'Hart of Dixie's' heartbreaking twist: They couldn't come up with something better than this?

hod-rachel-bilson-wilson-bethel.jpgLast week on "Hart of Dixie," Wade ( Wilson Bethel) -- feeling dejected after losing a Battle of the Bands contest that was extremely important to him -- left the bar with a woman who most certainly was not Zoe ( Rachel Bilson). We figured he'd come to his senses before doing something he'd regret, but in tonight's heartbreaking episode, Zoe discovered that Wade did, in fact, cheat on her.

He did do his best to keep his clandestine dalliance a secret. In fact, Zoe was downright impressed by how sweet he was to her, especially because she felt that she'd let him down. Even George apologized for misjudging Wade after he accused him of cheating on Zoe.

In the end, though, he couldn't keep the truth from coming back to haunt him. It may have taken Zoe a moment to realize the truth, but it became very clear to her at Tom and Wanda's wedding that Wade wasn't being honest with her. He couldn't make eye contact with her across the altar.

"Zoe," he said simply.

"I know," she replied.

It was, frankly, devastating, after watching their relationship grow for the last year. More importantly, Wade himself had developed significantly. He's gone from a fratty slacker to a reliable, mature, and viable love interest, without losing any of the wit or spark that made us fall for him in the first place.

Of course, this is television. Romances don't run smoothly in real life, and they especially don't run smoothly on The CW. Obstacles and third-party interference is to be expected on TV, especially when there are two sides of a love triangle to service, and we're always up for a good romantic twist. After all, Wade and Zoe couldn't happily be together forever -- that's not the way the show is constructed, and as people who have watched television before, that's not what we expected as fans.

This move, though, just seemed like a cheap, desperate reach on the part of the writers to squeeze milk from a stone. They've created a character who we love and trust. Halfway through the second season, regression to this degree seems like an insult, not only to the fans, but also to Wilson Bethel's work as an actor. Wade has always been sure about Zoe, and a mistake this egregious -- drunk or not -- is out of character. It feels like lazy backtracking as opposed to honest storytelling.

There had to have been a way to introduce an obstacle for Wade and Zoe's relationship that felt realistic and true to the Bluebell that we've grown to love so much. They were at such a solid place in their relationship -- sure, they had occasional fights and begrudged each other certain choices, but he was so enamored of her, and she had finally realized that she truly wanted him more than George. This was not the way to split them up for the sake of February sweeps.
Photo/Video credit: The CW