In its second season, The Bold Type ran with the things that worked well in its first, and course-corrected some things that didn’t. It did some things that are playful and some that are thoughtful. It leaned into its strengths and exercised winning restraint. And most admirably, it rarely did exactly the thing one might have expected. That’s what makes “We’ll Always Have Paris,” an enjoyable episode that ties up some threads and leaves others dangling in (mostly) appealing fashion, a bit of a letdown. It’s entertaining, it’s engaging, but it does almost exactly what one might expect.
I’ve written about three of the great strengths of The Bold Type with some frequency this season—first, its appealing frankness; second, its obvious respect for its viewers and the responsibility its writers seem to feel towards them; third, its engaging cast (and Melora Hardin in particular). None of those things disappears here, exactly, but they do recede into the background a bit in favor of resolving one story and pushing others forward or in a new direction. The result is fine! It’s pleasant. But it’s not the show at its best, and that’s a disappointing way to end a mostly strong, always promising season.
To get right down to it, I must direct your attention to the continuing saga of Sutton and Richard, which is more winning here than one might expect. It’s also certainly more engaging than the conclusion of an arc, centered on a woman choosing her professional life over a man, that resolves by her seemingly “having it all” has any right to be. Much of that comes down to Meghann Fahy, who has played Sutton all season with a sense of loss, tiredness, and an energy that’s harder to pinpoint—that of someone who is trying to be at least okay, and when she can’t be okay, she’s trying to make it seem that way. That makes her moments of release in this hour—the breath out when she admits the truth to Oliver, her sharp change in energy when she chooses to leave, her visible relaxation in the final scenes—all the more noticeable.
It’s a great, appealingly low-key performance—someone cast Fahy in a rom-com, immediately, if only so Caroline Siede can write about it—and it goes a long way toward making that storyline sing. The same is true of Stephen Conrad Moore’s performance as Oliver, and Fahy and Moore’s scene together is easily the episode’s highlight. Thanks to them, and to a lesser extent, to Sam Page, it’s easy to get into Sutton’s exuberant choice to chase down love and almost possible to get on board with Richard’s inevitable arrival in Paris. If there’s any surprise in that moment, it’s that they don’t actually meet at the airport, with him having to chase her down right before she gets on the plane.
It’s familiar stuff, efficiently executed, but it lacks some of that Bold Type spark. It doesn’t go one step beyond what one expects. That doesn’t make it bad—this episode may not be a season standout, but it doesn’t remotely approach ‘bad.’ It does, however, make it a little bit ordinary, and The Bold Type has gone out of its way to do a lot of things that, in a perfect world, might be ordinary, but which in this world are not.
It’s also worth noting that it might not seem so familiar if it weren’t for Jane’s wildly unsatisfying love triangle. For all the familiar tropes in that Sutton storyline, it plays as a lot more organic than Doctor Dreamboat (or Ben, if you prefer) and Pinstripe (or Ryan, if you prefer) jumping up and down in near-unison to be the one to help Jane freeze her eggs. Much as I appreciate a good WWNED (what would Nora Ephron do), the comparison does the storyline no favors.
That said, Jane’s storyline has at least one thing going for it (besides Katie Stevens, who is very good, and two appealing love interests in Dan Jeannotte and Luca James Lee): the egg thing is specific and weird enough that it feels perfectly at home in The Bold Type. If that decision of Jane’s—to write her way out of it, to be her own white knight—had been given a little more room to breathe, the other clunky bits might play better. But as with the Sutton storyline, it’s not bad, by any stretch—and the tie to Jacqueline’s subplot is a lovely saving grace.
If there is one aspect of this that doesn’t work, it’s Kat’s looming separation from Adena, which comes off as a little bit easy. Not everything can be sunny all the time, and the show would be incredibly dull if it were. Beyond that, the notion that the opening of their relationship might hide other struggles makes perfect sense. But despite the tease of trouble last week, this sudden storm cloud strikes me as a matter of narrative convenience, rather than a decision that arises from the journeys and needs of the characters concerned. It’s almost certainly temporary, and watching Aisha Dee work through Kat’s bruised or broken heart is likely to be a treat (in a sad way). But again, it’s just fine, not great, and The Bold Type can be great. I can’t wait for it to come back be great some more—and not even an off finale can dim that.
Episode grade: B-
Season grade: B
- Look of the week: We didn’t see it on anyone but I was very into both the pink ruffled thing Oliver liked and the metallic dress Sutton defended. Also loved Sutton’s party dress.
- Not look of the week: Everyone’s presumably uncomfortable airplane clothes (save Kat, who dressed down like the smart cookie she is.)
- A far too belated tip-of-the-hat to Adam Capriolo, the actor who plays Jacqueline’s assistant Andrew. So perfectly, believably passive-aggressive and idiosyncratic that it’s easy to forget that he’s not just a real guy who lives on that set. That “to Paris” was [chef’s kiss] exquisite.
- A right-on-time tip-of-the-hat to you all, for the thoughtful commentary, energetic disagreement, and repeated reminders that Sam Page is a dreamboat. It’s been a pleasure. Thanks for reading, commenting, and watching this lovely show. Want to chat about it some more? Come find me on Twitter.
- And last, this handy guide to this week’s soundtrack. Au revoir!