Vicious Review: “Ballroom”

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Here’s my review of Vicious season two episode “Ballroom.” Please note that this isn’t a recap of what happens. I’m assuming that you’ve already seen the episode. There are spoilers in this review.

The thing I always find fascinating about Vicious is the relationship between Freddie and Stuart. They’re absolutely horrible to each other, hence the name “Vicious” for the show. But underneath all that rudeness, they genuinely like one another. I tune in to each episode because I want to better understand this relationship. I’m not quite sure they will ever truly explain it enough to satisfy me, but I still enjoy watching it for the little moments of tenderness wedged between the onslaught of insults. “Ballroom” marked an important step forward for both of them and it made this one of the best episodes of the season so far.

While the previous episode “Gym” seemed disjointed and a little scattered, “Ballroom” was more cohesive with one main storyline and one central theme. That is, Stuart claims that they don’t do anything together as a couple. The ballroom dancing story draws out this theme because it gives the audience one clear plot to focus on. It’s simple but allows for many moments to develop the story and relationship.

This episode begins as any other one. There’s lots of snarky insults as usual and it seems like this will be a pretty routine episode. Freddie and Stuart will be angry at each other and then make up by the end of it. And that’s what actually happens, just not in the way we expect. Freddie decides to stay home instead of dancing, but he calls Stuart because he doesn’t really know how to do anything. For all the talk of the two of them not “doing anything together,” it really does seem like they’ve spent the last 50 years together. (“This is the first time I’ve been alone in this flat in 50 years! Now I can finally change the locks!”) They might not have gone out and did a lot of activities outside of their apartment, but it shows that their lives really are devoted to each other.

It’s really not that surprising when Freddie decides to show up to the dance competition. Although, as Stuart notes, Freddie has a hard time showing his feelings, he still cares a great deal about Stuart. What is surprising is that Freddie finally manages to propose to his partner of 50 years. As we’ve seen from the rest of the episode, the two of them care deeply for each other even if they don’t say it, so the proposal is a nice resolution to this episode and provides a surprisingly touching moment for a show all about insulting people. (And it also provides an element of absurdity since Freddie is still in that ridiculous cat costume, because this is still a sitcom after all).

All in all, this was a great episode that was easy to follow, fun to watch, and emotional as well. It was a nice combination of everything that led to some important character development. It leaves me wanting to see what will happen during the rest of the season.

Vicious Observations

  • Ash and Jess serve as a great contrast to Freddie and Stuart here. They do “couple-y” things together while Stuart and Freddie don’t. And while the older couple has had 50 years to get to know each other, Ash and Jess seem to be rushing things. So it makes sense that Jess would turn him down.
  • Speaking of Ash, Iwan Rheon was on point with the facial expressions this episode. Even when he doesn’t have any lines, there’s always something interesting going on with his face.
  • Penelope and Mason’s side story was really weird and sorta pointless. But Marcia Warren’s line delivery is excellent as always and Philip Voss is still great at playing exasperation.
  • “How about Mamma Mia? I hear they force you to like it.” I always appreciate jabs about Mamma Mia.
  • “I went to the dentist once. The whole thing’s a scam.”
  • This season feels like an excuse to put the cast in as many weird costumes as possible. I approve wholeheartedly.

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