The Wonder Years S02E11 – Nemesis

Holy continuity, Batman! Where did all these callbacks come from? One of my biggest disappointments in the show before this episode is that it hadn’t really allowed its characters to organically build histories. Not that the characters have been inconsistent, but most character development has been modular to that episode.

Nemesis tackles this head on, giving us Miss White (although not referencing Kevin’s crush), lots of references to Dance With Me, and… Becky Slater.

Briefly granting a request from one of my previous recaps, Nemesis gives us another glimpse at Kevin and Becky happily going steady. It’s nice to see the show trusting its viewers to remember (or at least infer) the brief Kevin-Becky arc. Fred Savage has great chemistry Crystal McKellar (*) — better than he does with Danica McKellar at this point, I’d add. I hope we get to see more of her.

(*) Wow, I just noticed that the actresses who play Becky and Winnie are sisters.

Speaking of Winnie, that final scene when she flipped out on Kevin is the most I’ve ever liked her. She finally showed some personality and energy. Another oversight by the show at this point has been failing to inject enough personality into Winnie Cooper. She remains an archetypal Girl Next Door, but hopefully we’ll see her come out of her shell a bit in the next few episodes.

Nemesis isn’t particularly poignant and never ties together that well, but I loved it nonetheless. In fact, its raggedness was something I really liked about it. It’s a silly episode with lots of great mini-moments, like the spaghetti western spoof and Kevin’s barely containable joy at Winnie’s flu. It’s a good contrast to the previous few episodes. I had burned out on stories with Kevin’s romantic life during the two-episode binge earlier in the season, but Nemesis has me excited for a new Winnie arc once again.

And, on a big picture level, hopefully this is a sign that the show will have more memory of its previous episode. Sixteen episodes in, I think The Wonder Years and its characters are well-developed enough for some more serial storytelling.

A few other notes:

  • I say it over and over, but Josh Saviano really is great almost every moment he’s on screen as Paul.
  • The chain of teasing remarks Kevin made grew pretty ridiculous, but didn’t go far enough, in my opinion. I was hoping they would keep building and becoming more and more ridiculous, like a Dr. Cox rant from Scrubs. Instead they sort of leveled out.
  • I know I already mentioned it, but that last scene is so, so good. I had to watch it three times. Danica McKellar made me laugh for the first time, and that moment when she realizes she’s wearing Kevin’s jacket and throws it across the yard is gold.

Dan S.

Dan is the editor of Earn This. He co-founded the site in 2009.

2 thoughts on “The Wonder Years S02E11 – Nemesis

  1. Interesting response. Me, I had the opposite reaction to the ending. I really disliked it, disliked Winnie’s whole character, and was starting to question Kevin’s whole affection for her. Sure, she had a right to be angry, but not *that* angry. Paul was angry, but he forgave Kevin. So did, presumably, his other friends (in subsequent episodes, Kevin does not continue to be a complete pariah). Only Winnie continues to hold a grudge (beyond just this episode), and this after he’d spent a week slavishly caring for her during her illness. Nice gratitude there. Frankly, I felt that Winnie came off as a complete bitch.

  2. I see what you mean, Rich. Winnie is definitely ungrateful and overreacting at the episode’s end. I think my positive response to her outburst is because I often find her character totally boring; here, she was at least expressive and interesting (maybe for the first time).

    The show never really figured out how to use continuity and references to past episodes in a satisfying way, despite my hope from when I first watched this episode. Winnie’s personality was sometimes inconsistent; everyone’s shunning of Kevin seems forgotten by next episode.

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