Saturday, January 23, 2010

My Review of Brothers And Sisters 4x02: "Breaking The News"

Written by David Marshall Grant And Cliff Olin
Directed by Ken Olin

Nora: “She’s a little nervous.”
Doctor: “Yeah.”
Kitty: “I guess anybody sitting in this chair would be.”

Ending on the kind of note that the opening episode did, there was no way that the outcome was going to be good for Kitty. Granted even her doctor said it was bad news but we didn’t get it directly. Instead we had Kitty arranged an appointment and keeping it a secret from Robert who thought that something was up with Evan.

While keeping secrets about her health isn’t a smart thing for Kitty to do, it was a good job that she confided in Nora when paying her visit. This was one of those episodes where Nora’s input was not only needed but completely welcomed in every capacity. She was going on to Saul about worrying in the opening episode and here she did have just reason for it.

She was decidedly calmer than I expected her to be when Kitty told her about being ill but even then you could tell that Nora was just holding back. The moment Kitty found out that she had Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was reeling for Nora. Her worst fear did come to life as did Kitty’s in that moment.

I’ve read people online complaining about the show going down the clichéd route of giving one of the main characters cancer but the truth is, clichéd or not, it still made for some uncomfortable. Like many people, I’ve lost someone to cancer in recent years so I was going to try and view this story as objectively as I could anyways.

Kitty having cancer is a serious storyline and one that I don’t doubt the writers will address responsibly as they can. Kitty’s breakdown in the kitchen about losing her hair had the desired emotional effect and Nora’s insistence that Kitty should tell Robert sooner rather than later was a smart thing to do.

Telling Robert was always going to be a difficult task because once again, he’s still obsessed with his political goals and he and Kitty are still at odds with one another. However the way in which Kitty chose to tell him seemed perfect in an odd way. She derailed a meeting with Kevin by chucking her brother out, blurting to Robert that she had cancer and then opting not to discuss it any further.

I think if Robert’s reaction had been anything but support and concern for Kitty it would’ve most definitely pissed off a lot of viewers. Unlike some viewers, I don’t assume that Kitty being ill will automatically make her and Robert’s issues suddenly disappear but I also think that Robert’s main priority right now should be Kitty and not his campaign.

Robert and Kitty had some of the most touching scenes in the entire episode, especially when he told her that he loved her and when he accompanied her during the bone marrow biopsy. Also because he’s aware of his wife’s condition and Nora confided in Saul, it won’t be long before everyone else is privy to it as well.

Calista Flockhart is doing a wonderful job with this story, even though I know I’m only judging on two episodes so far but come on, even if you’re the kind of viewer out there who wouldn’t care if Kitty actually did kick the bucket, you’d be hard pressed to find fault with the actress’s performance so far.

Similarly Sally Field was also on fine form in this episode as well. Nora took her anger out on Saul because he was unaware of what was going on with Kitty and kept discussing business but at least Nora did tell him in the end and he was there for her. Has there ever been a better moment between Nora and Saul than this one?

With Kitty’s storyline being as hard hitting as it is, another one that sticks out for different reasons would be Kevin and Scotty. It’s the second episode and Scotty is still reticent to making a commitment to parenthood and yes, I’m still on his side. I love Kevin but he’s pushing this one way too hard.

First with trying to drag Scotty to see a friend’s baby and then overly commenting on Scotty’s naturalness with Evan. I get it, Scotty’s great with kids but he’s also right in every little doubt he has at the moment and sadly, Kevin doesn’t really get it. He listens to what Scotty is actually saying but he’s not taking it in properly.

Scotty admitted to Nora that one of the reasons why he wasn’t in a rush for children was down to their jobs – specifically Kevin’s. Kevin justified Scotty’s fears by not seeing that his husband raised a good point. There’s nothing wrong with nannies and I believe that Kevin doesn’t want to be an absentee father but why can’t he wait until his life is less chaotic or actually quit working for Robert? There isn’t a single viewer who would hold it against him if he did change vocations right now.

Speaking of Robert, of course Eve would have to resurface to damn his campaign. Is it wrong that I actually hope Eve has damaged it in some capacity? I find it hilarious that Travis leaking (on Eve’s behalf but behind her back of course) Robert’s heart attack to the press could completely destroy him. Politics really can be a buzz kill for the most minor of discrepancies, huh?

I know Robert lied to people about his health and that it would’ve leaked at some point but Eve’s continued affair (or was it a new one?) is a lot more damning than Robert’s omission of his health any day of the week. Also while Robert might have complained about Kevin’s underhanded tactics, I did get the impression that he was protesting a little too much on that one.

Kevin and Travis in scenes together were actually delightful. I loved the grovelling apologies they both forced out of each other and I do actually hope that Travis actually pops again. If not, then I can look forward to seeing Denis O’Hare in True Blood during the summer but was Travis jumping the gun a little when he said that him and Kevin were similar? Well, they did both effectively do the same thing behind their bosses’ backs so maybe there’s some truth in Travis’s claim.

