Where the writers are clearly comfortable with the characters of Camp Victory, they’ve chosen to put each kid in increasingly uncomfortable situations. And this episode dealt with a number of different relationships, issues and taboos in order to show us a landscape of teenagers (and adults)who may act confident in this insular world, but are clearly still struggling to understand exactly how they belong.

No character better embodies this than Chloe. While I don’t think Chloe was necessarily the focus of tonight’s episode, she does shed light on the struggle facing many of these kids as they enter the camp. Up until this point Chloe has been a constant source of relative evil among a group of kids who mostly embody a kind and understanding group. The writers have gone of their way to make her the bad gal as she ignores her twin brother, keeping their ties a secret and choosing popularity over moral and familial conviction at every turn. But tonight we got to see why she chooses to ignore Alistair. Him being a bit off the grid doesn’t help, but mostly his presence has hijacked her experience at Camp Victory. Camp was her place to exist outside of her family (and home) and Alistair being there compromises any chance she had to make the place her own. I’m not saying she should have ignored him, and it certainly doesn’t absolve her of her sins regarding Alistair, but it does give her story a bit more focus. Although, that she feels bad about the incident, but never seeks him out is still a fairly large indictment on her persona.

Alistair’s struggles align somewhat in the same way as we see that not only is he tortured, but he also has a teenage willingness to overlook his own hurt in the face of possible acceptance. Alistair is a truly tortured soul who, much like Ricky Vazquez on show creator Winnie Holzman’s other teen angst drama My So-Called Life, understands himself just enough to know he doesn’t fit into a societal norm. So Piz’s truth or dare kiss on Alistair was truly difficult to watch because it brought the pain to the forefront while making the poor kid come to grips with his homosexuality as part of a drunken prank. But what was truly tough to stomach was seeing Alistair trying to grin and bear it because he just likes Trent so much (understandably) and just wants to whole incident to go away.

Finally, Amber found herself living the dream of finally being with George only to realize that a relationship for the two is uncomfortable at best and impossible at worst. It was tough (but realistic) to see that even when George has all but gone full bore into their makeout sessions, Amber still holds some of the same body issues (don’t touch my stomach) that brought her to Camp Victory in the first place. And the insecurity doesn’t stop there as she feels the need to steal booze from Poppy, get overwhelmingly drunk at Chloe’s party and finally get left alone on an early morning booty call that George skips out on to keep his own conscience intact. While I never really jived with the whole Amber/George thing, the way it ended was probably its most realistic aspect. The question for her now becomes whether George broke it off with her because of her body or because of the rules.

The characters of Huge had completely different experiences on Chloe and Alistair’s birthday. Many of them went into the episode with high hopes, but Doctor Rand warned them to not get caught up in the strides they had made and to sabotage their personal gains. Her words became a self-fulfilling prophecy as many of the characters sunk deeper into their own problems and were put in places of relative vulnerability. With that vulnerability comes the idea that they’ll have to find stability in their worlds and rally around each other for the chance to walk out of the summer feeling reborn rather than stomped back down again.

Other thoughts

- At this point, I think we can say Trent is the most standup and morally sound person on the show. I never thought that would be the case, but week in and week out he’s been a rock of understanding (albeit a bit dopey). Tonight he forgave Chloe her secrecy about Alistair, felt genuinely terrible (although not enough to stop the whole thing) about Piz’s prank, and still goes with “Athena” at every turn.

- I like how the writers added alcohol to the show (completely realistic) without making it an afterschool special on the effects of drinking (very difficult to do). Instead they chose to make drinking a catalyst for a bad decision rather than making the drinking itself the poor choice.

- Doctor Rand continues to be beyond enigmatic with her shunning of Wayne in order to head to a booty call with Jonathan (Cool Camp Director). Her struggles add credence to the idea that even if/when someone overcomes a big problem (weight, alcoholism, etc – I only say this because she was in the 12-step program) it doesn’t necessarily mean their lives are completely free of issues.

- Wil’s story took a backseat for the week (even if Becca is starting to have just about enough) as we saw the other campers move about their worlds. These last couples of weeks have been consistently inconsistent for the main character as she’s consistently alienated her friends only to have them seemingly forget about her piss poor attitude. Although tonight might have been the final straw for her and Becca.

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