Mom Season 3 Episode 7 Review: “Kreplach and a Tiny Tush”


Never a show to rest on its heels, Mom‘s relentless pursuit to challenge its lead characters makes it an incredibly busy, fast-paced show, one with huge emotional swings and a sense of narrative momentum most shows can’t even approach (or even try to; Mom is like the network sitcom equivalent of Banshee in that regard). At times, this can overwhelm the show’s many running stories – but most of the time, Mom creates chaos in order to make the few quiet moments that much stronger, utilizing short scenes and rapid jokes to ease into dark stories of addiction, depression, and redemption; the best episodes of Mom understand when to pull back on the throttle for a moment, offering the slightest bits of clarity and resolution as powerful climatic moments.

“Kreplach and a Tiny Tush” is certainly one of Mom‘s busier episodes: the whole concept of the episode is built around observing the chaotic life Christy has to manage. Not a new theme, but “Kreplach” leans into the chaotic end of it heavily, not necessarily generating any tangible stories with Jill and Jodi (though these may come into play in future episodes; Mom is also not a show to forget), just trying to create an “eye of the storm” situation in order to return to one of its deepest conflicts in the third act: Christy and Violet’s strained relationship. Despite the growth we’ve seen in their relationship since the pilot, Violet’s deep-seeded resentment towards her mother was never something Mom wanted to resolve; as we see with Bonnie and Christy, there are real, lasting consequences to their parental failures, forever scarring the relationships with their children. Christy may have broken the cycle with Violet (well, kind of – at least Violet doesn’t suffer from any addictions), but breaking the cycle is not something that can heal the damage done; and as Christy’s planned family dinner slowly becomes overwhelmed by her AA life, Violet once again feels left out in the cold because of her mother’s addictions.

Unfortunately, the priorities of this episode almost work against each other: to really create the chaotic feel “Kreplach” needs to have to maintain its balance (so it doesn’t feel like Christy’s just willfully ignoring her daughter), there’s a lot of pot-stirring Mom has to do in 21 minutes. And it’s not just Christy’s story, either; there’s a B plot with Bonnie and Steve breaking up because of Bonnie’s commitment issues, a story that ultimately gets relegated to the episode’s closing tag, ineffectively resolving their unceremonious breakup with some enjoyable, if extremely predictable, Yiddish punchlines. And that’s just trampled by Christy’s story, which really only stops to breathe when she has lunch with Marjorie, who reminds her she needs to set boundaries with the people in her life she’s trying to help.

When it all comes crashing down at an eventful family dinner with Josh’s mom (played wonderfully by Linda Lavin, leaning into the typical Jewish mother portrayal with grace), “Kreplach” construction of chaos falls neatly into place: this episode isn’t about Bonnie’s relationship or Christy’s sponsors, but her daughter feeling left out by a woman being pulled in so many different directions. And interestingly, it’s where the episode ends: which could just be typical Mom, focusing on conflict rather than resolution (because which one do we have more of in life?), or it could be a signifier that Christy’s life is beginning to overwhelm her, and may be pushing her into troubled waters. She certainly doesn’t give Jill, Jodi, or Violet the attention they needed during the episode – what happens when she starts becoming so strung out by her life, that she’s unable to give herself the attention she needs?

The potential conflicts the end of “Kreplach” set up are a lot more interesting than what’s initially presented in the first act: though relegated to the background, Bonnie finds herself challenged by her own emotional vulnerability again, losing out on a solid guy in the process, just because she’s afraid of what might be out there while she’s on a “dorky walk in the park”. Just as Christy’s arc in in the episode ends with her disappointed and unsatisfied with her own behavior as a mother, Bonnie finds herself in the same place as a friend and lover – and in classic Mom fashion, the episode ends before either character is able to bring some light back to the story. Life is never neat, and Mom understands that in ways few shows do, network or otherwise: while it sometimes makes for overwhelmingly busy television, Mom‘s track record for finding poignancy underneath all the nonsense is what makes me confident “Kreplach and a Tiny Tush” is not just 21 minutes of random craziness. There are themes building here, and I’m interested to see where Mom takes them, given how “Kreplach” ultimately plays out.

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