It was an incredibly dark hour.
But in its darkness and tight focus, Good Trouble Season 4 Episode 8 felt the most like itself than it’s been for some time, and it was all the better for it.
With a handful of characters and some serious subject matter, the hour touched on some topics and captured the humanity of its characters, old and new, and the cast did a commendable job.
Finally, we learned what happened to Alice on that tour, and it was downright chilling when it played out before our eyes.
Sherry Cola is such a talent. Because of the type of character that she typically plays here, a funny, awkward, and lovable Alice, Cola doesn’t often get to chew on serious, deeper storylines that draw out this side, as we’ve seen since Alice’s return.
When given something this meaty, gritty, and vulnerable, Cola not only shows how far-reaching her range is, but she truly shines.
None of us are all one thing. The darker turn to things Alice faces and endures reflects our reality as a society and hers as a queer Asian-American woman. It’s allowed Cola to tap into this character on a profoundly deeper level rather than playing it safe at the surface level.
And when she does, it’s such compelling work that it moves you. Not that viewers haven’t taken her seriously anyway, but Cola certainly gets your undivided attention with this raw storytelling; Alice’s vulnerability elicits a visceral response.
The way Alice’s entire countenance crumbled as she fought against expressing what happened to her on tour despite Sumi’s prodding was enough to wind you, and the dam broke, tears rushing down, as the last bit of Alice’s restraint snapped made you want to reach through the screen to hold her.
Mrs: Kwan: We may be Chinese-Americans, but this country sees us as Chinese first, even if we are citizens, we’re treated as guests here.
Mr. Kwan: We survived this long by keeping our heads down and not attracting attention. Going public could make things worst. Make this man more angry. This time it was a soda but next time he could have a gun.
The furtive looks between Alice and her parents, Sumi tenderly wiping Alice’s tears away, all of it played out so hauntingly but beautifully, and it was delicate work all around.
Alice did well with the heckler when she was onstage. She was quick on her feet and annihilated effortlessly, and it was witty and funny. She got the crowd on her side further, even if it humiliated this angry man, and she took her power back on that stage.
The racy clitoris joke made me gasp before giggling in sheer delight. But that high of shutting down this rude, angry man was short-lived when he cornered her while she was alone, shouted such ugly, racial slurs at her, and threw his drink on her.
It was a brief scene; those minutes felt like a lifetime, and Alice’s terror was palpable, her fear visceral and relatable. It was one of those moments that we, especially as women, or POC, have been warned about, but nothing prepares you for when it happens.
In those couple of minutes, this hateful, angry man traumatized Alice and took her confidence, her voice, power, and dignity. Your heart just shattered for her.
And suddenly, everything with her parents made sense, even before they explained why they told Alice not to report it. On the surface, it should be simple enough. Someone assaulted her, and he should’ve been reported.
But the Kwans had spent their lives in this country knowing that their citizenship didn’t matter when people treated them like “others” and that their best way of getting through the day for decades was keeping their heads down and not raising more suspicion.
It’s the laws of nature, primal even that a protection mechanism is making yourself smaller and less of a threat to avoid becoming prey.
And there is a generational difference there that the hour subtly dives into. In the Kwans day, it was the best insurance and protection to keep quiet and suffer silently because there was no guarantee of any protection from anyone else.
But with Sumi and Alice’s generation, things are different. We’re a vocal bunch. Nowadays, communities fight for their rights to exist, make noise and fight against hatred, bigotry, and ill-treatment. They’re loud, make noise, and damn sure force people to pay attention.
We’re seeing it regularly as the hate crimes against the AAPI community rise at an alarming rate, happening with such frequency it leaves you utterly hopeless and disgusted with where we are as a society, still in 2022.
Alice’s parents weren’t wrong for trying to protect their daughter the best way they knew how. But their way doesn’t save her from the mental and emotional toll that the incident took on her. It hasn’t spared her the trauma and pain, the humiliation, or that sinking feeling that makes you feel like less of a person, dehumanized.
I know you’re not fine as a woman, as a proud Asian, and just as a human being. what happened to you was terrifying and humiliating. And though I don’t agree, I understand the advice your parents gave you.
God bless anyone who has ever been spared that level of ugliness and the things it inflicts upon you, how it permeates and breaks a person down.
And in addition to all of that, the man stole Alice’s joy and comedy, tarnished something she loves and is passionate about, and I’m happy that she had Sumi to talk to when it was all over.
Sumi sharing her own experience with casual racism was heartbreaking too. In both instances, victims of it diminished their experience because we’ve deluded ourselves into thinking that as long as no physical harm came from it, “it wasn’t that bad.”
Sumi’s such a remarkable character when she doesn’t come across as superficial and aloof. The soft, tender, real moments with Alice make you root for this pairing but appreciate both characters and what they offer.
Cola and Wang were exceptional.
