“We can hang out now,” Stephie tells Stu at the end of “G Is For Geronimo.” In her mind, they’re even, and more on that grotesquerie in a second. The point is Stephie and Stu are finally over the events of the pilot. Does this mean A To Z can stop repeating itself now?
Even if the writers were counting on 26 episodes or something, they’ve wasted seven fine-tuning that delicate A To Z formula: Andrew messes up and then tries to make it up to Zelda, and Zelda freaks out and realizes the issue was inside her all along; Stephie and Stu bicker the way couples that eventually fall in love do in the minds of TV writers; Lydia worries about her iron grip on Wallflower and Howard plays sounding board. Sometimes an app makes an appearance. If anyone was in this to see how the relationship deadline plays out, I hope they found a better match.
“G Is For Geronimo” does its thing. Sometimes it’s better than usual (a new app-related dating convention), sometimes it’s worse (Stu), but it’s basically the same. It starts when Andrew and Zelda share their music libraries, which leads Andrew to the discovery that Zelda still has some original recordings from when she was 16. Girlfriend wanted to be a pop star back in the day. Alas, no flashbacks to her Geocities page. When Andrew takes his laptop to work, Zelda’s song spreads like wildfire, because he accidentally has his music set to share on his local network, blah blah, you get it.
That leads to one inescapable fact about A To Z: Nobody at Wallflower actually works. They sometimes have meetings and pep talks and shame talks, but they don’t actually do anything for Wallflower during the workday. By contrast Zelda routinely talks about her cases, and Stephie reports at least one company-wide e-mail about a fracking case (to which a despondent Zelda replies-all, “Not my problem, turds”). So even though nobody in the A To Z audience can corroborate Andrew’s argument that Zelda loves her work, at least we know that she does work. It helps define her. Andrew just comes off doofy. He’s not lazy at work, and he’s not distracted, although he is chronically lovestruck by Zelda. It’s more that he just doesn’t do his job. For no reason.
Similarly, if Wallflower were an actual office environment, Lydia’s weekly shenanigans would have more play. Better Off Ted spins gold out of the contrast between mundane drudgery and wackiness. A To Z just kind of shrugs and gets back to what’s important, Lydia’s never-ending quest for absolute loyalty. This week: She discovers she’s nice when she’s drunk, which Howard rightly assesses as her actual personality. She’s a nice person trying to be mean. As with Stephie and Stu, the main benefit is that we might be able to move on now.
Like everything with A To Z, there’s a lot of sugar to go with the plain white yogurt. For instance, it’s enjoyable to see Stephie and Stu hanging out at the beginning with Andrew and Zelda. At least until she defines their relationship as him having tricked her into bed and her having to suffer through him snoring all night “like a fattened aardvark.” First of all, it’s a retcon. We all saw how infatuated Stephie was with Scatman. But my palms are wet, nonetheless, and not because my butt is sweaty; it’s because A To Z is not equipped to talk about this. “I’m not gonna stop pestering you until you do it,” Stu says, begging Stephie to tell his fortune and also stepping right into a bear trap of sexual politics that A To Z pretends isn’t there. So Stephie gets her revenge by way of a psychic reading of Stu’s arm because his hands are wet from his butt. This is how gross this person is. Her reading mentions the color yellow, Geronimo, and a freckled woman. Nothing that follows makes sense to a reasonable person—for one thing, why does Stephie have to explain her reading when she could have just made it up off the top of her head?—but suffice it to say Stu tracks down an old flame who is married and pregnant. “What should I do?” he asks Stephie while peering through the woman’s door. “I’m not attracted to her at all, but should I break up the marriage anyway?” That’s when she tells him they’re even. He tricked her into bed. She tricked him into Glendale. Yep, it all checks out!
Andrew and Zelda (and Stephie and Lydia) aren’t enough to counterbalance Stu, but out of nowhere they redeem the episode. It’s especially surprising when you consider that Zelda’s personality has been in a freezer ever since her song leaked, leaving us with nothing but worry eyes. Eventually Zelda decides to audition for a music conservatory (in a relatively funny gag where she dramatically tells him to make a U-turn while they’re at a standstill), but she doesn’t listen to the message telling her the results at the end because no matter what happens, she does have a great life, blah blah, this isn’t the good part. Finally she says what she should have said all along: She wants to listen to the message with Andrew. So they each take an earbud, and like that they encapsulate the story. As they lean in to listen, there is, at last, tension! They’re sharing a moment, and it’s actually exciting.
We cut to karaoke before finding out, and suddenly you sense a creative force you’d be in interested in following. Most of the time it feels like “G Is For Geronimo” is running on fumes, but at last there are all these creative decision that are just right. If Zelda got in, there’d be the requisite melodrama about whether she wasted her life or about her sacrifice to be with Andrew. But you still want her to get good news. By not telling us, by having her either celebrating or dancing her cares away with her friends, we get to live in the moment. It’s a magical world where Andrew and Zelda are happy, and anything can happen. Including A To Z shaping up.
- That’s Our Stu!: Stu crashes into a moose in Southern California.
- In the interests of leaving on a happy note, Broadway star Cristin Milioti sings a lovely “Home Again.”