‘Bunheads’ recap: Episode 3, ‘Inherit the Wind’

Yes, that random girl is photo-bombing some racial diversity. Or maybe she's just a foot fetishist, who knows?

After the memorial, Fanny and Michelle are talking to the Flowers’ attorney about the conditions of transferring the will, which includes not only money and property but also a magazine subscription to Rolling Stone. Although at first we were skeptical, we’re actually enjoying how each new episode starts where the last one left off, like finishing a thought. We wonder if this format is going to allow the show to cover as much ground as those that aren’t fixed to a consecutive, linear time line.

Fanny needs to repeatedly confirm that this showgirl does, in fact, now own her entire world. The friend explains that all Hubbell ever wanted to be in life was a husband, and he dressed up six years in a row as a groom for Halloween, but people kept thinking he was a waiter. Hee hee. Michelle says she isn’t going to kick Fanny out of the house. The will also includes a provision that Fanny should keep running her dance studio. (We suspect, now that Fanny is backed into a corner where this is her only terrain, it’s about to become even more of a power-hungry battle turf.) Michelle pours some shots of whiskey for them, but Fanny just walks away. Michelle takes them both. We’re still curious about how much, exactly, this rich businessman was worth since we have no idea yet what line of business Hubbell was actually in. Rare collectibles? He did seem like he might have a storage unit somewhere stacked with Beanie Babies and Real Dolls.

Speaking of which, next we see Michelle waking up in the third ring of tchotchke hell as a bunch of alarms and chimes go off in the living room of the crazy house – look, now is not the time to upend and upset Fanny further, but seriously the first order of business here needs to be to redecorate this place. This tackiness gets under our skin almost as bad as the messes on “Hoarders.” Why is Michelle sleeping in the living room?

Lest we forget that this show is supposed to be about ballerinas, the girls with their hair in the requisite buns are hanging out and taking pictures of each other’s feet – you know, normal teenage pastime stuff. Michelle wanders by to socialize because she has nothing better to do. They’re competing to see which dance studio is best by which dancers’ feet are the worst in a big regional competition that’s probably getting a lot of Web traffic for all the wrong reasons. They’ve come in second and third place before, but never first. We should also note that there’s randomly a black ballerina rolling her eyes in the background, because some ABC Family exec showed up to work one day and was like, “Whoops, we forgot to have diversity on this show.” Maybe those references to “Girls” from last week weren’t so far off the mark after all.

Michelle grabs scones from the gas station for breakfast because she’s feeling “Downton Abbey,” but Fanny isn’t ready to reconcile over pastry. She wants to talk about what she’s allowed to use in the house, passive-aggressively continuing to whine about the silly mess that Hubbell got them both into as if it’s Michelle’s fault. Michelle tries to explain that Hubbell surely thought his mom would be dead before any of this would matter, which doesn’t really help anything between them. The writing on this show has a delightful way of veering into dark and devious territory but then climbing back out by wit’s teeth.

Back at the studio, Ginny gives Boo a lucky snood for the Joffrey auditions. A snood is a knit hairpiece that helps keep a dancer’s head at the optimal temperature with the warmth concentrated just above the occipital lobe, aka the part of the brain that controls dance, which is also how the bun hairstyle was invented in the first place. It may or may not be pink (the snood, not the brain; that’s always pink). See, now you learned some things today. And you thought you’d just be talking about a silly bunch of ballerinas!

In the meantime, Melanie is fighting with her brother, Charlie, because she needs to be picked up in an hour and a half; he has to chauffeur her around because he got caught drinking beer and that’s his punishment. We do wonder how hard it would be to walk home, considering that the town’s supposed to be about as long as our walk to the nearest Starbucks. Boo has a big ol’ crush on Charlie, by the way.

The local real estate lady, Claire, comes by pretending to be nice, but she’s actually trying to scare Michelle into unloading “all of this.” Michelle thinks she means the crap all around them: “This is Fanny’s stuff, she likes things that stare.” The woman actually means the seven acres of property, including a lake and two ponds. Claire makes it sound like a lot of expensive upkeep. Didn’t Michelle say in the first episode that she was handy around the house? In the tour of the assets, Michelle also learns Hubbell had a hot little car that she’s also inherited. It’s the first thing that actually puts a light in her eyes about all of this.

Fanny sees Claire and Michelle walking around and assumes the worst. She yells at Michelle about not understanding what it’s like to live in a town for more than 40 years and then lose everything, then goes on to tell Michelle that she’s not wanted around Paradise. Michelle storms off, since she hasn’t learned how to compose herself in the cross-hairs of Fanny’s ridiculousness yet. But at least it prompts her to hop into her little convertible and go for a stress-relieving spin. That is, until it stalls out on her in the middle of nowhere.

