On the latest Hart of Dixie, Zoe juggled her visiting mother, the Wilkes family, and Lavon's heartbreak while AB soldiered on and George was dealt yet another romantic debacle. Let's review and discuss!
First of all, this wasn't the kind of winter finale that ends on a massive cliffhanger to leave us all dying of suspense until the new episodes return in March. Let's face it, the somewhat low-key, uneventful Season 3 so far did not lay any groundwork for big, twisty developments in this episode.
However, there are two big factors to keep in mind when pining for Hart of Dixie to return to its more exciting glory days: 1) Lemon's coming back! and 2) There are all kinds of little hints of good stuff to come just sprinkled throughout "Act Naturally."
The main plot of this episode was all about Zoe trying to keep her mom from finding out that she's become close to the Wilkes family. To that end, Zoe enlisted Joel to keep her mom away from the Wilkes-attended b-day bash being thrown for Dr. Hart at Lavon's house. While Zoe's mom can be funny, and I liked the way she opted to "fight" the Wilkes fam for Zoe's attention by relocating to Bluebell (rather than simply backing down and feeling heartbroken by Zoe's abandonment, as she sees it), this wasn't the world's most fascinating plot line. What happened along the way, though, was very intriguing.
Some of the best moments of the hour were set in motion by Annabeth's beyond-awesome showdown with Lavon, where she finally stopped trying to act as if she was perfectly fine after their break-up. While assuring him that he has made a big mistake in letting her go, as she is the best thing to ever happen to him, AB also called Lavon out for the fact that he probably would have been happy to string her along forever if she had let him. I loved the emotion and strength in AB's tirade, as well as her trying and failing to throw a drink on him with an empty glass. This scene really highlighted that perfect combination of seriousness and comedy that comprises H.O.D.'s tone when it's at its best.
This speech left Lavon feeling even worse than he had before, but pushed him beyond the kind of hollow, frozen-up sadness he typically wallows in to a place of questioning himself. Why hadn't he just assured AB that she was the love of his life? Why couldn't he? I also wonder what's holding him back. Is he still harboring feelings for Lemon? Are there some other issues from his past that we don't know about that are causing him to stall? Lavon's search for the answers to those questions should make up his journey for the rest of this season.
Zoe put aside rushing back to her mom and poor Joel and stopped to counsel Lavon in his moment of crisis. She told Lavon that nothing's wrong with him, and that he averted a disaster by being honest with Annabeth. When Zoe stated that the worst thing he could have done was to marry someone he wasn't 100% sure about, I think there were few viewers who didn't question if she was also talking to or about herself there. After all, how much further is she going to let her relationship with Joel go before she faces her issues? She and Joel feel more like friends than lovers, and obviously, Zoe still has feelings for Wade. This scene very well should have started to make Zoe herself more aware of these issues, and hopefully she's now a step closer to confronting them.
After a couple of weeks with practically no "Zade" interactions, this episode had a few moments that - in their own subtle way - seemed to lay groundwork towards the two of them getting closer again. For one thing, there was practically steam pouring out of Zoe's ears at seeing Wade and Vivian making out at breakfast. Her response?
"As much as I'd like to watch my ex shove his tongue down my newly-found cousin's throat, I have to go to work."
It's amazing to me that this awkward love square (Zoe/Joel and Wade/Vivian) continue to ignore overtly uncomfortable moments like this, glossing them over with pretending it's all just funny and perfectly okay. While at least Wade and Viv share a strong attraction and are all loved up right now (making me dislike watching them together much more than I mind Zoe and Joel), Zoe doesn't even have that level of enjoyment in her relationship to fall back on. This makes her unable to fully mask her love and jealousy towards Wade, just like when she completely ignored Joel and AB's fakeout makeout so she could scope out Wade and Viv's date a few episodes back. If Wade's around, Zoe's never going to be thinking of Joel first and foremost.
Another key indication came when Crazy Earl came blustering on the scene of Zoe's party, insisting drunkenly upon meeting Vivian. Zoe quickly took Earl aside and got ahold of Wade so that he could diffuse the situation. I don't know what raised the "Zade" quotient of this scenario more, Earl's awesome insistence that Zoe and Wade belong together (he's a shipper!), or Wade's quiet, sincere appreciation for Zoe's help with his dad. This, along with the more negative reminder of his past misdeeds that came in the form of a slap from Zoe's mom earlier in the episode, reminded us that the emotional roots - good and bad - set down by Zoe and Wade's relationship still hold strong.
Not satisfied with merely having the best piece of dialogue in the episode with her tell-off to Lavon, AB also treated us to a highly entertaining subplot about her rejoining the Belles. Due to Crickett's inefficient leadership, she's been ousted as a leader by the catty ladies, who sought to give her throne to Annabeth. Looking for someplace to put her energy after an exhausting ordeal with Lavon, AB leaped at the chance to take on this new duty, but made it contingent on Crickett being her co-leader. This showed off how sweet Annabeth can be, even to friends who have been less than kind to her in the past.
It must be said that in this Lemon-less stretch of episodes. AB is probably the MVP of the supporting cast in trying to fill the void caused by Jaime King's absence. Unlike, say, George Tucker (we're going to discuss him next!), AB shoulders the extra time per episode with plenty of interesting activities. Moreover, her fashions are so gorgeous that they practically are their own subplot every week.
Okay, onto George. I enjoy this character and think that Scott Porter always anchors the role with an appealing guy-next-door charm that makes him fun and relatable. Unfortunately, George has been bogged down in the least effective part of each episode for a few weeks now, in with his relationship with the sinking ship of a pointless character known as Lynly, and then by the blessedly brief rekindling of his romance with irritating know-it-all Tansy. Thank the stars that George Tucker's romantic snoozefests may finally be at an end now that Tansy has decided to give Scooter another chance and is moving to Mobile (you know, that place where they send H.O.D. characters off to when it's time to conveniently disappear).
I will say that George had his funniest and best moment of the season so far when he confronted Scooter with a bunch of ill-conceived accusations based on Tom's less-than-astute research. I mean, second-best quote of the week after Annabeth's Lavon disses? "G-Tuck! Throwing truth hammers!" Seriously, hilarious. The awkwardness with which he responded to Scooter's quick debunking of his conspiracy theories showed George at his cutest and most delightfully absurd.
So all-in-all, despite the lack of earth-moving story shifts or Zade makeout seshes (hey, a girl can dream!), "Act Naturally" had some great confrontations, possible realizations, and humorous hole-in-ones that enhanced it and made it a lot more memorable than the previous few installments of the show. The previews for the new episodes show so much pure Lemony greatness that I simply cannot wait to see what lies ahead for Hart of Dixie. I genuinely think that the show can barely function, despite all of its many strong performers, without Lemon, so the news of her return could not be more welcome!
What did you think of this week's episode? What do you want to see happen when the show returns? Share your thoughts in the comments!