The best “Bunheads” episodes—at least from the perspective of us bunheads—are the ones that involve lots of dancing. And the series’ Nutcracker-themed summer finale episode last night certainly had plenty of dance, from Boo and Carl’s sweet Fred-and-Ginger number to Michelle’s fantastic Cabaret dream sequence (more of Sutton Foster doing what Sutton Foster does best, please!). Was most of the choreography a bit on the wacky side, as per “Bunheads” tradition? Well, yes; Michelle’s Wall-Street-with-shades-of-The-Green-Table take on the Nutcracker battle scene, while kind of great in its own quirky way, was definitely out there. But the episode did a good job capturing the manic bustle and anxiety of Nutcracker season. Backstage spats? Mary Poppins bags stuffed with emergency show supplies? False eyelash-induced panic attacks? All so real.
What rang most true about this episode was Sasha’s showdown with “The Ringer,” the technical wünderkind Fanny shipped in when it looked like she might be in need of a Clara. Even if, like Sasha, you’re your studio’s star pupil, there’s always someone who can battement higher and do more pirouettes than you can. Feeling eclipsed, especially when you’re used to being the center of attention, is a painful but inevitable occurrence in the ballet world.
Here’s hoping we see more of The Ringer next season. Competition is a good thing: It pushes us to get better. And Sasha, talented as she is, could use a little pushing.