This episode fell a little flat for me.
While I’m glad that it wasn’t overly melodramatic, despite the subject matter, and the writing was mostly solid, I felt that this episode like last week’s, was a filler to build up major story arcs and later episodes.
I felt that the ashes subplot was a little cliche–losing the ashes, the battle between family members over the ashes, and even a child hiding the ashes because they don’t want their family members to leave–it has all been seen and done before.
Meanwhile, Justin’s brother, Rafiq, is introduced. While I was aware of the existence of Justin’s brother due to the TV Week preview issue, the whole character and story arc feels out of place to me. Mark asked the question that I’m sure a lot of loyal viewers would have had on their minds, “when did Justin get a brother?”
I was surprised that the writers chose a younger brother for Justin, I had the impression that Rafiq would be an older brother. That being said I feel that Rafiq and Justin complement each other very well and shows how far Justin has come as a character–Justin was Rafiq ten years ago. I feel that the blackmail aspect of this subplot was a cliche and the outcome was predictable, however I appreciated how the ending overlapped into Mark’s subplot.
My favourite subplot of the episode by far was the interactions between Nick and Atticus. The new boyfriend of a mother trying to gain the attention and approval of his girlfriend’s child by being the “fun step-parent” is something I’m sure a lot of people can relate to. However I was surprised that as a teacher, Nick didn’t see the inevitable outcome of Atticus using this to his advantage. That being said I did like this subplot’s ending, I felt Nick’s “punishment” was hilarious and fitting, not to mention that Rachel’s understated reaction is another small but perfect development to her character.
I liked the writers choice to have the conversation between Liz and Mark calm after the dramatic reveal of Bernie not being his biological father. Considering how melodramatic the last two seasons of House Husbands have been, I felt that this lead into the next part of this subplot was well done and a step in the right direction.
Despite the episode falling flat for me, I’m looking forward to seeing where Mark’s and Justin’s subplots go in the next episode.