Oh ABC’s The Family: If Birds of Feather Flock Together….

The Family, "Fun Ways to Tell Your Boyfriend You're Pregnant"

You know, ABC’s The Family the only show I can think of that gives viewers a breakdown of what’s going to happen before it airs.  I think this is to avoid people stroking out or having heart attacks while watching! The other reason is that knowing what happens can’t really prepare you for seeing things when they happen…and even with the detailed story synopsis that you get…you still get shocked and surprised!

Take for example what the press release was for The Family, “Fun Ways to Tell Your Boyfriend You’re Pregnant”

Story Synopsis:

In an ironic twist, Hank believes he has key evidence to help Nina solve Adam’s case, and, more importantly, make himself a hero. Willa’s suspicions about Ben intensify when she makes a shocking discovery about what really happened to Adam. Meanwhile, Jane turns to an unlikely source for help when she goes into labor and Doug is nowhere to be found. Bridey betrays Willa in an effort to grab the “front page” for her story, and Nina gets a shocking visit.

While viewing, The Family, “Fun Ways to Tell Your Boyfriend You’re Pregnant” what kept coming up for me was that saying, “Birds of a feather flock together.”   That’s because in the episode there are so many pairings of people that are either similar in how they think and act – or connected by a similar circumstance.

 Hit the Highlights


[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFAK6lfaqw4&w=560&h=315]


Andrew McCarthy as the pedophile Hank Asher has been amazing to watch. Here is a guy that had been wrongly accused, had been through hell, and, despite his sick predilections, does all that he can to not act on them – to point of taking a punishing drug regime!  You feel badly for Hank, because, yes, this man deserves a puppy…and yet..it’s near impossible to like him! Maybe it’s because he does stupid things like beat himself with a baseball bat and then tries to blame John Warren (Rupert Graves)?  Hank often seems petty & self-righteous – but he’s also in a lot of pain over who he is and what’s happened to him.

The other thing about Hank is that his insights are usually right.  Take his comment about Detective Nina Meyer (Margot Bingham) jumping to conclusions.   Nina’s right maybe, what, 40 percent of the time? A 400 batting average is great in baseball – but not for a police detective who acts on those hunches without doing due diligence first.  This is also not good for a detective’s reputation.

Hank and Nina are an interesting pairing.  Hank wants to be a hero and be somehow vindicated. However, solving this case means a lot to Nina as well.  Both of them have a personal stake in it. Somehow though, it’s easier to see Nina’s motivations as being good ones while Hank’s are more difficult to accept.

Bridey & Willa

Reporter Bridey Cruz (Floriana Lima) is spying on her newest conquest Willa Warren (Allison Pill) and catches Willa pretending to be at the office when she’s really out in another part of town to meet with the head of  the Biotech company that did the DNA test.  This ties back to an earlier conversation between Willa and her mom, Claire Warren (Joan Allen). Claire, who’s still kind of mad at Willa, tells her daughter to find out how much of Claire’s soul did Willa sell!

Watching Bridey spying on Willa as she’s lying the thought that these two deserve each other pops up. I have some sympathy for Willa though – just because her background is so screwed up.  I haven’t been told anything about Bridey other than she’s ambitious and bi-sexual and has no real scruples.  There’s nothing wrong with the first two – it’s that last item that’s the problem.

Hank’s Clue and the Jane Doug Problem

In a nice twist, Hank’s clue leads to Doug and Jane’s place – but they aren’t there. They’ve moved into a another home out in the middle of nowhere.  Back at the first house, Nina appears crazed to her fellow officers.  Nina says she “knows” Clements was there, and that he would never just wander off and get drunk because he was a health nut.

That’s when Agent Lisa Davis (Ana Maria Jomolca) – who’s been skeptical all along – tells Nina that Clements had done exactly that a year ago. (This is probably why he’s now a health nut.)

Jane continues to tell Clements how sorry she is.  He’s trying to convince her to unlock him and take him to a hospital.  She refuses, but once back upstairs she’s thinking about it.  She picks up the key, but then Doug comes home and she lays it on the counter.  Doug sees it, and starts this overly sweet talk about them sticking together.

You should keep this moment in mind because he tells Jane that because he couldn’t see how the story would end he was going to kill the boy.  What changed his mind was her giving him the news about the baby.  (Hence the, “Fun Ways to Tell Your Boyfriend You’re Pregnant” title.)

