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Girl Meets World - Girl Meets Rules - Review

People influence people. 

It's a simple idea, in those three little words. Of course people influence people. It’s people who make the world go around. But it’s this idea that’s always been at the heart of Cory and Shawn’s friendship, and that has been so successfully transplanted into Maya and Riley’s. A childhood friendship can change the course of your life. It can shape your entire adulthood, your entire world, so be mindful of those small little choices. They could lead to the biggest of decisions.

This is part of what makes “Girl Meets World” an odd episode. There’s no real serialization to Girl Meets World, so filler is not perhaps the right word. It’s the usual formula. The kids need a lesson, Cory provides, they rebel but end up piecing it together on their own in the end. Yet, “Meets Rules” feels inconsequential, and it all comes down to its basic premise. People influence people. There’s something about rules and society, but ultimately, the point is that Maya and Riley are different people for having each other in their lives--except, we know this. We know Maya and Riley influence one another—that is the entire premise of their friendship. Without that understanding, none of it works.

There is fun to be had in seeing these two pushed to their extremes, of course—and “Meets Rules” actually works fantastically in these moments. With the class divided into factions after Cory grants them full power, Maya’s chaotic Lord of the Flies aesthetic is fun and fiery, wonderfully lit and shot for a series that has mostly kept with standard three camera coverage. Sabrina Carpenter also clearly relishes the chance to take point as well, dazzling with confidence and spark and more than a little danger. There’s nothing particularly unique about Maya’s empire, but in some ways, that’s the fun. It’s easy to see the pop culture Maya’s pilfering from, and easy to understand why. She's playing, not self-destructing.

It’s Rileytown where things crumble—not because Blanchard fails but rather because the moral alignment of the two options feels forced. Maya does nothing with her power. Some face paint, some hall storming, but otherwise, it’s an understandable use of the freedom Cory gave her. Riley’s group meanwhile praise her commitment to good, but the good’s barely been established. Again: Cory gave them free reign. It was not detention, really. It was a thought experiment, and Riley’s commitment to order is a character choice, not a moral one.  Probably it’s an attempt to make the episode feel more relevant, but this could have been easily remedied by Cory keeping his intentions closer to the vest. Threaten actual consequences, but leave the students in charge; set up a real detention, and see if Maya and Riley can maintain it themselves. There’s nothing wrong with broadening this simple concept, that people need people. It’s an error in framing that takes the whole episode down a notch, as it struggles to come together into an actual story. 

On the whole, “Meets Rules” does continue the trend of season 2 improving. It’s leagues beyond last week's anomaly, funny and charming. And the episode’s closer demonstrates how touching the show can be, when it’s not trying so hard. Riley and Maya don’t need long speeches at this stage of the game—we get their friendship. Their friendship has always been the clearest, truest, purest part of GMW. We know Maya will call for her—and we know Riley will already be there waiting. “Meets Rules” is simply a reminder of it, when what we really need from the show is a more careful eye on its structure and pacing.

Random Thoughts
  •  So are we just not talking about the whole Lucas revelation? Seriously, this whole "Lucas the Good" thing makes no sense given the recent reveal. Yes, he's been very well behaved now, but he knows better than anyone what Maya's talking about. She's hardly the bad seed.
  • Speaking of Lucas, I think the two close range scenes tonight with the girls really demonstrate the show's problem on the romance front here. Riley and Lucas are sweet, I'd never say they aren't. They're sensible, and mature, and on the page it's easy to see why they should be a model relationship. But Maya and Lucas on screen click in ways that amp up the energy in exactly the kind of way you want from a TV couple. Consider Cory and Topanga, who highlight precisely how strange the other is, and know it too. Yes, they'd do the cleaning bit. But also, their quipping over Mad Dog would have the bite and edge and spark that Maya and Lucas have naturally. I'm still willing to believe a fix is possible, given the basketball exchange, but the show hasn't quite stepped up their game since.
  • And speaking of an eye to the future: anyone fascinated by this Fogelmanis v. Puberty battle? It's strange how both obvious and subtle it is week to week, like an explosion in slow motion. Farkle's taken a bit of a backseat recently and I almost wonder if it's because the show's waiting to see how he settles, as his performance seems to be developing alongside it.

What are your own thoughts though? Sound off in the comments!

      About the Author - Sarah Batista-Pereira
      An aspiring screenwriter and current nitpicker, Sarah likes long walks not on the beach, character-driven storytelling, drama-comedy balancing acts, Oxford commas, and not doing biographies. She is the current reviewer for Girl Meets World.

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