Sisters–Season 1 Finale

The purpose of a season finale is to conclude the season’s story arcs and set up potential new ones for the next season (if there is one). This season finale didn’t really achieve either goal. If it was made clear if Sisters had or has been renewed, I could give this episode a pass, because in all honesty it didn’t feel like a finale at all, it felt like any other episode.

The episode starts off with Kasey inviting Julia to dinner in her own home, Roxy points out what the viewers would be thinking, in that Kasey is only having the dinner to butter Julia up when she reveals she’s not a sister. Isaac reveals that Kasey’s DNA sample was negative and she is subsequently confronted after Julius’ funeral, where she reveals that her efforts in the previous episode to swipe Julia’s DNA were successful. Due to her efforts being shown in the previous episode, in all honesty, I did guess that she managed to swipe Julia’s DNA and that this plot twist would present itself. It’s a good plot twist nonetheless, but it was still predictable, especially with Genevieve’s revelation earlier in the series that Julia’s mother met Julius first as a doctor and then fell in love with him.

One way that the season finale actually succeeded in concluding a story arc and setting up a potential one for next season, came in the form of Roxy’s drug addiction story arc. Just when we thought that she hit rock bottom when she threatened a colleague for his stash, she well and truly hits it when she steals Julius’ drugs while his dead body is still lying on his bed. While it’s not entirely established whether Roxy losing Julius, losing her job, finding out that she has some sort of reproductive problem, and finding out from Diane that she knew all along that Julius was her father, and her subsequent breakdown in front of Isaac, was enough to send her over the edge to the point of overdosing, you could form a strong argument that, that would be the case. I enjoyed the ending of her story arc as it was a nice full circle without being cliche—in the pilot Roxy is forced into rehab by her mother, in the finale she goes there willingly with the support of her sisters.

You could also argue that Edie’s story arc was also close to both being concluded and providing potential for the next season. Edie forces Amanda to resign, which leads to a great one liner and walk out by Amanda, however the troubles between Edie and Tim aren’t completely done and dusted. Tim admits in therapy that he hired a prostitute and the therapist oddly sides with him, which leads to another great one liner from Edie. I felt Tim’s choice to move out was a logical ending to this story arc and I appreciated that it happened without the drama.

While Julius’ death does make sense as its impending nature has been hinted at all season and it is the finale, there’s a part of me that still didn’t see it coming, which I’ll chalk up to good writing. I enjoyed Isaac’s brutally honest eulogy and I found Julius’ last words to Julia that “she’s keeping him hostage” an interesting one liner as it could also apply to Julia. I found Barbara’s confession to Julia that she was in love with Julius didn’t add anything to her character or the episode.

I felt that the final moments of the finale of Julia randomly riding her bike with a smile on her face just after the scene where Roxy went to rehab, was a letdown. There is no context to these moments or any indication of where Julia is going and what she is feeling. One interpretation that can be taken from it is that Julia is now free of Julius and is riding off to her next adventure in life, but that’s probably a bit of stretch. I felt these final moments were random and didn’t add anything or close off the season properly.

Overall the first season of Sisters was mostly good, especially with solid character development, however I also feel that the premise was underdeveloped. This could be partly due to the limitations of having a seven episode season and an uncertain future, however I feel there needs to be improvement in the writing. I felt that the finale was a letdown as there was no complete closure on this season’s story arcs and not much in the way of potential story arcs for next season (if there is one) presenting themselves. A finale should feel like a finale and it should be clear to the viewers. As I stated in the beginning of my review, it could have been any other episode if it wasn’t advertised as a finale. A finale being so underwhelming (writing wise) that it felt like it could have been any other episode, is never a good thing. That being said the acting and one liners were superb.

I hope Sisters is reviewed for another season.

 

Stray Observations:

-Genevieve is a runner just like Edie.

-Roxy remembers Julius through the Snapchat photos she took of him in a previous episode.

-Sam makes a reappearance and seemed to be the only other IVF child outside of the girls, Kasey and Oscar to be present at Julius’ funeral.

