For an episode I spent most of the hour actively disliking, this one sure ended on a lovely note.
Daphne and Bay’s fractured relationship loomed large over the last five episodes, coloring all of their stories by the simple fact the girls couldn’t do what they do best—make sense of their crazy lives by confiding in each other. Their block with each other was almost like a strange block on all of their stories on the show, holding them back from moving on and making peace after everything that went down in the Carlton protests. When Bay confided here that she missed Toby and Daphne in turn apologized for not sticking up for her at Carlton, it felt like more than a weight lifted off their relationship: It was a weight lifted off the whole show, and it was nicely cathartic.
This was especially important because most of the rest of the hour felt so strangely unpleasant. It was not really the content of the stories but how they played out, forced and bluntly obvious where Switched At Birth is usually so deft and thoughtful. The worst offender of this was probably Toby and Nikki’s battle over how their impeding marriage is forcing them to make compromises in their lives. It’s an interesting, smart story to tell, but the way the show decided to tell it in this episode feels like the opposite of that.
Toby and Nikki’s rash decision to get married could be a ridiculous soapy thing thrown in the mix simply to cause unnecessary drama, but the show is mostly making it work so far by treating it like the serious, mature decision it needs to be. By highlighting the differences between the two’s upbringings and belief systems, the tricky question of how two people compromise to become one family unit is at the forefront, and that feels right for the type of stories Switched At Birth likes to tell. This continues here to encompass Nikki’s religion, as she urges Toby to attend premarital counseling with her Reverend, and he keeps prioritizing other things instead. It’s a nice, meaty bit of story—complicated by Bay’s sudden desire to “save” Toby from this marriage—but the way it plays out feels less like an interesting discussion on the difficulties of relationships and more like a hammer to the head repeatedly drumming the words “this will never work.” Much of the drama is a bit forced, with Toby’s disregard and Nikki’s anger especially escalating too quickly to make it feel completely organic. The story’s end, with Nikki going to marriage counseling alone and Toby not giving in or apologizing, was actually the best part. There are no neat bows that will easily tie these two lives together; it’s going to take work, patience, and understanding. It just feels like this one would have worked better with room to breathe, spread over a few episodes time.
Also a bit awkward was Kathryn’s sudden storyline with Adriana, which basically boiled down to Adriana being annoying and Kathryn eventually snapping at her. Adriana is tricky because the actress is used so infrequently, so throwing her right into a big story where she is largely asked to be a pain in the neck isn’t great for character building. Like the Toby and Nikki story, it’s just too quick—but also like that story, it ends with a nice scene of Kathryn apologizing and the two of them working toward a more subtle, real friendship. I’ve always enjoyed Adriana in the past, so I do hope she sticks around and gets more to do.
Rounding out the unpleasantness this week is Daphne, who spends the hour geocaching (or talking about geocaching) with the coffee cart guy, Jace. I just need to put this out there: I can’t stand Jace. He’s a pretentious, rude, snide, know-it-all jerk who treats Daphne like crap, and for her to not only fall for this nonsense but to be the one who kisses him first really makes me angry. Between this guy and Chef Jeff, Daphne hasn’t had a good love interest since Wilke. (Except Noah. Come back, Noah!) Daphne is a lovely, smart girl and deserves lovely, smart guys to fall for her and treat her right. Coffee cart Jace might turn out to be the nicest guy in the world, but it’s going to be hard to forget him refusing to tell Daphne what geocaching is or making fun of her for not being familiar with latte art. It’s latte art, dude, who cares? Jace is the type of guy who looks down on anyone who he doesn’t deem as important or cultured as he is, and it’s tiring.
Daphne does get a great moment with Regina tonight, when she finally confronts her about why she chooses to live with Bay and Angelo instead of coming home. Regina squirms a bit and finally admits it’s easier to live with people who you haven’t let down on a fundamental level. It’s a nice bit of respite in what was ultimately a very frustrating episode.
And oh, that final Daphne and Bay scene! That final scene makes up for much of what didn’t work here, and makes it easy to look forward to the next episode. Maybe Bay will tell Daphne coffee cart Jace is the worst!
One can dream.
- Carrie Wikis Some Art: The Good Samaritan, After Delacroix, Vincent van Gogh, 1890, oil on canvas.
- Poor Bay just seemed like a meddling Millie tonight, deciding to mess with Toby’s relationship out of purely selfish reasons. Her scene with Emmett was sweet, though.
- Angelo gets a nice moment (after a bit of a bluntly obvious plot runner regarding Regina being an inconsiderate roommate) where he admits he feels like having Regina and Bay under his roof feels like a chance to get a “redo” on their life, so he wants it to be perfect.
- I liked the little moment of Daphne disagreeing with John on policy regarding sex education. More of this conflict, please!
- Did we know Toby’s band was called Awesomesauce? That is not awesome.
- “I’ve just been jealous of you getting closer to my mom.” “Welcome to my world.”
- “He’s British?!”