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Divorce wraps up its first season on a decidedly sour note

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The collateral fallout damage in divorce, which this show has touched on, but not really elaborated before this episode, is how much it affects the kids. Frances and Robert may be going through hell, but they’re not even the ones getting the worst end of the deal. Their kids Tom and Lila now have a life that’s been shaken up, where they’re not even sure which house they have to go to after school, ultimately resulting in Lila’s accident this episode.


The accident at least has the result of bringing the family closer together at the hospital, as Frances and Robert agree that their own family troubles have landed Lila in the hospital and Tom with massive amounts of guilt. For one of the first times in the series, the four, momentarily, are functioning as just a regular family, as Tom and his sympathy bandages lovingly school Lila on all the intricacies of Yes band history. It’s a nice scene for Frances to watch from the doorway (echoing her watching the family dance in the previous episode), showing what could be possible if the two of them could just work it out.

It leads to the warmest scene between the two we’ve ever seen, at Frances’ gallery opening. Robert has just had his ultimate dream shattered by Frances’ lawyer’s freezing his assets. When even Tony Silvercreek tells you that it’s probably not your wife’s fault and you shouldn’t go after her right now, you gotta believe you’re in the wrong. But Robert is won over by Frances’ accomplishment, even though the rise of her dream means the death of his. His apology and belated appreciation of all Frances did for the family, followed by a kiss, is then perhaps inevitable. Again, it points back to the tricky part of divorce: You really, really loved this other person once. Sometimes, things happen to remind you just how much. The late-night phone call just seems to elongate those feelings, to where I really wondered (as I had kind of speculated last week) if we were going to reach some sort of truce between the couple before the end of the season (granted, taking the my lead from the episode title).

And then, a distraught and destroyed Robert makes the phone call that changes everything. This goes back to a question I have been pondering not only on this show, but this whole TV season: What if your hopes for a show and the goals of the people who write it aren’t on the same page? For example, I was glad to see Alison and Cole hook up this week on The Affair, whereas other people thought it was crazy. Maybe liking both performers here as much as I do, I was looking forward to a Divorce wherein Robert and Frances began to contemplate that maybe they were making a mistake, despite the series title. When we first meet the couple, they are already so far apart, I thought it would be interesting for Divorce to bring the two together again, and after the gallery scene, I definitely thought I was on the right track.

So, still, it rattles me: Why would Robert make that phone call? Perhaps in his drunken stupor, he wanted Frances’ dream to die like his had. Or, if he’s actually in this divorce war, it was an unmistakable call to arms. Still, one that no doubt upset the children that we’ve never seen Robert be anything but loving to, who’ve already had a hard week and just thought they were going skiing. It’s such a cruel, cold, calculating measure, going against most everything we’ve come to know about this character, that I just can’t wrap my head around it.


Now that we know the show has been renewed for a second season, this final move definitely sets us up well for that, but it ends the season on such a dire note. Which, I guess, has been the show’s m.o. all along: to show both sides of the divorce coin, the complicated feelings, the moments of affection (the Yes scene) coupled with an act so egregious, it’s hard to imagine it was committed by two people who ever claimed to care about each other. I suppose it’s just my residual affection for the character of Robert, which is a testament to the show itself. But honestly, I would have preferred if the season had ended right after that gallery scene instead.

Finale grade: B-

Season grade: B-

Stray observations

  • Wish list for next season: More Molly Shannon and Talia Balsam, please. Diane’s scene with the kid in the grocery store, resulting in the opposite effect we thought it would have, was hilarious, And I still want to see more of Dallas and Silvercreek.
  • I love the show’s strained efforts to make excuses for Jemaine Clement appearances (“It isn’t easy to tell someone you’ve Googled them”). And maybe the juxtaposition of seeing Julian right before Robert made Frances appreciate her husband more, however briefly.
  • Frances revealing all to her father suggests that that’s never a good idea (“I wish you hadn’t told me”), while also pretty much confirming that her mother had an affair herself.
  • Thanks for your patience while I had to hunt down some working wifi to get this review up this a.m. It was interesting to read your reactions, as always, as it looks like some of you appreciated the show’s dark ending a lot more than I did.
  • And that’s a wrap for Divorce season one: Thanks for reading!

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