Thursday, January 21, 2010

My Review of Brothers And Sisters 4x01: "The Road Ahead"

Written by Molly Newman And Marjorie David
Directed by Ken Olin

Rebecca: “I’m gonna quiz you lots.”
Justin: “I hope you do. I need all the help I can get.”

It’s always great that when you haven’t watched something in a long while that you’re glad for its return. It would’ve been nice UK wise if More4 had actually promoted the series a little but one episode in and the new season showed a lot of promise of being better than the season that went before it.

To get the main plot out of the way first – Justin and Rebecca. Any engagement party this lot were going to have had to have a hiccup or three. Kitty and Robert’s had a tent falling down and Robert’s family overindulging in the booze. What did Justin and Rebecca get? The misfortune of Nora and Holly having to work together.

Technically it’s Holly who was supposed to be running the show with Nora taking a backseat but there was no way in hell that Nora would ever just do that. From the second her and Holly made their first interaction in this episode, Nora was already going through the million and one things she hated on sight.

The overt use of white as a general theme, Holly renting a piano was not going to sit well with Nora. Even Saul and David had to try and break them up during the first quarter of the episode. It’s only a shame that they couldn’t have tried harder to seperate them for the rest of the episode.

Nora might have gotten her wish when Holly’s place became infested with termites and she had to throw the party at casa del Walker but even then, Holly was getting one up on her. Moving her furniture, pictures, etc was one thing but actually getting along with Ida was another thing altogether. That really had to have made Nora want to boil over in a snap.

Given the key events she’s been missing for the last two and a half years, I was actually surprised that Ida even showed up in this episode. It was oddly comforting to see that her attitude hadn’t really changed since her appearance in the first season as well. Not that I endorse Ida’s insensitivity (though she’s not exactly Blanche from Corrie, is she?) but it led to some reasonably funny moments.

It would take Ida to inadvertently make a racist allusion to Evan’s parentage which Robert did not seem to be impressed with and it also would be Ida to ask Kevin and Scotty which one of them would be sleeping with an egg donor. The subject matter itself isn’t funny but truthfully, I do get the feeling that Ida wasn’t being genuinely mean spirited in what she was trying to say.

The really amusing part however was seeing her and Holly bonding. For some reason, this is one of those few episodes where Holly’s utilised fairly well and isn’t as annoying as she usually is. It was also delightful to see Holly squirm a little when Ida started to blather on about William’s little bit on the side, much to Nora’s humiliation and Holly’s as well.

Nora and Holly actually did decide that not telling the truth about the latter or the circumstances behind Justin and Rebecca meeting each other would be the best course. Then the worst got to Nora and Holly was pretty much forced into revealing herself to Ida as William’s mistress.

Did I feel sorry for Holly in that scene? Not especially but at the same time, both her and Nora did behave rather badly with their children’s affections. Nora gave Justin her great grandmother’s ring. She did not fork out thousands of dollars for it, so therefore Holly’s argument of Nora using a loophole and breaking rules was pointless.

Also Holly herself was breaking the rules anyways with the party, piano and the sports car as a petty revenge. I’m not even sure why Nora and Holly felt the need to implement a rule where they wouldn’t buy Justin and Rebecca any expensive gifts, given that even something as simple as that would still spark an argument between them. I’m beginning to think that the two of them simply enjoy scoring points off one another.

Anyways it was also pointless them squabbling because Justin and Rebecca were too busy at each other’s throats at their own engagement party to really care. This is something with these two that needs to change because it more than got tiresome in the third season and I don’t want to put up with it in this one either.

So, Justin’s struggling with his course? Okay, that makes total sense. It would’ve far less realistic if he was sailing through it, so why didn’t he and Rebecca just decide to postpone their engagement? That’s what any sensible couple would’ve done under the circumstances. It would’ve given Justin enough time to actually concentrate on getting his grades and Rebecca can’t be that desperate to get married so quickly, can she?

Unless it’s supposed to be further fuel to that impulse streak that Holly was sounding all doom and gloom about in the last season finale. She did seem to freak out when Holly and David merely suggested holding off. Hey, Holly even sounded reasonable enough when she came up with that little nugget. Too bad Rebecca decided to ignore Holly the one time when she actually gave out sound advice.

Speaking of ignoring people, I really do hope that Kevin doesn’t plan to ignore Scotty over this whole baby plot of theirs. The fact that Kevin and Scotty’s plot this season centres on them becoming parents is hardly a shocker but I do hope that there are storylines for them too. Kitty and Robert had the baby plot last season as well as other storylines, so let’s not limit Kevin and Scotty to one storyline, okay?

As for the baby plot in question, it doesn’t bother me but so far I side more with Scotty. Maybe it’s because I’m closer to age with Scotty and also because he raised far too many sensible questions not to side with him. He was right about the overcomplicated legal hoops that are entailed to get a child, he was right about Kevin not telling Nora right away and he was also right in pointing out that kids can’t be returned because they don’t fit.

I’m not slamming Kevin’s eagerness for a child but all the factors that Scotty raised in the episode were ones that Kevin either didn’t want to acknowledge or ones he tried to downplay. I just hope that there’s more common ground with the two of them as this storyline progresses because I really do not want a rethread of Kitty and Robert’s plot from last year either.

As for Kitty and Robert, they might not be my favourite couple but at least they’re more realistic than any of the couples on Desperate Housewives or Grey’s Anatomy right about now. Robert was still mad with Kitty but seemed to make more of an effort to connect with her during the second half of the episode.

