Joshua Sasse, Tori Anderson / Michael Courtney, the CW

There’s always been a dark flip side to Xavier’s cheery take on the world ending. Living for today leads to plenty of fun adventures, but it also means nothing really matters. A gloomier person than him might have spent the time since his discovery sitting at home and crying, but that’s not really his style. In tonight’s episode, though, the concept of losing everything finally starts to hit home with him.

If the show ultimately punts on the love triangle for now, it does cover some ground in Xavier’s efforts to be a more caring person. With the help of newly cleared cousin Jesse, he’s finally able to think about how hard he’s making it for Evie to stay with him if he won’t even imagine a future with her. It’s one of the only times he’s come around to her worldview rather than vice versa, and it grounds Xavier in a way that he hasn’t been so far to have him consider not only what losing her means, but about what getting her to stay says about his life. Namely, that she’s not just a pretty girl he likes hanging out with, but that she’s provided depth and meaning to his life in a way it was lacking. It’s a big realization to have, and Joshua Sasse underplays Xavier’s big moments well. There’s a suggestion here that Evie has convinced Xavier that life on Earth is worth preserving, which is a huge gesture for the character to make, and it’s probably for the best that the show doesn’t delve too heavily into how much that means.

The downside to bringing Xavier and Evie back together so quickly is that we don’t get to see what it means for Evie to grow without either of the men, or agonize over how much Xavier’s concealment of his past hurt her. A big part of what makes her inclined to pick Xavier is the fact that the relationship inspired her to think more deeply about what she wanted out of life, and there are parts of this episode that make it seem like she wants to explore that as a single person. It’s almost like the big development for Xavier means the short end of the stick for both Evie and Timothy. While the show has always been building towards Evie and Xavier, it seems unfair to raise the specter of what did and didn’t draw her to Timothy without getting into why it’s not working anymore. And the information that they’ve been together since college seems like retrofitting. That’s an eight year relationship that she ended pretty casually in the pilot.

The Deirdre/Hank/Kareema plots, on the other hand, despite getting less screen time, make good use of what they get. And the show also dodges some conventions along the way. Xavier’s moment with Deirdre’s fiancé seems like it’s going to lead to him ditching her at the altar, but then they just have a mature conversation about what they both want before splitting up. And despite Hank planning Deirdre a perfect wedding, they don’t immediately get back together. On a different show, Kareema’s last minute marriage would have been held up by some kind of wacky commitment issues, but instead she’s ready to go through with it after talking things out with Rohan.

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It’s all a lot of forward momentum towards maturity for these characters, and a lot of changes since we first met them. Whether Xavier’s new thoughtfulness ultimately grounds him more firmly in reality instead of being a romantic comedy dream boy will still require some working out, but to start, at least, the show is suggesting it’s possible. Most telling of all is that Evie doesn’t give him back a fantasy similar to what he suggests. There’s no kids, no farm. Just the example of two people whose marriage suggests something to aspire to. And for the first time since the show began, it seems like Xavier might actually understand what that means for her.

Stray observations

  • How did Joshua Sasse get down those stairs so quickly in flippers? I would have landed on my face.
  • Thank you to this show for explaining the true horror of what a “quarter bath” is. A Murphy toilet, of course.
  • “There’s a pack of dogs going buck wild somewhere.”
  • Hank’s vision of what his time in the bunker would be like felt pretty true to life. Evie would force him to play charades (a fate worse than the apocalypse), while Timothy would just mope about Evie.
  • Deirdre’s feelings about the vast differences between her two pantsuits had a real Santiago from Brooklyn Nine-Nine feel.
  • Did anyone else think neither Evie nor Timothy would have been hip enough to get fake IDs in college?
  • Given that “The Entertainer” is virtually the only thing I remember how to play on the piano, I’m pretty convinced every child who takes piano lessons learns how to play it.

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