-Apparently Carl plays the piano.

Best one liners:

  • “Just remember that the night my father died you slapped me!” (Julia to Edie—the best one liner of the season)
  • “Don’t cream yourself too much Angela, you might slide off the seat.” (Edie to Angela, her therapist)
  • “Do you realise you put everyone in a position of compromise without being willing to compromise yourself?” (Amanda to Edie)
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Speechless–Season 1, Episode 23 (C-A–Camp)

So we’ve reached the season finale, where story arcs and other loose ends are tied up and potential plots are set up for the next season. I felt that in this finale it was only partially achieved, however this is due to the fact that it has been rare that each episode is interlinked as they normally stand alone.

The beginning of the episode with Maya speeding to the school and the police recording her speeding on the radar was a nice throwback to the pilot, however Dylan running behind them with the police also recording her speed was a hilarious addition to the throwback. The scenes of Ray, JJ and Kenneth in the choir was also a nice throwback to earlier in the season.

Coming back to the present, this episode continues the JJ summer camp story arc with the family flying with JJ to drop him off. I felt that Maya’s packing of JJ’s clothes (and apparently Ray’s and Jimmy’s underwear) for the trip was hilarious and true to her character, and that for JJ’s physiotherapist of all people, to make him nervous, was realistic as outsiders would be the ones to put JJ off not the family. I felt that JJ’s reaction to his nerves by lashing out through, as Jimmy points out, a dated insult was realistic as he obvious can’t physically lash out.

Meanwhile, Ray decides to not be himself in an effort to find a girlfriend. Dylan’s suggestions to him to basically changw everything about himself was the typical younger sister reaction, and the scenes at the beginning of the episode of him officially being rejected by every girl in his year were hilarious. I felt that the ending of his subplot–Ray gaining a girlfriend via JJ’s summer camp was realistic, and I’m looking forward to seeing this played out next season.

I felt that the Jimmy and Dylan subplot was sweet but weak. Jimmy’s idea to make the flight rather than the trip fun was genius and I liked them working together as a team by deciding on the Miami layover. When the fun restaurant they wanted to go to at Miami airport was closed, it lead to a sweet reveal by Jimmy on his desire to not only have actual fun, but to have it with Dylan.

Back to the JJ story arc, I liked that Kenneth was all of people, the one to convince Maya to say goodbye to JJ like she wanted, as it showed the progression of their relationship. I felt that Maya’s arrival at the camp in a helicopter was very true to her character.

The ending of the episode was perfect as it showed the whole family letting go of JJ and letting him be independent for the first time. This shows the growth of all of the characters, not to mention provides a story arc and potential for the next season.

Overall this was a very understated but well done finale and I’m looking forward to reviewing season 2 when it eventually becomes available on iTunes as it’s sadly no longer airing in Australia, or at least not for now.

 

Stray Observations:

-JJ signing everyone’s yearbook by Kenneth having a stamp made for him was genius.

-Apparently Kenneth has a “summer” mode and keeps to his word of becoming more tropical as the summer progresses.

-Apparently Joyce (JJ’s physiotherapist) and Kenneth are friends.

 

Speechless–Season 1, Episode 22 (M-A–May-Jay)

So this episode is the penultimate season 1 episode. The penultimate episode is usually a set up for the finale and I believe in this instance it was successful.

JJ tries to assert his independence by proving he is capable of undressing himself, or rather undoing a button. The montage at the beginning of the episode showing a whole day has gone by with JJ unsuccessfully unbuttoning his shirt was humorous, but also not over-the-top. The twist of JJ trying to undo a button to prove his independence, so he can go to summer camp was genius and also showed another aspect to his and Maya’s relationship.

While JJ’s independence or rather whether he would be capable of having any, was touched upon in C-H–Cheater and R-U-N–Runaway, this is the first time that JJ tries to assert it to his mother outright. Both sides of the argument by Maya and JJ were realistically played out without being preachy, with it coming to a head with JJ trying to unbutton his shirt, only to fall out of his wheelchair and needing knee surgery. With this situation, we see character development in Kenneth in that he is slightly traumatised by seeing JJ in a hospital bed hooked up to machines. In all honesty, I felt his reaction was unrealistic, however I can give him a pass as this is the first time Kenneth has seen him in hospital.

