Airtime: Wednesdays at 8PM on Pop
Episode: Season 2, Episode 11 (S02E11)
Tweetable Takeaway: #SchittsCreek aggressively avoids a major arc in an odd but harmless episode
This is a weird episode of SCHITT’S CREEK.
In “Motel Guest,” Roland ends up staying in the room next to Johnny and Moira, blasting loud music and wallowing because he had a fight with Jocelyn. Johnny soon talks Jocelyn into making up with Roland (to get him out of the motel), who deals with Moira. In the end Roland and Jocelyn reunite.
Stuck in the middle of an arc in which Moira and Jocelyn are running for the same town council seat (and getting more heated with every episode), “Motel Guest” is a poorly chosen detour.
Heck, there’s nothing wrong with standalone episodes, nothing wrong with veering from the season-long arc. But inserting the major players of said arc directly against one another without ever mentioning or alluding to the arc?
There are two choices showrunner Dan Levy could’ve made here:
A. Run “Motel Guest” earlier in the season, if it was available. This would’ve made a dandy pre-election episode (but this seemed to be an unlikely possibility, as noted below).
B. Slide a scene into the end of “Motel Guest” that shows Jocelyn and Roland using Johnny and Moira’s own marital tiffs against them in the town council campaign.
This is where “Motel Guest” seemed to be heading. Johnny confronts Roland after getting tired of the loud music coming from the room next door (Melissa Manchester’s “Don’t Cry Out Loud” is a fine pick). Roland lies that Jocelyn is with him, but it’s quickly apparent she’s not there and Roland’s a victim of a marital fight.
Meanwhile the Schitts’ fight has the Roses sniping at one another; Moira brings up that Johnny has “peccadillos,” and Johnny takes umbrage to this. Then things get a little louder. It goes to a good, funny place where Moira needles Johnny, and of course Johnny grows ever more frustrated and angry. This is the right writing for Eugene Levy.
Then Jocelyn visits Johnny at the diner. Here’s the moment where we may not be simply witnessing a fight between the Schitts, but a calculated attempt by Jocelyn and Roland to dig some salacious campaign material out of Johnny. It’s actually an ingenious plot device and would’ve moved the election arc in a fascinating way. We already know Jocelyn and Roland are smarter than they lead on (Johnny and Moira even think so, as evidenced in “Milk Money”). Why not go the extra step here?
Jocelyn even prods Johnny, and as Johnny seems to be talking more about Moira’s peccadillos than Roland’s, you can see the fire burning in Jocelyn’s eyes. She was getting exactly what she wanted.
Meanwhile Moira confronts Roland about the noise, leading to a near-brawl between them about their problems with one another. “You are an inexplicably cocky imbecile,” Moira screams to Roland. “Your marriage is as blinded as this town and you have no one to blame but yourself.”
That’s it! All we need is for Roland to run with “blinded as this town,” tossing Moira down a spiral of campaign hell. Instead the two end the fight, level with each other and seemingly patch up the problem with Jocelyn.
So what was all of this for? Jocelyn and Roland reunite by blasting “Don’t Cry Out Loud” in the room next door (it was their wedding song). Yeah. All of this for a Jocelyn and Roland sex joke. So much wasted opportunity, and let’s be honest – election arc aside, a sex joke is a low-hanging payoff.
Thing is, much of “Motel Guest” is funny enough. The performances work. Nothing’s off kilter here with the show’s rhythm. By itself it’s a nice, harmless episode. But what could’ve been a dynamite story for the election arc turns into a terrible choice, almost completely because of its placement in the season run.
There’s a B-story in “Motel Guest,” and it involves Alexis searching for an apartment. When David falls for it (or more accurately its cheap rent) he and Alexis have their own tiff. In the end it’s revealed somebody died in the apartment, leading both to back away from moving out of the motel. There are funny moments, mostly Levy’s shrieking and enunciating, but again, it’s a little of a sidetrack.
That said, the whole reason Alexis is searching for an apartment is because she has “some money coming in.” That money, of course, is her new veterinary assistant job with Ted, meaning this episode had to fall in at this point of the season.
So why the heck is there no election link?
Maybe next week Jocelyn and Roland will reveal their cold-hearted plot to get info from the Roses, but that seems highly unlikely. It doesn’t matter now. A real dropped ball this week for what could’ve been a much more interesting episode.
Timothy Malcolm is a writer who grew up on “The Golden Girls” and “Seinfeld,” and writes regularly about entertainment, arts and lifestyles for a number of publications. Talk TV with him on Twitter.
Timothy Malcolm | Contributor