By the time Alice slipped into bed with Sumi, opening herself up to the comfort that Sumi could provide, silently crying, you felt emotionally spent from their experience but also utterly charmed by what these two can be for each other in the future.
When you see this side of their relationship, you can genuinely buy into them being meant for each other and one another’s better half.
It’s a sentiment that the hour nailed with expert precision because Gael and Isabella felt the same way.
While it’s apparent that Gael has developed deeper feelings for Isabella, he’s reached a point of admitting it.
And the slow burn and their path to this place in their relationship feels organic and earned. The sexual and romantic tension between them as they put the crib together was palpable, and they were seconds away from taking that next step until they got that dreaded phone call.
While I wasn’t a fan of them throwing these two young parents-to-be into a tizzy with the possibility of their child developing something that could lead to her death before she even reaches a year, it succeeded in drawing all of their feelings and what they’ve become to one another to the surface.
They could’ve had less stressful and traumatic ways of getting there, as Isabella has had one of the most high-risk pregnancies on the air. In an age where too many series are relying on trauma storylines to the point of putting their viewers in emotional fatigue, that scare was a bit too much.
Isabella: I want to have faith, too, but–
Gael: Isabella. That’s why you have me to lean on.
Isabella: I’ve never been able to lean on anyone. My parents were never there for me. They always left me with babysitters, and it was like they were so in love with each other, but there was never any room for me. No matter what I did or who I tried to be, I could never make them love me.
Gael: Your parents suck.
Gael: You know I’m not just here for the baby. I’m here for you too.
Isabella: Ok, if you believe the baby will be alright, so will I.
But when you consider that Gael and Isabella have been off the page more than on the same one, they needed something to bond them again, making them fight against the world and for one another rather than against each other.
It was also beautiful to touch on Gael’s faith without it being some overbearing thing. When Isabella had all but given up on having a healthy baby, evidence of a young woman who never had the luxury of trusting good things and was conditioned to prepare herself for the worst, Gael clung to an inner faith that things would work out.
He finished the crib to distract himself, and he was positive enough for both of them. It showed how balanced they are, not just as future parents, which would be necessary when raising a child together, but also for one another.
Isabella isn’t used to being loved, cared for, or tenderness and goodness, and Gael has so much love to give and rarely gets to pour it into someone without consequence.
The baby was the one thing that brought them together, but now, they’ve become good friends and this extension to one another, and it’s happened so easily that now is as good a time as any for them to have fallen in love with each other.
And dare I say it may have become one of the only relationships that Gael has fostered that feels full and complete because it was nurtured and given room to grow.
Quintana and Martinez did a fabulous job showing the crackling tension and the shift in chemistry between them. I leaned into the screen, breath held for a few scenes, waiting for them to kiss, and pleasantly surprised by how much I was rooting for it.
And Isabella’s vulnerability as she confided in Gael about her home life, and he effortlessly gave her what her parents always robbed her of, was beautiful. The shot of them curled on the bed together after falling asleep was lovely too.
Gael: So, Isabella and I had a scare with the baby.
Davia: Oh, Gael!
Gael: Everything’s fine, but I realized when I was terrified about losing her that I was also scared about losing Isabella.
Davia: What do you mean?
Gael: Like if there was no baby, there would be no us, and I realize I can’t imagine my life without her now. Davia: So what does that mean? Are you saying your feelings for Isabella are deeper than friends?
Gael: I think so.
There was so much delicious intimacy among characters in this hour, and the series handled it all so well.
The positive news for the baby was a relief, albeit not surprising. By the time Gael did his adorable striptease in Davia’s room and confided in her that he had feelings for Isabella, it was hard not to be fully on board with these two.
Surprisingly, Davia had wonderfully intimate moments with Luca, too. He remains a great addition, same with Joaquin, the more time we spend with him.
He’s a genuinely sweet guy, and he’s coming into himself the more time he spends dancing and around Davia. Their connection is fascinating because it isn’t rooted in sexual or romantic tension specifically, but there’s an element of appreciation there.
Also, we get to see this new version of Davia through Luca’s eyes. We haven’t quite seen her from someone else’s viewpoint for some time. He sees her for who she is now, physically and more, and that adds a fresh layer to her character and helps shift our view of her.
He took pictures of her when she was free and unbidden, capturing her in the headspace she’s strived for through burlesque.
And his encouragement was sweet but also leveled the field in their relationship because we see that he offers something to Davia as much as she does him with food and housing.
Like Isabella, Luca has a hard time trusting a good thing and that there are people who are compassionate and loving and genuine in their desire to help. Luca isn’t some project to Davia but someone that she cares about, and you can see that he’s struggling to see that for what it is.
And Davia is right about people needing to learn how to be helped.
Luca is a brilliant dancer, and he’s an amazing man, and he has a bright future ahead of him. One can only hope that Kelly hasn’t scared him off for good.