I did enjoy the scenes between Maya and Kenneth after JJ admits defeat. These scenes showed growth between them as Maya is aware that she can’t be the person to tell JJ he can’t do something, and concedes that JJ listens more to Kenneth than her when it comes to self-belief. While Kenneth overcomes his trauma to help JJ when he needs it most. JJ eventually undoing the top button of his pyjama shirt provided perfect bookends to the subplot.

Meanwhile Dylan feels threatened when she discovers that Ray is capable of running faster than her. Her attempts to both beat Ray again and become smart like him were hilarious. I did question whether Ray let her win the hospital race, however I’m willing to give it a pass. I felt that the Jimmy subplot of having “juice” was weak but hilarious, especially when he discovers his juice at the hospital and proving so to Dane at the end of the episode.

Overall this was a good penultimate episode with great character development, however the subplots were a little weak.

 

Stray Observations:

-Maya’s nickname for her and JJ as a summer holiday team is “May Jay”, hence the title of the episode.

-Kenneth is not good at making up hypothetical situations to get his point across, but is hilarious in trying all the same.

-If the montage is anything to go by, Kenneth is good at juggling.

 

Sisters–Season 1, Episode 6

So we have reached the penultimate episode of the season, usually a penultimate episode starts to tie up the season’s loose ends but doesn’t completely as that is the finale’s job, rather it focuses on the loose ends that need tying up.

The loose ends are the reveal of whether Kasey is a sister or not, Roxy’s pill taking, whether the class action will happen, the disintegration of Edie and Tim’s marriage, and the possibility of Julius’ death.

The episode kicks off with Kasey trying to swab Julia for the DNA test, which again is another strong hint that Kasey isn’t a sister. While I understand the need to keep a story arc going, in all honesty, the to-ing and fro-ing of if she is a sister and the kind of person she is has gone on long enough, and I’m hoping the writers will confirm this in next week’s finale. That being said I personally enjoyed the foils to Kasey’s plan with Julia rolling over in bed and then almost catching her in the act as her alarm woke her up.

Meanwhile Abraham has been confirmed as another sibling, although whether he is the first IVF child hasn’t been established. Abraham claims his innocence to Julia, Edie and Roxy, who don’t seem to believe him. While his story is briefly touched on, I am wondering whether it will actually be addressed in the season finale.

Roxy’s virginity and Isaac as her love interest is fully addressed in this episode. I appreciated the awkwardness of the first moments of the date, which is something I think a lot of people can relate to. However what I appreciated even more was Isaac’s reaction to the revelation that Roxy is a virgin through her assumption that Julia told him. It was true to their characters and I was amused by their conversation of their similar dating troubles, while I felt the outcome was obvious, I felt it was sweet and well done. Julia and Carl’s scenes and their own sexual encounter contrasted well with Isaac and Roxy’s scenes and blossoming romance, and Edie and Tim’s mediation scenes and disintegrating marriage.

The mediation between Edie, Tim and Amanda were the best scenes of the episode, with a great combination of humour and tension. While I’m glad the cheating and their disintegrating marriage has finally been fully addressed, it’s a bit of a letdown that the fate of the marriage still hasn’t been made clear, however it is highly likely this is being saved for the finale. Unless Tim’s hiring of the prostitute is going to be addressed in the finale, I didn’t see the point of their brief scene, other than Tim getting a little bit of revenge, it really didn’t add to the episode as a whole.

Ron and Diane reappear in this episode, Diane for the first time in a while and it was pulled off brilliantly. Considering how much of an acting powerhouse Szubanski is, frankly I feel her and her character have been underused. Like Edie and Amanda, I wasn’t expecting her to reveal that she had a child when she was fifteen to a Father. It certainly adds to her character and Szubanski’s performance was outstanding, however I do question what purpose this revelation serves.

