There are very episodes of television that I believe will stick with me, that I won’t be able to forget. Because the truth is, a lot of television feels like a job. Even ones that I don’t have to talk about.
Television feels like a job because it all feels so forced now a days. It just doesn’t feel genuine. But something about this episode felt real. Something about it felt relatable. Something about it was everything I wanted and didn’t want, but needed.
It’s time for the ball and time for secrets to come to light. They always come out. Secrets are weird that way.
BEFORE THE BALL
Every time Susannah comes onto the screen, there is a part of me that wants to cry and another part of me wants to yell. I know that she has every right to keep her secret, every right to do things in her own time, but part of me feels angry at her for it.
And that saddens me.
Susannah is so excited for the ball, and asks Belly is she pushed her into it. Belly admits that she did, but also that she wants to do it now. She wants to go. Belly has worked hard and I do believe that part of her wants to do it because she doesn’t want the other girls to push her out.
One thing (among many) that Lola Tung has done an amazing job at over this season is she really is able to show both sides of Belly. The Belly that was and the Belly that is growing into who she was meant to become.
And that’s a hard thing to capture and make it believable.
But it’s because she does that you can really become invested in Belly and what she’s doing, as well as the dumb decisions that she’s making. Yes, I said dumb.
I am fully aware this is make believe and that we’re talking about a fictional character, but doesn’t change my thoughts. Belly’s decisions have been somewhat (a lot) selfish. Some of them have been made and we get the reasons why. But there is the other part of me that just thinks that she’s fucking with peoples feelings.
Including her own.
Conrad tries really hard to make peace with Belly, but she’s very distant. I was talking with a friend of mine about this and she thought that Belly was being mean, but I think she’s really just trying to keep herself safe.
After all, first love pain hurts like a bitch.
EVERYONE IS MAKING MISTAKES
Steven is at Shayla’s making his apologies. He messed up and he knows that he messed up. He lost all of his money and can’t afford his tux for the ball. Steven has to come clean, and talk to Shayla about his insecurities.
Steven didn’t have to be part of that poker game and loose all his money, but he wanted to be liked. He wanted to fit into Shayla’s world. But what he missed the entire time was that SHE has always thought he was good enough.
And though it takes a lot for Steven to come clean, when Shayla humbles him, I applaud. Minnie Mills, who plays Shayla, has been a breakout star of the season. At the beginning I honestly thought that I would hate Shayla, but the way Minnie brings her to life, you can’t help but love her.
When Steven heads home, he catches Jeremiah and Belly kissing. He’s kinda been a dick to his sister, but right then and there, he’s really an asshole. The thing is that Belly gathers all of her strength and tells Steven that it’s not about him. It has nothing to do with him. She can date who she wants.
It’s not about Steven.
Steven doesn’t want things to change, the Fisher’s are his family and like Belly, he doesn’t want to loose the summer. I honestly think that Steven loosing all that money was the best thing for him, because he started to realize what he has, vs. what isn’t important.
THE START OF THE BALL
When Belly is in the green room, trying to explain herself to Nicole. This is something that I don’t understand, because Nicole fucked up. What she did, leaving her naked and stranded is unforgivable.
The only thing that I will give Nicole credit for is that she tells Belly something true – you never really get over your first love.
The entire family shows up and that’s one of the best things. They are always there for each other.
Susannah is a little frail and its showing. Laurel wants to protect her and so does Conrad. Jeremiah – he’s worried as fuck. You can see the worry in his eyes and its kind of terrifying. He’s this great person, who loves his family, has this spice for life, is fearless and confident. But, he also wants to know that everything is okay.
Everyone else is telling him that Susannah is fine, but he knows his Mom. He feels something is up.
Jeremiah, I actually feel bad for him. Why? Because he loves his best friend and she’s hung up on his brother. He knows something is wrong with his Mom, but can’t figure it out. His brother is distant and he doesn’t get it.
With all this going on, he’s there for Belly. He is her escort, makes her feel like the bell of the ball, and shows her just how important she is. It’s just that when he gets the opportunity, he steals his Moms phone to try and figure out what is wrong with her.
