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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Switched At Birth: “The Past (Forgotten-Swallowed)”

Illustration for article titled Switched At Birth: “The Past (Forgotten-Swallowed)”
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Of all the relationships on Switched At Birth, Daphne and Angelo’s is probably the least explored. Theirs was a relationship fractured long before the switch, and it’s one of the only ones that didn’t immediately take on an entirely new dynamic once the switch was revealed. It just sort of sat there, mostly unacknowledged, while Daphne focused on all of the new relationships in her life. This episode brings that relationship to the forefront again and finally addresses it in a tangible way, and it’s so successful, it makes me wonder what took the show so long.

The story itself starts awkwardly (Angelo gets involved in Daphne’s story because he’s just sort of hanging around with Regina, and the show’s treatment of Angelo and Regina’s relationship is a rant for another time), but once it’s clear where everything is heading, the whole thing starts to work. Daphne’s story is legitimately all over the place this season, bouncing around from redemption seeking to love triangles to personal growth and discovery, but although this adds yet another thread, it still works. It works because it’s not an outside distraction like a love triangle; it’s a pure distillation of her character, informed by her past and present, and everything about it makes you understand Daphne better. When Angelo takes Daphne for granted but focuses on baby Abby, it’s easy to see just how hurtful that would be, especially when it feels like Angelo doesn’t even notice what he’s doing wrong. Although seeing Daphne react negatively to Angelo seems almost out of place—they share screen time so infrequently, after all—as soon as Daphne lashes out at him, it’s immediately relatable. It helps that Katie Leclerc plays the whole thing perfectly, filling in all of the missing pieces of the story simply by her commitment to the material. So yes, while the placement of the story within the season feels a bit abrupt and out of the blue, the end result makes most of those issues melt away.

While Daphne’s story was a highlight, much of the rest of the episode felt a bit scattered. After starting as a really nice, strong story at its beginning, the saga of Bay and Tank feels like it goes more and more askew every episode. Turning Tank into a love interest instead of a supportive friend somehow took an interesting dynamic and turned it a bit ordinary , and that continued here as Bay and Tank clashed over his continued commitment to his fraternity. Their clashes this week come courtesy of Mary Beth, who somewhat rightfully isn’t interested in getting to know a guy whose brothers organized a party just to humiliate her. It all leads to something we’ve known is coming for a while, as Mary Beth spills the truth about Ty cheating and sends Bay into a total tailspin, a tailspin that leads to her accidentally outing that Tank told her about the Dog Fight party. It’s unfortunately not a very compelling story on its own, but it does have one very interesting bit—Bay’s scene with Emmett. Over and over again, Bay goes to Emmett when she’s having an issue. Over and over again, he helps her through it. He is obviously the person she trusts most in the world. Is this all leading to her realizing she should have been with Emmett all along? That she’s forgiven him for hurting her? There has to be a greater meaning to this, to all of Bay’s love struggles with both Ty and Tank. Is it all leading her straight back to Emmett?

And then there’s the John and Kathryn story. It’s nice to see them with a nice level of rapport again, but this story was just strange. John has turned the corner on his attitude toward Kathryn’s sense of adventure and book proposal awfully quickly, as evidenced by him cooking a fancy meal and then agreeing to assist her in getting research from one of his past teammates. But of course these friends turn out to be swingers, and of course it turns into a giant misunderstanding, and of course it’s actually pretty amusing. Beyond being amusing, however, there just isn’t much to grasp onto here, especially coming on the heels of such a monumental episode as last week’s was for John and Kathryn. Seeing them take the steps to open up to each other about John’s past was a good start, though.

Another character’s story that’s felt a bit neglected this season is Toby’s. His season started out looking like it was going to be about growing up and figuring out how to be an adult, but somewhere along the way, he kind of got a little lost. Maybe that’s part of the point, as Toby himself is a little lost: Sitting in an apartment alone without his wife, working at the car wash, and coaching field hockey aren’t exactly the things a dream life is made of, especially when he hears just how full of purpose Nikki feels in their Skype conversation. What’s great about Toby’s story here is that it finally picks up that thread of being lost and gives him a bit of hope: He seems like a natural teacher and leader of young people. Will that be the direction he finally decides to point his life? I just hope against hope this whole thing wasn’t a hint that he will join Nikki as a teacher in Peru, because Toby is the best. Please don’t ever leave us, Toby.

Stray observations:

  • Carrie Wikis Some Art: The Past (Forgotten-Swallowed), Alfred Kubin, 1901, pen, ink, wash. This is great.
  • Daphne introducing Angelo as “her mom’s husband” was so wonderfully awkward.
  • Angelo really needs to drop that awful business partner. Why is he not more involved in this restaurant he’s dumped so much money into? It feels like she’s always making unilateral decisions.
  • “Ty is ten times the guy Tank will ever be.” Calm down, Mary Beth. Let’s not get crazy.
  • Kathryn: “There is an ABBA you’d have group sex to?”