The season began with unexpected tears and ends with unexpected tears, alongside many relationships shifting in unexpected ways.
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You’ve Come So Far & Beat Every Expectation: Elsa, Doug, Julia, Sam, Zahid
Sam goes on a real independence kick and it means he wants to do more for himself and even, when it comes to Zahid, receive less advice. At least about girls. For he wants to be more daring, adventurous, and take control of his life.
Problem is, in pursuit of being this adventurous, when he gets his yearbook, and gets a few nice things said, he decides to ask random people for more. Leading to him receiving a slew of insults which forces him to retreat. But, this isn’t like when Sam usually feels overwhelmed, he doesn’t just go into the art supply closet. It gets so bad he misses work – for the first time.
Luckily, we just learn he went to the aquarium to see his penguin – who still doesn’t have a name. There, as Julia took note of how far Sam got earlier in the show, Elsa presents how far she’d hope Sam would get. It’s all rather simple things like making a friend, being able to converse, find something he loves, which Sam laughs at since they’re simple. But, in that moment, you get reminded of the managed expectations parents of children with autism have. The basics for them are not guarantees so for Sam to have gone beyond the list she wrote when he was a kid, it was definitely a tear-inducing moment.
I remember a conversation my mother had with an old friend, who has an autistic son. One who isn’t high functioning and while he understands, he isn’t able to carry a conversation. In that conversation, it was noted how, I wouldn’t say my mother’s friend was envious but definitely wished she was able to just talk with her kid, about whatever, as my mom could with me. Taking note of Elsa’s list, it really helps you understand, despite us spending so much time seeing Elsa worry and be overprotective, how deep her fears were.
For even with early intervention, there are no promises a child with autism can become like Sam. Someone who has the 3rd highest GPA in their graduating class. For some, you’ll be lucky if you can have a conversation. If they can find something they love to do. Never mind, independently, leave the house. It truly shows how everything is a day by day, week by week, thing as a parent and for parents who have kids with autism, how those days mean all the more. For you always knew what your kid was up against yet look at them now. They surpassed your wildest dreams.
Sometimes, You Can’t Have It All: Elsa, Doug, Megan, Izzie, Casey, Evan
With Elsa discovering Doug went to see Nick, even punched him, so comes the need to really talk about their shared future and if there will be one. But, when Doug is supposed to show up to talk to her, we see him talk to Megan. Leaving the fate of Elsa and Doug up in the air.
Same goes for Casey and Evan. Though they have sex again, say they love each other, there is something about Izzie. Casey can’t necessarily put it into words, but with her hand holding hers, it’s clear there is something there which can’t be denied. It’s just, what can be done when Evan she has feelings for and Izzie is, well, Izzie?
I want to give this show props. Being someone who grew up when the whole #Team thing started to really become a big deal, at this point I’m exhausted by love triangles. Yet, with how this show avoids being over dramatic and instead has its characters dance around drama, never really comfortable diving in, I can appreciate Megan and Izzie’s roles. Doug has the baggage of him leaving Elsa and the kids, alongside Elsa having an affair. Much less an affair with a younger man who is more fit than Doug.
As for Casey? Her situation is even more complicated since Evan and Izzie are kind of perfect for her. Evan is understanding, calls her out when she is being a brat, and is a real sweet dude. Then with Izzie, they share a love of running, can laugh and be vulnerable with one another, and there is something there which they both want to explore. Yet, Casey is stuck between a rock and a hard place and doesn’t want to hurt or lose either person. But, at the same time, she can’t keep both for Evan she can willingly give herself over to and with Izzie? Well, she keeps flirting with the idea and one day she may just give in and find herself in the same position Elsa was. Well, in terms of cheating anyway.
For You, Anything: Sam, Paige, Casey, Elsa
Let’s jump back – after Sam noticed the mean things wrote in his yearbook he tried to get a new one and flipped out when that wasn’t possible. Also, part of the reason he had to escape to the aquarium was because Paige was yelling at him due to her leaning Sam’s kissing buddy smudged her bench. What is essentially part of her legacy at Newton.
