Several big storylines pick up speed in this week's episode, as Johnny opens the new Rosebud Motel for business and David and Patrick get ready for an engagement photo shoot. Meanwhile Alexis gets a surprise visitor and has a big decision to make about her career.
Remember how I wondered last week if that nostalgic shot of the Rose family bickering with each other in their old motel room could be our last look at them before things start to change forever? Yeah, this show knows exactly what it's doing.
Rosebud Motels is officially a chain as Johnny cuts the ribbon on the new property he bought with Roland and Jocelyn's help — or rather, briefly struggles to cut a ribbon using Moira's nail scissors and then gives up. They buckle down to deep-clean the rooms, and it turns out the decor has been more or less untouched since the 1960s and has a retro charm to it, after some thorough polishing.
The largest room, which Johnny calls the Presidential Suite, is bigger and nicer than any accomodation we've seen so far. Johnny hopes the suite will help them start making a profit on their very expensive investment; but Roland and Jocelyn quickly start scheming over how they can use it as a personal getaway, and Moira has even bigger plans.
It would have been a crime to end the series without paying another visit to Ray Butani, Schitt's Creek's friendly real estate agent / photographer / travel agent / closet organizer — especially since David and Patrick first met and started planning Rose Apothecary in Ray's home office, with Ray running an engagement photo shoot in the background. But while Ray suggests a string of kitschy green-screen backdrops for their own engagement photos (and if I got my hands on a "David and Patrick in Outer Space" mousepad I would cherish it forever), David is looking for something more like Annie Leibovitz with Vanity Fair. "I want us to look like two very rich people that have just woken up after fainting on a dusty old couch."
Deciding that Patrick would look too pale in photos next to his own "Mediterranean complexion," David sends his increasingly annoyed fiancé off with Stevie to get a light spray tan before the shoot. Here's a fun lesson I learned the hard way: just because you can immediately see where a joke is going does not necessarily mean that you're prepared.
Alexis gets an unexpected visitor at the motel and it's none other than Ted, back for a very quick visit. He's looking all tanned and rugged and life in the Galapagos Islands really suits him, and Alexis clearly agrees, because he's barely in the door before she pounces on him.
But before they can spend the rest of the day "reconnecting," Ted gives her difficult news: he's been offered a permanent position with the research team, a three-year contract that would make their current long-distance relationship impossible. He promises he's not there to break up with her — "There has to be a way through this" — but there are only two other options: either she has to move to the Galapagos indefinitely, or he has to turn down his dream job and move back to Schitt's Creek.
And he would probably do that for her, if she asked him to. He's always been so easygoing and kind, he could barely bring himself to send his food back at a restaurant if they got his order wrong; and he was willing to forgive and love Alexis no matter how many times she broke his heart. In the end, it's up to her to make this big decision for them.
Patrick returns from his predictably disastrous trip to the tanning salon, and I had a joke all prepared about how this baby gay gets to explore threesomes and tiny button-ups and now spray tans, look at him go — but it turns out an incensed Patrick with a bright orange tan is hilarious on a level I can barely put words to. I kept trying to think of the last time I was so gleefully appalled at the sight of something and then I remembered it was this.
Back home and at a more reasonable color after eight or nine showers, Patrick seems just about out of patience with David's over-the-top wedding planning. "Can we just agree to stop making this wedding a bigger deal than it needs to be? We are not these people."
Comic relief aside, it feels like a looming conversation for David and Patrick that we'll need to come back to later, because right now there are bigger problems to focus on.
For the first time in a long time, Alexis goes for a run and stops by the cafe for a smoothie and a chat with Twyla, trying to clear her head. It's not only a throwback to Season 1 but a literal flashback, as she remembers the first time shy, nerdy Ted approached her and called her "the most beautiful girl this town has ever seen." The depth of feeling that Annie Murphy has created in Alexis between that episode and this one is remarkable.
Now, after working so hard and coming so far, does Alexis give everything up to be with the love of her life? For once, Twyla doesn't have any reassuring advice for her. "I know you, Alexis, and you always make the right decision. Eventually."
If Johnny was hoping the Rosebud Motel franchise would make Moira feel more grounded living where they are, he's in for a disappointment. After one look at more luxurious accomodations, Moira starts acting like she can barely exist in the old motel anymore and pressures him to move them into the Presidential Suite permanently, at least until they can find a way to leave town altogether. When he asks if she wants to leave their kids behind, she exclaims "They're practically middle aged!" — and finally someone said it, David is in his mid-thirties by now and they've been acting like he's 18. "And they're not denying themselves betterment, why should we?"
It's frustrating, but she also has a point, particularly when she wheedles him into spending a weekend in the suite and they immediately look more at home than they have in years. (Plus it's an excuse for Johnny to bring out his charmingly terrible JFK impression.) But the fantasy gets ruined when Roland and Jocelyn show up hoping for a weekend "staycation" of their own, since they've had to rent out their spare bedroom to afford the new motel.
I'm beginning to lose count of all the different ways Johnny's business expansion could turn out to be a bad idea.
On Schitt's Creek, what goes for punchlines also goes for dramatic moments like this one: just because you could have guessed it would happen doesn't make it any less important.
Alexis invites Ted to the cafe and is waiting for him with a romantic candlelit dinner. For just a moment it seems like she might be proposing, but then she tells him that he can't give up his dream job just for her, and she can't go with him. The potential they brought out in each other is now the reason they'd only be holding each other back if they stayed together. "I don't think I'm ever going to meet another woman who made me feel the way that you do," Ted says, and she replies, "I'm sure there'll be some other woman… somewhere," and these throwback lines aren't as much fun when they make me cry that hard.
We can now add "Dedicated to the One I Love" by The Mamas and the Papas to the list of Schitt's Creek-related love songs that will make us get weepy in supermarkets for no apparent reason. I'd also like to send a strongly-worded letter to whoever came up with the idea of Ted and Alexis ordering mozzarella sticks for their breakup dinner after David and Patrick ordered them on their first date. If this show keeps going straight for the jugular like that, we might not make it to the finale six weeks from now.