Last week's Series Premiere cliffhanger left Michelle Simms (Sutton Foster) and new mother-in-law Fanny Flowers (Kelly Bishop) with the news that Hubbell — ex-showgirl Michelle’s husband of less than 24 hours — was killed in a car accident. Hubbell had been searching for his new bride and mother as they argued, drank, and make-up danced at a local dive bar — all following a big spat at the celebration party for their new marriage. All of Bunheads Season 1, Episode 2, “For Fanny,” takes place immediately after last week’s events — so it’s a good thing Michelle wore a black dress to her wedding party, after all.
A Widow’s Honeymoon
Michelle’s in a tough spot. Having been married to Hubbell for such a brief time, she both barely knows him — and is feeling the butterflies of a new relationship while struggling with grieving. She snuggles his old Metallica t-shirt and watches the sunrise on the beach with a very sad face. Honestly, who can blame her?
Meanwhile, the news of Hubbell’s death begins to spread across the small town of Paradise. Everyone knows Hubbell and his mother — but, even worse, everyone knows who Michelle is — and they're shocked, too, faulting Michelle for his death accordingly. Especially Truly (Stacey Oristano), Hubbell’s ex-flame, who blasts Michelle by saying “I blame you.” Michelle, dejected and defeated can only muster, “Me too.” Ouch.
Someone help this widow out! The problem is that everyone in Paradise is grief-stricken, but Michelle is the obvious outsider — unsure if she even has a right to be sad at all, even though this has been as traumatic for her as anyone. She takes long, sad strolls, walking a stranger’s dog, and is just generally losing at life. Sad trombone.
At the end of one of her sad walks, Michelle ends up at a local Merlotte’s-style diner, where she procures lots of sympathy tequila, but also the phone calls for Fanny about abandoned funeral plans — namely, her insistence that Hubbell’s service be an elaborate, ever-escalating insane affair that begins to include Ringling Brothers circus tents and the (aircraft carrier) Intrepid. Clearly, Fanny needs some reigning in — or, as Michelle tells her, she needs to “cut the crazy quotient in half.” And while that sure sounds like a lot of math — she’s totally right.
Dancers in the Dark
While Fanny has her freak-out trying to plan Hubbell’s memorial, her regular ballet students wait in her studio attached to her house. They’ve all already cut the second half of school out of “grief,” (AKA: gone to the movies), and now are waiting in their leotards out of guilt for Fanny to come teach them. The ringleader and moral compass is Boo (Kaitlyn Jenkins), who’s horrified by Hubbell’s sudden death and her friends’ insensitivity to it — she insists that they wait there, all night if they have to, because it’s the right thing to do — you know, out of respect. (We like Boo.)
An opportunity for the girls to pay their respects arises when, rather than go on with the impossible over-the-top memorial that Fanny is futilely trying to plan, Michelle and the ballerinas decide to pay tribute to Hubbell with a touching dance performance set to an old Tom Waits song Michelle found in Hubbell’s CD collection. It was subtle and graceful and perfectly rendered — bringing Fanny to tears, but also a much healthier way to say goodbye to her son than that sitar version of “Dear Prudence” and a nude scuplture made out of hubcaps. Just sayin.
Where There’s a Will There’s a Fate
With Hubbell properly memorialized, Fanny’s tears shed, and Michelle’s strengths as a dance coach put on display for the whole town, her future remains undetermined. Should she stay in Paradise or should she go back to Vegas? While she ponders if it’s destiny or stupidity that brought her here, Fanny introduces Michelle to an old poker buddy of Hubbell’s, who also happens to be his lawyer. Yep — time for some fine print.
Turns out, Hubbell had already called in the changes to his will — and left everything to Michelle. His house (where his mother lives), the dance studio, and all his assets. Yet another cliffhanger ending that has these two ladies at one another’s throats. Given that this episode once again ended with Fanny and Michelle fighting, then drinking together, they’ve definitely got the chemistry to get us through Episode 3 and beyond — but we’re hoping there’s more sunshine and less tears wherever they’re headed next.
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