This show is utterly magical.

In many ways, The Big Leap Season 1 Episode 4 was the most compelling hour of the series to date.

It gave us a myriad of rich dynamics and conversations with depth and insight, further cementing how deceptively good the series is with character development, among other things.

The humor within this series is top-notch every bit as much as it's over the top. But in addition to that, we get these raw moments, peeling back layers to each character and connecting them with unexpected individuals.

On the surface, one could dismiss many of the characters as run-of-the-mill archetypes, and thus their characterization could easily be cliched and nothing of note.

The series plays around with the idea of that to a degree. But it also and often manages to either flip those archetypes on their heads a bit or lean into them, adding dimension and presenting you with the notion that there's nothing exactly wrong with these tropes in the first place.

It's a unique take. It's a route that many series habitually shy away from -- and that makes this underrated gem of a series stand out, even from like-minded shows with a similar vibe.

They reeled us into the series with the humor, but it dialed back a bit during this installment that did a tremendous job of digging deeper into some of the primary characters, and it was satisfying.

The fact that the series can do this within the scope of a reality series makes it more effective than ever.

Wayne: I thought that you said drugs were the problem?
Neil: Cocaine is not a drug just a little dessert that tastes like gasoline.

The camera catches everything no matter what we try to hide, and it makes us vulnerable in ways we can't fathom. But also, in front of those cameras, people are more inclined to put up a facade, so in those moments when they feel they aren't getting filmed, they let go more, too.

But the camera is a truth-teller with an explicable compulsory allure. One of the best examples, and one of the many compelling revelatory one-on-one scenes, was between Nick and Henri.

Nick knows the power of the camera, and he's not exempt from the effects of it. Even within the privacy and confines of his office, he still had to hide behind a camera to talk to Henri, ask her the questions he was too afraid to because Nick knew the answers that he didn't want to hear.

Hiding behind the camera, Nick could ask Henri what she wanted to do, if she really wanted to stay with him or go to Manchester with her mother. Through the camera, he could see her body language, facial reactions, and more as she felt compelled to be honest with him.

Henri: Talk to me, dad. What are you so afraid of?
Nick: What am I so afraid of? I'm afraid that we'll drift apart and that next, you'll be in high school and then you graduate and then we'll only talk on Father's Day, and that's all because you went to England for six months when you were 13. That's what "m so afraid of. You mean more to me than anything, Hen.
Henri: I'll be back for Swan Lake. I won't miss it for anything.

And then she turned it back on him. It's not often a child can ask their parent what they're afraid of and get a real, vulnerable, truthful answer. It's through the lens that Nick makes himself surprisingly unguarded for his daughter.

He was accessible to her in a way that he probably isn't often, and that was such a fascinating play of things given the nature of the show, or rather the show within a show.

It was also fascinating when you consider that so much of this hour was about these characters at their most vulnerable and human with the cameras nowhere around to capture it.

It wasn't the primary objective for once. And it resonated more that these moments took place off-camera, whether it was Nick carrying Monica to the car and rushing her to the hospital or rescuing Wayne from that hotel room before he succumbed to bad habits.

Even Mike and Paula's first kiss, despite Nick and Henri setting the mood for it, took place off-camera.

For Nick, it's great that each installment rounds him out more, so he isn't a one-dimensional jerk who exploits everyone for the sake of his show. He's shown to give sound advice, cares about people, and can be a good friend.

We have these moments where we know it's not an act, and he doesn't expect everything to be "on" all of the time. Bringing Henri in was another layer of that.

And Scott Foley and Blaire Brown were fantastic together. Henri is a wise young girl, and she has a bit of her father in her, but she seems to keep him honest and tells it to him straight.

The divorce was hard on all of them, but she didn't hesitate to establish boundaries when Nick kept cutting down his ex-wife. She's smart enough to know that her father won't have time for her right now, but she also doesn't seem to take it personally or hold his job against him either.

Henri: I just don't like it when you bag on mom. The divorce was hard on everybody. Not just you.
Nick: I know. Hey, Hen, Hey, look at me. I know it wasn't easy. I know that. It's just that if we're talking about our feelings, it's important that you love me better.
Hen: You're really immature.

She's intuitive and a great read of people and situations. She was a solid sidekick and accomplice for Nick during his misadventures throughout the installment, ironically, tending to his friends.

The Big Leap is a story about second chances, and they keep reiterating and showing how that applies to everyone.

It's heartbreaking that all Monica wants to do is dance, and as Wayne said, she has a toxic relationship with it now. She's viewed this series as her second chance without considering how it's one for the others.

Nothing good could come from her injecting herself with steroids and painkillers to continue doing what she loved. She's been making this entire show about herself, and in a way, resenting the amateurs for being just that in comparison.

