The Wonder Years S03E01 – Summer Song

“A lot happened on the beach in Ocean City that summer night in 1969. But, of course, none of it was permanent.”


Think of everything that happened to Kevin Arnold in the past year — Brian Cooper getting killed in Vietnam, his up-and-down relationship with Winnie, getting beat up by Eddie, etc. — and it’s not hard to feel great for him getting a chance to let all of that go for a few days. His relationship with Winnie is so complicated that it’s nice to have a wonderful summer fling fall right into his lap.

For a brief while, everything is right for Kevin: He enjoys a magical evening with a wonderful girl, relaxes on the beach with his family for maybe the last time before Karen moves out, and can enjoy a static moment in time. I know exactly the feeling Kevin experiences then: That everything is simple and perfect. You wish it can never end.

But vacations are only temporary, as Kevin notes in the quote cited above. He can put a photo of the night that he and Teri spent together in a shoebox, but the world will continue to turn around him. “It was just a summer thing,” admits Winnie about her relationship with Chip upon their return, but hte same can be said for Kevin’s fleeting moments of joy absolute peace. The loss and difficulty of the world will continue to grow.

There’s lots of interesting stuff happening on the fringes of Summer Song — for one, Wayne’s grown up a bit over the summer, it seems, getting a steady girlfriend. And, speaking of growing, Josh Saviano has gotten taller and his voice has gotten deeper. It’ll take me a few episodes to get used to this.

Also, Winnie’s dad has moved out of the house. “Well, yeah,” she says when Kevin tries to comfort her. She clearly has a lot of stuff to work through this season, and has Kevin pining after her more than ever.

But Summer Song is all about a brief respite from the drama and toil of everyday life. Teri writes Kevin a note, but where those feelings might have seemed eternal in that moment separated from reality on the beach, it quickly becomes nothing more than a fleeting memory.

Some other thoughts:

  • This is just a reminder that Alley Mills is consistently awesome as Norma.
  • Is Wayne growing up, or is he being rewritten? He provided some comic relief in season two, but the writers were unable to do anything effective with him beyond that.
  • The rain at the end of the episode was a really nice touch. It just added a lot of character to the brief scenes of the car rides and Winnie and Kevin talking at the doorstep.
  • “When you’re thirteen, it’s a  long way to Albuquerque” – nice summary by Future Kevin of why Present Kevin’s brief consideration of attempting something long term with Teri is flawed.
  • Another nice moment: Kevin and Winnie simultaneously saying “welcome home”
  • Paul seems kind of wasted in this episode. He has a couple of moments — his carsickness and his splotchiness from eating fish — but he largely disappears about a third of the way into the episode.

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

The Goods: Film Reviews

The Goods: A Film Podcast

Available on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, and more.

2 thoughts on “The Wonder Years S03E01 – Summer Song

  1. This is one of my favorite episodes of the series so far. I’m currently watching the show for the second time, and “Summer Song” still felt rather fresh. Future Kevin had a lot of great lines, even when he was simply narrating the story instead of saying something profound. The bit about promising to send letters until they met up again, only for Kevin to never write back was great. I loved how the theme of non-permanence effortlessly worked for both the vacation and Kevin’s fling with Teri, as well. One disappointing fact is that Teri’s actress is currently a porn star. It ruins my thoughts about if the episode was a real situation instead of acting, if you know what I mean. Good review.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *