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

Switched At Birth: “Le Soeurs d’Estrees”

Illustration for article titled Switched At Birth: “Le Soeurs d’Estrees”

The further and further we get into this first season, the more I’ve come to recognize that there are two Switched At Births at war right now, struggling to become on cohesive whole. The first, a thoughtful exploration of family dynamics and deaf culture, is almost always successful. The second, a plot-focused attempt at expanding the show’s universe, is on much shakier ground. These two aspects are currently fighting against each other, creating an hour with far too much internal inconsistency.

My feelings on the very plot-driven lawsuit storyline, and to a lesser extent Kathryn’s foray into writing, aren’t much of a secret at this point: I'm not a fan. But what is worrying is that these storylines aren’t really getting any better. The show is very committed to the idea of a lawsuit so obviously it is going to be part of these characters’ lives, but seeing it onscreen so far has been nothing less than a complete bore. Tonight was perhaps my least favorite take on it to date, with the main story being the Kennishes selecting a new lawyer to represent them in their case. The story is in some ways a continuation of the exploration of the power dynamics between John and Kathryn, with him railroading her on big decisions (or forgetting to realize she might have differing opinions) and her ultimately standing up for herself and making the correct choice. Her character is definitely benefitting from this attention; my only wish would be that the road to get her there was paved with less banal stones.

Also plot-driven and also not thrilling was what I hope is the conclusion of Wilke’s Great Capybara Caper of 2012, which will also be known as the Capybara Fake-Out of 2012, because we didn’t even get to see the capybara! Listen, if you say the insane word capybara approximately 117 times and then imply there is an actual capybara in a character’s possession, you need to show us the damn capybara. All kidding aside, though, the storyline itself was a total snoozer. I love the further integration of Wilke into the cast as he is a pleasing presence, and I like the attempt to give Toby more of a presence outside of Daphne’s confidante, but absolutely nothing about this was very interesting. They might be leading to something a bit more substantial for Toby by introducing the romance with Simone, but for now it’s hard to latch onto a romance featuring a potentially sinister character we barely know. I’m definitely curious to see what comes next here, though, and to see if her story with Daphne intersects with her new relationship with Toby in any significant way.

More solid was Daphne and Bay’s quest to help Emmett raise enough money for his billboard fine so he doesn’t have to sell his motorcycle. The mechanics of the story were fairly mundane, but seeing Daphne and Bay team up for a common cause, while still maintaining the edge to their relationship, was truly a pleasure to watch. It also lead to one of the most uncomfortable sequences of the series so far when Daphne lied to the Kennishes about losing her hearing aids in order to get them to give her money and then later had to confess her crime. Although it was absolutely horrible thing for Daphne to prey on the Kennishes guilt over her hearing loss, it felt so true to what a desperate teenager might actually do. Her apology scene with Kathryn was especially brutal and brought out a side of their relationship we really haven't seen before. The best aspect of this development, however, is how it brought Kathryn and Regina together in a moment of true commiseration. Their dynamic is one I think is endlessly fascinating, and I hope this opens up the door for the show to explore it even more.

The final storyline of the night, and the one that is probably the least defined so far, is the rekindling of Angelo and Regina’s relationship. Their newfound business partnership is put in doubt when John tells Angelo how Regina knew the girls were switched since they were three years old, and a confused Angelo understandably lashes out at Regina. Their confrontation, however, leads to more understanding in their relationship than they’ve had in quite a while, which then leads to a very tentative kiss. This turn of events was inevitable as soon as Angelo came into the picture, and it does complicate the dynamics of almost every character relationship in interesting ways. My only concern is just how ill-developed of a character Angelo has been so far. His purpose is to be this sort of potentially nefarious presence hanging around the edges, but once you put him into a relationship with one of our main characters we need some sort of perspective on who he is as a human. Is he sincere in anything he’s doing? Is he just out to get money from all of this somehow? Even if we don’t know everything about him – except apparently he lived with a sugar momma in Chicago for a few years, which sounds like a pretty sweet gig – it would be nice to just get a bit of a deeper understanding of where he is coming from. Especially if he is going to become a big part of Regina’s life.

Stray observations:

  • Carrie Wikis Some Art: Les Soeurs d’Estrees (or Gabrielle d'Estrées et une de ses soeurs), Unknown, 1594. Uh…yeah. Huh. I’ll let y’all search that out for yourselves.
  • I loved the entirely ASL opening teaser.
  • Emmett’s motorcycle being named Ripley is pretty fantastic.
  • Even if an episode isn’t my favorite, this show always manages to make me tear up at least once. This week it was when Daphne told Emmett and Bay to go riding together.
  • “When you saw that billboard. Top 5 moment. Totally worth it.”