DISCLAIMER: This recap of Central Park episode “Rival Busker” is rife with spoilers galore. You’ve been warned. Proceed with caution.
Welcome back, park lovers! Central Park returns with a “just okay” installment. Of course, there were intermittent bright spots throughout, but overall the episode was underwhelming. As I’m sure you all know by now, Stanley Tucci and Daveed Diggs are the highlights of Central Park for me. While Tucci and Diggs had a handful of great bits, the rest of the episode’s humorous moments felt forced. Central Park has the potential to be great, but it tends to be inconsistent – sometimes faltering within the same episode. However, the more lighthearted and witty scenes, coupled with some toe-tapping tunes, are what keeps me coming back for more.
Alright, ready to delve into “Rival Busker?” Let’s get to it.
Now, we open with a new narrator on the scene: Griffin (voiced by Andrew Rannells). He’s armed with charm and an acoustic guitar. He explains that he’s replacing Birdie as our resident troubadour. Birdie (voiced by Josh Gad) wanders in with his violin to a bewildering scenario. He discovers Griffin is snatching up his spot. The pair duel it out via song. So, why is Birdie supposedly getting the boot? Because he revealed to Paige in last week’s episode that Bitsy was the one who paid off Mayor Whitebottom. Consequences, bro. Consequences.
Next, we see the Tillerman family observing a looming pine tree from a distance. Owen (voiced by Leslie Odom, Jr.) urged the American Museum of Natural History to film an owl giving birth in that tree. Molly (voiced by Kristen Bell) and Paige (voiced by Kathryn Hahn) are unimpressed. However, Cole (voiced by Tituss Burgess) is ready to spend the night owl-watching with his father.
Meanwhile, Bitsy (voiced by Stanley Tucci) is giving herself a bubble bath beard when Helen (voiced by Daveed Diggs) informs her that a Russian oligarch wants to speak with her. He was present at that board meeting Bitsy hosted to fund her Central Park real estate deal. Said Russian oligarch is in town for his daughter’s wedding. Unfortunately, the hotel they were initially in for the wedding is now going up in flames. Well, that’s what happens when your wedding theme is fire. Literally. Anyway, he asks Bitsy if his daughter can get married in her hotel. Bitsy acquiesces and schemes to win over the opulent oligarch.
Then, Paige learns of some salacious gossip: that Bitsy is fraternizing with a Russian oligarch. She decides to camp out at Bitsy’s hotel and do some investigative journalism. Perhaps the oligarch is linked to why Bitsy paid off the mayor. Molly decides to tag along because hotel room service, am I right?
Later, Owen and Cole are watching the owl nest via laptop camera. Paige and Molly are all checked in to their lavish hotel room. Paige scurries off to do journalist stuff, leaving Molly to her own devices. And a well-stocked mini bar. Paige attempts to weasel her way into a mysterious ballroom wherein the wedding is being held. However, she’s turned away by the guards posted outside.
Meanwhile, Griffin and Birdie are attempting to “out-narrate” each other with their respective instruments in hand. Griffin asserts that Birdie simply doesn’t “get it.” He broke the narrator rule – never guide or advise those involved in the story. There’s loads of metaphors such as a kid growing attached to a pig on a farm that’s primed for eating. This is why I don’t make friends with pigs – I like bacon too much.
Next, we see the Russian oligarch is in a frenzy because his daughter, a.k.a. the bride, is missing in action. He tells Bitsy that if the wedding goes off without a hitch, then there won’t be anything to discuss. Meaning, I presume, that he’ll be on board with Bitsy’s Central Park deal. We see his daughter was actually hiding in a dumbwaiter. Molly hears her and opens the door to let the bride-to-be free. Then, the bride sequesters herself away in Molly and Paige’s hotel room.
Later, Paige wanders back into her hotel room after failing to gain access to the ballroom. She spots the Russian oligarch’s daughter. Apparently, the bride dearly loves her groom, but she’s afraid he’ll discover her family’s dirty little secrets. Like murder, treason, drug dealing, etc. Normal stuff. Paige discovers that the bride is connected to Bitsy’s Russian friend. Her and Molly set about, through song, to convince this bride to marry her lover, regardless of the repercussions. Love is love, baby.
Meanwhile, Owen and Cole notice that the mother owl has fled the nest. Not only that, but one of the baby owls has attempted to leave of his own accord, only to almost tumble directly ground-ward. Owen and Cole climb up the pine tree to save the little owl, but unfortunately they get themselves stuck in the process. Then, the mother owl circles back and tries to attack them for, from her point of view, “attacking” her babies. Birdie and Griffin argue the merits of saving them nearby. Birdie is pro-saving, since they’re his friends. However, a narrator must stay neutral, according to Griffin.
Next, Birdie shoos Griffin away and decides to save his friends from potential death-by-falling-from-a-pine-tree. Back at the hotel, the bride is safely returned to her family. The wedding proceeds as normal. Even Paige and Molly attend by invitation from the bride. Paige surreptitiously snaps photos of Bitsy conversing with the Russian oligarch. She hasn’t a clue what it all means, but she hopes it leads to some big break in her investigating.
Later, Birdie finally pokes holes in Griffin’s supposed logic. Birdie promptly boots the new busker from his territory. Take that! This is Birdie land now!
Now, we still have seven episodes left in the season. I’m curious to see how Bitsy’s bid for the park plays out, now that it appears she has the wealth and status to take it. Central Park seems to struggle a bit when it comes to balancing whimsy with propelling the story forward. Couple that with musical numbers and you’ve got a balancing act. It’s tough and when Central Park nails it, they nail it.
Do you think Bitsy will make a major move for the park soon? What happened to Molly’s crush? Can Helen successfully weasel her way onto Bitsy’s will? Join me next week as I recap Central Park, here on Geek Girl Authority.
Central Park streams Fridays on Apple TV+.
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