You felt her pure joy and fun as she let go, smiled, and allowed herself to be happy while dancing with Justin, and it was beautiful.

Will Raymond Cham Jr. continue to own our hearts during every installment with a dance number? He and Monica's dance was gorgeous because of how uninhibited they were.

Monica shut that right down once she fell and reinjured herself, but their final nonverbal exchange later implies that all is forgiven.

But Monica's most compelling story within all of this was her friendship with Wayne and their spat. For both of them, dance is everything, and they don't know who they are without it.

Wayne always has some sage advice, though, and he understands her hurt. It's through Wayne that we see what lies behind Monica's rigid facade, and their friendship is moving.

They see each other to their core and uplift one another and don't shy away from each other.

Monica was also the one who knew how toxic Neil was, and she warned Wayne about welcoming Neil back into his life.

The Wayne of many years ago is different than this put-together man we have today. Neil was the embodiment of a hedonistic lifestyle that didn't serve Wayne well, tempestuous and toxic.

Justin: Who's Neil?
Monica: The Devil Incarnate.

It was worrisome that Neil was OK inviting Wayne to throw away three years of sobriety. He knew the hold he had on Wayne, and he wasn't above exploiting it.

Wayne is fortunate that he could fork over a few thousand for Neil to disappear. Sadly, he won't be getting the help he needs as Wayne intended, but at least he's out of Wayne's life.

Justin and Simon also had one of the most important and emotionally gratifying exchanges of the hour.

One could've easily dismissed Simon's hurt feelings over what Justin said in the promo and even used the equally as loaded "drama queen" to describe his actions.

Simon: Ridiculous swan coming through.
Justin: Dude, can we just talk about this?
Simon: Sure, let's talk. Let's talk about how you need to check your femme phobia.
Justin: OK, so I am a homophobe, I'm a closet case, and a femme phone? You want to throw anything else at me?
Simon: No, that about covers it.
Justin: Fine, yes I judged your tutu, but does that make me a bigot?
Simon: I have been called ridiculous my entire life, but for that to come from another gay man and someone that I respect, that sucks.
Justin: What did I do to you? What is your problem with me?
Justin: My God, no. I suck. It's me, I'm sorry. I don't have any problem with you. I like you. It was the first day, and I'm working through this stuff. I shouldn't have said that stuff about you, and I didn't realize how loaded it was. Hey, please don't hate me.
Simon: I don't hate you. That was a good apology, and look, I'm sorry that I called you a closet case that's not okay.

But when they finally talked it out, we got a perfect display of open communication, remorse, and grace.

Simon hasn't been wrong about Justin and his struggles. He is battling some version of internalized homophobia, and Simon's flamboyancy and unapologetic femininity -- it unnerves Justin.

Clearly, there are so many layers ranging from upholding some toxic masculinity to envy that Simon can be so comfortable and free without thinking about what others who don't matter have to say, to his own attraction to him.

It's one thing for someone else to say it, but the world is hard enough dealing with the judgment of others. The last thing a person needs is the person in the trenches with them who understands that best, coming for them too.

But Simon also needed to apologize too. It wasn't right of him to be so harsh and constantly call out where Justin is in his journey. It's not for Simon to judge either.

Justin's apology was so sincere, and you could tell how much it mattered to him that Simon didn't hate him.

We have so many little love stories teased for this series, but goodness, how can you not be rooting for Justin and Simon?

The Big Leap also understands that romance isn't the most important relationship.

Raven and Julia's scenes in a blue illuminated private room at a strip club were among the best of the installment.

It's an absence of female friendships in this series, and Raven and Julia taking steps toward becoming the most prominent one is delightful.

It required them both to break down each other's walls and remove their judgment.

Much of the series is about confronting how judgmental we are with each other, and dance is a suitable way of doing that.

Ballet is an elitist form of dance. So many privileges come into play with a dance form that more often than not expects you to be thin, white, of a certain socioeconomic level to afford to maintain it.

It's not lost that the two beautiful thin white women are the ballerinas of the series, and their preconceived notions about others caused friction.

Monica often struggles to view hip hop as a valid form of dance, and her biased against Gabby was likely rooted in Gabby not looking like a traditional ballerina.

Julia proclaims to be about female empowerment, but she often spoke of pole dancing as inferior when it is the pinnacle of athleticism, too.

Julia unleashed all of her anger against her husband onto Raven, and it wasn't fair.

Ironically, it's Raven who extends moments of sympathy and friendship. The two of them needed to talk it out.

Raven revealing that classical dance was her first love surprised Julia. She never considered that Raven could be anything else, and that's the problem with trying to stick people in boxes.

It was a beautiful moment between the two when Julia taught Raven how to execute the difficult move.