It’s puzzling that it’s taking this long for Davia (Dennis and Joaquin) to share that Luca is there. He’d fit in perfectly, and the Coterie is a loving enough environment that would welcome him and help him get on his feet.
The hour also addressed Davia’s weight, and it was long overdue. It was no way that they could continue carrying on without acknowledging that Emma Hunton lost a significant amount of weight between seasons.
Mariana: Hey, has anyone noticed that Davia’s lost a lot of weight?
Sumi: Yeah, actually.
Gael: It’s been kind of gradual.
As much as we could point out how noticeable it was as viewers, it made sense, thus making that cute scene with the others realistic, when it took them seeing a picture of her and comments by her followers to realize just how much she had lost.
When you see someone every day, changes like that appear gradual, so you’re less inclined to notice right off the bat. Of course, it prompted concern when they recalled that one of Davia’s last posts was about her battling her eating disorder again.
They loved her enough to be concerned, so there wasn’t anything wrong with them wanting to address the issue with her. It’s just unfortunate that her followers got in her head first.
One of the downsides to the series making body positivity, mainly focusing on Davia as a plus-sized woman, her “brand” is that it’s hard for anyone to concentrate on anything else when they continue to lean into that when Davia is no longer plus-sized.
She’s been thin for a while now, but they would still regard her as being specifically “fat” when she’d talk about her weight, even though she wasn’t, and there was some understandable frustration there.
However, body positivity is about embracing and celebrating one’s body regardless of shape, size, weight, height, etc. Davia can still be that body-positive queen irrespective of her dress size.
And I’m happy that her burlesque teacher reminded her of that as someone who also battled an eating disorder. Davia doesn’t owe anyone to stay at a specific size to prove that she’s body positive.
And Davia losing weight doesn’t negate her experiences as a plus-sized woman and as someone who battles eating disorders.
I’m grateful the series finally addressed all of this. It also felt like a wonderful opportunity for Hunton to express herself through her character regarding the issue. She faced the exact type of treatment and criticism and backhanded compliments from individuals on social media.
It felt like Davia and Hunton converged as one when addressing this, and it’s good that the series brought this to light and handled it so well. It hurt to see Davia hide behind baggy clothes again, lose her confidence during the choreography, and shrink back like a violet.
But I cannot wait to see her Burlesque routine as she continues to embrace and love herself. Davia’s relationship with her body takes work and nurturing, and it’s HERS. No one else can judge that because they don’t know that relationship; only she does.
And closing out the review, the intimacy also carried over to Joaquin and Mariana. The quiet, simmering tension between them grows more appealing with each second they spend with one another.
As far as depending on anyone, at some point, we all need to accept help. I promise you that you are safe here and you can trust that this is real.
Joaquin truly brings out the soft, caring, vulnerable side to Mariana, and it’s refreshing to see her in that light again.
There is so much tenderness between them when they share scenes, and it’s such a blessed switch from relying solely on a more traditional, animalistic sexual energy.
Joaquin opens himself up to Mariana and catches feelings as he learns more about her and realizes that she’s much more than what he assumed about her.
And, in turn, he’s more than the guarded jerk that she thought he was, too. Joaquin found a person in Mariana. While this hour did a better job of showing that Mariana still has the Coterie to lean on when she interacts with them, Joaquin has become Mariana’s person.
The opening scene of the hour felt like something out of a procedural. With everything Joaquin is learning about his sister, you can understand why he would be having nightmares that someone murdered her and buried her body.
Chris is the only suspect he’s had that amounted to anything, so his fixation on him made sense. However, it was a shock when he got that anonymous message from someone claiming to be his sister.
She knew the correct answer to a question that only she could answer, so can we trust that it’s really her? On the one hand, she got the song right, but on the other, she didn’t respond until hours later, so the possibility that someone asked her and replied can still be factored into the equation.
Nevertheless, Mariana spending time with Joaquin, selflessly offering her help and support with finding his sister, was far more compelling than the update on the Revitalize girls not joining Bulk Beauty because Liza snitched to Jackie.
Joaquin: There’s more to you than I gave you credit for, and I’m sorry if I was kind of an asshole when we met.
Mariana: Kind of? Hey, your sister’s out there, she’s just really good at hiding.
Joaquin: Yeah, hopefully not in a shallow grave somewhere.
Mariana: Hey, don’t go there. She’s alive and well, and we’re going to find her.
It’s concerning that Mariana still feels like she has so much to prove and is failing everyone.
Her reaction to all of this was upsetting. But what was the point of all of this when the BB girls still want to use Evan as a trump card to buy Revitalize after they lambasted and ostracized Mariana for her relationship with him?
The arc with Mariana’s friends and the job has been disappointing.
Over to you, Good Trouble Fanatics.
Are you grateful that the baby is okay? Are you shipping new things? How did you feel about Alice’s experience? Sound off below!
You can watch Good Trouble online here via TV Fanatic.
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.