Overall this was a solid episode albeit with a few flaws and a great springboard for next week’s finale.

 

Stray Observations:

-Em Rusciano and Harley Breen make a cameo appearance.

-Abraham’s reaction to seeing Julia, Edie and Roxy, especially Roxy was oddly sweet.

-Roxy’s pill addiction is getting to the point where she’s threatening her colleague for pills.

Best one liners:

  • “Oh my God, I think I found 1980s babywear!” (Oscar).
  • “He’s marvellously Scandinavian isn’t he?” (Julius on Oscar).
  • “Did you get a DNA test first?” (Oscar to Julia on her sexual encounter with Carl).

The Secret Daughter–Season 2, Episode 5 + Season 2 Finale (20 Good Reasons + Hearts on Fire)

So the Seven Network decided once again to air two episodes of The Secret Daughter at once, and this week we have the penultimate episode and season finale aired together.

These episodes dealt with Gus’ life threatening heart surgery, Marc’s app launch, and Marc and Billie’s developing relationship.

At the start of the double episode, Billie holds off dealing with her career because of her concerns over Gus’ surgery. Overall I felt that the Gus subplot alternated between being full of cliches and turning these cliches on their head. For example, Gus suffering a complication that could have killed him is a cliche but he lived albeit with the uncertainty of whether he suffered brain damage. The biggest example of this is Gus waking up not knowing who Billie is only to reveal he was joking to lighten the mood. Throughout this subplot, I wasn’t sure whether Gus was going to live, I thought it would be an obvious outcome, however it would have been a cliche if he died. Overall I’m glad he wasn’t killed off.

I found the Eclipse subplot to be more interesting. In the penultimate episode we are finally told what Eclipse was—-a business deal involving a Walperinga mine, which lead to Jack buying the hotel via insider trading. The irony of Gus knowing about the mine and having briefly known Jack was a nice touch.

I felt the kids’ choice to ultimately posthumously turn Jack in was an obvious outcome and I enjoyed how it lead to a downfall of sorts for Susan. The question of how much of a gold digger Susan is, if she is one, was raised again and more so in this episode than any other. While Billie points out Susan did love Jack and have a daughter with him, she is also very quick to marry Andrew to take over the hotel and hold on to the Norton riches. Nick’s betrayal after Susan laughs off his marriage proposal was a nice and necessary touch to her downfall. In regards to her downfall, I felt Gordon played it incredibly well, especially as I thought a few times throughout the episode that Susan would commit suicide.

I felt that Susan accidentally setting the fire in the cellar and Billie saving her was predictable but also well done. I thought that the whole hotel would burn down which would get everyone out of hot water but also leave them with nothing. One letdown of this subplot, as well as the episode ending, was the lack of clarity of the consequences of Jack’s actions, but I’ll come back to the ending.

The Marc and Billie subplot provided some great comedic moments, however it wasn’t interesting overall due to the predictability of the outcome. They were going to get together, it was only a matter of time and circumstance, in this case Marc’s app launch and Gus’ surgery. Fields and Sweeny had great comedic chemistry, with Gus seeing right through Marc and providing him with a suggestion to calm his nerves, and calling each other by other names when Gus recovers.

In regards to the finale, season and possible series ending, I didn’t see it coming at all. Chris and Vivienne purchasing the Walperinga pub instead of a house was a nice twist, and conveniently provides a home for the Nortons after the fire. I felt that the ending as a whole was a good full circle, with the series as a whole ending where it started—-Billie singing at the Walperinga pub with her band, however with the slight difference that she now has a family around her and that they have changed each other’s lives for the better. Although Susan tells Gus she’s bored as Billie is singing away, even she has a small smile on her face.

Overall these two episodes were well done and the season as a whole was an improvement on last year’s, especially with Billie’s confirmation as a Norton, however it did feel rushed. Although I felt this way due to the Network’s choice to air the season over three weeks, rather than anything to do with the writing itself.

