Let’s give it up for Queer Night, leading to some catharsis for Gael in many forms!
An outing with Malika, Gael, and Alice mostly proved fun for the trio on Good Trouble Season 5 Episode 5, revealing that Malika and Angelica still have fire chemistry that Malika isn’t ready to give up on, and Alice needs to learn how to have a fulfilled life outside of Sumi.
And Gael needed a breakdown to have a breakthrough setting up the next phase in his life that also feels like a welcome home.
Malika’s quest to reconnect with her friends is worth appreciating because the characters often feel so isolated from one another when they’re deep in their personal lives.
But the whole concept of communal living in the first place is having this community, family that they can all lean on and spend time with whenever they please.
Malika and Alice have a rich enough history to support why they’re close friends, but we don’t get to see it onscreen often, so it’s fun when they spend time with each other.
And Malika and Gael or Gael and Alice are duos that you only see happening a little, especially since he’s spent the past couple of seasons predominantly with Isabella, Davia, or Dennis whenever he was at the Coterie.
Any chance they get to lean into some of the various dynamics they rarely explore provides some intriguing content. Although there weren’t many notable moments for the friendship component with these characters, it was nice to see them out having a good time as the “Coterie Queers.”
Gael definitely needed the night out. When was the last time this man wasn’t stressed out or weighted down? It feels like it was so long ago when he was a young, hot, ambitious artist with a healthy, vibrant sex life and many opportunities ahead of him.
And since life has kicked the crap out of him. He couldn’t even relax at first, spending his baby-free nights staring at Lyriq, sleeping and stagnant in his life.
It was refreshing to see him letting his hair down, getting drunk at Alice’s urging, and dancing it up with an attractive guy he eventually went to bed with at Yuri’s loft.
He desperately needed the release, pardon the pun, both getting his mind off of things with sex but also that overwhelming burst of emotions and tears as he broke down in front of this complete stranger the morning after.
Fortunately, his one-night stand was genuinely lovely and attentive; he listened to Gael and comforted him when he needed it the most.
They also urged Gael to dedicate his three months in that space to his art because being an artist is deeply part of who Gael is, and it would be a shame to give that part of himself up.
Gael needs a win. He has a support network with Jazmin and Spencer. He has friends at the Coterie. While I’m unsure how he’ll support himself in these next few months, this is the perfect time to make the genuine effort he wants with his art because it’ll be too late if he doesn’t now.
Gael, you’re a dad; you’re not dead.
Gael shouldn’t have to give up being an artist and following his dream. Still, he needs some focus and a game plan because he also can’t be in this stagnant place where he’s not making any income to support himself or his kid, nor is he making any progress in his dream.
It feels like they’re turning a leaf in Gael’s story, one that he and the audience desperately needs. Hopefully, he’ll find his way back to himself or a newer version of whatever he is.
Malika spent most of the night seemingly pining for Angelica, and it’s only a matter of time before they find their way back to one another romantically.
In the meantime, Angelica is a great friend and a great wing woman. I like that they can still be friends like this, even though Malika is clearly head over heels for her.
It also feels very reflective of the queer community, which can be so small with such overlap that people constantly transition between lovers and friends and make that work without falling out altogether.
Alice getting away from the Ferret Trio was nice, and being part from Sumi would’ve been even better if she knew how to be apart from Sumi without getting paranoid or feeling like she needed permission.
Sumi is so unfazed by most things which makes Alice’s neuroticism even more cringe.
Alice needs to learn how to be in a romantic relationship with Sumi and maintain her identity without getting lost in that and making Sumi her everything.
She needs to be more confident in herself and her relationship with Sumi, and it is an arc that highlights how ingratiated Sumi is in most parts of Alice’s life. She doesn’t know how to exist without her, which can be concerning.
And Davia and Dennis are also trying to navigate having a romantic relationship with their best friend and “person.” Ideally, the friendship and the love meld together for this incredible relationship that’s genuinely a privilege to have.
