Spoilers. But seriously, if you’re not even going to bother reading the headline, you’ve brought spoiling on yourself.
In a long (long, long) list of terrible things that Rebecca Bunch has done, the season three finale showed her finally doing one of the most selfish, intentionally painfully, terrible things a person can do: she confessed to crimes she’d committed against those most important to her.
And before you start, just don’t. We’ll get into the discussion about why I’m totally right about this as soon as we do a quick recap of the season. So, this season’s main plot points:
- Getting better is hard
That’s about it. I mean, there were some ins and outs and ups and downs, loves were won and lost, and Rebecca slept with Greg’s dad. But mostly the season was about Rebecca, and to a lesser extent Paula, Heather, Daryl, Valencia, Nathaniel, Josh, and even Tim, trying to improve themselves. Rebecca had a harder time of it than others, in large part due to her until-recently-undiagnosed Borderline Personality Disorder. So, because of her shitty parents, and untreated mental illness, Rebecca has for a very long time done a lot of terrible things. Now that she’s trying to get better, she wants to not do terrible things. Which, as the season has pointed out, is really hard, in part because Rebecca’s default is to revert to manipulative, self-destructive behaviors, and in part, because terrible behaviors from her past have literally come back to haunt her in the form of her ex-boyfriend(-ish) Trent. So in last week’s episode, Rebecca lied to Paula to get Paula to help get rid of Trent who was blackmailing Rebecca because she took out a hit on Nathaniel’s new girlfriend while under a hormone-induced mania. As one is wont to do. Rebecca is really trying to move away from her terribleness, but, and I’m going to say this a lot, it’s hard.
Rebecca, now free from Trent but feeling guilty about the terrible things she’s done to Paula, Nathaniel and Josh, decides she’s going to re-devote herself to her recovery by scheduling some additional appointments with Dr. Noelle Akopian (the true hero of the show) instead of just meeting with her fellow group therapy members more.
Oh, wait, no. She decided to confess to the people she’d wrong, and shift all of the terrible feelings onto them.
People, and I cannot stress this enough, do not confess your crimes to the loved ones you have wronged. It is not only a bad idea, it’s a wildly selfish one. And I say this as a person who is, by and large, not that great (I mean, I’m not a murderer or anything. I think I’m a fairly moral/decent human being. I’m just acknowledging I’ve done my fair share of shitty things). Telling someone you love and who loves you exactly how you’ve wronged them changes precisely one thing: it makes them feel like shit. You think Rebecca feels better now that everyone knows the awful things she did to them? Because she shouldn’t. If anything, she should feel worse because now she’s made three people she claims to have cared about feel awful about their friend/girlfriend/ex-girlfriend (also really, why is Josh even at this meeting? The last time he and Rebecca talked, he thanked her for changing his life. This storyline is over.)
Confessing your sins ideally alleviates the guilt you feel about doing bad things. Only the best show on TV right now has already taught us that if you feel guilty about something, maybe it’s because you’re doing bad things. In which case, you shouldn’t have your guilt alleviated. Not until you stop doing bad things. Or consider it this way: in Nathaniel’s case, there was no current threat to Mona. The hit had been canceled or maybe was never real to begin with. Telling Nathaniel that you took out an unsuccessful hit on the woman he doesn’t-really-love made him run home to ensure she was safe. That’s it. Nothing else has changed. What Rebecca could have done instead is decide to not take any hormones in the future, discuss any big life decisions with her therapist before undertaking them, and add impulsiveness to the list of warning signs when doing an emotions scan.
And Paula? Poor mistreated, abused, lied to Paula? Who Rebecca manipulated into committing felonies under the pretense that Trent also had dirt on Paula The Would-Be Lawyer? Didn’t Rebecca have to tell Paula the truth so that she would stop feeling so terrible about all of the crimes she’d committed years ago? Nope, Paula should feel guilty, too. Because here’s the thing, Paula, when you secretly administer trackers onto the people you know without their consent or knowledge, you’re doing something wrong, and you should feel bad about it. Not forever. But enough to make sure that you don’t do it again. And also enough to make sure that there isn’t enough evidence out there that someone else could blackmail you (and yes, I understand that destroying evidence is itself a crime that could derail a law career. But we just can’t jump down that rabbit hole right now. Sometimes you have to do a beneficial bad thing and live with it). So yes, Rebecca should be a better friend to Paula, and stop manipulating her or running to her to solve all of Rebecca’s problems. But Paula’s guilt over her own past isn’t something Rebecca can save her from.
And finally, as far as Josh? Honestly, I’m not really sure why he’s even here or upset. He knew Rebecca was crazy because she’s stalked him in that one amazing episode, framed him as being a racist-homophobe and kidnapped his mom. And after all that, he still thanked her for changing his life, and they haven’t really seen each other since. So I’m not sure why he’d be super pissed about a bunch of shit she tried to do but didn’t succeed at when he’d already forgiven her for the shit she actually did. Rule of three, I guess.
The point is: don’t. Don’t do this. Getting rid of your guilt isn’t necessarily a good thing, and it definitely isn’t the responsibility of the wronged party. If you really need to get something off your chest, find a good therapist or maybe one of those religious folk. Telling the wronged person you did something awful to them when they’re completely unaware of is essentially saying “This feels terrible. Here, you take it.” It’s a crazy bad idea.