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Superstore - California, Part 2 - Review: A Lack of Engagement

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While Superstore’s landmark 100th episode still provided plenty of the show’s topical and accessible humor, for the most part, it served as an absolutely devastating farewell to not only the show’s protagonist, but its central romance as well.

We’ll unpack all that in a minute; the heartbreaking unraveling of “Simmosa” did take up most of the episode, but it was not the only goodbye the episode had for star America Ferrera.

It’s Amy’s last day at Cloud 9, and everyone is a bit emotional as they prepare to send Jonah and Amy off to California. As Amy assigns daily tasks for the last time, Glenn can’t help but get worked up - “(It’s h)er last time asking Sarah to re-price maternity wear in softlines!”.

Glenn rides the sentiment train for much of the rest of the day, and the next stop is working with Mateo to make a video where all the Cloud 9 employees give Amy goodbye messages. There are a couple hiccups along the way - they invite an employee on her first day to contribute in spite of her not even knowing Amy, Sayid insists his “favorite memory” of Amy was of a time when she borrowed $9 from him and never paid him back, and Glenn can’t quite understand that he doesn’t need to continuously clarify who is speaking during his own bit. Regardless, the video gets made, and features some really spot-on character moments in an episode otherwise mostly focused on Amy and Jonah. From Carol implying that she believed "California" was a pseudonym for rehab, to Cheyenne concluding that Amy leaving meant that she had “nothing left to learn,” to Mateo ending his message with a self-duet of “For Good” from Wicked, the video package brought some much-needed levity to an overwhelmingly serious episode.

Dina, meanwhile, is taking a much more pragmatic approach to Amy’s leaving, reasoning that with Amy gone, she needs to find a new best friend in the store. Her de facto choice is (*gasp!*) Sandra, so she decides to interview all the other women in the store to weigh her options.

After leaving Sandra to clean carts (in a bit that I, having had cart-cleaning duty before, couldn’t help but sympathy-cringe to), Dina meets with Cheyenne, but the two agree that they’re better as “nod at each other from across the room during lunch” friends. She also talks to Justine, but admits that their friendship would mostly be for potential organ donation purposes. With Justine’s kidneys “kinda messed up,” Dina is out of luck.

But as I’ve already alluded to, most of the episode revolved around a single issue, an issue which concluded with a heart-shattering decision.

It begins as Amy confides in Dina that she’s worried about Jonah’s thought process as the two prepare to move to California together. From the comment he made in last week's episode about “starting their lives together” to jokes he’s making now about the two being married (and him murdering her for the insurance money, which, ironically, was not the part that worried Amy at all), she begins to feel like he’s wanting to take a step in the relationship that she’s not ready for. Those fears are only heightened when she can’t find a ring that she usually keeps on her bedside table, and worries that Jonah took it with the intention to get her ring size.

While Amy eventually brushes the ring idea off as just her stress from the move, she still worries that Jonah might be uprooting his life in Missouri for the promise of something he wouldn’t even be considering if she hadn’t taken the Zephra job.

In her office, Amy comes clean to Jonah about her hesitancy to commit to a future with him. After everything that happened with Adam, she admits that she’s wary of making big romantic decisions spurred by major life changes. Jonah seems hurt by the idea that Amy wouldn’t want to marry him, and leaves the room flustered and upset...But not before he abashedly hands Amy back her ring, which he did in fact take with the intention to propose.

Later, Amy tells Garrett about the fight with Jonah, and Garrett tells her that she shouldn’t be surprised that Jonah has marriage on his mind - “He’s been in love with you since day one.” After that, Amy recognizes that her own indecision is causing the problem, and resolves to make up with Jonah.

Which she does by bringing him a pair of Aqua Socks (the store was out of Moccasins), presenting them as an apology and a gesture of good faith. Maybe she was wrong, she says; maybe they should just get married.