This all stems because he’s seen something wrong with his Mom and then also he overhears Laurel talking to her ex-husband saying that something is wrong.
When Jeremiah disappears, I get somewhat angry at him. Yet, who are any of us to judge fear? What I see is a lot of lessons learned. Laurel is realizing that she’s about to loose her best friend, Belly is seeing that people can let you down, Steven sees that he’s good the way he is.
THE BROTHERS FIGHT
Belly is asking everyone if they’ve seen Jeremiah, but he’s no where to be found. Conrad looks concerned, but he’s concerned that Belly will be let down again.
Conrad knows that he’s mad his mistakes and he does regret them, but one of the things he regrets most is treating Belly how he has. It doesn’t matter if he’s in love with Belly or if he’s not, he LOVES her. She’s been in his life and will remain in it no matter what. But at this point – at this moment – he knows that he needs to show up.
And he does. He dances with her and you can see this ease with both of them. They move in sync. They trust each other and for Belly, I think her seeing that he’ll show up is a big thing for her.
She needs to know that he’s there.
It’s kinda heartbreaking when you see someones last moments of life as they know it. There’s this point in life where if you look back, I am sure you can define the moment that everything changed and nothing that had mattered matters anymore. All you can see is that moment.
This is that moment for them all.
Jeremiah returns and he really wants to keep it all in, but finding out that Conrad’s known and not said a word is too much. The two get into a fist fight and Belly’s just wondering what they are talking about when Susannah stops their fight and they both tells her that they know.
AFTER THE BALL
What do you say when you find out that the person that you love more than anything is dying? There are no words. Nothing that you can say that really would make sense of anything. Nothing will make anything better.
But what do you do when you can’t find a way to deal with the pain? Belly is broken, laying in her bed crying, with her Mom holding her. She realizes that her Mom has had to carry this alone and that is a lot for her.
It’s this weird thing in life when you begin to understand pieces of your parents and begin to respect them for taking care of things that you never realized they were. You see that they’ve been paying attention to the details. You see that they’ve been in their own pain and you want to protect them from feeling it any deeper.
And yet, you still know that they are there to protect you.
Conrad and Jeremiah are talking to their Mom, openly for the first time. They want her to get help, no matter what it takes. They need her and they just haven’t been able to find all the right words to tell her.
Susannah has it set in her mind that she’s not going to go through this again, but how do you say no, when your kids are sitting there and begging you to do something? You can’t. She can’t.
Conrad and Jeremiah haven’t been easy, but their love for their Mom reigns supreme. She can see the pain in their eyes and voices, begging her. They still need her.
And so she doesn’t say no. She agrees to the cancer trial, for them.
All summer, everyones been caught up in their own lives, as they should be. Most of what has happened though, would have not happened, if they had all been honest. I am not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing.
It’s a thing.
But it’s a thing that changes everything for Belly. She realizes that Conrad has been the way he’s been for a reason. He’s been going through a lot. She wishes he would have told her, but if I am being honest, I am glad he never did. I think that in his own way, Conrad was trying to do something selfless, holding the burden of his Moms secret.
And for that, we can’t be mad.
But as I have said they’ve all been fucking with peoples feelings and so I am confused as to why I feel both anger and relief over it all. I am confused why staring at Belly and Conrad, which is everything that I’ve wanted, for a second I feel sad.
I feel sad that there was so much wasted time and yet I think that Belly needed that time to figure out exactly who she is. He needed that time too. He tells her that he needs her, and I get it, that’s kind to hear. But, I have to agree with Belly here, she doesn’t want him to need her.
She wants him to want her.
When he admits that he wants her and they kiss, I cried. I cried for beginnings, endings, and everything in between.
Summers are magical, especially when you’re a kid and it’s something that you look forward to. Summers are magical when you begin to find yourself and find the love and strength that has been there inside of you all along.
Life is built in summers – the magic of them and the beauty of possibilities.
The Summer I Turned Pretty is streaming now on Prime Video.