Melanie tells Boo to stand out front so she can show off in front of Charlie. Sasha loudly suggests that Boo just give him a lap dance, embarrassing the poor little duck despite her lucky snood.

Meanwhile, Michelle is waiting for the tow truck guy to come fix her new old car. His name is Lou and he won’t help her until they get permission from the owner of the private road on which her car is stuck. It’s owned by some rich guy named Bill, which might be short for Buffalo Bill, because he’s a crazy recluse who may or may not eat people and/or wear their skin. Michelle makes a big fuss so the local sheriff, Clayton, detains her. Fanny has to come save the day, which is mostly noticeable only because she somehow opens the back door of the cop car from the inside and lets herself out, which we know you can’t do because it’s common knowledge, not because we’ve ever experienced it firsthand. Okay, well, we have, but it’s not what you think. And that’s another story for another time.

As soon as the cops leave, Michelle decides to jaunt up the property to confront Bill. Fanny gapes, “You just got arrested for doing what you’re doing again!” Michelle says, “Thank God my mother-in-law swing dances with the chief of police,” referring to the tidbit she just learned. Then she goes about doing what she does best, following her reckless impulses and shaming Fanny.

Melanie and Ginny are still upset that Sasha ruined Boo’s already miniscule self-confidence. “I know you’re supposed to have a mean girlfriend in high school, I’ve seen all the movies, but this is getting really exhausting.” They try to invite her for a sleepover to cheer her up, but she just wants to sit in a dark closet by herself. We’re mentioning that she’s choosing to hide in the closet to avoid the all-girl sleepover, and then we’re letting that one slide. Although, come on, one of them has got to bourree both ways, right? Maybe that’s more of a sweeps storyline. Of course, Sasha overhears part of their conversation and haughtily tells them that she’s fine.

Boo gets into the car with her mom, who tells her that she should go to the sleepover with her friends because she tried to make a lite mac ‘n’ cheese for dinner and it smells like dead foot. Enough foot jokes for this episode! But we do like Boo’s mom, which is unsurprising. She’s also overweight, which definitely provides more perspective for Boo’s body insecurities. Then we meet Sasha’s mom, who’s slim and self-centered – also unsurprising. It’s a great contrast between the two women that enlightens us about the tension between their daughters.

By the time Michelle gets to Buffalo Bill’s front door, she’s a sweaty mess. So of course the guy who lives there, whose name is actually Grant, is a dashing salt-and-peppered man with a silver tongue: “You have such a big door!” “That’s what all the ladies say.” He invites Michelle inside to get her some water and they talk about the local view; Grant calls the local nude beach “two miles of Dali paintings walking around free.” Then he offers to have his chauffeur take a look at Michelle’s car. Oh, stop flirting you two. Actually, we think that Michelle is flirting while Grant is covertly wiping fingerprints off of things and speaking to mysterious unseen staff on his phone. We hope that a butler turns up so that when bodies start hitting the floor we can play “Clue.”

Grant’s also the only person who doesn’t know all about Michelle yet, because the paper boy won’t come up to his house and he’s otherwise fairly distanced from the rest of town – literally and figuratively. Grant does know of Claire though, and he calls her an idiot and tells Michelle to ignore everything the real estate lady said. They complain and banter a little about Michelle’s sudden predicament and her fear of commitment and the mother-in-law she inherited. Just then, Michelle gets a message from the dance school girls that they won their ugly foot competition and feels like maybe she’s becoming part of this town after all. Then she’s kicked out because Grant has a date coming, and Michelle is visibly disappointed. Hello, new Luke.

By the time Michelle gets back to her new residence, it’s dark. But Sasha is still in the studio practicing all by herself. Michelle knows this is fishy, because the girls should all be out celebrating their awful feet award, and steps inside to see what’s up. We see the usual brick shell defense mechanism that defines Sasha, but the actress does a remarkable job of cracking just beneath the surface when Michelle asks if she’s OK. Most people don’t ask Sasha that, since she makes sure to always seem like she is more than OK. Michelle knows not to push too hard and just makes it known that she’s there to talk, then tells Sasha to be safe getting home.

Next, she wanders into a cottage out on the back of her property; of course it’s quaint and full of character and just perfect for her to have some privacy and give Fanny the house full of googly-eyed kitsch. Mrs. Flowers is watching the weather channel and looking disturbingly depressed back in the main house. She’s even hugging a cat pillow, just to seem as sad as possible. Michelle comes in and announces that she’s taking over the guest house, and then tells Fanny that they’re going to get drunk on some wine that she’s decanting. Unlike when Fanny walked away from Michelle’s peace offering of whiskey shots earlier in the day, this time she agrees to embark on this bottle of wine – and, via symbolism, the proposition of this new relationship – with Michelle.


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