Episode 6: The Con
Episode 7: 99 Problems
By: Carlos Uribe
90210 is a show about wealthy kids who do business and go to college in the zip. Or something.
Is it me or is this show actually getting better? It's still riddled with many problems but the plots have gotten surprisingly complex with a depth that the show has been able barely reach before.
Take the whole Alec and Naomi plot. It seems like it's going to be ending tonight with Max being given an ultimatum: he must chose Alec or Naomi. He goes with Naomi. Why was he given that choice? This is an episode that has a plot that represents the different stages of each character and how this affected their relationships with the other people. Alec is Max's best friend but he doesn't like Naomi. Naomi is Max's new wife and she's trying to actually get along with Alec. Max is trying his hard to get them to get along. There's times when Naomi is trying to undermine Alec but it's largely been Alec who has been going against Max's wishes. This is evident when the hacking crisis causes the characters to react as you would expect. Naomi does her best to help the coders by providing them morale and support. She covers for Alec and is trying to help the company. When it's revealed that Colin was the one who hacked them and how, Alec tries to use this information to sabotage Naomi. He doesn't try to cover for her. He continues to try and end her relationship with Max even when she was willing to set aside their differences in the interest of peace. Naomi realizes that she simply can't keep fighting Alec and she gives Max an ultimatum. Max chooses his wife because she's actually tried to get along with Alec but he's not happy about the decision. The episode ends with a strong emotional beat as he tells Naomi that his marriage might have just cost him his best friend. Granted, this is still 90210. Alec was never presented as anything other than an antagonist and his friendship with Max was one we were told existed rather than shown. It could have have a much better emotional punch if we actually saw the two as friends. Still, that the episode managed to have a decent emotional punch to begin with is a strong sign of improvement.
It wasn't just with Naomi where the show had some strong scenes. Navid is trying to impress Silver but he's actually just acting like a douchebag. He's acting petty and jealous. When he thinks that Liam is trying to sleep with the Professor and Silver, Navid decides to reveal the sex tape to Silver. He's not the brightest character so he thinks that a VIP screening at a comic book conference means that there's going to be a limited event. He manages to get the ten minutes of footage from the sequel that's supposed to be shown switched with the sex tape. It isn't until later that he learns that VIP is used very loosely in comic book conferences and that the event is going to be broadcasted on the internet. This is really possibly the stupidest that Navid has ever been. I don't mind since I don't really like him and he's been acting too much like a douche recently for me to care. The sex tape does a lot of damage. It doesn't just end the relationship between Liam and the Professor but it drives a wedge between Silver and Navid. It's ironic since Liam has actually been trying to get Silver to reconsider getting back together with Navid. The biggest fallout might be the final nail in the coffin between Liam and Navid. This sex tape works well because revealing it to the public had some ripple effects that Navid couldn't have possibly imagined. It's not just the soap plot turns that viewers like from these kind of dramas but how they change the world. That the writers laid out what happened due to the sex tape going public is what made the plot work.
The show also has another love triangle and that one gets advanced in the episode. Adrianna quickly sets up a cycle with Taylor where she sleeps with him anytime she's angry with Dixon. He continues to pressure her to break up with Dixon but it seems like she's satisfied with this new status quo. Taylor isn't when he meets with Dixon and realizes that he's having an affair with the person that Dixon actually does love. Taylor feels guilty about sleeping behind Dixon's back and he tries his best to get Adrianna to break up with Dixon. When she doesn't, Taylor realizes that Adrianna still has feelings for Dixon. He decides that he can't do things for her anymore. What's lovely about this plot is how complicated it's for Adrianna. She loves Dixon but she's only partly with him because of his health problems. At the same time, she's really liking Taylor and she wants to leave Dixon for him. It's to be expected that she'd have feelings for both characters but it's the entire health issue that adds a nice layer to what would otherwise be a typical plot. This is all proven in a scene where it's hinted that she might actually break up with Dixon but doesn't because she finds out he's in pain. Making it more confusing for her is that she learns that the reason he snapped at her was because he's been having some pain problems.
The Con is a surprisingly good episode of 90210. It could have been great if it hadn't had Navid be completely stupid for the sake of the plot. Granted, the ramifications of his mistake were great but it would have been better if it had been handled better.
99 Problems is an episode that makes one single mistake: it gives Silver some health problems. It makes perfect sense that she has complications and it does create some good and compelling drama. It's not that the episode shouldn't have done this but rather it should have held this plot off for another week. Why? This is an episode that comes right after Dixon had his own health scare and he's dealing with the outcome of it. It simply felt like this show was repeating itself despite the vast differences in the plots. Yes, the two are having health issues but for two very different reasons. Dixon is dealing with an infection that could potentially paralyze him. The reason he has an infection is because of his recovery from the accident. Silver is having a health issue because she's trying to get pregnant and can't. She tries to undergo some medical procedure but she has a serious side-effect. The doctors are now going to have to remove her eggs to fertilize but this means that it's going to be her lost shot at having a baby. It's completely different but they're having these medical complications at the exact same time and it makes it seem too similar.
That's not the only problem this episode made. Now that Alec has presumably left the show, Max has to find a new business partner because he's lost without one. Naomi leads him to the perfect person but she has a problem with the candidate being a hot female. This jealousy leads Naomi to try and do the job herself but she simply can't. As much as she wants to be everything for Max, she can't be his business partner because she doesn't speak the industry language. She can't help Max go through any blocks he might have. Naomi realizes that she's going to have to allow that female applicant be the CEO of Max's company even if it makes her feel insecure about her husband. It's pretty much what you would expect as soon as it's revealed that the applicant is female. Of course Naomi is going to have a problem and of course she's going to have to realize that she needs to suck it up. Just because Naomi can't be the CEO doesn't mean she should be left out of the business. As she has proven many times, she can definably be an asset that they can use.
The episode also made some other predictable moves. Annie goes on her date with Riley but she has trouble seeing him as a normal guy. She simply has difficulty seeing past the wheelchair. She manages to get through this when he stands her up. This is a relationship problem that was expected to come out. Liam has to deal with the publicity of his sex tape and he predictably punches someone in the paparazzi. It's good to see that the show crossed that off the list. It at least has the layer that he guy he punched might be connected with Vanessa and he might want revenge. It could also just be a coincidence. Liam also gets a new love interest that obsesses over him just like Vanessa. Again? Here's hoping she's crazy fun as well. Oh, and Adrianna worries when she thinks Dixon is going to propose to her. 99 Problems is an episode that is barely entertainment but it does at least continue the streak of 90201 episodes that can be passable as entertainment.
The Con: The whole Colin plot with Annie went exactly the way you expected it go but it was handled competently.