We're officially in the back half of How to Make It in America's second season, and last night's "Mofongo" was entertaining despite being a mostly stagnant episode. CRISP and Rasta Monsta scored some major wins, but the real highlights were the personal victories that Ben and Rene took home at the episode's end.
CRISP heads To The MidWest
Nothing is ever easy on this show, and we love it for that. After Ben (Bryan Greenberg) and Cam (Victor Rasuk) landed Nancy (Gina Gershon), it seemed like smooth sailing, at least after her initial middle-school project hazing. But even despite her thinly veiled innuendos towards Ben, the high-powered sales rep is still barely giving CRISP the time of day. So when the boys bumrush Nancy at the NEANDERTHAL afterparty and meet ditzy Midwestern buyers Kirsten and Kristen, they press Nancy to make the deal happen. But can CRISP sustain the type of orders that the girls would require? Nancy isn't so sure.
So what do our boys do? Cut Nancy out and bag the girls themselves, Pete Campbell style. The Missouri buyers are really just looking for a good time, and the boys may not have an in for the Boom Boom Room but they do have their connects elsewhere. Still, fun times at The Jane aren't enough to get the good-time-girls interested in anything business-related. That is, until Domingo (Kid Cudi) and his boy show up decked out in CRISP and the ladies take note of how fresh it really is; Kappo (Eddie Kaye Thomas) just doesn't wear it as well.
And, boom, just like that, CRISP is headed for major department store stardom. With that taken care of, it's time to party, but Nancy is a little salty at the boys for going behind her back. Ben takes a huge risk and stays in the cab with Nancy instead of going for a sure win with Kirsten (or is it Kristen?), and that ending... Whoa. This could surely complicate things going forward—remember when Vince and his female agent got it on in Entourage? But regardless, Ben is our hero. Rachel who?
Rachel Finds Her Inner Hipster
When we first met Rachel (Lake Bell) last season, she was hard on Ben for his aimlessness, and she had her own stable job and a stable corporate boyfriend. So far this season, though, Rachel doesn't know what she wants, and we've been with her for every awkward step as she searches for contentment. But are her moments of happiness really indicative of what she wants from life? She definitely doesn't want her Biscuit magazine job, where she sits in pitch meetings zombified and uncharacteristically unprepared. But are relationships with Domingo, and now, seemingly, Neanderthal Tim (James Ransone) things that she actually wants? Or is she only attracted to their mystique?
One thing is certain: Domingo is due for some bad news. Dude's tiptoeing around Ben and begging forgiveness with the air of a man who thinks he's starting a new relationship. Meanwhile, as Rachel puts it blatantly and bluntly to LuLu, now that the secret's out it's just not that sexy. A stoner untethered to the rat race was cool and different but now it's on to the next. Which is pretty greasy on her part. Even greasier would be hooking up with Tim. First Ben's friend, and now his nemesis? Damn.
Rene Eats Mofongo
Guess they ran out of episode titles for this one. We were prepared for another bore of a Rene (Luis Guzman) storyline when the episode first started. Boohoo, Debbie won't call him back, he's upset, we don't care. But it ended on a very genuine, heartfelt note that was suprisingly good. When we open, Rene has just sold Rasta Monsta to suburban retailers. But without Debbie by his side he's not as excited as he should be. In keeping with this episode's theme, success takes a backseat to personal happiness. Ben chooses to celebrate the CRISP win with Nancy in his bedroom, Rachel rides bikes instead of working on pitches, and Rene ditches a strip club for family time.
Rene's heart-to-heart with Debbie's daughter about her sexuality was a nice touch and not a side we normally see of the OG. His reconciliation with Debbie was even nicer. If he told her why he needed the earrings back last week she definitely would've understood, but at least now Rene knows that she's down to ride.
If this is what the show looks like when its leads act out of character—aggressive Ben, family-man Rene, hipster Rachel—then they need to make wild decisions more often. Also, the show's producers really been excelling at developing impressionable, one-off guest stars that we instantly want more of. Kristen and Kirsten were hilarious; we wouldn't be mad if Season Three found a way to inexplicably bring them to NYC for good. They did seem to have a good time, after all.
-Kappo's (Eddie Kaye Thomas) cards are all declined. Dude definitely has some SEC heat coming his way.
-Domingo is marketing his weed spray with Rasta Monsta...without Rene's knowledge. Is this guy retarded? If he doesn't heed Cam's word of warning this might be dude might not be long for the world once Rene finds out.