Thursday, June 10, 2010

My Review of Brothers And Sisters 4x21: "Where There's Smoke"

Written by Michael Foley And Jason Wilburn
Directed by Michael Morris

Nora: “Mother, please live with me, I’d like that.”
Ida: “I’d rather live in a nursing home.”
Nora: “Sorry you feel that way but you’re coming home with me.”

Ida Holden – not exactly the person you’d call on if you needed a confidence booster, huh? Seeing her twice in one season, what did we do to deserve this honour? No, seriously though I am surprised that we would end up seeing Ida again.

I’m also rather surprised with the really big way that she was reintroduced into things as well. So far, we’ve had her turn up for Nora’s 60th birthday and Justin and Rebecca’s engagement party but this time around, we meet her because she nearly got killed and Saul’s at her bedside.

Tackling Alzheimer’s is a tough thing but it’s one of many common ailments for TV shows to run with and like with Kitty’s cancer this year, there’s no way you can avoid clichés but there’s also no reason as to why you can’t tell an engaging if saddening storyline in the process. Bonus points for this episode in that respect.

Nora immediately wanting to take care of her mother, in spite of the tense relationship that they have was pretty much expected. I would’ve been shocked if Nora had shied away from it as I would’ve been surprised by Saul actually telling Ida about his sexuality in this episode but it did make for some interesting moments.

Ida’s reaction to having to be taken care of by Nora was of staunch refusal. Not only did she not want to be a burden on her daughter but she was pretty determined to prove to herself that she wasn’t losing her faculties. Hence the determination to try and use the stairs by herself and insisting that she could be left alone in the house while Nora did her shopping.

Of course things were going to go wrong. Ida nearly burned the house down because she forgot about the cooker she’d left on and she kept forgetting that Justin’s dog had been long dead as well. It was at this point that the rest of the family were beginning to get a clue about Ida’s condition.

But the odd thing was that no-one really reacted to it as such. Justin showed some initial worry but it was left to Nora and Saul to generate the emotional responses because everyone else was distracted in their own little problems. That to me was something of a sore point with the episode but at least there were some reactions.

Both Nora and Saul couldn’t handle seeing their mother deteriorate and that was what spurred Ida’s decision to sign herself into an old folk’s home. The scene where she actually forgot who Nora was and started going on about how wonderful her daughter was made me want to cry a little.

I’ve not had family members (except for a distance aunt of mine) suffer with Alzheimer’s but that doesn’t mean the episode wasn’t affecting nonetheless. Ida made a perceptive comment about Nora’s nurturing tendencies and while it did sound rather mean, it explains a lot about Nora as a person.

Nora is someone who wants to fix things or people and it hits her extra hard when she fails. It certainly hit her hard in this episode because she felt that she had failed Ida, when truthfully she didn’t. Saul was right to point out that Nora had a better relationship with Ida because it was an honest one. It’s just a pity that he can’t do the same with Ida.

As for the rest of the Walkers, Robert didn’t get a job because he could be gagged from doing anything with it? I wish he had been gagged during most of the third season when he was being an unbearable moron but it does make things a little interesting. What was that mystery job that he got rejected from?

Kitty didn’t take exactly long to uncover that Robert’s heart problems weren’t the reasons why he didn’t get the mystery and thankfully she didn’t waste much time in trying to get the truth from him. I’m guessing with the last three episodes and Rob Lowe’s imminent departure that it won’t be exceedingly long before we find out what the hell is going with Robert. It better be good whatever it is.

Less good however was Sarah and Luc. Goddamn it writers, when are you gonna stop writing for them in such a melodramatic manner? I actually want to care about them as a couple but the writing for them has been so immature that it’s making it harder for me to give a damn about the pair of them.

And wasting the good part of half the episode trying to convince me that Sarah might be pregnant when I bloody knew well that she wouldn’t be was something else I could’ve done with it. I’m not stupid and usually, neither is Sarah but with Luc, I am beginning to wonder. Both of them are supposed to be adults – write them that way. If I wanted immature baby-adults, I’d be reviewing Grey’s Anatomy more often.

Also on the immature scale of things were Kevin and Scotty. Personally my viewpoint on psychics is largely negative and while Nadine predicted most things accurately, I still think it was a case of lucky guess on her part. And I also didn’t need to wait until the very last minute of the episode to learn that Michelle was definitely pregnant. I suppose Roxy Olin will need something else to occupy her if The City gets canned. Has that show been canned?

Then there’s Justin and Rebecca. I get the feeling that Rebecca wants to do more than theorise about buying a place and actually do it, but I like that she’s being practical and that her and Justin are the on the same page with each other. If we can go through more episodes with them like this, I’ll be happy.

Also in “Where There’s Smoke”

How many episodes of this show have actually opened with a hospital scene? It feel like in the last two seasons, we’ve had more than our fair share.

Nora: “Hospitals make me anxious.”
Saul: “Hospitals or mom?”
Nora: “Both.”

Sarah was looking at some of Ojai’s finances but this episode did very little in discussing the company’s dire state.

Kitty: “Robert, why are you taking this lying down?”
Robert: “Because it’s 5.30 in the morning.”

Scotty (to Nadine, re Luc): “Visa issues, does that ring a bell?”
Kevin: “I think you rang it for her?”

Luc’s stance of children binding him and Sarah as a couple is wrong. Just look a divorce rates.

Kevin: “I thought psychics brought good news?”
Nadine: “That’s a fortune cookie but for what it’s worth, I can see a new life.”

Government Guy (to Robert): “If you had taken that opportunity, you would’ve been gagged.”

Nadine’s prediction about a storm coming – anything to do with the season finale and Robert by any chance?

Kevin (to Scotty): “I don’t think predictions count if you make them come true.”

Kitty (to Sarah): “You’re in a committed relationship; you shouldn’t keep secrets from each other. No wonder you think a long distance relationship isn’t gonna work.”

Standout music: Snow Patrol’s “Open Your Eyes”.

Saul (to Nora, re Ida): “I can’t live honestly in front of her. I’ve never been able to but you do. You’re yourself and I envy that because that’s something I’ll never have.”

Chronology: Late April, if we’re going by Sarah’s calculations.

“Where There’s Smoke” works brilliantly with the seriousness of Ida’s plight and is obviously setting something else up for the finale, other than the Narrow Lake debacle but it’s time that Sarah and Luc got some better writing as well. Other than that, a superb episode.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

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