But then there’s the clanger of Kitty being ill. If I wasn’t spoiled for what actually is ailing Kitty, I could’ve easily guessed with the way she was talking about being sick for a long period of time. And the episode ended on an appropriate cliff-hanger note with Kitty receiving some bad news indeed.

It’s interesting that as Saul finally got Nora to stop worrying, the episode seemed to segue towards Kitty’s appointment with Gibson and Justin and Rebecca narrowly avoiding a collision. It’s not particularly subtle but it’s most definitely effective and you can bet that Nora will have plenty to worry about in the next episode.

Sarah on the other hand seemed to be the antithesis of worry. She was delightfully free of angst and decided to head off to Paris after finding herself unlucky with the online dating. Still some of the guys that she had to meet provided the best laughs of the entire episode and even with limited scenes, she had a lot more to do than either Saul or Ryan, despite the latter not actually being in the episode itself.

Also in “The Road Ahead”

Although he’s only recurring this season, Balthazar Getty’s name is still in the opening credits.

Saul: “You don’t have to be Freud to figure out what’s going on. Your youngest son is marrying the daughter of your arch nemesis.”
Nora: “Holly is not my arch nemesis.”
Saul: “What are you talking about? She slept with your husband for years and now you’re gonna have grandchildren together.”

Then why is it that Saul had to defend Holly during her and Nora’s little bust up at the engagement party?

Kitty (to reporter): “Anything he says in his sleep is on the record.”
Robert: “Do you see what I’m up against?”

Kitty: “Come on, mom, admit it, you’re enjoying this a little.”
Nora: “Now why would I enjoy having Holly’s party here?”

Kitty told the journalist that she was back to writing online political blogs while omitting her and Robert’s marital woes.

Rebecca: “So did you notice anything different about me?”
Holly: “No. It’s not your hair, it’s not your shoes. What?”

Kevin: “Why don’t I stop talking for a while?”
Scotty: “That’s a good idea.”

Joe might be right about the Walkers lack of musical talent with Kevin’s shaky singing and Justin’s not so graceful tinkling of the ivories in this episode.

Kitty: “When are you going to stop punishing me? I’m not punishing you for lying to me.”
Robert: “I’m not punishing you.”

Justin: “You should’ve seen my advisor’s face. He practically told me I was too dumb to be in this programme.”
Robert: “Now why would he say that?”

Robert pulling strings for Justin backfired in this episode but Justin should just man up a little more with the BA/MD programme.

Ida: “I don’t smell anything.”
Nora: “Mother, you’re wearing so much perfume all you can do is smell yourself.”

Ida: “What’s that?”
Nora: “It’s a really cute picture frame I got them. It’s engraved.”
Ida: “I’d hide that if I were you.”

Oddly enough for an opening episode, this was the first one not to feature Ojai at all. Who was running the joint during this episode – Ryan?

Guest: “Is the party over?”
Scotty: “Yeah, it’s over.”

Rebecca (re Justin): “What about having faith in me? I’ve always been there for him.”
Holly: “But has he always been there for you?”

Standout music: Jet’s “Start The Show” and Snow Patrol’s “Shut Your Eyes”, which was used during the end of the episode.

Scotty (re parenting): “The more real this gets, the more scared I become. That’s how I’m feeling.”
Kevin: “You’d be crazy not to be a little scared.”

Chronology: None is really specified but I’d wager a few weeks since the events of “Mexico”.

I know this show isn’t generating the same amount of praise that it used to do when it started out but I really enjoyed the opening episode. “The Road Ahead” had some serious moments, a lot of fun and while the series is definitely formulaic at this point, there’s no way that I’m dropping it from my schedule anytime soon.

Rating: 9 out of 10.


Nat said...

Quite a good episode I thought. Timeline wise, it seems Justin has been in college for quite a while, so it feels like a couple of months have passed, but it seems silly that they would hold off an engagement party that long, so I'm not sure how much time has passed.

Kitty's storyline was good, especially the way they ended the episode though the show themselves ruined Kitty's illness through their episode synopsis.

The engagement party was fun if silly in places. It did feel very un-Walker like with very few siblings around. That was definitely felt in the episode, the fact that they were 2 (plus Ryan) siblings short for most of the episode. Felt a little weird though Justin, Kevin and Kitty all had good storylines.

It would be sensible for Rebecca and Justin to postpone but you bring up an excellent point up about her impulsive streak. She does seem over eager to get married, when it wasn't on her radar a few months ago.

I must say though watching s4 is going to be weird though now we know Rob Lowe is leaving right?!

shawnlunn2002 said...

With Rob Lowe, it's pretty much The West Wing all over again but while Robert is a better character compared to Holly or Ryan (not the hardest achievement in the world), I do find the actor's reasons for leaving laughable. Underutilised? Only Ron Rifkin would be justified with that excuse. Poor Saul seriously needs more to do.

I liked the engagement party a lot and we've had worse blow ups but I didn't feel that Sarah, Tommy or Ryan's absences detracted from it for some reason. Not sure why that was.

I'm looking forward to Kitty's storyline because I do believe that Calista Flockhart will do it justice. She's come a long way since her Ally McBeal days.

If the standard is maintained throughout the season, then this is going to be a wonderful year.

Nat said...

He's coming off as a real diva by quitting, I agree Ron Rifkin could use the excuse and be justified. Sue we see less of Robert than in season 1 and 2 but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Don't think I'm going to miss him that much to be honest, he never been a fave character of mine.

Just watched the second episode and it was amazing. The season's definitely looking good, if thats a sign of whats to come. Looking forward to your review on it.