V comes walking right the fuck into the Humphrey household once again, looking for Dan, and surprises Rufus. "A Humphrey man in a sports coat? I'd normally ask if you had a date, but..." He fills in the blank about why would he be dating when his wife is in Hudson. "Yeah. What's up with Alison? Dan says she's still upstate. I thought that was just for the summer." Rufus admits that her husband actually thought that too. "Okay, we'll circle back to that. One issue at a time." Which is where I think the problem starts, because what we need right now is actual awesomeness, but this is fake Telling Not Showing awesomeness. Like Lexie Grey that time, where the entire cast actually put on top hats and stared out at you through the screen of the television and shrieked, "Awesome! You love her! She is great!" instead of...making her awesome. And I feel manipulated the same way by these "Vanessa rolls up her shirtsleeves and awesomes on the Humphreys one by one" scenes, because technically, yes, but that's all there is to her. Just the bones of awesome without the skin and connective tissue of mattering.
Like this: Rufus is looking for his keys, and Vanessa finds them, but first she cutely gets all impertinent about "Just use Dan's window!" Like, I guess if I found that cute in the first place, it would be a funny callback, but mostly it made me feel unsafe in my own home, so like, stop trying so goddamned hard. They awkwardly segue into talk about how she broke Dan's heart before, but then after a year in her absence, he somehow managed to pull himself together and become a fully-functioning tenth-grader again. Which...let's say teenage boys holding onto one true love for years is not the norm. It's a nice idea, and it's one that teenage boys often have about themselves, but it's unrealistic. Maybe if Dan's gay, I can see him holding a torch for some girl for a year without her around to interrupt his ADD, but that's the only way. And the jury's still out on that, so I'm calling bullshit just in case. Vanessa determines to tell Dan that she came back in part because she missed him, and that's she's going to drop this massive thunderclap of truth on him tonight: "Before or after the movie, I'm not sure yet. You know, I gotta pick my moment. It's kind of a big deal." Only if you're Dan, or a female version of Dan, sweetie. Even Rufus is like, "Bored. Where's my keys?" And there they are, and...oh, Rufus. Dice on the key ring. Jesus wept, you sweet stupid old cliché. They wish each other luck, and Vanessa asks if he's dressed up for a party date with a friend. "I wouldn't exactly call her that..." And he winks. It's funny in lots of ways, because Lily is abusive and patronizing toward him constantly, but they're also kind of friends, and they're kind of in love with each other, and they're kind of obviously going to hook up, sooner rather than later, so she's not exactly his friend, no. Just the only romantic relationship on this show with more than a tablespoon of chemistry.