Jonah, however, is unwilling to just take her word for it, instead asking Amy point-blank if she actually wants to marry him, to which she dolefully says no. That said, Amy still tries to push for a raincheck on the proposal, or a long-distance relationship, but Jonah calls it, saying; “When we first met you said that all your days felt the same, and you felt trapped. And I don’t want to be the reason that you feel like that again.”

“What if I’m wrong?” Amy asks. “What if I get out there and I realize that I made a mistake?”

“I’m guessing you’ll know where to find me,” Jonah says.

When Jonah leaves, Sandra comes out from where she had been listening in, and, in a moment of perfect audience surrogacy, chews Amy out: “Aqua Socks, Amy?! F--king Aqua Socks?! Ugh, I hate you, 2020!”

At the end of the day, Glenn finds Amy in her office, all packed up and ready to go. He has a few gifts for her - firstly, Myrtle’s ashes, because “she always wanted to go to California.” Also, in a much less creepy and much more touching gesture, Amy’s I-9 form from when she was first hired at Cloud 9, 17 years previously.

“I can’t believe you saved this,” Amy says.

“Well, I always knew you were going to be special.” Glenn replies. “Also I saved everyone’s, for auditing purposes.”

The two can’t hug, for HR reasons and COVID reasons, so instead they both hug themselves (in a cute little callback to season 3’s “Lottery”).

The episode ends as the Cloud 9 employees celebrate Amy’s going-away in the parking lot with fireworks that Cheyenne and Bo found at the dump. Dina tells Amy that she’s giving up on her search for a new best friend, admitting that maybe (just maybe) Amy's not replaceable. Teary-eyed, the two agree to visit each other often - in Fort Collins, as Dina refuses to ever go to California.

On the other side of the parking lot, Garrett comes over to console Jonah, wounds of the breakup still fresh: “Do you want me to start talking trash about her?” He asks.

“No,” Jonah responds. “Maybe tomorrow.”

Jonah and Amy share one last look across the parking lot, echoing the one they shared at the end of the pilot episode, and with that, we bid Amy - and the Jonah/Amy ‘ship - adieu.

I have mixed feelings about this episode, as a whole. The uncoupling of Jonah and Amy was bound to hurt, but I feel the way it was done was possibly not the most prudent. I don’t feel that Jonah and Amy wanting different things was entirely out of character for either of them, but the idea that Jonah definitely wants to get married and Amy definitely doesn’t seems sudden and odd.

In fairness, there’s not much the writers could’ve done, given recent times, to set the framework of this break-up early as their plans from the end of the previous season have undoubtedly changed. However, the subtle focus on the growing emotional distance between the two in the last episode, only to make the sole reason for their breakup the equivalent of “loving each other too much to hurt them” - it feels glaringly unstructured.

Additionally, while the open-endedness of the break might've been meant to provide a slight balm to heartsick fans, not knowing whether Ferrera will ever return for future guest spots as Amy muddies any hope that open-endedness could've given. If Ferrera can’t come back for whatever reason, does that mean that Amy simply moved to California and forgot about Jonah? It’s not the most solid ground to try to land on.

That aside, I didn’t hate everything about this storyline. Structure notwithstanding, the actual writing of the episode was phenomenally on-point, making the screenwriter in me insanely jealous of its combined efficiency and poignancy. Also notable is the great acting work from Ferrera and Ben Feldman, whose strong performances make them both obvious Performer of the Month candidates for November.

Additionally, I’m hopeful that while they didn’t quite stick this landing, the writers still might be able to use this storyline to explore new avenues for Jonah’s character development. A huge part of his character has always been that he has spent much of his life in privilege, getting most everything he wants; how does he handle a loss like this? I might be drowning in feels for right now, but I confess that I’m still excited to see where this might go.

What did you think of Superstore’s 100th episode? How do you think the show will do without America Ferrera to lead it? And what will you miss most about having Amy around? Let me know in the comments!

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