Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

All bets are now off on The Family

Illustration for article titled All bets are now off on The Family

Last week I complained that The Family was just treading water, which was the opposite of this week: This week everything went absolutely insane. In a good way: The show needed this shot of adrenaline.

For example, I can’t get over the scene where Hank pummels himself with a baseball bat. Andrew McCarthy tweeted “Batter up,” and “That hurt. Especially take two.” Honestly, one of the weirdest things I’ve ever scene on network television, and at the end of last week’s episode, my last thought would have been that Hank’s injuries were self-inflicted.

But that reveal is part of the reason why I feel that The Family, instead of telling a somewhat straightforward story, is more concerned with leading us around by dangling enticing morsels at us—Adam’s paternity test! Pock-marked guy’s postcards! Then it either steers us in an entirely opposite direction, and/or pulls back and yells, “Psych!” The fax machine scene in the police station, right after Pockmarked Guy’s “Wanted” flyer goes up, is a classic example. I was hoping against hope that the cop wouldn’t just walk up to the pair and say, “Here you go, sir. Sorry for the inconvenience.” But that’s exactly what happened. And just like with the scene last week where Nina tries to track down Pockmarked Guy, only to shoot someone else, it gets dragged out forever, until the show might as well wink and say, “Gotcha!” Only five episodes in and and The Family has already overplayed its “boy who cried wolf” mentality. Even though we desperately want that guy to get caught (although already dreading the anguished reaction from his nice pregnant wife), I will be completely surprised if it happens before episode 10, at least.

In the meantime, again we have an episode that doesn’t move us much further on the original case (give or take a big reveal at the end), but at least can distract us with some shiny, engaging hijinks, like Hank eating a whole cake that says “I Win” on it. Like Danny’s crazy convertible ride with Adam being enough to knock him off the wagon. Like Bridey meeting Willa at a bar, to make out with her and send her on her way, having hooked her way into another Warren family member.

Bridey does this by showing some savvy social media skills, and the #PapaBear bats reveal was awesome, but again, highly improbable. How would anybody not notice all those people dropping off bats? And what would happen to them all afterward? It’s definitely theatrical, but highly impractical, which is a decent description of this show overall.

We get some more sympathy for white-knuckled Willa by seeing some of the things she had to witness after Adam’s disappearance, like her dad pissing himself on a darkened baseball field. (Can’t imagine that he smelled too good after that, Nina, did you really want to make out with him? Also, do these two always have to have sex in front of Adam’s pictures?) Willa deleting an email from Nina that says, “That was a mistake; it shouldn’t happen again” seems counterproductive, if her goal is to actually stop her father from sleeping with the cop.


Still, enough is going on this episode to make the big teaser reveal, which shows up in the episode’s final nanoseconds, almost an afterthought. Bridey even delivers the news to her boss with a shrug: “It’s not him.” The initial reaction is: Well, of course it’s not him. If Adam was really Adam, that would slice the show’s dramatic suspense quotient down significantly. It also explains the video-watching and birthday-date-writing and all the things that Adam doesn’t remember about his own childhood. Also his eye color. Adam being Adam is a pretty standard plot procedure, leading us only to the capture of Pockmarked Guy as the show’s additional mystery. Adam not being Adam opens up a whole range of possibilities. What happened to the original Adam? Why does everyone in the family appear suspicious about it? The best would be if this mystery got cleared up, and the season ended with the actual, real Adam coming back, leading to a whole new range of options. Apparently, this show’s ratings may make it unlikely that there will be a season two. Which makes it fortunate, at least this week, that it’s going all-out with the episodes it does have.

Stray observations

  • Nina smashing Hank’s mom plaque: So mean! Again, I love how Andrew McCarthy is able to make Hank such a sympathetic character. He also tweeted that his son played the young version of Hank at the start of the episode.
  • As I mentioned, I review other shows on Sunday nights, and my ABC screeners have run out, so if you’re interested in further The Family reviews, just know that they won’t post until the following morning. Because I am only one man, and have a hard enough time getting Storybrooke writeups up before midnight.
  • Speculation corner No. 1: Is Claire taking so many showers because she’s guilty of something? Maybe she accidentally killed the original Adam, and brought this one back to help her campaign, which seems to be working. In the end, she is caught (along with her accomplice Willa), and John and Nina get to be together forever.
  • Speculation corner No. 2: Adam’s DNA was just tested against Danny’s. So maybe Danny is adopted or something, and Adam is still really Adam. Honestly, after Andrew McCarthy hit himself in the head with a baseball bat, I wouldn’t put anything past this show.