But Raven judged Julia too. Everyone always assumes that she's this uptight woman who hadn't lived. However, she was freaking incredible at ballet in NYC in the 80s.

Raven: What if him leaving is actually a gift?
Julia: I'm not going to be therapized by a booty dancer who is trained to spin around on a pole with grease and God knows what.
Raven: Bitch I am done with you bringing --
Julia: Don't you call me a bitch!
Raven: For your information, I trained in ballet.
Julia: You trained in ballet?!
Raven: I did, me, for a while. Classical dance was my first love. But I wasn't the best at it, and ultimately I gave it up because I needed the money, and stripping pays the bills.

Julia's tale of how she lost her two best friends to AIDS at the height of the epidemic in the 80s came as such a devastating but unexpected blow. It was the slice of Julia that explained so much about her with just a few lines.

And Teri Polo's delivery during the entire scene was fantastic. Karen Rodriguez was equally as amazing.

It speaks volumes that all these other characters are compelling and can hold their own along with the leads.

Gabby's joy makes you smile.

It's weird that Gabby and Reggie never talked about Brittney and what may or may not have happened between them. But his obsession with Gabby is real. She hasn't let that define her experience or the friendship she has with Reggie.

Dating apps are wild. They're like these video games where you win self-esteem.


But he's like a big puppy dog giving her heart eyes all of the time, and she doesn't even notice how bad he has it.

The celebrity dating apps must be as bad as the regular ones if they paired her up with arrogant Aaron. She didn't deserve to sit there like a groupie.

But Reggie was there to save the day, and even though Gabby looked gorgeous, it was for the best that her night ended falling asleep on the couch with Sam and Reggie in her sweats.

Their connection is undeniable, and it sucks that her mother both wants her to date again but judges Gabby's crush.

Maybe Reggie has a past, but that doesn't have to be his present or future. He's smitten with Gabby, and so far, it seems like he's capable of doing right by her. And he was so good with Sam.

Nick, great news, TV Guide, a publication that nobody reads but everybody sees in at the grocery store, is considering us for their cover.


They've given us history on characters with each installment, so I hope that Reggie's time is coming soon.

Surely, Reggie overhead what Gabby said about loving him. We didn't get to revisit it yet, so the impending conversations between the pair should be interesting.

Surprisingly, Mike and Paula kissed and hooked up in the same installment, and this soon. But it'll fall apart when he learns the truth.

The two were in sync and already felt like a seasoned couple during that awkward dinner with Mike's ex and her new bread-baking boyfriend.

It was a surprising turn when Paige became bitter and verbally abusive. Initially, she garnered some sympathy and compassion.

But it's evident that she had her fair share of flaws in their relationship too, and despite her wishes that Mike improves himself and finds happiness, she hates that he seems fine without her.

Paula realizing that Mike worked at the company where she did the mass firing is a game-changer. She can't even enjoy this new phase in their relationship because of this damning secret over them.

And she's not good at lying and likes him enough to want to be honest with him.

Henri: See the pretty lady, she's hiding something.
Nick: Good eye, kid.
Henri: What are you going to do?
Nick: That's simple. We tell her secret to the man she loves.

Unfortunately for her, Nick is ready to exploit that for everything that it's worth.

Additional Notes:

  • It felt like a total meta moment with the hip hop trio lamented how little they were used in the promo when they're fabulous. The trio steals every single scene. Also, the SYTYCD alum makes me smile. I love COMFORT!!
  • Mike's morning after, happy dance through the neighborhood was priceless. Mike has an adorable white boy swagger where he's unapologetically his dorky self but can basically fit in with any demographic, and it rocks.
  • Alan deserves a raise for all the abuse he puts up with working under Nick. Alan is trying his best, OK?!

I knew it was stupid, but it felt so good to dance. They operated on my knee, Wayne, the doctors said that I may not be able to walk or dance the same way again.

  • The receptionists fangirling over Gabby in the pediatrician's office are a mood. Hard same.
  • So Gabby does keep in contact with Sam's mysterious father? It's good that she can reach him even though he isn't around. I wonder how long it'll be before he pops up?
  • There isn't a single character on this series I don't absolutely love. -- The TV Guide shade made me chuckle.
  • The Best dance of the hour would have to go to Justin and Monica. But I don't know if anything else could top that AMAZING single-shot group dance party at the hotel.
  • Rob Lowry is the musical superviser, and I need him to know that I love him for giving us one of the best musical catalogues on a series this season. 

Over to you, Big Leap Fanatics!

Comments are like freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and the perfect cup of tea, I live for them, so by all means, hit that blue button and let me know what you're thinking.

You can watch The Big Leap online here via TV Fanatic.



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