Doug tells Jane that they should go to the police and tell them that he killed Clements, but, of course, they’ll have to kill Clements first.  He doesn’t want the baby born in jail.  He’s says he’ll do whatever she wants.  Jane seems to have bought it – and Doug seems relieved.  Then, right before she leaves the room she tells him that what she’d like is for him to burn in hell – and that burning in hell is his ending.

Jane! I appreciate the sentiment, but that was so not the right time to express it!  As for why the baby showed Doug a new ending…I have some dark thoughts about that – and they all involve Ben and whatever they talked about when Doug saw him last week.  Whatever it was, it’s made Ben fine with meeting Doug in the park and giving him the lowdown on what the police know about Doug!

Seeing these two sitting together is weird.  They look like they could be related….but are they birds of a feather?  I’m wondering if there will be more significance to Ben being left-handed and self-described as less smart than Adam – but only because of what I’ve read about pedophilia.  If they are, things could get even more twisted then they are now!

The Warren’s Have a Ben Problem

At the same time, this episode has Ben and Claire getting closer.  However, Willa is now completely suspicious of him.  Finally, she point-blank asks Ben if he hurt Adam – and he admits it! Why?  Because all Adam talked about was his family.

Ben:     He had everything
Willa:  But you said you loved him.
Ben:     I did.  But I hated him, too.
Willa now has to deal with the fact that she’s brought her brother’s killer into their home, and that her mother is getting so comfortable with the charade that she gave Ben her grandfather’s watch!  At one point she tries to tell Claire, but can’t.  Ben now has everything that was her brother’s and she feels horrible.
At the same time, there’s something about the fact that Willia senses the horrible lie Ben’s been telling that reveals as much about the darkness of her own thought processes as it does about Ben.  Does anyone wanna bet Willa’s going to either kill or attempt to kill Ben?  That would solve a couple of problems.   This, by the way isn’t that far off from how Claire thinks either.  Just consider what Claire had done to Hank in prison!

The other person we know that is suspicious of Ben is Nina.  She and Claire have a private confrontation about it.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOXCQfE1fdI]


Once again, we’re hit with how many times Nina has been wrong. It’s too bad these women can’t just get along. They both want the same thing – to get Doug. The sharing of information could be useful. Unfortunately, that’s in never-gonna-happen land. At least it won’t happen willingly.

Willa and Danny: Then and Now

The episode actually opened with a flashback without a voice-over, and it works well. It’s ten years ago at the dedication of a tree for Adam in the park. It’s the first of several flashbacks of the remaining Warren siblings at that time. It’s nice because it’s seeing how young Willa (Madeleine Arthur) and young Doug (Rarmian Newton) dealt with life after Adam died – and how their parents grief, on top of the grief of losing Adam, impacted them.

With Claire Warren (Joan Allen) we see that she didn’t just bounce back from what happened to Adam. The scene that’s the most telling and painful is when Claire kicks out Danny’s friend’s from the football team after a big win. It’s months after Adam’s death and Danny angrily points out that his dad is passed out drunk upstairs and that neither of his parents have come to even one of his football games. He’s resentful that they can show up for a tree-planting ceremony for Adam, but not for him. Claire’s sharp retort is that she and John lost a child. Danny’s sad and quiet reply is a heartbreaker.

Young Danny: You have two left.

Claire is stunned, but can’t deal with it. She just turns and goes upstairs. Danny turns and walks out of the house. That’s when Willa is revealed to be sitting in the high-back livingroom chair. No one knew she was there – and she’s heard the entire thing – including her mother’s non-answer. She looks shell-shocked.

The next flashback shows Danny coming back with his team after winning the state champions. Everyone getting off the bus is being bear hugged by parents and siblings with signs. Danny woefully scans for his parents, but they aren’t there. He’s getting totally dejected and trying not to show it. That’s when he sees his little sister with a huge poster board that says “Danny Warren is #1” huge glittery letters and a drawing of a football. Danny is thrilled to see his sister, even though, as the older brother, he acts super cool about it. They both know it’s a big deal.

That night on the porch we see Danny drinking and looking dejected. Willa wisely discerns he’s not drinking gatorade. Danny, in another big brother moment, decides his little sister is not old enough to taste what he’s having. We see the beginnings of the personalities we met as adults. Danny is sullen as he talks about their parents. Willa is pragmatic…and compartmentalized. Kudos to these younger actors on this, because you totally get the pain and vulnerability beneath the teenage veneers.

