked about her, it was her willingness to stand out. I think that they had the storyline there that would have put everyone in a similar situation, now, I must confess I am not 100% familiar with the specifics of the Nutcracker (I know the general story, my ballet school preferred reproductions of Cordelia), but couldn't Michelle have choreographer a number that wasn't so Mia Michaels but more back room Vegas for her number and Fanny just insist she wanted to be surprised and the kids were really excited about it and she didn't see it until the actual show. And while she didn't really like it, the parents were similarly outraged still causing Michelle to leave and the dancers to be on her side and Fanny torn.
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It was interesting. Of course, there were some things I thought about.
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I don't know whether or not I'm in the minority here, but I'm going to disagree with this review. Bunheads is a great show. I enjoy spending the hour watching Michelle stay afloat while she's stuck in Paradise. Is it the best show? No, but for what it is, I enjoy it. The biggest draw for me when I got into the show was the fast, witty and superb written dialogue and how well the cast was able to deliver those lines. That is this show's strongest suit along with the ballet and singing performances it delivers.



However, when I watch this show, I never watch it to take it overly serious or any bit serious. It's a fun show, it's entertainment. I just want to have fun watching it, and that is what Bunheads does for me. This finale, I thought, was great! ESPECIALLY the final minutes beginning with the dream sequence all the way to the end.



I never expected Bunheads to finish the first half of its season so cold and silenced at the end as it did, and I thought it was brilliant on the writers part. So, I disagree with you on saying that was awkward.



Also, I didn't think this episode was clunky or had a lot going on either. To me it seemed perfectly easy to keep up with, without too much going on or happening at the same time. So, I disagree with that as well.



On the final note, the big plot of the night when Michelle maced the entire class, it was funny! Bunheads isn't some sort of serious drama, it's also comedy. The drama in this show is light and I never thought anything more of it. This was the show Bunheads decided to be. And I would expect Michelle to do something like that such as mix up the bottles, and I'd even expect the Ringer to have switched the bottle's contents or something just so she could perform like she wanted to. It was funny, and it brought back Michelle and Fanny at opposite ends.



Now, I look forward to seeing what happens. Does Michelle leave? Does she stay for the girls? The town certainly doesn't want her there anymore and as much as Hubble wanted Michelle to shake the town up with her arrival and make a difference, Michelle feels like she's ruining things for the town. So what happens now?



I enjoyed this episode and I would probably rank it as one of my personal favorites for this first half of the season. So, with respect, I disagree with this review.
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I don't feel like Michelle is stuck in Paradise I think she likes it there because they do have coffee. Michelle is complicated like all good people and there's no doubt these people have great attitudes. I always wanted to visit Star's Hollow and now I want to be in Paradise now that Veronica Mars has moved on...
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