Technology with attitude

Brothers & Sisters Recap: Brief Encounter


I’m left ambivalent following this week’s Brothers & Sisters; while it was certainly a more balanced entry in terms of tone than last episode, it also had the feeling of spinning wheels.  If the season opener was all about re-establishing a status quo for the Walker family, this episode was all about…making sure that the audience was really clear on that status quo.  Nora is working, and it’s weird!  Kitty can’t move on from Robert’s death!  Holly can’t remember anything!  Yes, we know…mix it up.  I sound down on the episode and actually there were parts of it I liked, I think perhaps I’m just disappointed that I wasn’t treated to a phone tree or a dinner party explosion this time around.

The action centers mainly around a party being thrown by Luc’s underwear company, which is apparently call Chad Ricardo Underwear.  I for one would like to meet Chad Ricardo…or Chad and Ricardo as the case may be.  The party serves the purpose of a dinner party in more traditional episodes, where the Walkers can gather and all of their dirty laundry can come tumbling out in the loudest, most inappropriate way possible.

Sarah is having difficulty with Paige growing up; now I KNOW we saw this exact story-line last year, and frankly it’s more fun seeing Sarah deal with grown up problems than kid problems.  When she deals with grown up problems, she drinks.  Sarah is jealous of Luc having the luxury of being Paige’s friend, and ultimately realizes that she needs to be a mother first.  Meh…I’m ready for Paige and Cooper to be sent off to boarding school.  I’m not sure what exactly happened over the summer, but Gilles Marini’s accent seems much more Pepe Le Pew this year; maybe the writers are just giving him more lines.  If that’s the case, stop immediately and remove shirt.

Justin, meanwhile, is trying to reconnect with Rebecca through Holly and David.  While the amnesiac Holly is welcoming, David is much harsher on his son-in-law and accuses him of abandoning Rebecca and breaking her heart.  I’m not saying I would be happy if my husband flied off to war against my wishes, but I don’t know if I could say that was abandonment.  Abandonment would be, say, moving out of the shared house without letting that husband know.  Ah, potato/potahto.  Ultimately, Justin and David make up and Justin spends time with Holly talking about her daughter, whom she barely remembers at all.  I thought this track might be interesting with Holly, but I find myself disliking it after two episodes.  I’ve been a defender of the character and I love Patricia Wettig, but Holly is at her best when she and Nora are hunting each other for sport or (please, some writer write this scene) going out picking up men together.  Perhaps she’ll snap out of it if Nora throws the next lasagna she brings over on her couture dress.  Memories.

Kevin and Scotty are still dealing with Mateo, Kevin’s delinquent client from the season opener.  First he winds up breaking into their restaurant, then gets in trouble with the police and tells them to call Kevin.  Kevin, with his usual sensitivity, spends most of the episode telling his mother and anyone else in the room (including Mateo) that the kid is untrustworthy and could benefit from spending a few extra hours in jail.  He finally tells Mateo that if he needs help to just ask…Kevin, he’s been asking you all episode, you just refuse to listen.  Just ask Scotty, he can relate.  I’m still up in the air about how this story line is playing out.  At the end of the episode, Kevin and Scotty drop Mateo off at his grandmother’s, but it doesn’t seem like we’ve seen the last of the character.  I’m willing to give it a chance to build up steam and see where it goes, but I’m not sold yet; frankly, Kevin spending more time with minors means less time drinking in bars with Sarah.

Finally, Nora and Kitty provide the silliness for this entry.  While Nora worries about Kitty not moving forward from Robert’s death, Kitty is far too busy worrying where Nora spent the night since she wasn’t in bed at 5 am, and she doesn’t know Nora has taken a job.  Granted, when you think about the fact that the last guy Nora dated turned out to be a con artist, Kitty wanting to get a look at anyone her mom might date makes a little more sense; protect that inheritance, Kit!  Nora, as we found out last week, has been working at a flower shop who’s owner seems to be trying to inspire a patented Joan Harris vase-to-the-back-of-the-head attack.  In fact, I love this picture.  The Walker children sitting in the holding room of a jail to get Nora out for assault with porcelain is just a hilarious picture.

Kitty eavesdrops on her mother’s conversation with her boss, which is so laden with double entendres I’m really not sure how Sally Field got through it with a straight face.

“I specifically asked you never to call me at this home number.  I thought you understood my wanting to keep this private.  I’m sorry I snapped at you, I just haven’t told my family yet.  Yes, of course you have needs, but obviously so do I.  It’s just sometimes you push me too hard.”

It’s worth noting that Calista Flockheart’s “Oh holy…EW” face gets an excellent work out in this scene.  Of course, Kitty decides to follow her mother to figure out what she’s up to, sees her kiss a woman on the cheek while holding flowers and *POOF*, decides her mother’s a lesbian.  If the Walker’s family-wide inability to not jump to the most dramatic conclusion hadn’t been long-established I would have said this was unbelievable.  As it was, I just cuddled up to a glass of shiraz and gleefully awaited the fireworks.

After the requisite misunderstandings (“I’m not interested in men whatsoever!”), with Sarah and Kitty trying to drag their mother kicking and screaming from the closet, we get Nora going super-mom on her children.  This was one development I was very happy with, as last episode she had complained she had lost her voice.  Well, it’s back, and she’s using it to scold all of her children to shape up; this whole scene led to some excellent lines of dialogue that I’ll go into below in the bullet points.  However, the upshot of all of this is that a radio producer overhears Nora’s diatribe and says he’s interested in her headlining a radio advice show.  Does this mean we can look forward to Mrs. Walker being referred to as “Dr. Nora”?  Or perhaps her intoning “I’m listening…”?  I like this idea because it means that some Walker secret is getting broadcast over national radio at some point this season, and the more public the embarassment the more wine that’s drank over it.

All in all, a servicable if not classic episode.  The lack of a “Mom’s a lesbian!” phone tree just seemed cruel and unnecessary, and there was a shocking lack of wine, but there were some good lines and some good story possibilities.

And some bullet points:

– Luc grunts like Monica Seles in the Wimbledon final when doing crunches.

– Kitty’s phone getting caught in a senior-citizen-lesbian porn cycle is why I’m happy 10 pm primetime dramas exist.

– Puking in a public bathroom amplifies the sound?  Can anyone confirm this?  Outside of Justin and Kitty?

– “I’m not a lesbian, I’m a florist!”  Did this remind anyone else of Monica Geller wanting someone to take her flower?

– “Mom, I’m really sorry I told everyone you were a lesbian.”  May I never utter this sentence.

– “What, you’re not gonna skip over me?”

– “You’re a lifetime member of the NRA, you’re armed to the teeth!”

-Paige has a friend named Agatha?  Seriously?  This is right up there with the name “Buffy” being used last season.