(S04E01) "William was a cheater. He had this bottle-blond tramp across town..." - Nora's mother to Holly
The dysfunctional Walker clan is back, and it didn't take long for the squabbling and worrying and break-ups and tragedies to surface. Things open right away with Nora's feeling of foreboding, and with this family, it's usually warranted. There's generally a nice mix of comedy and drama in Brothers & Sisters, and this episode followed suit.
Do you have those things on your favorite shows that just make you smile when they happen? It's not like it's the highlight of the show or anything; maybe it's just giving you those warm fuzzies inside. Maybe it's when Earl crosses something off his list on My Name is Earl. Or maybe it's as simple as when Penny sits in Sheldon's spot on The Big Bang Theory. Those familiar moments somehow make us feel like we're with old friends.
I get those. Most recently, I've been getting them when the Walkers of ABC's Brothers & Sisters are all on the phone together in some kind of mass speaker phone teleconferencing chain from hell. I'd say I don't normally watch these family soaps, but I've always liked Sally Field, and when she was recast as the matriarch of the Walkers, I found myself tuning in. This despite the fact that Ally McBeal's lips looked even puffier and she's still way too skinny. But then she married Rob Lowe and I've always liked him, too.
(S02E16) Rebecca: "I don't know what to do next."
Justin: "Me neither."
I cried twice during this episode. Maybe more. I cried when Nora told Kevin he deserved to have a beautiful wedding just as much as anybody else. And I also cried at two more points, but I'll talk about them below the jump. This was a beautiful episode of television. Even though I don't know that I have written about the music used in episodes, I thought the use of "Can't Find My Way Home" for the last two scenes was profoundly moving. Last year, I thought the season finale was a disaster because it ended with grand hijinks and everybody jumping into a pool. This year's season ended quietly on a beautiful sunny hillside, and it just about broke my heart. I am going to go out on a limb here and hope that this show wins an Emmy, because when they do it well, they really nail it.
So, what are we to think of Holly? Is she a pathological liar and a scheming manipulator? A greedy opportunist? Or is she genuinely trying to do the right thing as she sees it, affair with William Walker not withstanding? Honestly, I can't make up my mind, but I am leaning toward seeing her as a flawed person who is doing her best. Lord knows, she could have taken her inheritance from William Walker and kissed the entire clan goodbye. Perhaps some see her as unable to let go, unable to stop until she has revenge on the Walkers for having William in ways she couldn't. But that seems a rather extreme pathology. It's much more interesting to view her as a complicated human being, which has certainly been supported on the show.
I am starting to feel like Siskel and Ebert every week. Oh, that was a great episode! Oh, that episode sucked! It doesn't seem like there is any in between with me. Does that mean I'm too picky?
You know, it's funny because sometimes I don't even know how I feel about an episode, really, until I start writing about it, so my actual experience with watching it isn't necessarily negative, even if I write up a critical review. But tonight, I am pretty sure I know how I feel about it: That was a great episode.
Lots of things going on this week: Things are definitely heating up and charging down the runway toward May Sweeps and the end of the season, but they are things that have been set up for so long and so well that their very inevitability feels natural, unhurried, unforced, like a cart careening down a hill, picking up momentum, and heading into rush-hour traffic. And I'm not going to talk about it before the jump, so let's get going, shall we?
Sometimes what I actually want to review is the scenes for next week's show, because it seems more interesting than the one I just watched. However, I know that many of you deliberately do not watch those clips, so we shall say no more on the subject. I am glad the Walkers are back, and I like how they have handled the time off due to the strike: they simply said, "Three months later," and picked up with events then.
Before that jump, though, we learned some important things: That Graham and Sarah are still dating, that Tommy and Julia are still happily together, and that Senator Robert McCallister loses the Republican Party's nomination for the Presidency, so Robert returns to the Senate.
