Paper Girls is two different shows attempting but failing to become one. The first half of the series is a character-driven YA drama about four young girls coming to terms with a future they do not expect. Whereas the second half of the series focuses on an intergalactic time-traveling war between two factions called The STF Underground and the Old Watch. Though these stories sound intriguing on paper, they struggle to fit together as one cohesive premise. After watching seven episodes, it is safe to say the writers fully develop the preteen’s characterizations and story arcs, yet the science fiction portions are thinner than tissue paper.
I’m not entirely sure why the two genres do not gel well in Paper Girls. Perhaps writers Christopher Cantwell and Christopher C. Rogers are juggling too many storylines, or the show needs more than eight episodes to adapt the high-concept graphic novel by Brian K. Vaughan fully (though its cancellation makes that impossible). Whatever the case may be, “Some Kind of Burping Trash Hole” provides excellent conflict among the core leads as usual, but the episode loses steam once everyone arrives at Larry’s farmhouse to inspect the time warp in the sky.
Episode 7 begins with Young Tiffany (Camryn Jones) watching a video of herself giving the all-important high school graduation speech to the class of 1994. Exasperated that her younger self is still infatuated with her potential future, Adult Tiffany (Sekai Abenì) takes her annoying but wickedly smart counterpart to a hipster café in Stony Stream to knock some sense into the twelve-year-old. While there, the college dropout tells Young Tiffany that the high school senior in the video has no idea how the world works. She adds that having fun, making real friends, and hooking up with dumb guys like Russ (Andrew Eakle) are more important than seeking out the approval of others.
Young Tiffany argues that Adult Tiffany is wrong, and she knows what she wants in her future: to attend MIT and make something out of herself. Flustered, Adult Tiffany tells her goals are their mother’s goals. Then, to add more salt to the wound, she reveals they are adopted and everything their mother told them was a lie. Young Tiffany tells her elder double to stop joking, but Adult Tiffany counters, “I think you know deep down that I’m not.”
While Young Tiffany deals with her existential crisis, KJ (Fina Strazza) tries to convince Mac (Sofia Rosinsky) that they must talk to an adult about her cancer diagnosis. Mac disagrees with her friend’s suggestion as she notes no one, especially an adult, will believe them. With both girls knowing they are at a stalemate, the two compromise that the best way for Mac to deal with her bleak future is to face it head-on by visiting the local cemetery. Sadly, when the girls arrive at Mac’s tombstone, they notice the marker is smaller than the others. Fortunately, Mac’s sadness changes to utter shock when she sees her stepmother Alice (Rebecca Spence) place flowers at her grave.
Mac is stunned to see Alice because she only witnessed the problematic woman arguing with her father or drinking till she passed out. KJ remarks that the woman may have changed, just like the future version of herself did. Yet, before Mac can digest that her stepmother cares about her well-being, the woman in question runs into the girls. Not wanting to drag Alice into their time-traveling drama (or get her killed by Prioress), the girls run away from the confused woman.
Back at the loft, Adult Tiffany plays Whitney Houston on her sound system while Young Tiffany processes the bombshell Adult Tiffany told her. As her doppelganger dances to “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay,” the young girls lash out and tells the adult version of herself that she hates her. Not fazed by Young Tiffany’s outburst, Adult Tiffany says it is essential for her to know her birth history than later.
Angered at Adult Tiffany’s lackadaisical attitude, Young Tiffany gets into a heated exchange with her double, which forces Adult Tiffany to blurt out that MIT expelled her from their institution. Not willing to back down from the argument, Young Tiffany stands her ground by declaring she knows who she is, unlike the ne’er-do-well standing in front of her. Knowing that she is right, Adult Tiffany falls onto her giant bean bag and sighs.
As Tiffany, KJ, and Mac deal with their issues, Erin reluctantly goes on a solo adventure with Larry, who is freaking out about a giant time warp in the sky. When she arrives at the farmhouse, she meets with Juniper (Celeste Arias), a high-level STF Underground member. Eventually, the remaining paper girls and Adult Tiffany meet up with Erin, and together they discover the objects falling from the wormhole belong to them. The episode ends with Juniper finding a robotic recon probe from the Old Watch in Larry’s kitchen, indicating that their enemy is close on their heels.
“Some Kind of Burping Trash Hole” may not be the best episode Paper Girls offers, but it is still a solid viewing experience. Tiffany’s dismay towards her ineffectual future self works because it is fun to see an overachiever, even a delightful character like Tiffany, gain some humility. It is also nice to see Mac finally confront her untimely demise. However, the show treats the ongoing fight between STF Underground and the Old Watch as annoying background noise instead of the main attraction. With the return of the time-traveling authoritarians in the next episode, I fear the series finale may fall back on its old ways.
Featured Image Courtesy of Prime Video
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