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Monday, September 10, 2012

"Stay" with The L.A. Complex

The ending of this week's The L.A. Complex, which airs on the CW here in the U.S., seemd like a season finale. All of the characters are gathered in a feel-good sequence, where they share pizza beside the pool. And then Connor (Jonathan Patrick Moore) has a bombshell dropped on him. But there are still five episodes left in this sophomore run, and as heartwarming as the end of of "Stay" may be, it is far more interesting to examine what leads everyone to this point, and the things they will have to deal with when they wake up tomorrow.

Poor Connor. All he needs is somewhere to belong, and he just can't find it. His relationships never last. This is partly because he keeps landing with girls that are just as damaged as he is, and he needs a healer, not another person that needs healed. Yes, he helps fix Jennifer's (Krista Allen) marriage, but that was only after he felt comfortable and taken care of. He would have never been able to do what he did prior to Jennifer taking him in and caring for him in the first place.

Will being back at the complex give Connor the community he seeks? He is lonely there before, but there is certainly much opportunity for support, given the number of people around. Buying everyone a pizza dinner may be his way to try to pay his way into their hearts, and remind them that he's here. Cynical, yes, but a also a survival mechanism. As bad as things get for Connor mentally, at least we see that he's still trying to claw his way out of the pit.

In fact, every character in The L.A. Complex continuously struggles to persevere in the face of long odds. Beth (Dayle McLeod) and her brother, Simon (Michael Levison), have the toughest time this season so far, scrimping to find enough money to eat and not live in their car, looking for acting work for Simon without any parental guidance. Beth is at the edge of her breaking point after Simon's brief disappearance, though will a phone call from the father who abandoned them be a help or a hindrance? If The L.A. Complex follows the trend of most television shows, definitely the latter.

Kaldrick King (Andra Fuller) is facing a huge personal challenge in "Stay." He must decide whether he can be true to himself by coming out of the closet, or if that will kill his career. Even if it does, isn't it more important to have inner peace, and he's made enough money that he's got some cushion while he tries to reinvent himself. What's more important here, for someone who has the luxury of choice? An image or oneself?

King started as a pretty unlikable character, especially after beating up Tariq (Benjamin Charles Watson). However, he has worked on himself a lot this season, giving up some of his partying ways, and giving back to the community, so that we now want him to be happy. Since he's been with Christopher (Jarod Joseph), King is in a totally different situation than the one he had with Tariq. Christopher challenges King in ways that Tariq was too young and inexperienced to do, and shows King that it may be all right to be an openly gay professional. Christopher offers a possible equal pairing, if King can find a way to accept who he is. This is the path King is on, but is he ready to make the leap yet?

Raquel (Jewel Staite) also reaches a big hurdle in "Stay." She can remain on a reality show to pay back a major studio lawsuit, or she can walk out, proving her moral character. At first, she compromises, not because she is a bad person, but because she has debt to pay. By the end of this episode, though, she can take no more of it and leaves, making herself vulnerable to even more financial and legal trouble. Does this make her brave, sticking to her guns? Or too proud for her own good, shooting herself in the foot? Is this what she needs to do to sleep at night, or is it a foolish stunt? With her, one never can quite tell, a testament to the terrific level of complexity Staite brings to the role.

And then there's Nick (Joe Dinicol) and Sabrina (Georgina Reilly), who are actually happy as of "Stay." Damn them. Not that I begrudge these wonderful characters success, but it doesn't give much meat to chew on. The one bright spot for TV reviewers is that it won't last, sadly. Ditto Abby (Cassie Steele), who got fired, only to be almost immediately caught in the arms of a hunky guy. Eh, someone has to catch a break sometime.

The L.A. Complex has shifted time slots a couple of times, but is currently running Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on the CW. It's a guilty pleasure well worth your time.

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