"Yes." Sarah Walker to Kevin Walker
This was an immensely likable episode. If you have read my reviews from Season One in particular, you know that I tend to distinguish the episodes I like from the episodes I *really* like based on who wrote them. This episode was co-written by Cliff Olin, son of Patricia Wettig (Holly) and Ken Olin (David Caplan). Cliff has been writing for the show since its inception, and he is a young writer, barely in his mid-twenties. I have noticed an unevenness in his writings in past episodes, but I think he is finally starting to hit his stride.
(S02E10) "You slept with someone else too?" Nora Walker to Julia Walker
Oh, Brothers and Sisters, how I've missed your hijinx! I was under the impression from some of the news I'd read about the WGA strike that filming had ceased on the show, so I was very happy to have a new episode (albeit, feeling a little guilty, because I support the writers...). Mostly, I was happy to see everyone again.
(S02E09) "We could wake up tomorrow, and it could all go to hell."-- Robert McAllister
I have to admit: I would have owed Tommy $100. But not for the same reasons as Kevin and Justin. I will get to that in a bit though. Was it just me, or did this episode have some editing glitches? One minute Kitty is telling Robert that it's bad luck to sleep with the groom on the night before the wedding and Justin and Lena seem to be talking about the wedding being that day, and then Kitty is in the Walker kitchen working on her vows and the wedding is still a day away. Anyway, it wasn't a big deal-- it just seemed a little incongruous for a bit.
(S02E08) "Well, I'm a democrat, and I lost my virginity to "She's Got Legs."-- Sarah Walker
Did everybody lose their virginity to a song? I don't remember whether I did or not, but if you want to share yours, feel free. I loved it when Robert walked in and Nora asked him what song was playing when he lost his. And then when she revealed that her first time wasn't with their father. And that is all very well and good, but I personally have never found Chevy Chase (Stan Harris) to be particularly attractive. However, I am willing to put that aside and say that I thought he did a wonderfully understated turn as
(S02E07) "Well, who'd chain you the radiator and poke you with a stick?" Sarah, knitting.
Meh. This episode was fine. It wasn't special. It was just kind of... filler. And I don't mean to cast aspersions on the show at all: That is what shows do leading up to November sweeps. They can't have anything really important happen right now. I hesitate to say anything negative about the writing these days because I fully support the WGA strike. But this episode felt forced. They totally set it up a few weeks ago when Justin started taking pain killers again, and they gave themselves a convenient family "crisis" to deal with now.
This also means that most of the happenings around the family in this episode are set-ups for future arcs that will involve the characters. Sarah (Rachel Griffiths) and Tommy (Balthazar Getty) discovering the financial shenanigans of Uncle Saul (Ron Rifkin), Justin's (Dave Annable) hangups from his past, and Kitty's (Calista Flockhart) relationship with her mother (Sally Field) are all clearly things that we will be looking at closer as the show moves along. For me though, the highlight of this episode was the confrontation between Kitty and her mother.
This was hinted at a few months ago, but now it's official: on November 21, the same day the Alias 5th season DVD set is released (with tons of extras), Buena Vista is going to release a limited edition (40,000 copies) Complete Alias set. The set is going to come in a box that looks like a Rambaldi artifact, and will include 29 discs! The discs will have every single episode of the series, and there will be a bonus disc hidden inside a secret compartment in the set that will include many extras, including interviews with the cast and Jennifer Garner's first interview she ever did.
Not enough for you? The set will also include a hardcover book that will answer all of your Alias question, with an intro from J.J. Abrams himself. All this for only $200.
A few days ago I said I wanted the Complete West Wing set that was coming out this fall for Christmas. But if you wanted to buy this one for me instead I wouldn't mind. Your choice.
(S05E10/S05E11) So there's a mole inside the CIA that's helping Prophet 5 with their mysterious plans for Sydney and her baby. Who is it? And how will the APO gang find the mole in time to save Sydney?
If you watched another show earlier this week, the mole will come as no surprise to you...
Alias returns tonight for a two-hour episode from 8 pm to 10:01 pm (thus, no Lost).
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