Episode 23: “Girl Meets the Forgiveness Project”
Within the episode, some minor things to forgive are touched on like Farkle ruining movies, and Auggie eating the face off of Riley’s favorite Teddy Bear, but while both of those tasks are easy, the same can’t be said when Maya’s father Kermit shows up and brings a thunderstorm of feelings.
Characters & Story (with Commentary)
For Farkle, what everyone, meaning Lucas, Maya, Riley, and Zay, forgive him for, is because he ruins movies. Not to necessarily be mean or a pain, but because with Zay having the class clown thing down, and Lucas having an aptitude for sports, all Farkle can show off with is his brain. Which, granted, is an odd explanation for blurting out what happens in movies, but it seems his weak sob story is good enough to convince at least the girls to be willing to go to the movies with him still.
When it comes to Auggie, the need for forgiveness is a tad bit more serious. For what Auggie did, when he was 3, was bite the face off of one of Riley’s stuffed animals. Something which, more than 6 years later, she isn’t over at all. However, again, as per Cory’s “Forgiveness Project” assignment, she decides to not just verbally forgive Auggie, but try to understand why he did what he did.
The answer? Well, he wanted her to pay more attention to him, and spend more time with him. After all, she is his big sister and as the “Girl Meets Texas” episodes showed, he takes that title seriously and loves it. Plus, as history has shown, Auggie doesn’t get a lot of time to hangout with Riley, especially outside of the house.
Last, but not least, comes the major topic of the episode: Maya forgiving Kermit. Something which, as you’d expect, isn’t easy. Especially since, as Riley notes, Kermit isn’t the monster you would perceive him as. First off, he looks like a lost Hemsworth brother, and then he isn’t in anyway defensive. He takes Katy throwing food at him and smearing cheese cake in his face, he listens to Maya express how much her abandonment affected her, and he speaks on how happy he is Maya found a friend like Riley.
Which of course leads to the question of, why did he leave? Well, there isn’t a fully fleshed out answer here. What we are told is that he was financially irresponsible, with there being a slight hint he may have been into gambling maybe, and that he simply wasn’t ready to have a family. An excuse which doesn’t at all heal old wounds, but it seems on the path to forgiveness there needs to be some understanding. Of which Maya seems capable of in this situation, but with there being no commitment for future visits or anything, it seems as much as Kermit may acknowledge Maya’s pain, he isn’t necessarily trying to make things better.
Luckily though, while full on forgiveness to Kermit maybe a ways off, at least she has stepped closer to some form of closure toward him abandoning her. For one, she learned it wasn’t her fault, and two, while she may not have the ideal family Riley has, she still has access to not only knowing it is possible, and not just something you see on TV, but she can experience it. Hence her going to Cory’s arms for comfort, in a way beyond seeing him as a teacher, and her wanting Riley by her side as she confronted the man who broke her heart.
As said over and over again, Maya’s character, while not perfect, is still very much remarkable. The main reason being, she grounds the show. She often is what gives the show emotional complexity, and arguably Maya’s character sets the bar. For while Riley has had her moments that got me teary eyes and emotional, as well as Farkle, Maya is consistently, at least once every 2-4 episodes, showing that this show can go beyond its silly Halloween episodes and that Disney could very well go deeper if it wanted to.
I found Auggie’s moment with Riley, in which he explained why he ate her teddy bear’s face off, to definitely solicit that “aw” heard from the audience. But perhaps the better part of their interaction this episode came from the bickering. For far too often the Matthews family seems like an ideal. One in which no one fights, and everything is highly cookie cutter. So to see the two of them argue and be mad at each other, it sort of made their relationship seem normal for once.
I absolutely hated how Riley played comic relief during the Kermit and Maya moments. Especially during the scene in which Maya was talking about the thunderstorm and how Katy consoled her in the way Kermit should have, if he was there.
On The Fence
A part of me doesn’t get why Farkle’s reason to be forgiven was included in the episode. Granted, his reasoning for ruining films was alright, but in comparison to what else was offered it really seemed like something just thrown in so that he, Lucas, and Zay, had some sort of storyline.