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Brothers and Sisters: Home Front (season premiere)

by Jen Creer, posted Oct 1st 2007 7:27AM
Nora Walker(S02E01) The Walker family is back, with bells on. Wedding bells, that is. The episode is nicely framed between two video letters to Justin Walker, who is in Iraq. Nora, the fabulous and Emmy-award winning Sally Field, sits before her computer and tells Justin what everyone is up to, which is a nice way of getting the viewer up to speed about what has happened since we last saw the family. As an avid viewer of the show, I didn't need Rebecca's letter at the end of the episode so much, in which she provides her insights into the Walker clan, as the most outsider insider or insider outsider of the bunch, however you want to think of Rebecca. But if you are new to the show, it's a nice, two-bit tour of the family.

Season two opens with the commemoration of William's (the Walker Patriarch) death ("The final plunge," Kevin says, with his typical acerbic wit) which just happened to be on Kitty's birthday. This death and its date are filled with irony, because Nora began the show last year blaming William and Kitty's politics for causing Justin to be in Iraq to begin with. And then it was the father who ended up dying, rather than the son... so far.

Kitty always says she doesn't want a party, so they always have a party for her. Rebecca claims she was just trying to be nice, but we know that Rebecca isn't as saintly as she pretends to be, so no doubt, she had a hidden motive. However, her moving into Kitty's room and taking over Kitty's closet and drawers, and even Kitty's place in Nora's heart are making it hard for the rest of the family to trust her. Kitty is pretty passive/aggressive, complaining about how hard the guest bed is while insisting that it's fine that Rebecca is sleeping in her old room. Rebecca is no better: She claims that she was just trying to be nice to Kitty, while not denying that she has become Nora's favorite because she isn't busy like the rest of the Walker children. Oh, so now they have to be punished for having lives?

Tommy's wife Julia is still grieving for their baby William, and even though I find her really obnoxious (which I blame more on the actress's curt portrayal than the writing), I am so glad they didn't sweep that death under the rug. One of the things Brothers and Sisters is really good at is taking a subject and covering it from every angle. Rather than dangling multiple sub-plots (well, okay, there is a lot to keep track of), they have about six threads, one for each character, and they keep weaving and re-weaving the same threads through the tapestry. There is an acknowledgment that life is messy and that things do not get easily resolved. I would have had more sympathy for Julia if she would have been a little bit weepier and a little bit nicer-- if she were trying harder and yet still a complete mess. But she is rather one note, cold to husband and child alike, and that is going to get old really fast. However, Julia has been the most minor character so far, so let's give her some time to find her chops.

There were some fine, comedic moments in the episode, and I'm not talking about the cliche of Kitty trying on hideous wedding dresses in a desperate attempt to get Nora to pay attention to her. First funny moment: Sarah is scorned by the stay-at-home mommies on the playground (which is a cliche too), but the funny part came when Joe told her what a "Mommy Job" really is. And it isn't a part-time job. At least it was funny to me. I live in the midwest, and people don't get Mommy Jobs here.

The second great, funny moment came when Holly and Nora were at William's grave and they saw a gorgeous, tall, young woman walking toward them with a bouquet of flowers and legs that won't quit, and they had a brief moment of wondering if William were cheating on both of them with her. That moment said a lot about their relationship and how they feel about William, and also about who William was: They have learned, in his death, to share William, as Nora overtly states. They mourn him together, Holly's child is now the darling of Nora's heart, and even though they snap and snarl at each other like Doberman Pinschers most of the time, they also have an uneasy peace. They are more like family than not. But neither of them thinks so well of William that they wouldn't suspect that he would have been capable of more betrayal and more lies. We will see if that moment was foreshadowing.

It's too bad that they have made Nora obsessed with Justin. I am not sure how they could have worked that storyline so that learning about his possible injury at the end of the show would have had more of an impact. Even their happy dancing right before they learned of the I.E.D incident with the snipers seemed slower than it should have, seemed like they were just sort of waiting with smiles on their faces for the bad news to come. And Nora was so obsessed with the idea of Justin getting hurt for the whole episode that finding out that she was right had an element of, "Of course," to it, rather than, "That's horrible." I hope this isn't the show's M. O. to begin every season with a tragedy, because that will sink it to the level of cliche. Of course, they have had other deaths, what with William dying, and other tragedies, including Justin's drug overdose. But this show could have just as easily been a season cliffhanger for Season One as the opener for Season Two. And I'm not sure how I feel about that. Except that it's unfortunate that we couldn't have this show on year round, so they wouldn't have to open the season with this, in order to do the fallout justice for the rest of the episodes.

