Sunday, July 04, 2010

My Review of Brothers And Sisters 4x24: "On The Road Again"

Written by David Marshall Grant And Geoffrey Nauffts
Directed by Ken Olin

Robert (to Kitty): “Then I saw you holding him so strong, so loving and I knew that you would. I knew this.”

And so after four seasons, Rob Lowe is no more. Hey, it happened with The West Wing so I guess it was going to be inevitable than he wouldn’t stick out Brothers And Sisters until the bitter end (which more than likely will be next season) and in case some people think I’m being harsh on the guy, then look at his reasons.

Rob Lowe apparently decided to abandon ship with this series because he felt that his character was underused. The lamest excuse ever when you consider the fact that Robert has generated more screen time in the last four years compared to the likes of Saul, Justin, Tommy, Scotty and Rebecca. There were plenty of times when I wanted less of Robert on my screen rather than more.

With this episode I guess my wish came true. There always was the suggestion that his attempts of going up against Bill would generate a death of some kind and the conspiracy theorist in me found that whole car crash pile up at the end a little too suspicious for their own good.

All of the Walkers in different ended up crashing, except for the car with Rebecca and Justin. That was extremely odd in the least. Robert’s death however actually packed more of a punch than I thought it would do for some reason. I wasn’t exactly tearful when Kitty realised that he was dead but the scene certainly was effective.

Whatever issues I’ve had with Robert throughout the series, the one thing I would never deny is the chemistry between Rob Lowe and Calista Flockhart on this show. Both of them were well suited and did their best to make me care for Kitty and Robert, even during moments when it was bloody hard to do so.

Flockhart herself has been on fire all season, first with the cancer storyline, the political trail and now the death of Robert. Although the show will survive without him, it will be a little strange not seeing him with Kitty and the fact that it’s rumoured that the series will be jumping a year is a little worrying as well. I don’t want Kitty’s grief skimmed over as well as other plots.

The question is though, was this an accident or was Robert genuinely bumped off because of those tapes? It’s way too coincidental that the second Robert and Kitty decided to hand them was the same one in which we got multiple car crashes in one. The other weird thing is that we never see the crashes either, just the aftermath when Justin and Rebecca stumble upon it as well.

Robert being dead wasn’t the only problem that the crashes brought up. Sure, some of the Walkers were shaken, bruised and confused and while Holly looked in rough shape as well, I doubt that this is the end of her. If Patricia Wettig was leaving the series, it would’ve been announced around the time that Rob Lowe’s departure was.

Back to the other bit, Saul – does he have HIV? He was very adamant about neither Nora nor Kevin touching him in the wreckage and the whole episode made a huge deal out him not getting tested, finally getting tested and the sharp way in which he told Nora he was fine when it clearly suggested the opposite.

I’m all for Saul having bigger storylines next season but I was kind of hoping that we wouldn’t get this one. Still, my biggest complaint with this show has been the writers giving Ron Rifkin naff all to do and this does seem like a storyline that he could do justice to. I just hope that the opening episode next season doesn’t tease things out, especially if we are jumping a year as well.

The strangest thing about this episode wasn’t just the way that the episode led to Saul’s possible HIV reveal but more about his sexual history. I often forget as a gay person that socially I do have a comparatively easier time of it compared to what Saul would’ve endured at my age and Scotty and Kevin themselves despite meaning well also seem to have that lapse in perception.

This episode also revealed a lot more about Saul’s sexual history than any episode ever has as well. I liked the scenes with him and Nora in the Ojai ranch talking about his past and the fact that he had stave off loneliness in rather desperate manners. In that respect, this is another reason why I don’t want Saul to have HIV. The poor guy suffers enough without this being added on to him. Why can’t he just get a nice boyfriend and be happy?

Speaking of happiness, I bloody well knew that Narrow Lake would end up solving the Walkers finances again. A friend of mine (and fellow blogger) pointed out how reminiscent this whole plot has been to a certain one from the first season but that aside, I actually don’t mind. They’ve lost one business so here’s hoping that they’re successful with another and let’s face it, everybody does need water so congrats to them on that score.