As for the least interesting segments of an otherwise wonderful episode, it would have to be Ojai. They’ve got too much juice that can’t be aged so Holly’s best idea was to pit Ryan and Rebecca against each other to come up with some money saving way. Nepotism clearly raised it’s head when Holly seemingly made sure that Rebecca’s pitch of a second label selling the extra stuff cheap came into fruition.

And then there’s Ryan. Poor Saul is singing the lad’s praises and behind his back the ungrateful brat is giving a rival of Ojai’s financials to try and ruin the business. Given that Ojai seem to be in trouble financially nearly every year, I’m not sure why Ryan is even bothering to sabotage the company. I also think that if revenge is Ryan’s main arc this season, then there’s even less justification in making Luke Grimes a regular this year.

Also for those who wanted an episode with the least amount of Justin and Rebecca, this was it. Apart from Justin being irritated with Rebecca’s distracting him from studying in the beginning and then him in turn distracting her from work towards the end, there was very little with these two in this episode. Plus we didn’t have any scenes with the pair of them arguing, which is another plus point for this episode.

Also in “Breaking The News”

This episode along with the previous one aired as a double bill for UK viewers on More4 this week.

Kitty (to Robert): “Don’t you worry, darling, nobody’s going to be dropping dead around here anytime soon.”

Sarah’s not only in Paris for recreational reasons but she’s also looking at different vineyards as well for contacts, which does make sense.

Scotty: “I know it’s a little over the top but I’m thinking of making steaks and eggs for breakfast. How do you want yours?”
Kevin: “Bloody.”

Kitty: “Mom, you keep saying the word home and I literally wanna kill you.”

Ryan’s cut his hair since the finale and seems to have more colour in his complexion. Too bad he’s still a dick though.

Nora: “I’m taking Evan for a few days.”
Kevin: “Oh, does Kitty know?”

Kevin (to Robert, re Eve): “She is calling you a liar when she’s lying herself. That’s an issue, it’s called hypocrisy.”

I don’t remember what happened that Travis ended up not being on Robert’s staff. This episode didn’t do anything to elaborate on it either.

Kitty: “Did you talk to my mother?”
Robert (re campaign): “She’s the one person I haven’t talked to but it’s everywhere. I just need one person to be straight with me about what the fallout’s gonna be.”

Kevin: “You’re great with kids.”
Scotty: “That’s because I live with one.”

Maybe it’s because of Kitty but it’s intriguing that Nora isn’t as vocal about Kevin and Scotty’s baby plans as you’d expect her to be, though that will probably change later on in the season.

Nora (re Kevin): “Scotty you have to talk to him because believe me, I know Kevin and the moment he sees his child, he will adapt his life to make room.”

Kevin: “This is now turning into my worst nightmare.”
Kitty: “Sister trumps boss, you have to go.”
Robert: “Go.”

I wonder what William did exactly to annoy that guy who Ryan ended up giving Ojai’s financials to.

Ryan: “What did you say you needed those for again?”
Man: “You have your reasons. I have mine.”

Standout music: “Man Inside” by Shirock, which played during the end of the episode.

Kevin: “Oh so does this mean you’re in love with me again?”
Scotty: “I never stopped loving you, Kevin.”

Kitty: “What if you’re only here because I have cancer?”
Robert: “I’m here because I love you.”
Kitty: “Oh god I wanna believe that. I so wanna believe that, I do.”

Chronology: I think it’s a few days, maybe longer since “The Road Ahead”.

I absolutely loved this episode. “Breaking The News” is one of the finest episodes from the series and if this standard can be maintained, then this season may usurp the first one as my favourite. The quality is definitely present so far this year.

Rating: 9 out of 10.


Nat said...

Great episode and the best we've gotten in quite a while. Thge Kitty cancer storyline was obviously the strongest. I actually though her scenes with Nora were the strongest rather than with Robert, but all the scenes with Kitty were wonderfully done. If anyone can handle this storyline its Calista Flockhart.
The scene at the end with Nora and Saul in particular had me in tears, Sally Field was just so perfect in that scene, I want more of her and Saul together.

I can't believe some people think a cancer storyline is cliched, yes its been done, but so has every other storyline. Personally the quick marriages they've had in the show feel more cliched.

I'm also on Scotty's storyline with the baby thing. Its not really the right time for them and its not exactly as if they have a biological clock ticking down, so there's no reason for them to rush. I adored Scotty and Nora's scene together though.

Holly's pissing me off with her nepotism. I know Ryan got the job in the same way but he has a little right to be pissed off with Rebecca being pitted against him.

shawnlunn2002 said...

You're right about all of Kitty's scenes packing a punch emotionally. This storyline, it doesn't matter if its cliched, it's being brilliantly executed so far and I think Calista Flockhart has been great with.

Scotty does seem to get better as a character. He raises good pointers that I do hope Kevin takes into account in later episodes.

Ryan can just go away for all I care. If this episode was anything to go by, the writers really don't have a just reason for him being there.

I think Holly's sole function on this show is to irritate, in some episodes more than others.