However, upon learning what people said about Sam? Oh, she went ballistic. I’m talking yelling at the top of her lungs, CURSING, and having a full on fit. To the point she lost her voice and couldn’t give the Valedictorian speech. Which you know was a big thing for her since she has been planning for that since elementary school. It was her mic drop to end her formative years. Yet, being that Sam still had some adventurous spirit left, he delivers her speech. Which is awkward, since he says it word for word, including noting pauses and being a woman, but it creates another emotional moment.
For Sam has never been for crowds, attention, or loud noises. So imagine him, for Paige, who he has often treated like crap, going up on stage and basically making it where, between Elsa’s hard work, Casey’s, Doug’s, Julia’s, and Zahid’s, we see Sam in a way many may have never thought possible. Add on Casey holding Elsa’s hand as she gets emotional and I swear to you, the amount of tears you’ll cry will truly be the ultimate test of your water intake.
BUT IT DOESN’T END THERE! After all that, there is still the senior lock-in and Paige goes to Sam’s room to meet up with him. That and figure out why he did that or found himself able to. Since, as noted, Sam has been an ass to Paige for most of the season. Heck, last season too if you count using her as practice for his true crush – Julia. Yet, it seems with kissing Bailey, and a lot he has been going through, he has come to realize he loves Paige. Hence him finding himself able and willing to go on stage and give that speech. Leaving Paige stunned and unable to say a word.
I have never wanted a season which was made to be ten episodes to be 12. If just for Sam’s confession to Paige since, Paige is going to school in Maine and Sam will be across the country. Does that mean they’ll do long distance or, as often when things get a bit too emotional with this show, there will be an awkward silence which goes on for days and weeks? Heck, considering the lock-in, and how she gave Sam a hand job, hidden away during a very public dance, how far would she go with him saying he loves her?
Mind out of the gutter, I want to say Doug isn’t leaving Elsa but is definitely feeling like she is rushing him. So, with no friend besides Megan, who seems supportive, that is why he is going to her vs. him moving on, trying to cheat, or anything like that. I can’t say what may happen with Casey though. Her thing with Izzie and Evan is complicated by her age and personality. Remember, while she did have Sharice, and Doug, for a good part of Casey’s life she didn’t have this kind of attention. So, two people who seem to like her, Evan loving her, at the same time? It’s foreign.
Which is what complicated the whole idea of wanting one person or the other alongside side eyeing her for not physically cheating, but definitely emotionally cheating – if you believe in that. Since, with the way she has acted, alongside how both Izzie and Evan have, I’m sure there were moments she felt she lost one or the other forever. So her giving each what they want from her, so that they’d stay, it’s an unfortunate side effect of spending most of your life having to accept your parents have to take note of your brother more than you. Thus leaving you with the scraps of your father’s affection, and best friend, which you appreciate, but it doesn’t compare to what Evan and Izzie are offering.
Question(s) Left Unanswered
- Was Zahid hitting on Julia?
- Can you imagine what Amber would say to Sam about his dad coming over late at night?
- It’s just such an emotional episode. From Elsa seeing her son far surpassed even the basic goals she had for him, Casey holding her hand while she has a moment, or Sam finally stepping up and being kind to Paige. Not because he wanted a kiss, hand job, or a girlfriend, but simply because he loved her enough to step outside his comfort zone.
- Casey’s love triangle since it isn’t based on lust but feelings you can see are unique for both of the people she cares about and you know it stems from feeling neglected as a kid.
- Doug going to Megan’s house, if only because, like how it was noted Sam got his list thing from Elsa, you can see he got his running away thing from Doug. It’s just Doug doesn’t have a go-to when he is completely terrified.
- Paige flipping out when she saw what people wrote in Sam’s yearbook.
On The Fence
- I kind of wish we got to see and hear Paige react during the lock-in.