This next section, we saw two of the episodes.
Episode 9 – Hello, Penelope
This was the first episode we saw as VIPs, and got to meet the cast a bit after. It was incredibly powerful. When Justina had the breakdown with Schnieder there were a lot of tears. They showed us a ‘previously on…’ that told us about Max, which was markedly different from the other episode. They told us the bare minimum we needed to know, which made perfect sense.
Now. I am actually sad that there were two scenes you didn’t see! First, there was a back-half to the scene in therapy, which included a quick ‘Schnieder’ joke, where Pam knew one. I loved it, but I suspect it got cut for time. So did the joke about how they had all these cookies for the snack after. “I don’t have no money for Milanos!” has been a joke at home for a while.
However, bigger is this. Penelope told Alex about the CPR class before it happened. There was a whole scene where she tells him, demonstrates by singing Stayin’ Alive, and he has that classic kid expression of horror. When Marcel delivered a “oh no”, the first take was a long pause. He held the beat and his face was a perfect expression of teen horror at ones’ parents. It was brilliant and showed just how much he’d grown as an actor. He got it down. After that, they did it quicker, and I realized they didn’t want to extend that scene, which is sad. I loved the delay. And yet, you didn’t even get to see it.
Marcel, sweetheart, you were amazing in that scene. We still talk about it at home, and you should get a clip for your reel.
In this episode, the scene with Rita in the confessional tore our hearts out. Also Rita had a lot of “trouble” with the scene. She didn’t like the pacing or phrasing of her words and it took her a long time to get it right where everyone agreed it was perfect. After, she came to apologize to us. She literally said “Sometimes it just doesn’t fucking come.” I shouted back “We love you!” Because it’s acting. It’s not easy.
There’s some banter between Lydia and the priest they cut out. Lydia was not happy that Father José was there and not her regular priest. I remember thinking it felt extraneous at the time, so I’m not shocked it was cut. Still, making it shorter did take away from the gravitas of Lydia crying to take away her daughter’s pain.
Justina and Todd’s scene, with her playing the recording, was shown to us on the cameras only. The set for it was outside our view, so we could only see on the screens above our heads. That’s a weird feeling, to watch on TV what you know is being performed outside your line of sight. I didn’t know it until this episode, but they actually do pre-tape some scenes! When there’s a green-screen or special effects needed, you don’t ‘watch’ it live, but they still record our reactions.
Todd’s line about the bowling ball was the second version of that joke. I remember telling my wife that I hoped they’d use that one, as it was hilarious. And Todd has a perfect delivery of it. The man is magic. If you listen carefully, you can hear me cackle early, and then more as the rest of the audience caught the joke.
As someone who’s been on anti-depressants for years, I had no problem spotting Penelope’s manic episode as it started, and predicted the subsequent crash. My wife and I grabbed each other’s hands and sucked in our breath. When Rita said “I will be here for you” I started crying.
If you’re wondering, watching people make out on stage in front of you isn’t weird to me, but then again, I’ve seen a lot of plays. Having them make out while Todd Grinnell goes through multiple jokes in order to figure out which one worked best was weird. Sometimes, when we as the audience are laughing, we laugh because it’s funny. Sometimes we laugh because we’re human, and we need to express some feeling. And sometimes we have to laugh at the absurdity of the moment.
Episode 10 – Storage Wars
Before this episode, we saw the ‘previously on…’ with Elena as OG Schnieder, saying she was Butch. I roared laughing. It was seriously so perfect I was in tears. I think it bugged the guy sitting next to me. In fact, that whole opening sequence of Penelope asking about the garage, you can totally hear us both losing our shit and laughing over and over again. Rita Moreno’s face killed me and my wife was watching Marcel and Isabella.
This time, in the main episode, Justina cracked me up the most. It was almost Isabella, in the scene where she’s leaning on the lawn chair and Rita leers “Do you want to know what we did on that chair?” The flash of shock and then the hand wiping in the first take was hysterical. The trimmed down version is still funny, but I just love the long takes.
Still no. Justina won for how she just tossed Marcel into the garbage! I knew she’d be making him go in, but she just vwoooop tossed him! Of course, Marcel’s “WE” in the next scene was brilliant too. Seriously, my wife and I mimic him sometimes.
However, the greatest moment came when Justina and Rita are going at it, and they were re-doing part of that scene. Rita said “Call me vieja again.” indicating where to start from. Justina, who was still very much in the zone as Lupe, said “Oh yeah!” with so much exuberance it was startling. It was such a contrast to Rita that we laughed. So did Rita.
Cut scenes this time were mostly little things. They shortened up a lot of parts, trimming non-essential jokes. There was a longer one about the feather boa, for example. Also parts of the Elena/Schnieder conversations were removed. By the way, normally they film everything in order, like a play. This time they did the two scenes in Schnieder’s apartment back to back.
After the episode, we got to hang out on the set a bit and Isabella and I were joking about both of us wearing plaid shirts and how much she loved her new wardrobe this season (seriously, that yellow shirt was so soft!). It was at that point I realized she’d worn a skirt all through season 1 for her school uniform, but she wore pants through much of season two! Upgrade!
Here’s a secret I don’t think even they know I noticed. We were sitting on the front row, far right, which happened to be right where they filmed Elena in Schnieder’s apartment. Because of that, between takes we could see them talking to the directors, and I caught a conversation between Isabella and Gloria. Isabella was asking for clarification as to exactly what she was saying meant, because she wanted to be sure she got it right. Gloria was showing her, pointing at aspects of the set to illustrate.
I know it’s a perfectly normal thing, but getting to actually see them do that, to see them work on it and make sure it was right, was amazing. I know it sounds silly, but there really is something about seeing them create and develop that makes you feel even closer to the story.
I tell you, though. You can really hear my laughter in this episode. Like that hoot when Rita Moreno says there are no Bonds.
Episode 11 – Homecoming
Elena and the dance, trying to be popular. We’ve all done stupid things like that, haven’t we?
When it started with Syd’s version of We Didn’t Start The Fire … Oh my god. That was just. Syd is adorable and I love them. But pretending to have friends and being popular always backfired, and my heart was in my throat. I worried that Syd would dump Elena for lying. It’s that TV thing, you know. It goes the dumping or the big admission that it’s okay to be weird. After all, Syd is weird.
Being friends with her teachers … My teachers signed my yearbook. Every episode that passes, my wife says “Watching Elena is like watching baby you.” Handy ma’am, nerdy, goes to Comic Con, flirts terribly, and flannel. I love Elena so much.
— jean (@elmesart) January 27, 2018
Side funny – I couldn’t figure out what Penelope was wearing in the scene under the stairs. I thought it was her graduation. I was close with the school though.
Oh and we are apparently going with #sylena
Episode 12 – Citizen Lydia
They showed us the last scenes of this before the finale, but we did not see this filmed. I’m glad to not have seen it, though, since I would have been useless for a week, waiting to find out what happened at the end of this cliffhanger. Can you imagine going home after seeing that last scene? We also knew that Max was getting dumped, so that was a hell of a feeling.
Actually I think we saw about 10 minutes of the episode before the finale, so I feel like I knew everything that would happen and it still didn’t make the end better. I think if we’d seen Lydia on the floor, I would have lost it. Because the cast gave nothing away about this.
I watched this whole episode with this horrible dread because the finale… I have so much to say about that, it gets its own post tomorrow morning.
To Be Concluded…
And you know what’s next? That’s right. The finale. Which needs it’s own post.