The second episode of My So-Called Life didn’t feel like the second episode of a new series. Maybe because the first episode did such a good job at setting up Angela Chase’s world, by episode two the viewer already feels pretty settled in, and invested in the characters.
The second episode picks up shortly after the upbeat ending of the first episode. Of course, contentment is boring to watch, so soon after the opening credits roll, we see more of the conflict between Angela’s parents, who have hit a rut in their marriage, and we see a side Angela we don’t really like when it becomes clear that she’s taking advantage of her brainy lab partner, Brian.
What’s interesting about Angela is that she’s a pretty good “everyteen” that viewers can relate to. But unlike supposed modern-day everyteens (paging Bella Swan), Angela is an interesting, dynamic character. Despite her fairly shy exterior, she is not a weak character. In the premiere, we saw Angela, for the first time in her young life, making the decision to be “bad.” But instead of being punished, she is rewarded for these decisions. This is unusual, especially for a female character.
Choosing to go to a bar with Rayanne, to lie to her parents, and to do something that she knows could be dangerous, leads Angela to bond with her new friends, impress her crush when he sees her get put into a cop car, and then charm the police officer to the point that he doesn’t turn her in to her parents.
Not to mention, Angela is not nearly as timid as she appears. Last week, her first conversation with Jordan Catalano, the awkward, stilted moments of which made him aware of her in the first place, was due to the fact that she approached him. That’s the entire reason he was able to recognize her when she got into the cop car.
This week, Rayanne orchestrates an interaction between Angela and Jordan Catalano by asking Jordan if he can get Angela a fake ID. When she heads over to Brian’s house to work on their science project, Rayanne brings Jordan over, and he waits in his car for Angela to come outside. Angela dawdles in the house before coming out, peeking at Jordan through the curtains and telling Rayanne that maybe the fantasy of someone you have a crush on is worth protecting. It’s almost as if she’s anticipating the unpleasant experience to come after she gets in his car.
Basically, when Jordan feels a spark or sexual tension with a girl, his M.O is to sloppily make out with her. When he tries this with Angela, she pushes him off and chastises him for not “working up to that.” I was once again proud of our girl for being assertive with Jordan, and it’s clear that she made an impression on him. He, like most good-looking guys in high school, probably hadn’t been turned down before. His initial negative reaction is betrayed by the fact that he drives by again, pretending to be looking for Tino.
The episode ends with another strong moment between Angela and her dad. After an episode-long discussion on their inability to connect, and Graham’s horrible comment that Patty’s new haircut “shows her ears more,” Angela’s parents seem to tentatively make up. Add in some leftover spaghetti bonding time with Angela, and it seems like this episode has another happy ending. But when Angela heads back downstairs, she overhears her dad (who doesn’t yet have the option of a cell phone, poor guy) break it off with his mistress. For the second time in one night, she’s learned that the men in her life she’s put on a pedestal may not be perfect after all.
I’ve been reminded that TV shows didn’t always preview the highlights from next week’s episode as the credits roll. So we’ll just have to wait until next week to see what happens next. My guess is Jordan Catalano will lean against some things and close his eyes.