Season 3 | Episode 6 | Aired May 12, 2014
Penny and Aaron are not the only awkward relationship in episode 6 of Submissions Only. In a memorable cold open, Tracy Mintzer (Audra McDonald) says all the wrong things to her old neighbor Albert (Nick Corley). Not only did Albert recently suffer from a parasite, but his wife left him and he had to move from the Upper West Side to Red Hook (hey, at least there’s an IKEA nearby). Albert also had to drop out of his show, Civil Bore (or maybe it’s Civil Boar; that would be a very different play), because of the parasite, and now the show is moving to Broadway without him. Tracy learns all of this in the small-talk portion of the audition, then proceeds to ask Albert to sing “Just the Way You Look at Me.” Turns out that was his wedding song. Oops.
After the meeting with Vincent Savio, indifferent Gail is gone for good and aspirational Gail is here to stay. In an effort to get Gail battle-ready for the casting room, Agnes and Tim decide to stage auditions. From forgetting the words to a song to using a real brain as a prop, Tim has seen it all and Gail has scoffed at it all. If Gail really wants to be a casting director, she needs to learn how to deal with things professionally and maintain a refined level of her signature Gail candor.
The ridiculous Gail plot balances Penny’s crumbling world perfectly. This episode is the most dramatic to date and still manages to be laugh-out-loud funny thanks to Gail, Tim and Agnes. Gail learns to handle a crazy woman dying, not having her sides, not having her skirt, and not knowing how to find the 1 train. Agnes does a great job trying to throw Gail off guard, but nothing really gets to her until Tim attempts to flirt. He can pretend to be a jump-roping clown, but Tim pretending to be interested in Gail is too much for either of them. Gail does remarkably well through her trials and is ready to meet with Vincent and Donny to discuss Light Me Up. Donny’s incapability to shake people’s hands seems to be the only problem with this show. Looks like Vincent may actually rebuild his reputation with Light Me Up.
We finally get to see a little more of Jeremy’s Fort, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. The show is a mess, and Linda is not happy. She needs to get the show and the Giddyup Guys back on track. Unfortunately for Linda, it’s not just the score that needs work. After her run-in with Aaron, Penny thinks that he may have finally broken up with Serena and is concerned about what that will mean for the Jeremy’s Fort rehearsal. When Serena storms in late, diva sunglasses and all, it looks like Penny is right, but it turns out Serena’s Frenchie, Jean-Claude, is ill, giving Aaron yet another roadblock in his break-up-with-Serena quest.
While Serena is having a meltdown about her dog, Josh tells Penny that he had a French bulldog that didn’t make it through surgery. It’s just a joke, but Penny calls him out on his sick sense of humor. You know who also used to call him out on his sick sense of humor? His ex-girlfriend! That’s right, girlfriend. Major props to Blake Whyte (who plays Josh) for the last couple of episodes, where Josh’s gayness has been in question. Whyte plays him perfectly and has emerged as one of this season’s best characters.
Josh’s newly confirmed straightness propels Penny into full flirt mode and Serena into matchmaker meddling. Serena invites Penny to an open mic night at 54 Below (home of the upcoming Submissions Only concert) under the pretense that the whole cast will be there, but Serena has a more devious evening planned. Penny arrives in a fancy-schmancy dress, which her roommate Suze probably picked out because, let’s face it, Penny has no style. Josh and Serena are there, but it turns out the rest of the cast isn’t coming. Serena has set up a double date for Penny and Josh, with her and Aaron. As the emcee sings a tune about hot toddies and pert young women, Serena introduces Aaron to Penny and Josh. Welcome to the most uncomfortable open-mic night in history — and that’s saying a lot!
Serena insists that if she and Penny are singing, the boys have to sing as well. Josh doesn’t want to belt out tunes by himself so Serena agrees to do a duet with him, so that Penny can hear Josh’s serenade. As Serena and Josh take the stage to croon “Steal Away” (by Jeff Blumenkrantz), Aaron and Penny are left by themselves and the fun begins. Aaron is pissed about the Josh situation, and Penny is pissed that Aaron is too chicken to break up with Serena. They both have valid points, but Penny definitely has the upper hand. If Aaron doesn’t want to break it off with Serena, he has no right to be mad at Penny for flirting with Josh. Penny storms off (or trips, according to the bartender) to the bar for a shot of bourbon and an escape from having an argument in the middle of a restaurant.
Aaron follows, calling her out on her “three-and-a-half-month” rule. Penny counters with the way Aaron has been avoiding everything: breaking up with Serena, talking to Penny and New York in general. Aaron spars back that he has a lot going on in his life with the transition to law school and his life being miserable. As Penny pulls out the big guns — “If you know you like someone better than your girlfriend, then maybe you should show your girlfriend some respect and break up with her as a courtesy” — Serena and Josh walk over.
It doesn’t take long for Serena to figure out that the person Aaron likes more than his girlfriend is Penny, and that Penny and Aaron didn’t just meet. Penny and Aaron finally face the music. They both screwed up, and now they have to handle the consequences. As Penny notes, the consequences are a little more extreme for her than they are for Aaron. She still has to work with Josh and Serena every day on Jeremy’s Fort, whereas Aaron is free. What this means that for Penny and Aaron, we will have to wait and see. As the credits roll in an alternate universe we know as reality, Kate Wetherhead and Santino Fontana sing their version of “Steal Away,” an upbeat tune that’s the complete opposite of their characters’ emotions at the end of the episode.
What did you think of episode 6? Will Penny and Aaron finally get together? Does Jeremy’s Fort have any chance of success? Will Serena be able to cope with being single? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
Submissions Only airs every other Monday at BroadwayWorld.com.