But in their case, they struggled to balance friendship and love. It’s like, as a couple, they sometimes struggle to lean on each other as friends, and it had them not communicating openly and truthfully about their day and what was up with them.
It also prompted what Davia felt was complacency when she freaked out when Dennis was too tired for sex, and it drudged up her insecurities about when he left her after the first time they had it.
We’re seeing the hurdles they’ll have to work through as a couple because of their friendship and history, which is interesting and worth exploring for them in this next phase of their relationship.
They both want things to be perfect and for one another to be exactly what the other needs and the perfect spouse, and they’re afraid of messing anything up.
Davia’s constant journey with finding and maintaining her confidence suits her and generally feels authentic, and this play would naturally challenge her.
I’m happy she overcame her nerves and showed why she’s the best woman for the role.
And it’s a relief that Dennis understood the necessity of a jerk like Emlie running the kitchen because of his experience, but why he should put his foot down and demand some respect.
Dennis was dangerously close to becoming this shrinking violet who allowed the chef he hired to take over and berate him in the process completely.
Dennis has a specific vision for his restaurant and a certain vibe.
Menu items are essential for setting the tone for what he desires, which would most certainly include personal pizzas, the downhome cooking Dennis is known for, and comfort food over whatever pretentious choices Emile made.
Emile seems more determined to make a name for himself out of a new restaurant because his attitude probably screwed things up for his previous jobs.
Dennis: Look at us just… killing it.
Davia: Killing it.
Dennis needs Emile’s experience, but he’s not long for the world at the restaurant. Hopefully, when things get off the ground, they can rely on Mable/Ladle, who has the vibe that fits what Dennis wants, and there’s a whole other layer of success that can come from giving an unknown newbie their first break in the culinary world.
Thankfully, Ladle was humble enough to return for a job as a cook, even if it meant she wasn’t running the kitchen herself. She has such good vibes, and the chemistry between her and Luca was off the charts.
Luca has excellent chemistry with almost anyone he comes into contact with, and if he weren’t such a genuinely nice guy, you’d think he was a player.
It’s like now that he has somewhere to stay and he’s found this community, he’s more confident, and with that confidence, all the charisma oozes out of him, too.
I only wish that Mariana’s confidence wasn’t a constant yo-yo because of the emotional turmoil she’s going through with his Evan arc.
In many ways, this storyline has isolated Mariana, and it feels like she’s on this island all by herself with very little support when she doesn’t have family dropping in to check on her.
And it’s full soap. We’re not even going to pretend or downplay how full-blown melodramatic soap opera this entire arc is right now.
However, it’s been some of Cierra Ramirez’s best performances in the series thus far. She’s taking us on a journey with this storyline and Mariana’s attempts to navigate it.
And even with all its melodrama, it’s the season’s most compelling storyline. It’s the one you want to return to whenever we stray to the other characters and storylines.
It’s the storyline you can’t help being invested in fully, even when you want to roll your eyes at the many tropes thrown into this.
Here’s the thing, people often speak so poorly about soap operas as if they’re a bad thing. Equating them with silliness and frivolity, more often than not, because society conditions us to associate anything that we deem feminine or related to female interest as “frivolous” or “unserious,” “bad,” “unworthy,” or even “less than.”
It’s just the cold, hard truth about why soap operas constantly catch strays and garner criticism without respect for the craft or its place in the landscape. But soap operas are massively successful and universal, have longevity, and are incredibly and notoriously some of the most demanding work in the industry.
We tend to sling soap operas around as if they’re a terrible thing, and hell, I’m not exempt from doing that myself on occasion, so I’m self-aware.
But there’s a reason why the most soap-operatic storyline on what is essentially a primetime soap has grabbed the audience most and demanded our attention more than anything else.
We’re on this devastating journey with Mariana, and because it feels like she’s so alone, we not only feel the alienation that she does, but it makes us feel like we’re in it with her, backing her because no one else is.