Willa: You’ve got to give them a break.
Danny: They’re freaks.
Willa: Their kid died.
Danny: Aww, really? …Our lives are screwed.
Willa: (shakes her head) We’ll be fine…. I Googled it. When you’re younger you bounce back.

The Family, "Fun Ways to Tell Your Boyfriend You're Pregnant"

Young Willa: “Kids are Plastic.”

The backstory on Willa and Danny is good to know since when we met them in season one they acted like they despised each other. It shows how they’ve both been affected by the poison of Adam’s disappearance. Clearly, children are not plastic.

At the same time, we’re left with the same odd situation as Claire and John’s marriage. Even though this is not the real Adam who is back – it’s been healing the relationship between Danny and Willa. In fact, Danny’s realization that Bridey has been sleeping with his sister has him confront Bridey – to warn her that she’d better not just be using his sister – because “she’s special.” He gets that for Willa this was a big deal – not like the casual hookups people like Bridey and himself are used to! Bridey is amused by Danny’s concern and promises that it will stop.

Danny should have realized that was way too easy. This is Bridey we’re talking about!

The Family, "Fun Ways to Tell Your Boyfriend You're Pregnant"

So much for that promise!

One of the last scenes is Bridey copying the hard drive of Willa’s computer while Willa’s asleep in Bridey’s bed!

After Willa learns the truth about Ben, Danny finds her in the kitchen looking for “vodka.” Danny asks if she wants to tell him what’s wrong. (He’s thinking Bridey problems). Willa says yes, but after taking a gulp of vodka, Danny knowingly asks Willa if she’s going to tell him. She says no. It’s a great moment, because here they are bonding – and yet neither knows what the other is actually thinking about. It doesn’t really matter, though, because that being there for each other is obviously back.

Clements and Jane

This was the big story of the episode. As mentioned earlier, Clements has been trying to get Jane to release him. He’s trying to convince her that she’s not a monster – after all, she’d been a girl scout. There’s a lot of conversation but really everything you need to know about Jane is in these two lines.

Clements: Did you earn any badges?
Jane: I couldn’t sell the cookies.

What a simple and brilliant character stroke! Think about all the things one has to do to sell cookies. As a girl, Jane never got to advance in something she clearly enjoyed because of not being able to approach people and ask a question! It’s how Jane has always lived: timid, afraid to ask questions, and to have direct confrontations. It’s shows why she’s stayed with Doug  – even with her suspicions. Jane hit Clements out of her fear of having to face Doug and all that he’s done.  It was the pure terror of having to confront the truth that drove her actions.

This is why Jane telling Doug that she’d like him to burn in hell was such a big moment for her. Only, the timing is lousy! As we’ll see, as sorry as Jane is about what’s happened, she’s still too afraid!

Doug has been gone all day when Jane makes her way down to the cellar where Clements is chained to tell him that her water has broken! She’s afraid to go to a hospital because they’ll want her name and address! Instead, she wants the man she nearly killed – who she and her boyfriend are now holding captive – to help her deliver the baby! Get this, though. She still won’t get the keys to unchain him!

Clements ends up coaching Jane through the birth – while chained up – as she’s giving birth.  When the baby is born, Clements gets a look of horror on his face. Jane freaks out thinking the child is deformed. The baby is fine…but Clements looks Jane in the eyes so that she gets what the horror is.

Clements: It’s a boy.

Clements has no doubt about what Doug will do to that child! I think he’s right…sort of.

After all of this, Clements again tries to get Jane to set him free. Her answer is devastating – but at least it’s not that she doesn’t want to unlock him.  It explains her look of utter defeat when he told her to get the key before she had the baby: Doug took the key when he left.  At the news, Clements asks Jane for a drink. I don’t blame him!

Meanwhile,  at the precinct, a report comes back on some of what was found in the empty bunker.  It’s bee pollen!  Nina tells Agent Davis that it proves Agent Clements was there.  Davis’s face says it all – Nina needs to give it up.  Furiously Nina strides away.

However, she, and the audience get a huge shock when Doug walks into Nina’s precinct and identifies himself as the man in the wanted poster!  Now, we know that Doug has been to see Ben and gotten all the information the police have on him. What the heck is he up to? Will he try to set up Jane as the fall guy for Clements?  Tune in for the next episode of ABC’s The Family to find out!

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