It’s not a huge compliment, but “Cake” was probably the best episode thus far and reshapes some dynamics in a way that might make for a more interesting show going forwards.
This recap of Call Me Kat season 1, episode 5, “Cake”, contains spoilers.
On balance, Call Me Kat episode 5, “Cake”, was probably the best episode of the season thus far. And look, I know that isn’t a high bar to clear. But it abandons some of the time-wasting silliness – and a fair amount of the annoying formal quirks – to progress Kat and Max’s relationship and also embroil the entire cat café in a funny and somewhat topical subplot. I’d say the show’s humor still only hits about 50% of the time, but that’s better than nothing, and the characters remain charming enough to follow along.
The catalyst for Kat and Max is a recurring dream she’s having about kissing him, which eventually leads her to open up to him about it. At that point, their relationship gets a lot more complicated thanks to a woeful error of judgment on Max’s part, but there’s some candor towards the end of “Cake” that helps to shift their dynamic a little away from the played-out will-they-won’t-they and into the more potentially interesting territory as Kat has to grapple with the idea that Max genuinely doesn’t feel the same way she does.
Because the show is framed in Kat’s perspective, we’ve always seen Max as her love interest because that’s how she sees him. So it took her opening up to him – and him awkwardly kissing her to give her closure on her dream, in a purely platonic way – for him to say outright that he only sees her as a friend. The good news is that, given his dating history, his friendships last a lot longer than his romances.
But something is definitely changed as a result of this. It opens both of them up to new avenues of storytelling. How does Kat respond when Max meets someone? How does Max respond when Kat shows genuine interest in other men? Will it challenge how he feels currently? Or will he support her in finding love elsewhere?
If Call Me Kat begins exploring these ideas, it’ll probably be better off. And it seems like that’s going to be the case because of how clear this episode is in Max being honest with Kat about how he feels. It’s only by chance that Kat – thanks to a Neil Catrick Harris in the vents with a GoPro – overhears Max saying he could never date her, but I was happy when she later confronted him about it and he didn’t try to swerve the question. It’s just the more interesting way to go.
The B-plot of Call Me Kat season 1, episode 5 was easily the best thing about it for me, especially since it involved more of the show’s MVP, Leslie Jordan. When the man who’s marrying his ex comes into the cat café and requests that Phil makes his wedding cake – it’s not entirely clear how aware he is of the whole situation – Phil declines, and the dude subsequently accuses the café of not fulfilling his order because he’s gay. This is obviously a real issue and gives the show something meatier to chew on, not to mention an excuse for Jordan to show more of his range than the usual over-the-top camp slapstick.
With both Kat and Phil having found a sense of closure in “Cake”, it’s only right that Randi is next on the agenda. There’s a lot more to be done with her character, and she always makes her presence felt whenever she’s on-screen. More of her, please.
But in the meantime, there’s something here with this show, it just takes some patience to find it. It’s not that funny, even if the cat names got some chuckles from me, but it does have the potential for exploring these characters if it puts the work in. We’ll have to wait and see.