The Trainee 1×02 Review: “Important Role”

So I thought I knew what to expect from The Trainee after last week’s episode, but “Important Role” pleasantly surprised me. The complexity of the characters is really quite fascinating, and I’m loving that we get to see the different dynamics at play.

“Ryan, The Intern” did an excellent job setting the scene, and “Important Role” has shown us not to rely too heavily on first impressions. What we think we know isn’t necessarily what we know. There are three characters in particular that I think this episode gives us a good sense of, and they’re not necessarily what I believed based on last week’s episode.

Let’s start with Pie. My impression of her last week was that she was skilled, knowledgeable, and ambitious. Her behavior this week implies that she’s also stubborn, impatient, and selfish. I can understand, after their eventful first day, that she’s a little bummed to be doing clerical work. But it’s the second day and they’re interns. They aren’t going to be given extremely important tasks right from the jump. I also don’t like how she acts as though secretarial work is beneath her.

Her frustration at not being given a more “important” task proves that she’s impatient. This is emphasized in the scene where she and Ryan realize the printer is broken. Rather than spend thirty seconds looking for a solution (the number for the repair guy is literally right behind the printer), she immediately jumps to asking for help. But she isn’t the one who asks; she makes Ryan do it, when Ryan is the one who insisted that they could figure it out for themselves. Jane already has an unfavorable opinion of Ryan, and this is not going to help.

Part of me wonders if she did that on purpose after realizing, again, just how little Ryan knows about the role. But part of me thinks she just didn’t want to look stupid in front of Jane, so she threw Ryan under the bus.

Then we have her interactions with Pah. In the first episode, Pah comes across as very goofy. However, it’s clear that he loves what he does and knows what he’s talking about. But Pie argues with Pah – an arts major and an intern in the prop department – on the best way to mix paint, and then doesn’t listen to his explanation. She clearly thinks that she knows everything. This is highlighted by the scene where the two argue about the pronunciation of “leviosa” in the Harry Potter films. It’s almost word for word the dialogue from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and that scene is what solidifies Hermione as an insufferable know-it-all.

I do believe that Pie and Pah will continue to have that Ron and Hermione bickering as a love language dynamic as we go on. She needs to lighten up, and he needs to be more serious. They balance each other out.

The golden moment in the first episode where all the interns came together seems very far away from this episode. I do love the scene where they all naturally congregated to complain, and the scene where they were teasing Tae about how he looked in the costume. But it’s clear that they still have a long way to go before they will truly be a team.

Next, let’s move on to Jane. I didn’t initially identify with him while watching last week’s episode, as Ryan’s whole shtick is more directly relatable to me. But this episode proves that, again, my initial opinions about him were wrong. He’s not someone who refuses to delegate; he’s someone who gets tasked with doing everything. He doesn’t suffer fools because he doesn’t have the time to. Obviously he’d be annoyed when he’s asked about a printer problem on top of everything else he has to do. Jane is basically holding the entire company together. But everyone still talks badly about him behind his back.

He was painted, in the first episode, as an antagonist. Here’s someone who’s going to be the foil for Ryan, who is going to dog his steps at every turn. However, “Important Role” shows us that Jane can actually be extremely empathetic. When Ryan screws up and is genuinely torn up about it, I thought for sure we were going to get a “there’s no crying in baseball” scene. Yet Jane reassures him and offers him guidance. And as much as he chastises him for being hesitant to speak up, he still waits for him to do so. And once a solution stumbles into their lap, Jane lets Ryan help rather than sending him home.

Even before that, Jane gave Ryan a chance to solve an important problem and take something off his plate. It was meaningful work, and I bet Pie is upset that she went off with Mon and had to paint swords. Not only that but when someone complimented Jane on how great the extra was that he found, he gave credit where it was due. He may have been suggesting that Ryan quit, but all it took was him showing a modicum of interest in the work, and Jane could see his potential. He’s like, “You can still quit but I think you could be good at this.”

(Side, and very shallow, note: This may be Off’s sexiest role yet. He’s competent and kind. That hair. Those jeans. Yes please.)

And finally, we have poor, precious Ryan. He is still struggling because he doesn’t know where he fits in the world. He only went to the internship interview because his friend was, he only took the position because they offered it, and he seems to realize that he could potentially do more harm than good, considering his intense lack of knowledge of the industry. But he doesn’t see where he can do good.

I like that the opening scene emphasizes that, at least in their family business, Ryan is very similar to Jane. He keeps the place running. He knows the shortcomings of the other employees and can anticipate issues before they arise. For example, he brought down his father’s glasses before his father even realized he needed them. This is, actually, basically what he would be doing as an Assistant Director. He just doesn’t know the film business the way he knows the printing business, so he doesn’t know what needs to be done yet.

They emphasize this very nicely with the explanation of why everyone thinks he was named after Ryan Giggs. (I wonder if it hurt Off’s soul to say those lines – he’s a Liverpool fan.) The fact that Giggs has the record for most assists in the English Premier League is a great metaphor for the work that Ryan could be doing. An assist may not be as flashy as a goal, but there’s a reason they still keep stats on them; they’re just as important to the scoring.

What Ryan really needs is to hear the good that he is doing. His confidence got a boost when he found out that the customer at the print shop liked his work and wanted more. He got another boost when Jane pointed out that he wasn’t completely useless – at least he fixed the printer. He needs to channel his inner Achi from Cherry Magic, and do all the little things that – while maybe not making the company money – help everyone else to perform at their best.

I thought the change in the dynamic between Ryan and Jane would take a little longer, and then I remembered that this series is only ten episodes instead of the usual twelve. And while I did see someone chuckle at the fact that Jane said one nice thing to Ryan and suddenly Ryan’s defending him to everyone, I can see where that was coming from. Ryan is the one who sat there and watched Jane field multiple phone calls – some of them simultaneously – while it seemed like no one was there to help. He also made a pretty big mistake – and got scolded enough that he was thinking about quitting – but Jane gave him another chance.

I do appreciate that they had Jane soften his behavior towards Ryan pretty quickly. If a love interest is too mean for too long, it often makes me wonder what the main character sees in them and makes it hard to root for them. I think “Important Role” does a good job of showing that while Jane may have teeth, he’s not always going to bite. It’s vital that Ryan sees the soft spots and knows that they’re there before feelings start developing. Then it doesn’t feel like your feelings are in vain.

I am really enjoying this series, and I can’t wait to see how all of the interns develop – and the Ryan/Jane relationship, of course!

Author: Jamie Sugah

Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.

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