Sarah still hasn't figured out that sex isn't love, even though she has been around enough men to know that by now [By way of explanation about my sexist remark: she keeps asking her brothers if the sex she had with Joe means that he wants to get back together and they hem and haw and don't want to tell her-- and then, lo and behold, he doesn't, so my interpretation of that is that they know that the sex was just sex and not love, but she still hasn't figured out the cues]. She threw Joe out, but she is still acting surprised that now he doesn't want to move back in with her. I like Joe, but his whole, "I was confused," act is starting to really seem... seedy, disingenuous, and cad-like. You weren't confused when you had sex with Sarah on the washing machine, you were horny. And no matter how close you are to your siblings, do you really tell your brothers about your sex life, if you are a sister? Maybe my brother and I just don't have that kind of relationship.

Kitty, a Communications Director, is acting surprised that she has been sent to the back of the intelligence room by becoming Robert's fiancee,and is now asked only about her brother (a man, and a soldier) and her wedding dress. Liberal media conspiracy, ha ha ha. Sure, she is angry because she has always been very well-respected for offering her opinion about Important Political Matters like Health Care (are you sure you're a Republican, Kitty?), but she should know how the game is played. She of all people should know that in order to get to the Oval Office, she is going to have to jump through a lot of hoops and kiss a lot of frogs. That incessant whining is going to have to stop. I actually liked her better when I believed that she wouldn't ask Robert to find out about Justin for her, than when I found out that she begs him to put her and her family above all others. She was right the first time when she said it's not ethical. Save your begging for when you have a son.

And Kevin, perhaps my favorite of all of the Walker siblings, has fallen in love with Robert's minister brother, who has suddenly been called on a mission to Malaysia. And Kevin has decided to wait for him. Oh, heartbreak, I can feel you already. Welcome back, Walkers.

Do you think Justin is still alive?
Yes325 (89.5%)
No38 (10.5%)

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amy

does anyone know the name of the song that is playing when the walkers are dancing at kitty's party--when McCallister gets the phone call?

October 09 2007 at 9:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Amelia

I am so in love with this show. I just started watching it last week (I watched all the shows on ABC.com) and I can not wait till next week. It just seems so 'real'.
I do think that any mother with a solider at war would be over obsessed. I think that she plays the part well.

October 01 2007 at 7:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
AJ

Hes in the main credits still, of course he is alive. And wow this show has made it so far since the series premiere.

October 01 2007 at 3:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Michelle

I figure Justin's still alive. This is probably a way for the writers to have him discharged from service (because of severe injuries) so that he returns home.

October 01 2007 at 12:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ryan

Seriously that moment with Nora and Holly by the graveyward and both of them looking at that woman was the funniest moment in the show and with this show that's saying a lot.

As for Julia, yeah she needs time to find "her chops" but she had more to do in this episode than the entirety of the first season, so that's going in the right direction at least.

Anyways, glad to have this crazy family back.

October 01 2007 at 11:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dina

Patti B please don't put spoilers in your comments. I do not read them and I do not want to know what is going to happen.

October 01 2007 at 11:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
CMartin

It's always interesting to see how other people react to an episode--and your take on the Justin issue and how unfortunate it was that they "made Nora obsessed" with it is a perfect example. To me, it would have been disingenuous to do anything else. Many mothers with children in harm's way *are obsessed* and they've developed Nora as a textbook example of that kind of mom. Likewise, re: the family dancing before the senator's phone call, if you sensed some underlying ambivalence, waiting-for-the-shoe-to-drop element, I think that's brilliant because that is exactly what one feels particularly at a family gathering when your loved one's absence is even more keenly evident. To try to do it differently in order to upgrade the drama in some way... well, I guess I'm OK with them not having done that. Thanks for your column!

October 01 2007 at 10:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dr. J

Hadn't seen Patti B's comment when I posted, nor the spoilers.

October 01 2007 at 10:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dr. J

I predict that Justin will be wounded and will come back as an amputee or with traumatic brain injury, so that aspect of anti-war sentiment can be brought into the story line.

October 01 2007 at 10:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Patti B

[SPOILER ALERT!] Don't ask silly poll questions like "Do you think Justin is still alive?" when every single tv spoiler column over the summer has said he comes back home with a serious injury.

October 01 2007 at 9:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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