Monday, April 19, 2021

Julie and the Phantoms 1x07 Review: “Edge of Great” (Falling Slowly) [Contributor: Jenn]

“Edge of Great”
Original Airdate: September 10, 2020

One of my favorite rom-com tropes is when a couple doesn’t realize they’re in love with each other and have it pointed out to them by their friends. Julie and the Phantoms has slowly built the chemistry and feelings between Luke and Julie and “Edge of Great” is where we get the most blatant discussion of feelings on both of the characters’ ends. While Luke is gushing about Julie and trying to deny his feelings (a classic trope), Julie is daydreaming about him during dance rehearsal. But that’s not all that happens, so let’s break down the episode!


For the record, I fully do believe that Charlie Gillespie has chemistry with everyone he shares scenes with. The hilarious little moment with Reggie and Luke proves that. He’s like a younger, male Alison Brie in that regard. But I really love “Edge of Great” because it sets the stage for a deeper, more emotional Luke/Julie storyline we’ll see in the next episode, “Unsaid Emily.” Still, Luke denies his feelings for a reason: their relationship is far too complicated for even him to figure out. Julie and Flynn have an almost identical conversation when Julie confesses that even though Nick likes her, she’s a bit smitten with Luke.

Flynn is honest. A lot of times our best friends tell us the things we want to hear. And it would’ve been easy for Flynn to root Julie on and tell her to pursue Luke. But the truth is deeper than that. Both Flynn and Luke assert something about Julie in this episode: she’s suffered a lot of loss. Luke doesn’t want to tell Julie about the group getting zapped (possibly out of “existence”) because he doesn’t want her to have to mourn anymore loss. And Flynn doesn’t encourage Julie to pursue Luke for the same reason; she knows that her best friend has suffered so much pain already and that going after any sort of relationship with Luke is doomed to end in heartbreak one way or another. 

What I love though about the Luke/Julie story on Julie and the Phantoms is that while other characters assert the idea that relationships, no matter if they’re complex or not, involve pain the show also reminds us that we should pursue pain-free love. The truth is that we aren’t guaranteed a heartbreak-free life. The show admits that a Luke/Julie romance is complicated while also not undercutting the depth of the two characters’ feelings for each other in the process. It’s like it’s giving us permission to feel, and for a show aimed at a younger audience I think that’s an important message. We should allow ourselves the chance to deeply and truly feel love and loss. No, it might not be the smartest decision to pursue love with a ghost but it also doesn’t make Julie less of a person for having those romantic feelings. The show points out that Luke’s feelings for Julie and hers for him are valid and real. They’ve created a deep relationship rooted in their songwriting and connection to both music and grief. That’s significant, and while Nick is the more practical choice for Julie in this show, she recognizes that pursuing him would be unfair to both of them in the end since, practical or not, her heart is not in it. 

I love that we’re going to see how Julie unwaveringly supports Luke in the next episode and Charlie Gillespie will do some MVP acting during “Unsaid Emily” not only in terms of the depth of emotion, but also in the sheer awe he has over Julie as a person who helped him get closure with his parents. And I love the Luke/Julie relationship because it’s built on trust, support, and respect. It’s so important for everyone to remember that heart eyes and flirting and physical attraction are fun and all, but when a relationship has as many practical hurdles as Luke and Julie’s does, the foundation needs to be something solid. And it is. These two characters would do anything for each other; Luke will give up control and leadership of a band. Julie will give up what is most comfortable and practical. They will be there for each other and when they are not, they will always find their way back to each other. What a lovely and deep relationship, right?

(For the record, Madison Reyes is really lovely in this episode as she navigates a girl torn between two worlds, while also allowing herself the freedom to feel in “Perfect Harmony.” The joy expressed in that song is so lovely, even if it’s only existing in her own mind. You can sense her weightlessness and happiness when she’s with Luke. Ugh, I love it.)


The biggest plot-related thing to take from “Edge of Great” is that Willie tells Luke, Alex, and Reggie about the stamp Caleb put on them. If they don’t submit to him and join his ghost band, they’re eventually going to just cease to exist. The zaps will get more and more powerful and will eventually blip them out of existence. But there’s good news, even if Willie has to deliver it somberly: If the boys can figure out what their unfinished business is, they can cross over.

Of course there’s a hitch in either plan: Julie. The boys are bound to leave her, whichever option they choose. Either they’ll be stuck with Caleb for eternity or will be whisked away to the afterlife. So instead of telling Julie this conundrum, the boys decide they’ll figure out their unfinished business themselves. And their first guess? Playing at the Orpheum. So that’s what we’re building toward: a grand performance that’ll help the boys cross over.

Or so they think.

Hitting the right notes:

  • This episode has it all, everyone: “Edge of Great” (which is wonderful and has an epic guitar solo that was improvised by Charlie Gillespie) and “Perfect Harmony” (which is the perfect successor to “Can I Have This Dance?”).
  • I like Luke’s “Perfect Harmony” hair. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I am not ashamed of it.
  • “You can make all the music you want with Luke, but he’ll always be a phantom.”
  • “The key is to avoid those big, beautiful... dead eyes.”
  • The chemistry scene is one of the greatest things I’ll ever witness.
  • “Girls, am I right?” “Yeah.” “No.” Will I ever be over the fact that this was improvised? Nope.
  • Do we all adore how Luke is so sad when he’s ignored, like a forgotten puppy? I sure do. But I really love how Reggie and Julie got some jam time together during the song!
  • Booboo Stewart does some lovely acting work when he tells Alex he cares about him and apologizes for bringing them to the club.

Honestly, “Edge of Great” may be my favorite episode of Julie and the Phantoms. What about you all? Sound off in the comments below and grab tissues for my next episode review: “Unsaid Emily”!


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