This episode to me was surprising and not in a good way.
I’ve stated in my previous reviews that the episodes in this season so far have been overly plot filled. I felt a small glimmer of hope last week only for it to be taken away from me in this episode. Not only was this episode overly plot filled, but it was clunky, chaotic and all over the place.
We’ve spent the previous three episodes exploring Maggie and Shirley, the closing and reopening of Stanton House and Jim and Joan’s relationship. This hasn’t been a bad thing, however this episode, which I’m guessing is the halfway point of the season, established completely different and out-of-left-field plots, in comparison to the rest of the season.
Let’s start with the Annie subplot. I didn’t expect her mother to reappear, let alone her father dying. I will admit, I always wondered what her family thought of her taking off without a word in episode 2 of season 1, as a viewer, it’s nice to get some closure. It was one of the rare times I actually felt for Annie: being torn between going to Vietnam and being there for her family, Chris blindsiding her and her mother giving her grief. I found the scenes between her and her father incredibly moving and I was moved to tears by the end of her subplot, even if the ending was inevitable. I personally didn’t buy Annie not trusting Chris, I’m hoping they stay together, not just because they’re a good couple but their constant dramas are getting old.
I don’t understand the logic and intentions behind the McNaughton and Eva subplot. In the first season, it was all about the sexual tension between McNaughton and Joan, the second season was about the fallout of the sexual tension and the third season….I seriously have no idea. Jim and Joan clearly see that McNaughton still loves Joan and he admitted it in the previous season, yet apparently now that he is “free” of his wife, he misses her. I’m hoping the writers’ have a plan, otherwise they’re just not consistent.
Shirley and Maggie seemed to be the characters in the background in this episode. I’m not sure how I feel about this, on one hand if the writers’ focus on them too much it will tire, on the other hand, their plot has been built up and worked on so much, if they fade into the background, it would be a total waste. I enjoyed getting some more insight into what Shirley was like when she was pregnant with Maggie, as well as Shirley’s increasing presence as Maggie’s mother. I also enjoyed the running gag of Matron and Sunshine, it was a nice touch and similar to the Dolly Doctor gag two episodes ago. I’m enjoying the writers’ choice to have subtle running gags throughout their episodes, I hope they keep them up.
The next two episodes are clearly going to be about Annie and Viv in Vietnam (by the way, I also appreciated another season 1 reference to Viv’s brother, Bernie) and the Patty-Jim-Joan love triangle. I was surprised by Leon’s offer for Annie considering his unhappiness when he discovered her pregnancy, then again it breaks away from the cliche. However I couldn’t help but wonder whether his support was merely a pawn to kick off the Vietnam plot rather than character development. Meanwhile, the Patty-Jim-Joan love triangle plot has quietly advanced with Patty kissing Jim and Jim clearly not put off by it, however I still believe that Patty and Jim aren’t a good fit, nevertheless I’m interested in seeing where both plots go.
Overall, I feel that this episode has been the worst of this season so far. Not that I’m hoping for or think there will be worst episodes, I’m a fan of the show, and my feelings have nothing to do with the actors or the characters, I feel this is on the writers. This episode was swung in a completely different direction than the previous two out of the blue, it’s as if the writers’ don’t seem to know who the show and their characters are anymore.
I’m hoping over the next two weeks I’ll eat my words.