No one else can fully comprehend what this is like for Mariana or what she’s facing. She has arguably her most significant life challenge yet trying to keep the man she loves company afloat when multiple forces are actively working against her
Evan: Could you tell me what is our relationship and why I made you my proxy?
Mariana: Well, I used to work with you, and you’re an investor in an app I made with my friends, and we’re also friends, I guess.
Evan: Friends, you guess.
Mariana: We are friends.
Evan: Is that why I went to this farm to find you?
Even the man that she loves is working against her right now. And she has to keep it together, save and protect the integrity of the company that Evan built, especially in recent years, as he’s actively tried to make Speckulate a much better work environment.
She has to balance caring about the people as well as making money. She has to pull off all these feats in 30 days before Evan and some of her hard work implode, and the company is destroyed.
Mariana is totally and completely out of her depth here. It’s a lot to task a 20-something-year-old who barely made her mark in the engineering/corporate world.
And adding into the mix, she’s a young woman of color in a field that doesn’t want to see her win, period.
Through all of this, she hasn’t even adequately processed what happened to her, the own trauma she experienced, or how devastating it is that she nearly lost the man she loved and has essentially still lost him for the foreseeable future.
And it’s like others occasionally pop up to offer what feels like empty platitudes. At the end of the day, it’s just been Mariana against it all with no preparation, few tools and resources, and no trustworthy friendlies.
We also see how much Mariana has influenced Evan over the past few years. He doesn’t remember her, which means he’s essentially the person he was before he met her, and if ever we had it laid out how much a secondary character like Evan has evolved through the course of the series, it’s with this.
Mariana was crucial in helping Evan open up to the world, come to grips with processing feelings and emotions, and enjoy life’s small things.
She was critical in getting him to understand how to value his employees and instill an equitable workplace because people are the heart of Speckulate. Everything isn’t about bottom lines, numbers, figures, or money.
Mariana expanded Evan’s world, accessing parts of him he didn’t even realize he had himself or wasn’t willing to let come out before, and now it’s like all of that is undone because he can’t remember it.
And all the growth Evan made, his happiness, the best aspects of the company he built, and so forth are lost, making it nearly impossible for Mariana to fight for those things alone.
Little does this version of Evan even know that he’s at risk of losing it all. No matter what he remembers, they’re plotting against him, so he’s screwed either way.
Mariana did a good job asserting herself to that weasel Dylan, but it’s all for naught now that he’s somehow gained access to Evan, and he’s a familiar face.
He’s now positioned as the devil in Evan’s ear, the guy who can pull the strings to the amnesiac CEO puppet. An already impossible task is made worse because Mariana doesn’t stand much chance against him.
So many things come into play now. As a proxy, Mariana is supposed to act in Evan’s best interest, but what does that mean now that he’s awake but can’t fully remember and may never regain his memories?
Is he in a place where he can take over again, and if so, how long before things run into the ground? How tied are Mariana’s hands if she has to honor his wishes in some capacity, even when she knows deep down it’s not what her version of Evan would want?
The turtle app represented the man Evan had grown into, and killing that meant accepting that version of Evan was long gone.
It made sense why Mariana didn’t want to let it go. However, in not doing it, did she lead Dylan right to Evan and screw herself? It seems like it.
It’s so much drama that feels nearly outlandish for this series, and yet, it’s so delicious that one can’t turn away from it.
Over to you, Good Trouble Fanatics. Are you happy that Gael is feeling like himself again? What did you think of his breakdown?
How do you feel about the Mariana/Evan arc? Hit the comments.
You can watch Good Trouble online here via TV Fanatic.
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is an insomniac who spends late nights and early mornings binge-watching way too many shows and binge-drinking way too much tea. Her eclectic taste makes her an unpredictable viewer with an appreciation for complex characters, diverse representation, dynamic duos, compelling stories, and guilty pleasures. You’ll definitely find her obsessively live-tweeting, waxing poetic, and chatting up fellow Fanatics and readers. Follow her on Twitter.