The Wonder Years S02E04 – Steady as She Goes

Highs and lows.


A handful of The Wonder Years episodes so far have probed deep into the political and cultural currents of the late 1960s. Our Miss White and Angel come to mind. Steady as She Goes is not one of those episodes. It’s the most fun, raucous episode of the series yet, again finding middle school romance fertile ground for comedy. It’s far from the series most poignant episode, but I love pretty much everything about Steady as She Goes.

Kevin certainly bounces between his highs and his lows this episode. By my count…

  1. A high when he hears rumors of a Kirk-Winnie breakup and shares a Maria-Tony duet with Winnie (freaking brilliant, by the way).
  2. A low when he sees Winnie and Kirk make up.
  3. A high when Winnie approaches him at the skating rink.
  4. A low when she asks him to skate not with her, but with Becky Slater.
  5. A high when he gets to be around Winnie more through his new girlfriend.
  6. A low when he realizes that means spending time with this girl he knows nothing about.
  7. A high when he guesses that he’s making Winnie jealous.
  8. A low when it all backfires and Becky plans on breaking up with him.

Finally, he ends on a middle, realizing that Becky is a perfectly nice girl who he really could connect with even as he’s more or less blown it. That final shot is fantastic, a long shot of Kevin walking Becky home with “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” as the soundtrack (here’s a very good Amy Winehouse cover). My favorite touch was Becky knocking Kevin’s arm off her shoulder.

At the center of the Steady as She Goes is a critique for the see-saw of emotions that is middle school romance. Kevin and Paul seem to be at their happiest when they’re just messing around with the paper football (Paul’s smile is contagious). Still, I was glad to see Paul getting some more action with Carla. I also really like the actress who plays Becky, and I think there’s some good drama to be mined from a triangle between Kevin, Winnie, and Becky.

I was pleased to see the episode calling out Kevin for leading Becky on. How could you not feel bad for Becky and irked with Kevin at the episode’s end? I want to praise Fred Savage once more for his deftness at changing tones on a dime as Kevin and making him completely likable even in his follies. And, as always, I give my props to Josh Saviano for his work as Paul.

Just a really fun, incisive, hilarious, strong, plot-heavy episode.

A few more thoughts:

  • Too many good Paul lines to count, but my favorite may have been his complaint that “all we ever do is bowl.”
  • The scene at the dinner table was excellent. I was pleased to see Wayne written a little bit less oafy and oblivious than he had been the previous few episodes.
  • I wish my seventh grade music class sang West Side Story songs. The song they were singing was “Somewhere”.
  • Speaking of the music in this episode, it had one of the best soundtracks of any episode to date. It’s hard to imagine another series getting such a wide range of royalty-heavy tunes.
  • I forgot to mention the perfectly hilarious intoduction sequence. It was so effective especially because it used two characters we don’t know, focusing on the process rather than the characters’ stakes.
  • This week edition of Wow, Awesome Editing: the extended sequence of no background conversation as Kevin starts dating Becky Slater.

Dan and Brian from Earn This now have a film review site and podcast:

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