Ryan's volleyball injury works well with his mental frame of mind. Ryan can't move because he threw his back out in a fun game of beach volleyball with Misty May Treanor and a group of dynamite looking women, and he can't move on to dating other women because he misses his wife and would really prefer married life to what he has now, which is stress and worry about what to say to women and how to act, and most importantly, how to relate. Ryan's like an old pitcher who missed two years with shoulder injury. Perhaps he's like Ben Sheets, a Cy Young caliber pitcher for a few seasons but elbow problems derailed his career. Sheets made a comeback with Atlanta this past season and he threw like his old self for 3-4 months until the elbow forced him to retire before the season ended, denying him the opportunity to pitch in a post-season game. Ryan badly wants to prove to himself that he's capable of dating new women and playing the game the way he used to, but he's not healed.
Go On's reliable when telling stories about Ryan's process of moving on. "Back, Back, Back...It's Gone" marks a second consecutive solid episode. The A, B, and C stories were set up in a single scene. Ryan committed to dating; George committed to celebrating the fact he's still alive despite a doctor's warning he'd be dead; and Sonia wants to find her cat. Ryan stumbles in his attempt to date. He doesn't relate to the volleyball players, and he stands up a 23 year old volleyball goddess because the mention of his wife sends his back into an uproar, so he drives over to Lauren's where she assures him he'll find someone who loves his sense of humor and kind qualities, which compliment he mistakes for a sign and then leans in to kiss her, to which she moves and he falls to the floor, pained and humiliated; that's what trying to date is and failing--lying flat on your back, in pain and feeling sort of humiliated, and Ryan hates that feeling.
George gives Ryan insight none of the other group members would've given him because of their collective insanity. The group declined to indulge George in the activities he wanted to do to celebrate his life continuing on after doctors said it'd end a year ago. They thought George would get hurt traveling to Mexico and Las Vegas, living it up basically. George accomplished half of what he wrote down on his list because he refuses to adhere to age and what's expected of him. It's a bit beautiful listening to George's affirmations of his life as Ryan listens, inspired. George imparts wisdom to him even though he feels incapable of imparting wisdom ("I'm not wise. I just talk slow), telling Ryan that the right one will come along, and when she does, to let it happen. George is a testament to will-power, of overcoming life's difficulties beautifully. He's a good example for Ryan.
The attempted kiss with Lauren is handled easily: Lauren's been kissed or given flowers and paintings by so many people she's helped. The series seems likely to return to Lauren and Ryan as a couple; she's the woman he's closest to, and she's not in love with her chiropractor boyfriend Wyeth (or Wyatt). Ryan entertains the idea of trying something with Carrie, but Carrie prefers not being a terrible mistake for him. Ryan's going to overcome, though.
The C story gives Danny a chance to find love through assisting Sonia in her search for her cat. Danny's last meaningful screentime was in the Twilight Zone inspired episode about the world Danny goes to in his head because his home life is horrible. Danny's always going to be a weird character. Fausta finds Sonia's cat in her oven but Danny wishes to continue the search. He doesn't want his growing connection with Sonia to stop. He's also the hero when he returns the cat to Sonia during group time.
So, we know the group will never get better, because Lauren's a horrible group counselor and the show needs the group to stay together, but this episode had progress for central characters in the three stories. The humor was light, the emotions were genuine and moving, and the group's more grounded. Owen's absence was mysterious and unexplained (most likely it was because of the show's budget). His presence would've made the episode feel more whole, but overall, it was solid.
-It's nice that Danny and Sonia will go steady, but I hope the audience sees absolutely nothing of their romance. I don't think that'd be fun to watch. Both characters are one-note. Danny's insane. Sonia's obsessed with cats. There isn't a whole lot to explore that hasn't been explored already.
-Allison Miller's Carrie is great. Go On integrated Steve into the group naturally. When will Carrie be integrated? Her role is reduced because of Ryan's separate worlds. Allison Miller's funny and lovely. She shouldn't be on the sidelines so much.
-The episode opened and closed with Ryan watching a pretty woman jogging past his house. Ryan ran behind her at the end, a sign he’s listening to George’s advice. Will the pretty jogger be seen again in Go On? One doesn’t know when characters in the group will be present, let alone silent pretty women who draw Ryan’s gaze. I’ll stop thinking about that and instead focus on the symbol of Ryan running after her: he’s moving on.
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