I’m hoping this isn’t the last season, however if it is, The Secret Daughter has certainly gone out on a high note.

 

Stray Observations:

-Aunty’s brief descriptions of the Nortons and Layla based on what Billie has told her about them sums them up perfectly—–charmer (Jamie), workaholic (Chris), spirited sister (Harriet) and best friend (Layla).

-Gus has given Susan the nickname of “Susie”.

-Matt’s declaration of love to Layla was the funniest one I have ever seen on TV.

 

 

Sisters–Season 1, Episode 5

So Edie’s secret is out or at least to Tim anyway.

While Edie’s secret was bound to come out eventually, I was surprised by the writers’ choice to not only have Edie reveal her secret of her own volition but also to have the majority of the episode revolved around it. While it was never in Julia to spill her secret, I was honestly expecting her secret to come out via the cliche method of a stranger or a work colleague exposing it. By having Edie expose her secret to Tim, the ramifications of it are dealt with on her own terms, which is more interesting by far than having the choice taken out of her hands.

The exposure of Edie’s secret enables for humorous scenes of sisterly bonding with another reveal, a surprising one, that Roxy is still a virgin, as well as providing a distraction from the IVF scandal. As this is episode five and there are two more to go, I think it was a good time in the season to have the distraction and to enable serious character development.

I felt that the soundtrack choices in the moments leading up to Edie telling Tim the truth were excellent, Edie’s collapse and subsequent almost catatonic state was thrilling, and Amanda’s anger at Edie’s naivety justified. Despite the good portrayal by all three actors, I felt Edie’s request to Julia to not sleep with Tim was unreasonable, and that Tim’s reactions and choices were entirely unrealistic altogether until the moment that he broke down in Carl’s office. One writing nitpick I have about this whole A story was the fact that no explanation was given as to why Edie cracked in the first place. The most obvious explanation would be her declaration of her feelings to Amanda, however this isn’t made crystal clear.

On smaller notes, I felt the scene between Isaac and Julia didn’t really add anything to the episode as the ramifications on the Institute that Isaac mentions never actually played out. I also felt that the introduction of Abraham as the possible first IVF child was also a letdown as it was never confirmed whether he was the first child, and he is never mentioned again in the episode once he has been introduced.

An interesting and underrated moment in this episode for me was the moment that Roxy was called out for stealing Julius’ pain medication by Oscar only for Kasey to cover for her. This moment shows that Oscar is more observant than he lets on, possibly due to working in aged care, as well as the fact that, at least for now, Kasey has no intention of taking advantage of Roxy’s problem. This moment is especially important as Edie and Roxy unsuccessfully try to get Julia to deal with Kasey’s unwillingness to take the DNA test.

Overall this was an interesting episode but not a spectacular one, especially as there was a great amount of potential for subplots and story arcs that weren’t explored, it felt like a filler that is paving the way for the final two episodes.

 

Stray Observations:

-I was seriously bothered by the fact that Edie was lying on the floor and no-one bothered to call an ambulance to make sure she was okay.

-I’m also seriously annoyed by the fact that Kasey still hasn’t been confirmed as another sister.

-Julia’s nickname for Edie is “Eeds”.

-Ron makes a reappearance but Diane doesn’t.

-Julia pays another visit to her mother’s grave.

-Genevieve’s Huntington’s Disease diagnosis isn’t touched on in this episode.

-While Carl is clearly a bit of a jerk he is not a complete jerk as he doesn’t take advantage of Roxy, that being said I would have liked to have known why he wasn’t interested in her.

Best one liners:

  • “In jail…you know how we feel about that” (Oscar to Julia on visiting Abraham).
  • “I’m a virgin, I don’t know why” (Roxy).
  • “You two are in for a shitty couple of months” (Genevieve to Tim and Edie).
  • “If it’s any consolation, you two would have had lovely children…with extra hands” (Oscar to Julia on her and Sam).

The Secret Daughter–Season 2, Episode 3 + 4 (Rear View Mirror + Just Another Love Song)

So this episode was a double episode apparently.

