We’re at that point in the Switched At Birth season where a whole mess of plot is barreling down the pipeline in a race toward the finale, and all we can do is just hold on and take it all in. “Prudence, Avarice, Lust, Justice, Anger” is an appropriately wordy episode title for an episode completely stuffed with, well, stuff. It’s a hodgepodge of an episode, but there are some gems buried within the glut.
Sneakily hidden amidst all that stuff is a small but quietly powerful story about deaf identity. It starts as a somewhat rote but nicely observed story about Melody’s forays into online dating. While the deaf teen characters have easily found multiple love interests, Melody’s love life has been much quieter, and with good reason: As a deaf, middle-aged divorcee, her dating pool in a medium-sized city like Kansas City is practically non-existent. She’s constantly swimming upstream in everything she does, and dating is no different, and it’s nice to see that acknowledged here.
The interesting way Melody’s story unfolds and slowly turns into a story that encompasses her whole family feels like the kind of natural evolution that would happen within a family unit. Melody starts dating, her date goes poorly so she yells at Emmett for not spending time with his father, when Emmett resists her attempts to get him to connect with his father Melody goes to Cameron to find out what’s happening in their relationship, and from there the discussion turns into a thoughtful, meaningful treatise on Cameron’s insecurities about his decision to get a Cochlear implant. What’s great about it is that although Cameron knows Melody doesn’t necessarily agree with the decision, she gives him great advice about it being his decision alone, not Emmett’s, and then leaves him to figure it out for himself. I love these little moments.
This story, while lovely and thoughtful, really was only a small runner throughout an episode dominated by Daphne’s relationship with Jace and Angelo’s quest to get his baby back. The better story of the two was Angelo and Bay’s trip to visit his baby Abby and her new family, with Ty tagging along for the ride. It’s a bit clumsily rendered, but while the trip reinforces Angelo’s commitment to fight for custody of his daughter in court, all it does for Bay is bring back painful memories of feeling disassociated from her own family growing up, but getting through it because of her very loving parents. For all Bay talks a good game about Angelo’s commitment to being a father, there’s still an element of “I don’t know this guy” to her dealings with him, and they definitely color her opinion about what he should do with Abby.
As for Daphne’s relationship with Jace, it continues to concern me. Not necessarily because of the content of the relationship itself—Jace is much kinder and has dropped the condescension, for the most part—but because of how she acts when she’s around him. Parker, the intern Senator Coto had an affair with, pops back up with concerns she is pregnant with his baby, and although Daphne is sufficiently horrified and supportive of the girl, Jace immediately turns it into an opportunity to manipulate Coto, and Daphne goes along with it. In essence, they blackmail Coto into dropping his support of the abstinence-only bill in exchange for keeping quiet about his affair with Parker, and the entire situation sits really uneasily. This is mostly due to the fact that by showing Daphne and Jace’s celebration over getting their way in politics it feels as if the show is almost endorsing what they did, when what they did was pretty darn horrible. Politics is politics, but this was just plain dirty pool, and I hope Daphne comes to her senses.
Toby’s arc this season continues to develop in a kind of compelling, non-linear way, as he once again starts to bridle against the restraints his impending marriage is putting on his freedom. This week’s lesson comes in the form of Simone, who makes a welcome return—which is something I never thought I would say, honestly—to make Alcohol Anonymous-prompted amends for how she hurt him by sleeping with Emmett. Their history gives Toby a nice, solid person to bounce his fears about his relationship off of, and Simone helps him recapture some of the “old Toby” by getting him a gig at her uncle’s bar. Although Toby’s arc has been all over the place this season, what’s nice about it is that it almost has the same searching, lost quality someone in his situation in real life would have as they fumble their way towards maturity. Toby obviously loves Nikki and never wavers in wanting to marry her, but there are inherent issues there they both need to deal with before they take the plunge.
The only thing that ruins it here is more dreaded plot: The man who murdered Nikki’s father has been caught and it has left her understandably upset. Those two kids probably had enough to deal with without this wrinkle, but I must admit it might very well be interesting to see their relationship put to a real, tangible test.
- Carrie Wikis Some Art: Prudence, Avarice, Lust, Justice, Anger, Jack Beal, 1977, oil on canvas.
- Daphne. Never wear that horrible bathing suit again.
- The one bit I did like from Daphne’s story tonight was her mention of Chef Jeff and how the mistakes she made in that relationship make her more sympathetic to the mistakes Parker made with Coto. Growth!
- The return of Emmett and Travis’ summer shenanigans! I missed their dynamic greatly. More like this, please.
- Melody: “I can’t believe I’m putting myself online like a used couch.”