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Brothers & Sisters Recap: The Homecoming


Another year starts for Brothers & Sisters, and this one comes after quite a bit of spring cleaning; Rob Lowe, Balthazar Getty and Emily VanCamp are all gone from the main cast, and VanCamp is the only one I’ll mourn.  That being said, I’ve been mourning the loss of Rebecca as an interesting character since the show triple-axel, double toe-looped over a shark in Season Two and de-Walkered her.  I think that the end of last season was some of the best work I’ve seen on the show since it’s Season One hey-dey; here’s hoping that David Marshall Grant and company can keep the story-lines believable and the characters palatable (there was a significant portion of last season that Kevin needed a gag, and not in the good way).

The season opener picks up a year after the gigantic traffic accident of last season’s finale.  Robert is in a coma, Holly is alive but having severe memory problems, and the rest of the Walkers have lost their ability to tear into each other with the gusto of alley-cats fighting over the last scrap of fish.  Justin has gone off to war, and the decision has cost him Rebecca; it’s his homecoming the title refers to, and a less enthusiastic greeting to a returning soldier I have never seen portrayed on TV.  The Walkers get excited over a good pinot, you’d think they could muster some happiness over Justin’s return.  This is, of course, the whole point.  The accident appears to have done the impossible, and broken the family that could not be broken.

Setting up story-lines for the whole season, Sarah is still having a torrid affair with Luc, who has become an underwear model in response to the poor economy.  My, we should all have such a career to fall back on, now please pass the pie.  I suppose the writer’s couldn’t simply have Gilles Marini constantly doing laps in Nora’s pool, so kudos to them for figuring out a way to keep him in as little clothing as 10 pm on a network will allow.  The two are considering moving to France, following the sale of Narrow Lake for a whopping $55 million dollars.  Naturally, by the end of the episode they’ve reconsidered; good thing, as it would have gotten really nasty what with Sarah having two children and all (who were blessedly absent from this episode).

We also have Scotty and Saul’s new restaurant, Cafe 429; I have no idea what the significance of said name is.  It turns out that in the passing year, Scotty and Kevin lost two babies to miscarriages.  Kevin has become a pro bono lawyer representing the miserable, the lonely and depressed (name that song!), and in true Kevin fashion has completely shut out his husband and isn’t dealing with his feelings.  The writers need to come up with something for Scotty to do besides be saintly; I would suggest having him join Luc in his new career.  By the end of the episode, the two have allowed one of Kevin’s young clients, Mateo, to stay in their apartment for the night after finding him avoiding his drunken father by sleeping on the street.

Kitty is having difficulty letting go, and can’t bring herself to pull the plug on Robert despite Justin saying he’s in a “permanent, vegetative state.”  He knows fancy words like that because he flunked out of medical school in order to abort a horribly conceived story-line.  Kitty is asked to consider becoming the head of the RNC, because the Republicans need someone with “intelligence, clear-headed thinking and compassion.”  Fictitious Republicans are so much nicer that real Republicans, don’t you think?  She turns them down, but this will clearly be revisited; Justin forces her to see reason about her husband, and she says good-bye to Robert and moves on with her life.

Justin returns from war looking, frankly, like he lifted a lot of weights over there.  He can join Scotty and Luc in the underwear campaign.  He’s the catalyst that snaps his family out of their tragedy-induced torpor when he begs them to all start yelling at each other again.  Magically, as soon as I’m no longer forced to put up with he and Rebecca together, I suddenly find Justin interesting for the first time in a few seasons.  Rebecca has moved out of their apartment,  claiming that she couldn’t deal with his going off to war again.  I’m willing to accept this excuse, yet I have a little difficulty swallowing that she wouldn’t even have bothered to tell him she was leaving.  But hey, we’re trying to establish a lot of things here.  Something’s bound to get short-handed, and I’m fine with it being that odious relationship.  Justin brings his family back to life, complete with loving shots of full red wine glasses.

Nora is working (why doesn’t she just get Luc to set her up with his agent, she could do a Boniva commercial!) at a florist, complete with a boss who clearly isn’t a huge fan of her.  I’m frankly not sure why Nora is working in the first place so I’m not sure if this story-line is going to continue or not, but it was jarring enough to see Nora as an employee that I’m assuming she will continue at the flower shop.  She complains to Saul (still HIV+, still in search of a story-line) that she lost her voice after the accident, and that she just doesn’t want to get involved with other people’s business any longer.  It’s somewhat fun to watch her struggle to not interfere with people’s lives, but I’m glad that she is shaken back to herself by the end of the episode; as Justin says, we want her to be “overbearing, in-your-face, nosy and hovering,” because otherwise, what’s the fun?

Overall, it was a good season opener, but not a particularly enjoyable episode.  The story, that the Walkers aren’t really communicating with each other, negates the biggest strengths of the show, which lie in the easy rhythms of a family that simply cannot STOP communicating with each other.  That, of course, is the whole point of the episode; the writers tell us up front that their characters are lost (they couldn’t even find wine at one point, and that’s simply unheard of).  However, by the end,  they’ve reconnected and come through the darkness.  Here’s hoping that next week we get a good, old-fashioned Walker phone tree.

And some bullet points:

– “Walker, Pro and Bono.”

– Not only were Paige and Cooper not in the episode, they weren’t in the opening credits either.  There was some real belt-tightening on the budget over at ABC…too bad Steve McPherson couldn’t become an underwear model to make some extra cash.

– I truly, truly hope that’s the last time I have to hear about how Kevin and Robert were best friends.  Never saw it, never bought it.

– Speaking of Robert, Rob Lowe couldn’t even stop by the set to lie in a hospital bed?  Parks and Recreation is postponed, what else is he doing?

– Sarah’s new hair cut…not sure how I feel about it, but I’m leaning towards a negative opinion.

– After this very serious episode, next week’s “Nora’s maybe a lesbian” tomfoolery looks promising for some excellent Walker-style hi-jinks.