Amber Riley, Michael Hyatt, Ricki Lake (Scott Everett White/The CW)

Before we dig into one of the best episodes in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s stellar first season, the dream-ghost and Rebecca would like to clarify some things. First, we should stop trying to figure out the rules:

“It’s not clear if I’m hallucinated or actually magic / let’s leave it vague, it’s more interesting that way!”

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Second, no matter the rules, we spend a lot of time inside Rebecca’s head:

“When things get tough, it’s how I understand the world. I imagine my life as a series of musical numbers.”

And most importantly:

“Forget about the guys! That’s the worst part about being a ghost and working with women. So much talk about the guys. It’s not the guys FORGET THE GUYS!”

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We can’t totally forget the guys, of course, but in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s Christmas-free take on A Christmas Carol, the ghost of Therapy-Yet-to-Come reminds Rebecca (and all the ‘shippers out there, this one included) that neither Rebecca’s happiness, nor her unhappiness, is about the guys. Forget about the guys! It isn’t about Josh, or Greg, or the douchey senior, or the awkward nice guy. She may have moved to West Covina for Josh, but actually, the situation’s a lot more nuanced than that.

How do we get all this valuable information? Through the time-honored tradition of the dream-ghost, as this trope shall now forever be named. We pick up almost where we left off with Rebecca—looks like we missed a handful of sleeping pills and a bloody mary—and as it turns out, she’s not headed to Hawaii after all. No, she’s going back to New York (it happens to be where Josh doesn’t live), and while she doesn’t get any actual therapy, she sure does work some things out.

There are many reasons why “Josh Has No Idea Where I Am!” works, from the writing (Rachel Bloom and Aline Brosh McKenna) and direction (Steven Tsuchida) to the unexpectedly theatrical lighting, but not a thing about this would be possible without Michael Hyatt’s terrific performance. Frankly, everyone in this episode is great, bouncing from broad comedy to simple and sad with ease, but Hyatt is the episode’s guiding force. She sets the tone in “Dream-Ghost,” planting herself firmly in Rebecca’s world—seriously, go back and watch the scenes with the real Dr. Akopian; she’s playing a different person when she’s in Bunchland. From there on out, she ushers her client, and the camera, and the audience from scene to scene with ease, making every discovery feel earned and each transition effortless. Let’s all hope that Rebecca takes Dr. Akopian seriously from here on out, because the more time the show spends with Hyatt, the better.

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Hyatt may be the episode MVP, but she’s far from the only one doing excellent work. Several of the scenes hit as hard as anything else we’ve seen on the show thus far. The jaunt back to Rebecca’s childhood proves particularly painful, with the trio of John Allen Nelson, Tovah Feldshuh, and the always wonderful Ava Acres delivering a hell of a gut punch. Most of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s most affecting scenes slip a few jokes in here and there (ex: “You Stupid Bitch;” any of Greg’s stuff with his dad), but when Naomi showed up to bring her daughter home, there wasn’t a joke in sight, and the scene was all the stronger for it. Some things simply don’t need a punchline, and the kind of damage an incident like that can do is no laughing matter.

Rebecca’s West Covina pals also do terrific work—Pete Gardner, in particular, got me a little choked up—and Bloom is, as always, a compelling lead. But perhaps the best thing about this episode, other than Hyatt, is what it has in common with Hyatt’s performance: quiet but palpable confidence. Like Dr. Akopian, Bunch and McKenna’s episode seems to know that wherever it leads, we will follow. Tonal shifts? Fine. Jumps in time? No problem. Godlike knowledge? The power to stop time, just to check someone’s phone? Sex observation, love of song, commentary on employer-provided health insurance and the pay gap, and a play on an alien planet? Plus some Moby Dick jokes? It’s all good. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has spent the previous 14 episodes getting us invested. Now it can do whatever it wants. It’s not about the guys. It’s a lot more nuanced than that.

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Stray observations

  • Cilantro is delicious. Young Rebecca and her bad dad are wrong.
  • This week’s Hector award (for the best person with a small part who steals the show): gotta be Ricki Lake and Amber Riley, particularly in their little scene at the end. And a retroactive “Josh Is Going To Hawaii!” Hector Award for Maya, bisexual lover of kale salads.
  • This was the second-best transition into the credits/title card, after Paula and her husband reciting the whole thing.
  • Did you catch the mover from the pilot? He knows so much about Rebecca’s life.
  • Favorite tiny detail: dream Rebecca can really sing, but real Rebecca is kinda pitchy!
  • Pretty much everything about Moby Dick was too, too real. Especially that contact improv. Raise your hand if you majored in awkwardly rolling around on the floor in yoga pants and making weird sounds.
  • “Yes! Christmas! I’m half-Christmas anyway.”
  • “Thanks for the solo, by the way. I always wanted to rock some sequins.”
  • “Is Greg super-hot?” “Well, yeah, if you like angry.”
  • “Did she get catfished by a drug-smuggler?”
  • Dr. Akopian is right. Broad City is great.
  • Oh yeah—we get season two! Have to follow through on something, so here goes. This one’s for you, Mrs. Langdon Alger!

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