This episode took the characters and the focus back to Walperinga as Layla has organised for the old band, Cardiac Arrest, to play at the pub with Billie. While they’re all there, they also run into Gus in the most hilarious way, but I’ll get to that.

I liked the writers’ choice to break the season up with the change of scenery, especially as it enabled Billie to run into Gus and for the truth about his failing health to finally come out. While I was expecting a cancer diagnosis, I was actually pleasantly surprised for the reveal to be a genetic health condition as a cancer diagnosis would be a bit of a cliche. Billie’s efforts and pleas to get him to have surgery were heartbreaking and well played.

Another interesting aspect of the episode was Chris and Billie reading and trying to figure out her contract with the record company. While Chris and Billie have had brief scenes together, this is the first time that we see them having in-depth conversations and interactions. Despite his tough exterior and initial distrust of her last season, Chris clearly loves Billie and cares deeply about her professional well-being by warning her of the contract risks, going with her to Walperinga to help her understand it within the time limit, and trying to re-negotiate it altogether. I enjoyed the scenes in the car between Chris, Matt and Billie, as Chris reveals the contract risks to Billie, showing how much their relationship as siblings has progressed.

His relationship with Billie is not the only character development we see in Chris, in fact this episode was almost entirely devoted to it. As Matt continues to watch the video made by their late mother, he discovers that Chris wanted Jack’s approval and Chris discovers that Matt is still watching the video to his horror, which leads to him starting a physical fight with Matt. The fight scenes between them were both funny and hard to watch in their realism, especially as Chris has never been shown as violent. The most enjoyable moment of these scenes was ultimately Billie pulling them both by the hair to break the fight up.

Despite his limited scenes, Gus stole every single one of them with his both hilarious and heartbreaking antics. I certainly didn’t see the reveal of the fact that his doctor is also Layla’s mum coming,  however I also felt that Gus’ desire to die and subsequently changing his mind when he hears Billie sing was a cliche.

When Chris, Matt, Billie and Layla return, they are blindsided by the arrival of Matt’s ex-girlfriend, Anna. While I know Susan brought her back into the picture purely to get her way, in writing terms Anna’s introduction was forced and rushed to enable the equally rushed inevitable break-up between Matt and Layla. I felt that the hiking scenes were only inserted for the purpose of the break-up.

Anna’s return isn’t the only thing that four of them are blindsided by, while it’s of no surprise to the viewer, the record company’s true colours and intentions are inadvertently revealed to Billie, Chris and Layla, which predictably but rightly results in her tearing up the contract. Due to the obvious outcome of this subplot and Marc’s request earlier in the episode to have her sing at his event, I see a record contract through Marc coming.

Throughout it all Harriet and Susan’s deteriorating relationship is faintly present throughout the episode with Harriet’s choice to throw a party when Susan leaves and the subsequent consequences, and Susan’s dinner and hook-up with the potential hotel buyer, Andrew Weston. I appreciated the writers’ choice to have their relationship in the background of this episode as it didn’t really add to it, however Susan’s actions, especially of Andrew’s cliche proposal, will eventually play out in a later episode, most likely the finale. I also appreciated the writers’ choice not to focus on Marc and Billie’s developing relationship, as I felt it would have taken away from the Walperinga subplot.

Overall this was one of the best episodes of The Secret Daughter that I’ve seen to date due to the change of scenery, change of focus, and character development with Chris, as well as the development of the sibling relationship between him, Matt and Billie.

 

Stray Observations:

-Gus riding a lawn mower and eventually jumping over the fence into random people’s backyards, complete with snatching a snag at a BBQ and being hosed down, has to be the funniest police chase I’ve ever seen.

-I enjoyed watching Chris chugging beer in the pub along with Billie’s subsequent reaction.

-Billie didn’t interact with Harriet and Susan at all, at least not directly and on her own, in this episode.

Best one liners:

  • “I always knew how easy he was on me but I didn’t know how tough he was on you.” (Matt to Chris on Jack as a father).