Bravo

Timber Creek Lodge Is Only Ever Eating Or Talking

Anticipated clashes never materialize, leaving the Lodgers to set each other up on blind dates.

A strange and anticlimactic 42 minutes, "Prickly Like A Cactus" is a bunch of conflict set-ups that don't pay off. Nikita v. Jamie? After a brisk "let's just get through this and not try to like each other" exchange, everything's cool and they're talking about Dirty Dancing (the power of that feelm to bring peeps together shouldn't be underestimated). Mark, Cling-On imperial attaché? Jenna's kind of grossed out by his talk of moving to L.A., but does nothing about it to his face. Rocker-chick bachelorette guests v. prayerful family? As said family includes the adorable and gregarious Nate, and the rocker chicks are not monsters, it's a non-issue.

Is a single one of these conflicts or their resolutions (or, depending, fizzle-utions) not engineered in both directions by productions? Newp. Like, I get that it's "reality narrative" and you need to shape it, but: you're Bravo. You should know how to do it less obviously. And...boringly.

Louise pitches a tent on the lawn, Cynthia's date pitches a tent in the staff quarters, and literally nobody is tenting her fingers and murmuring, "Eeeeexcellent." Your Lodgers, first to worst:

  1. Colston
    Colston Not Laughing Not Alone With Salad is a champ this week, again. He's always down to help out, doesn't bitch about doing his job or taking orders, and makes the blatant production set-up of the whole Tinder thing with Cynthia seem organic, including politely interviewing the date he didn't pick for himself about where she's from and whatnot.
  2. Louise
    Louise apologizes to Nikita for the sake of staff harmony (read: "was told Nikita's agreeing to bury it with Jamie was conditioned on other staffers sucking up to her"), but then is somehow so stressed out by the oil and water groups of guests -- who, again, get along fine with each other, and seem to enjoy their activities and time separately with the least high-maint dramz we've yet seen -- that she has to decamp to the side yard with a tent a la Claudia on Party Of Five and oh my god I didn't even have to double-check that ref why did my dad pay for my uni that's ridic. Anyhoodle: no objection, except to what I suspect is editing that left the explanation of Louise's hitting the wall on the cutting-room floor.
  3. The guests
    No food issues, no leaving the guest lodge in post-tornado condition, they get along fine, and drop-seat onesies and saying grace aren't crimes. Yeah, I could crack on Nate for idolizing Mark, but the fact is, Mark's a solid template for a tween boy to try to fit in.
  4. Blake
    Is Blake getting exactly two interstitial shots per episode now so that, in a few episodes, when he cheats on his girlfriend and it becomes a plot engine, the audience isn't like, "What's a Blake"?
  5. Jamie
    "I'm a stress case," Jamie tells us in a talking-head. He then informs us that water's a bit damp. ...Hee. The thing is, though much is made in various THes and voice-overs of how much better everything's running this time around, Jamie's acting exactly the same as far as I can see -- which is fine. He's not the mellowest manager, but he's reasonably on top of shit and not a buck-passer.
  6. Jenna
    Eager to assure the rest of the staff that she and Mark are v. much NOT boyfriend-girlfriend, Jenna's content to look stricken when Mark canoodlishly (...not a word) suggests a boring movie-and-cuddles night on their night off. It's kind of painful to watch Mark's Pepe Le Pew cartoon-heart eyes, especially since Jenna doesn't strike me as the indirect type...and in light of what we saw on the this-season-ons, something's hinky here. But we're not there yet, so for now, girl, just tell him to back off you a little bit.
  7. Mark
    I didn't love the grand announcement that he's decided to get along with Jamie so as not to detract from his own "experience" at the Lodge, like...whatever, why get into it. He's That Guy. He's also a natural with the small fry, though, accepting Nate's coolness-crush on him with aplomb and hitting just the right bro-down notes with the kid. There's a style of...service flirting, I guess you could say, like when a waiter half your age is hitting on you; you know why, and that it's not "real," but you appreciate the effort. It's not easy to do well, and Mark does.

    Standing up to pedal your bike is not exactly a secret hack, though, friendo.

  8. Cynthia
    No objection, I guess; it's just that she falls out of my head the minute any given scene is over. My notes read "Cyn boring weirdo date STDs / chill," and that sort of jogged my memory about her date with Joel (and the baffling cut from their awkward maybe-goodnight hug to Joel's night-vision butt), but didn't make me care.
  9. Nikita
    Appears to believe that everything's settled down and running smoothly because Jamie "figured it out" "thanks to the negative feedback I gave him." Riiiiight. The fact that the guests made no requests of you that we saw wouldn't have anything to do with that, I guess -- or that other staffers may have been ordered to make it work with you because they can't find another chef masochistic enough to take your spot.
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