Up until this point, Huge had done a nice job of distancing itself from shows of similar ilk because the writers left a fair deal of melodrama out of the equation. Instead they opted to give us a set of characters with a massive amount of issues (regarding , among other things, their mass) and let us watch as those kids struggled to get a firm grip on their summer reality. It made for a nice dynamic where we saw not-so-typical television teens at odds with themselves and others in a fight to gain a little self-clarity and comfort. It was a show tackling the weight issue without getting away from a story of how tough it is to grow up (fat or not). It was a teen drama written with an adult sensibility.

But tonight’s “Talent Night,” (directed by Eric Stolz) took a step back from what Huge was doing so well, and began to devolve into typical teen drama fare. Not to say this wasn’t already happening, but “Talent Night” left little room for audience interpretation or even connectivity. Unlike “Live Action Role Play” where a plot device was used as a way for the kids to interact on a meaningful basis, “Talent Show” basically stuck the kids on stage as a way to establish their clear roles in the Camp Victory universe. Where other episodes worked towards conclusions far beyond the closing credits of any particular episode, “Talent Show” had the final notes of Ian’s song as the clear finish line. Because when it was over I couldn’t help but think the rest of the season would be pretty predictable.

Chloe is very clearly the bad gal of the show now. There is no other way around it. We were moving towards as much when she shunned her quirky brother Alistair in the name of popularity. But tonight her evil was hammered down our throats in a nearly scene-by-scene deluge of bitchiness. She wanted Amber’s man. She left a girl out of the talent show. She ignored people’s feelings and looked out for number one at every turn. She told people to shut up. A cynic (or a realist) could point to the idea that kids like Chloe exist everywhere and her character is necessary in proving that even those who’ve struggled can have difficulty seeing past their own ego. But did we need so many examples of it? Her story line lacked any ounce of subtlety.

The rest of the episode, including the search and rescue of Will’s diary, Ian’s songwriting and Doctor Rand’s hike with the surveyor was more filler than story. Filler is what happens when there’s little story to tell. Filler is what happens when easy answers are right around corner. It’s what happens when characters like Ian turn abrupt about faces in their feelings for the hot girl (Amber) and all of a sudden see something in Will he never knew existed. It’s what shows up when the writers need a little more time to give us the eventual Amber/George hookup. It’s what happens in a typical teen drama. I’m not saying it’s wrong; it’s just easy. And up until this point, Huge had avoided taking the easy way out.

Of course, it’s not all bad as Huge is still an entertaining show with a great premise. And one episode does not a season make. There just exists cause for concern when much of the plot’s writing is already on the wall.

Other thoughts:

- The one relative wildcard still remaining in the show is Doctor Rand. The writer’s have done a nice job of establishing her as maybe the most troubled of all characters. She is in a support group for some issue (weight maybe, but I’m not convinced that’s it). She has a mysterious relationship with her father. She is beyond awkward with men.

- I am still a bit confused by Amber. Her actions seem incredibly inconsistent from episode to episode.

- Will was largely non-existent in an episode where I would have liked to see a little bit more of her. Her nervousness, heartbreak and fear over the lost diary would have been better with a little more context.

- Normally I would say Alistair had a phenomenal recovery on stage after his magic show went awry. I only felt a twinge of pain though because this self-deprecating humor was clearly the defense mechanism he’s been using regarding his personality and weight all his life.

- What to make of Becca reading the diary? Whatever it meant, it was probably the most realistic thing to happen in this episode. Who wouldn’t have wanted to know what was happening on those pages after seeing Will’s reaction to losing it.

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