He's a god. The man is a god. Plain and simple.
How else do you explain the miracle at the heart of "Heart of the Matter"? How could anyone but the God of Love find the one person in a big city like Chicago who would be a perfect match for Susan's heart? Who but Eros could have allowed Susan to have one perfect night with her savior before he died?
In a little while, Rob Thomas is going to talk about how, much as he likes the episode, it probably goes too far in answering the series' central mystery of "deity or delusional?" And coming immediately after an episode like "Pick-Up Schticks," which made a very plausible, haunting argument for "delusional," I can see how giving away the gag in only the eighth episode may not have been the wisest choice for whatever long-term future the series might have had with a different network/timeslot.
But there's a reason "Heart of the Matter" is the episode of "Cupid" I've watched the most, a reason it's the one I cite whenever discussing the show's greatness: because every single time I watch it, even though I know what's coming, even though with 20-20 hindsight the heart transplant thing seems screamingly obvious, when Susan starts thanking Trevor for introducing her to Dan, my eyes get as moist as Susan's. Every damn time.
There's something about heart transplants that make them an ideal subject for these kind of grand melodramatic moments. We think of the heart not only as the organ that keeps all the other organs working, but as the center of our romantic lives, and in turn of our souls. When someone receives someone else's heart, it inherently feels more profound than if they got a kidney or a liver or whatever. The greatest moment in "St. Elsewhere" -- one of the greatest moments in any TV drama, ever -- is the one where David Morse's character, newly and shockingly widowed, enters the room of the woman who received his wife's heart and finds comfort in taking out his stethoscope and simply listening to that heart beat. (It's such a brilliant idea that one of the "St. Elsewhere" writers couldn't help but copy it a decade later on a "Chicago Hope" episode.) I'm not saying that the Susan scene here is quite as amazing, but it's in the ballpark.
Or maybe I'm just a sap, I don't know.
It helped that the script did such a good job of establishing Dan as a likable, funny guy who could banter with a master like Trevor. Trevor's line about feeling like he lost a friend was right on. Matt Roth and Piven dropped into an immediate simpatico, and in a less tragic context you could imagine him usurping Champ's role as Trevor's sidekick.
It also helped that, as Rob notes below, Katy Selverstone is so committed and fierce as Susan. There was a period in the mid-'90s where it looked like she was going to break out -- she was doing those MCI ads for a long time, then did a "Seinfeld" guest spot at a time when every girl who dated Jerry or George was getting their own show, then did an extended run on "The Drew Carey Show" as the first of Drew's improbably pretty girlfriends -- but things never quite materialized for her. She still works, though, and performances like this one help explain why.
The B-story continues the ongoing tension between Trevor and Alex, and now expands it so that things are getting awkward between Alex and Claire. The sidewalk argument between Trevor and Claire where each begins arguing the other's viewpoint on commonality vs. chemistry was funny and extremely quotable. (My two favorites: "I'd rather be a slow-baked ham than niblit grizzle" and ""Hope someone got that on film, because that's the last time that'll ever happen," the latter of which set up Trevor's joke to Dan about them becoming romantically involved.) I also love that Claire sent her Dear John note via fax (though given the period, is it any worse than break-up by e-mail today?), and that any enjoyment she could take from Alex kinda sorta proclaiming his love was immediately dashed by the realization that Trevor lied to her. If it had already become clear that Trevor was in love with Claire, this is the first episode to really suggest she might subconsciously feel the same way; no one makes you crazier than the person you love the most, right?
And now it's time for Rob Remembers, where "Cupid" creator (past and, hopefully, future) Rob Thomas offers some behind the scenes insight into each episode:
I actually needed to rewatch the episode. This is one that Reno and Osborn shepherded and did significant script work on. I had almost nothing to do with it. I remember having a couple reservations about it. It did seems to really swing us into the "Trevor really is a god" side of the equation. Additionally, in the script stage, I had a problem with the buy at the end of the episode. It seemed like it was a bit far-fetched, but when I saw it on screen, I was won over.Some other thoughts on "Heart of the Matter":
I had forgotten how much I like the performance by Katy Selverstone. She has a kind of Jodie Foster vibe to her.
I remember we had a battle over a scene in which Trevor reacts to the news of Dan's death by smashing up a bunch of discarded furniture in an alley in a bit of a frenzy. Again the network was concerned that it made Trevor seem too real, too disturbed. I think I was in the minority in wanting to keep this possibility alive. The audience wants to believe Trevor possesses some real magic. I always felt like, if we gave them that, they wouldn't respect us in the morning. In any case, the scene of Trevor smashing things ended up cut from the final version, perhaps largely because we were out of time.
The original draft of the script was written by Karen Hall who Reno and Osborn had worked with on Moonlighting, I believe. Karen's sister Barbara is the creator/EP of Joan of Arcadia and Judging Amy.
-One of the running elements of the series, but especially apparent here, is how easily Trevor's able to talk to strangers about their love lives and make it absolutely clear that he's not hitting on them. I know the script throws in a line where he tells Susan he's just trying to get a bonus for bringing as many people to the bar as possible, but there's just something in the way Piven carries himself that makes it clear that he's not looking to get laid, and I still can't put my finger on what he's doing.
-Along similar lines, as Trevor and Dan were bantering at the video store about the oddness of two unfamiliar men talking about relationships, my wife wondered aloud how the hypothetical "Cupid" remake might deal with same sex couples. In 1998, this wasn't really a possibility ("Will & Grace" had just come on the air, but it would be years before it was allowed to show two men kissing), but standards have changed somewhat. The gods themselves -- and the Greeks and Romans who worshipped them -- seemed open to various romantic and sexual combinations, so I would think Trevor gets credit for pairing off two men or two women.
-A far more minor clue than Trevor's recognition of Dan being Susan's perfect match: when Dan asks how he got into the Blackhawks practice, Trevor says, "I can get in anywhere. I'm Cupid, remember?" Throughout the series, we've seen Trevor talk his way into situations and places where he should be denied entry, but I keep thinking back to that shot of him on top of the building in "Heaven... He's In Heaven" and asking myself, "How the hell did he get up there?"
-When Dan begins describing the kind of skeeball he used to play (which we then see him play with Susan), it sounded (and looked) like every skeeball arcade I've ever seen in my life. Is anyone familiar with another look for the game that I'm not aware of?
-Just wanted to mention "Glass Blowing: Craft or Fetish." I'm almost afraid to Google it.
Up next: "End of an Eros," featuring Trevor and Claire's first outright team-up and some hilarious camerawork, which (if you haven't already gone BitTorrenting like some other readers) you can find here, here, here, here and here.
What did everybody else think?