Also if I had to sit through another episode of moping Sarah, I might have chucked something at the screen. Rachel Griffiths can do comedy brilliantly but even Sarah was getting on my nerves here with her self-pity that I found myself actually feeling bad for Luc at the start of the episode when he was trying to get her to eat something properly.

The road trip bits with her, Nora and Kitty on the latter’s campaign trail also suffered because of Sarah’s moods, so seeing her elation when Narrow Lake literally sprang a leak was a bloody relief. Just don’t let this business go under, eh writers.

As for Justin and Rebecca – seriously Justin, I don’t blame Rebecca for actually taking the job even if she didn’t tell you about it until after the fact but if you want to go to Haiti, then bloody do it. Next season the writers really do need to iron out these two because their constant arguing has more than become a source of tedium.

I did however enjoy most of Justin’s scenes with Robert in this episode, especially when he discovered that Robert was taking medication for arrhythmia and the cryptic bits about a mystery safe deposit box as well. Why is it that Justin and Rebecca are better people when they’re involved in other people’s storylines? Two seasons later and the writers still haven’t progressed them enough in my book.

Also in “On The Road Again”

It’s interesting that both the opening and final episodes of this season have had the word ‘road’ in them.

Robert (to Kitty): “You should take her. You have sixteen stops. You need someone to play cards with.”
Nora: “I play cards. Where are we going?”

In the space of a couple of hours, Kitty’s campaign trail was in Sacramento, Oxnard and some other place. Geez, couldn’t the writers have picked another city?

Saul: “Did we wake you up?”
Kevin: “What, with all the banging, the clanging, the Olivia Newton John playing? Absolutely not!”

Saul: “Look at this. I just got another friend request.”
Scotty (to Kevin): “Saul’s just discovered Facebook.”

It was nice to see Saul and Scotty using the rest of the Walkers as test subjects for the food they were planning to serve in their restaurant. And Saul was born on August 11th 1938.

Sarah: “I’m not self-medicating, mom, I’m grieving. There are stages.”

Kevin: “Saul, are you holding a glass against the wall?”
Saul: “No, but I have my new hearing aid in.”

I’m surprised to an extent that Robert didn’t entrust the key to the safe deposit box to Kevin, given the bromance the writers have been building with them for the past two seasons.

Justin: “Rebecca, we just got married. The point is to stay together.”
Rebecca: “I took the job, Justin.”

Sarah: “Mom, I love you but you have to stop. You cannot solve everyone’s problems – mine, Kitty’s, Saul’s, just leave it alone.”

Obviously no Ryan or David in this episode, very little of Luc but no Tommy either, which was a shame given that he was in the previous episode.

Saul (to Nora): “I spent most of my life living in shame. There were no role models for me when I was growing up and you can be alone but there were times I let myself.”

Kitty: “I heard you were part of a covert operation this weekend.”
Justin: “Yeah, so covert I had no idea what was going on.”

Standout music: “12” by Alex Murdoch during the final few minutes of this episode.

This season has been uneven in places, magnificent in others but in terms of finales, I have to say that while “On The Road Again” has its drawbacks, there’s a lot going for it as well, particularly with Robert’s death and Saul’s storyline for next season.

Rating: 9 out of 10.


Anonymous said...

It takes all kinds to make a world.............................................................

Nat said...

Not sure why Tommy wasn't in this episode, it was a shame and it would be nice to see him share in the joy of Ojai Waters (surprised if that won't be the name for it!) since it'll be up and running next season.

Giving Saul HIV feels a touch cliche (he's a gay man what can we do with him?? I know let's give him HIV!) Still if done well, this might work. Let's hope they don't try to miracle cure him like they did Kitty!

I was sad to Robert dies also in a way. Not the best character, but not the worst in the show either.

shawnlunn2002 said...

It was odd not seeing Tommy in this episode but I say he'll be in more though next season.

Robert's death was extremely well done, right emotional impact and a nice use of music as well.

I hope Saul's storyline is handled well next season.