‘Still Star Crossed’ 1×05 Review: Partners (not in crime)

Considering that we already know this show is likely cancelled, you’d think that the experience of watching it would be somewhat depressing, or that there’d be this overwhelming feeling of defeat hanging around every second, every tweet, and every word I write about it. And yet, strangely enough, I don’t feel defeated. I don’t feel an overwhelming need to stop watching, to lick my wounds and just forget.

No, instead, I feel a sense of wanting to experience the journey, while there’s still a journey left to experience. I seem to be enjoying the good parts and not dwelling on the bad ones – not that an episode that puts Rosaline and Benvolio in the forefront has as many bad ones.

I’m not sure if I’m still in denial or I’ve crossed over to acceptance, but on a day like today, after an episode like the one we got to watch, I just want to bask in OTP feels and hope that, somehow, someone picks up the show – and if that doesn’t happen, that the fandom can find a way to keep these characters alive.

Please, don’t tell me I just have 5 more episodes of Rosvolio. I don’t want to.

Yeah, I’m probably still in denial.

While I get over that – or don’t – let’s go over the high highs and the low lows of
“Nature Hath Framed Strange Fellows in Her Time”

THE OPPOSITE OF LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT

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The best thing about Rosaline and Benvolio is how much of a contrast they present to the star-crossed lovers who started this whole thing, Romeo and Juliet. Because this wasn’t love at first sight, or second sight, or even third sight. These two didn’t put their brains on pause and let lust and passion rule them, no. These two got thrown into unfortunate circumstances and managed to come out of them, not just friends, but partners.

Equals.

It starts with Benvolio, of course, because it always needed to start with him. He’s had a hard life, yes, but there’s male level of hard and then there’s female level of hard, especially in that day and age. And though Benvolio hasn’t really been loved by his uncle, he had his cousin, he had friends, he belonged someone, and even if those people are gone, that knowledge stays with you.

Rosaline has never belonged with anyone. And notice how I don’t say to anyone, because even in those days, this show has always made it clear that the thing with these two is that they belong not to each other, but together. There’s no possession to their relationship, there’s just a sense of wanting …of wanting the other to be okay. Even when it doesn’t make sense for them to want it.

It started with respect, all the way back in episode one, and it blossomed into fondness and now, you can add a healthy dose of attraction to that and yes, we are on the journey to that love that Romeo and Juliet claimed to feel and Rosaline and Benvolio can actually get.

“I’ve never been responsible for anyone before,” Benvolio says at some point in the episode, and he seems both wistful and honestly, happy that he finally is. Rosaline has been responsible for someone – her sister, all her life, but she’s never had someone who wanted to be responsible for her.

And that’s where this episode leaves us – with Benvolio, presumably, free to run, but the person he suddenly feels responsible for, not exactly safe, and Rosaline, thinking she’s alone without realizing that her partner, her love, will not let anything happen without at least trying to help.

Oh, the mysteries of the heart and how they bring two people together.

For never was a story of more woe, than this of Juliet and her Romeo, Shakespeare ends the play. May Rosaline and Benvolio get the happily ever after, then.

POLITICS

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I dubbed Isabella mini-Cersei a few episodes ago, and she proves exactly why this episode, when she gets out of a sticky situation by, well, outthinking her opponents over and over again. She could get the Doge to sign the treaty the easy way, of course, but she’s still a woman, still tied to conventions, and doing that would mean her ruin. So she must come up with alternative ways.

That she manages is not just a testament to how good she is at thinking on her feet, but how good she is at making allies. Her brother, who’s been raised to rule, would never have managed it, because for all the knowledge Escalus possesses, he lacks the finesse Isabella has in spades.

Sometimes it’s not about revenge, not about honor, not about winning against everyone. Sometimes it’s about getting what you need, about setting your lines, yes, but being willing to do everything else to get what you need.

Isabella could have thrown Valentina to the fire, and she might have wanted to – it’s not like Valentina had been kind to her, but would that have been the best course of action? The answer is clearly no, and Isabella figured that out, and Isabella got what she wanted.

Except – as that look at the end proves, she didn’t get everything she needed. Or is it possible that Isabella is just now figuring out what it is she actually needs?

Other things to note:

  • The title is from The Merchant of Venice(Act I, Scene I).
  • Women’s clothes in Shakespeare’s times were akin to a torture device.
  • But Isabella is still the only good part of the royal family.
  • I love how Benvolio, despite being a gentleman, is not brainless. Cuddling is obviously a much better idea than one of them being cold all night.
  • I mean, the fact that he might want to cuddle has nothing to do with it, I’m sure.
  • *wink wink*
  • I love how Isabella is just supposed to forget her first meeting with the Doge.
  • And sleep with him.
  • Like that’s normal.
  • Because it probably is. Ugh.
  • ISABELLA YOU BRILLIANT WOMAN, YOU.
  • “I ran off with a man. I’m worth nothing to my uncle now.” Ugh, being a woman sucked back then. Oh, wait. Being a woman still sucks.
  • Friar Laurence is even worse in this than he was in Romeo and Juliet.
  • Look, Rosaline, I don’t blame you for sneaking a peek. I would too.
  • Was I the one getting vibes from Isabella and her friend at the end? WAS I? Meh, I don’t care if I was.
  • I ship it.
  • Someone write me the fic.
  • Did Rosaline recognize Paris or what?

Still Star-Crossed airs Saturdays at 10/9c on ABC.

Lissete Lanuza Sáenz

Co-Executive Editor

Lawyer. Dreamer. Geek. Eternal optimist. Fangirl since the dawn of time. Hates the color yellow, olives and cigarettes. Has a recurring nightmare where she’s forced to choose between sports and books. Falls in love with fictional characters.