Warning: Spoiler alert! Do not proceed if you have not watched Friday’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend season two finale.
No, the wedding didn’t happen. Of course it didn’t happen. This is Rebecca Bunch and Josh Chan we’re talking about here, two people who were very clearly never suited for each other romantically, despite Rebecca’s obsession with her teenage crush.
Plus, this wedding came together in two weeks, due to the sheer fear Rebecca (Rachel Bloom) felt a couple episodes back after kissing her boss, Nathaniel (Scott Michael Foster), in an elevator.
We thought the biggest shock was if Rebecca was walked down the aisle by her distant, negligent father (who did actually show up for the wedding — more on that later) and heard Father Brah (Rene Gube) tell Josh, “You may now kiss the bride, bro.” Turns out, the most surprising moment was when Josh left Rebecca at the altar, not for another girl, but to join the priesthood.
This means that Rebecca, a woman who doesn’t take no for an answer and feels she has been left by everyone who’s ever loved her, has just become a jilted woman. When season two ended with her angrily declaring to her three closest female friends, including BFF Paula (Donna Lynne Champlin), that “Josh Chan must be destroyed,” you know she meant every word of it.
At his core, Josh was trying to relieve both of them from their impending misery, but he couldn’t even muster up the courage to talk to his future wife. And since Rebecca is an obsessive, selfish protagonist who’s not above committing a felony to achieve her ultimate fairy tale romance, his decision will not bode well for either one of them. Rebecca promises.
“What’s interesting about [Josh] is that he tries to do good and he means well. He’s a religious person, always, and he has a sense of wanting to better himself but [he's] run a little bit by his urges, and one of his urges is he gets lonely. He’s not really capable of introspection, so he does it via women,” said showrunner Aline Brosh McKenna, who wrote and directed the season finale. “He seeks refuge in beautiful girls and in seeing himself in their eyes.”
“In his mind, he’s not hurting her in the same way because it’s not like he’s with another girl. He’s choosing something in his mind that is so exalted,” she added. “In a funny way, I think the most courageous thing Josh has done all season is not open the envelope [marked 'Rebecca Bunch's Past' and given to him by her stalker ex, Trent], because if he did, he would have something to blame the disruption of the marriage on. He can say, ‘Look, she’s crazy, she lied to me about all these things,’ and people would probably forgive him, but he’s thrown the proof away.”
Some of the most revealing elements of the episode, though, came less from Josh (until the end, of course) and more from watching Rebecca interact with her father, Silas (John Allen Nelson). Once he was in town, her excitement revolved around her father’s presence, not the nuptials or her fiancé. Her childlike enthusiasm was endearingly overbearing and crashed like the fall after a sugarhigh once she discovered her dad was there just to get money out of her.
“This was the episode to see that her seductive and unavailable and selfish but charming and self-protective father really is the bundt cake mold into which she has poured every man since then in a way,” Brosh McKenna said. “That’s a little bit of a reductive way to look at it, but I think in some ways, she’s always sort of clung to this idea that they were in love and that somehow he got whisked away by an evil king, and she has to come to terms with the fact that he chose to leave her because, as Dr. Akopina, says, he’s a negligent, incompetent parent.”
Rebecca felt like the two men she most loved in the world were finally by her side, so the recovery period after seeing one leave her for Jesus and the other leave for good will be very difficult — but not impossible. After all, when Silas yelled, “You’re crazy, you know that?” Rebecca finally didn’t try to talk her way around the word, instead admitting, “Little bit.”
“She has a core fear of being crazy or feeling crazy, because she has moments in her life when she feels untethered. She tries to use her intelligence to bracket the word, because it’s not a real word, but in that moment, she owns the fact that like, ‘Well, people think I’m crazy, and it’s partly your fault, by the way, a**hole,’” Brosh McKenna said.
We also learned more about Rebecca’s past than we ever have before. Though we’ve seen glimpses of her childhood and her teenage relationship with Josh at camp before, we were introduced to the one man who had radically altered her future and had the most impact of any male besides her father: Robert. In flashbacks, we meet this previously unmentioned college professor who broke up with Rebecca after initially claiming he was going to leave his wife for her. So distraught that a man was abandoning her again, Rebecca burnt his house down, went to court, ended up in a mental institution and enrolled at Yale Law School instead of Harvard.
“We wanted to show another instance in her life when she had engaged in extreme behavior and that this was sort of a core wound that she was still recovering from,” Brosh McKenna explained. “Her mother knows about it and what you learn sort of through her dad is it’s a thing that they’re not supposed to talk about. Her life plan changed, and she sort of has to keep a lid on it.”
It makes a lot more sense that we saw her so heavily medicated in the pilot now that we have all of that backstory to unpack — which is something her girl gang will have to do as well, especially since they’re the only ones who heard Rebecca scream revenge on the cliff. That reveal should also bring back one of the things we love most about Paula: how scheming and vindictive everyone’s favorite mama from West Covina can be. It’s unnervingly charming when Paula used to help Rebecca stalk Josh, and it’s nearly guaranteed that her sleuthing will be back in full force next season.
“She’s an extremely protective person,” Brosh McKenna said of Paula, recalling when she told Josh that she’d kill him if he ever hurt Rebecca. “The story she’s told herself was, ‘Hey, you know what, this actually was meant to be.’ There were some bad patches there, but going into the wedding she was being supportive. What she doesn’t know is the extent to which she’s been lied to. She doesn’t know about the kiss. She doesn’t know that’s why the wedding has been moved up. She doesn’t know about any of that stuff. And as we know, Paula is really very, very sensitive to having been lied to, so there’s some other shoes to drop there.”
In fact, when Crazy Ex-Girlfriend returns in the fall, we’re going to see Rebecca truly live up to the title for truly the first time in the series’ history.
“They’ve really been together, so she really is an ex now,” Brosh McKenna said. “You can sort of see at the end of this episode, Rebecca is very much someone who takes on personas that she’s received from the world. In a time of crisis here, a new persona leaps into her mind, and it’s the scorned woman. So we’ll see how much she follows through on that, how consistently she follows through on that, and sort of how her feelings evolve as she recovers from this big rupture that happens at the end.”
And, of course, how Rebecca is going to seek revenge on a soon-to-be holy man — if he follows through after his literal come to Jesus moment.
“He’s done no serious research. It’s a panic move to flee, and we’ll see how much of it suits him,” the showrunner revealed of the priesthood. “Josh’s core thing is he gets super extremely attached to pretty girls and that’s sort of has processed his existence.”
Ultimately, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is about three main relationships for Rebecca: Josh, Paula, and the town of West Covina. While all of them took decidedly different turns throughout season two, it’s the surprising finale that’s officially upended each one. Brosh McKenna even noted, “This is going to get the tongues wagging in West Covina, for sure.”