This was a curiously transitional episode of Side Order of Life — lots of loose ends dangling, lots of unfinished thoughts. And they really made it work. None of the plots are revelatory, but it all adds up to a sense of things moving, things changing, things that will never be the same. No where was that more evident than in the beautiful, heartbreaking, wordless last scene, with Jenny cutting a weeping but resolved Vivy’s hair. Ooof.

Spoilers are just around the corner.

Jenny’s Story of the Week involves a trend piece on debutantes and coming-out parties. Does anyone not see where we’re going with this? Short version — Dylan is a bubbly blond rich girl whose daddy is running for governor, but Jenny can tell she’s got a soul — she’s not just a Paris wannabe! She has a best friend, Hannah, who has obviously taken a few women studies courses, which is television shorthand for lesbian. Gasp!

Dylan’s pre-coming-out-party party is interrupted by the cops, who arrest Dylan for shoplifting. But here’s the twist: Dylan reveals (exclusively to Jenny) that she ratted herself out. She’s liking the peace and quiet of jail, compared to the cacophony of her friends and family. Could it possibly be because she has unresolved issues with her identity? Jenny finally, finally figures out that Dylan just might possibly be gay, and gives a reasonably touching and effective "be who you are" speech to our little deb, and by the end of the episode it looks like Dylan is confessing her feelings to Hannah. Whether she’ll tell her parents is another story.

True story: I grew up on the east coast, and went to a hoity-toity private school (give me a break, my mom worked there), and some girls in my school actually did the debutante thing. Upon hearing that Mimi was having a coming out party, my friend Inga started gushing — "That’s so brave! That’s really admirable of her to stand up like that! And it’s great that her parents are so supportive!" Nope, we explained, not that kind of coming-out party. Inga was very disappointed — the old-school coming-out party is much less cool than the new-school one, apparently. (Better music for one thing, I’d imagine.)

ANYway. Moving on. Jenny keeps catching glimpses of Ian, and starts thinking that maybe, just maybe, she should get back together with him. Actually, she starts fantasizing about playing tonsil hockey, but that’s where they’re going with it. Vivy thinks it’s because Becca gives Ian that new-car smell — she’s bashed the dings out and now he’s looking attractive to Jenny again. And Becca has influenced Ian — he’s taking a vacation for the first time in years, and is shedding some of his Type-A personality. 

Becca, for her part, is insecure as hell about Jenny and Ian, which comes out when she makes a celebratory dinner for Vivy, who has just gotten a radio show on public radio. Go, Vivy! Becca goes way overboard, trying to make a restaurant-style Thai feast, being insanely perky, and basically getting in over her head. But she has to, she tells Vivy — how else can she compete with Jenny! Vivy starts to think that hey, maybe Becca is a bit insane.

This comes to a head when Ian stops by Jenny’s to talk about her dad, who’s been acting weird. He gave Ian the Mustang they were restoring, and has generally been upbeat and positive and that can’t be right. After they determine that Dad in a good mood is probably a good thing, they jump each other. Jenny eventually stops it (after the intervention of some annoying vision-things, and I wish they would just drop that), and Ian and Jenny go their separate, guilty ways. Jenny tells Vivy, who blows up at her — I so don’t want to be in the middle of this! Amazingly, she does not mention cancer. Apparently Dr. Misty’s speech last week worked well. Ian goes to Becca and tells her he wants to move up to the next level, which immediately makes her suspicious. She figures out something happened between him and Jenny, and freaks out. She goes to Vivy, who basically tells her to get a grip, you’ve been in love with Ian a lot longer than he’s been in love with you, and you can’t pretend that he and Jenny never happened. She also asks Becca why she really came down to L.A. — was it to help Vivy, or to see Ian? Becca is shocked that Vivy would even ask such a thing, but dude, it’s a valid question.

This culminates in Becca telling Ian that she realizes she was rushing things, that she hasn’t been fair and that she’s been letting her insecurities drive. But she knows one thing: She loves Ian, and she’ll wait if that’s what needs to happen. And somehow, this show has made me like Becca, which I didn’t think was possible.

And so we end with everything in flux — Ian and Becca starting to get close again, Dylan talking to Hannah, and Vivy finally giving up her hair and cutting it off so she can start wearing her wig. Oh, that scene hurts. They play it beautifully.

But the biggest shock comes from Jenny’s dad — he’s been talking about how Jenny taking charge of her life is an example for him, and apparently he means it. We see him leave a note for Margot, get on his Harley, and leave — maybe for good.

Next week, we might just find out who Cell Phone Man is. But I really hope it’s not Ian Ziering, because that would be cheesy as hell. What, they couldn’t get Luke Perry?

Posted by:Sarah Jersild