This episode, better known as “Rayanne Falls off the Wagon,” was painful to watch. First up, we see what Sober Rayanne is really like. She’s successfully completed her 30 days of counseling at school, and her counselor expresses concern that Rayanne lacks the support system necessary to maintain her sobriety. It’s clear that despite her “too cool for this” exterior, Rayanne’s actually appreciated having someone to talk to. Still, she opts not to continue counseling and we have to watch her struggle to connect with the people in her life.
Angela is preoccupied with Jordan Catalano. Despite their breakup last week, they’re still spending all their time together. Jordan seems to just be used to opening up to Angela at this point, so he’s hesitant to stop. (Co-dependency: a theme this week?) Turns out the always-flakey Tino has quit Frozen Embryos. In Jordan’s world, this is a big deal. Bigger, I guess, than dealing with a crippling substance abuse problem at the age of 15. Good thing he has Angela to talk to!
This is actually pretty spot-on. Oftentimes when someone goes through a major trauma, their friends and loved ones suddenly don’t know how to act around them. Like they’re scared they’ll do or say the wrong thing, so they do nothing. Or just act like everything’s fine. That’s certainly true in Rayanne’s world.
Rayanne shows up at Angela’s house after school, per the plans they made, and Angela is nowhere to be found. So Rayanne indulges in some quality time in the kitchen with Graham, and Patty can see that Rayanne’s at a precarious point in her recovery. So Patty decides that 8:30 am the next morning is a great time to call Rayanne’s mom Amber to tell her she’s worried about Rayanne. It doesn’t go well.
Feeling increasingly alone, and following her mom’s not-awesome advice, Rayanne nudges her way into Jordan’s little predicament by trying to get Angela to convince him that Rayanne should be the new lead singer of his band. Angela and her non-backbone only manage to weakly mention it to Jordan, and she backs down instantly when he doesn’t seem into the idea. Undeterred, Rayanne shows up at the cartoonishly ’90s band practice, and woos the drummer (who isn’t Drumsticks?!) into letting her join the group. Before they’ve had a chance to practice, though, they decide to do open mic night at the coffee shop and Rayanne’s nervous about performing cold turkey.
Angela decides not to go to the coffee house for some reason. It’s extra confusing that she skips it considering it’s also Jordan’s precious band, but OK. Ricky, meanwhile, is a nervous wreck. Ricky’s flaws as a friend and supporter of Rayanne really come to light in this episode. I think every person who has problems has a friend like Ricky. Way too panicky and coddling and reactionary. Instead of actually doing anything about Rayanne’s situation, he just sort of flails and worries and cries. I’m not blaming him; I actually appreciate the fact that they took the time to show us why, despite his strong love for her, Ricky isn’t enough to help keep her on track.
So, in a turn that shocks no one, Rayanne freezes at the mic and urns out, leaving Jordan and his sexy voice to take over. (Uh, why isn’t he the lead singer, again?) Ricky cries and calls Angela in a panic. But I guess no one did anything about it, because next thing you know it’s the next morning and Patty’s at the Graf’s door. She tries to confront Amber with the fact that Rayanne’s relapsed, and yells that she knows Rayanne’s missing. Rayanne wanders into the living room, and surprise! She just came home the night before and ate cookie dough and unplugged the phone. Which was an incredibly stupid thing to do. Also, did anyone else want to shout at the TV when Amber got all high and mighty “I’m A Good Mom” on Patty? Um, yeah, you were a great mom when you yelled at your daughter when she was ODing and then left to go on a date.
So all that’s left is the resolution between the three friends, which happens on the fire escape outside school. They hug, they cry, I briefly consider giving myself the front blond streak that Rayanne has because it looks so cool. But wait ““ there’s more! The gang goes to see a movie, and Rayanne becomes inspired to sing the theme song to Sesame Street. Instead of being supremely annoyed by her, for some reason every single person on line loves it and one of them hands her a beer when she’s done. She takes a sip. Please note that none of this is normal, from the thrilled moviegoers to the idea that some dude would just hand a 15-year-old a beer after she sings a song from a kid’s show.
This whole development kind of undoes the entire episode that preceded it. We were supposed to be all thrown off (like Patty) and feel bad for assuming Rayanne would relapse during a stressful time when her friends aren’t there for her. But she didn’t; she just spent some QT with her mom. So, when the friends finally do reconnect, and everything’s going well, then she relapses? I mean, I’m aware that things work out imperfectly in real life, but as a fictional narrative it’s kind of weird and confusing. So I guess next week we’ll deal with her falling off the wagon. Or maybe not!