Better Things: Season 3, Episode 10 “Show Me the Magic” – Recap, Review (with Spoilers)

Sam pointing her glasses towards the sun.
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With Sam complaining about not being seen, you may think it is due to lack of intimacy but could it be just wishing she could talk to her dad?


Network
FX
Director(s) Pamela Adlon
Writer(s) Pamela Adlon, Ira Parker
Air Date 5/2/2019
Introduced This Episode
Murray Adam Kulbersh
Pascal Rachel True
Lenny Cree Summer

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A Ladies Night Ruined By Men: Lala, Lenny, Pascal, Tressa, Sam

Sam seems lonely to the point of it being clear she isn’t looking for intimacy in the form of sex but just a connection with another adult – period. Making these rare ladies night everything to her but between Ida messing around with the boys and the drugs, it made Lala’s birthday party not what Sam needed to recharge. Then, when Lala hosts a New Years event, her husband showing up kills the vibe Lala, Lenny, Pascal, Tressa, and Sam had going.

Which, when Sam points that out, she gets treated like the bad guy over. Lala even makes it seem Sam is jealous that she has someone and Sam doesn’t have anyone to go home to but her kids. Which sort of shuts Sam down and leads to Lenny and Tressa to try to mend things since they see that was a hard blow for her.

I See Grandpa: David, Sam, Duke, Frankie, Murray

Murray (Adam Kulbersh) talking about his gay experiences in the 70s.
Murray (Adam Kulbersh)

The harder things are for Sam, the more Murray seems hell-bent (probably not the best choice of words) to try and help. Unfortunately, more often than not, he appears in front of Duke and with her scared of him, and Frankie co-signing there is something in the house, Sam gets desperate. How desperate? Well, she talks to David about pretending to be a medium, and this offends him.

Why? Well, because he wants to be taken seriously and not like someone Sam sees because she either doesn’t have much prospects or he is accessible. Which Sam tries to reassure him about by making out but, arguably, that’s to keep him in her life and happy more than her committing to a damn thing.

Daddy Isn’t Here: Sam, Murray, Duke

There might be a need to question how much do the girls know about Sam’s childhood and her father? Do they know about their relationship? Duke seemingly couldn’t remember he died of a heart attack so is how he died mentioned ever? Is him being a ghost not because of Sam having a bit of a mental break but because he is an actual ghost of the past people ignore who wants to be seen, acknowledged, and his impact noted?

Could that explain why Duke decided to eat his ashes in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Not because she is just a weird child, but she sees how much he means to her mom, so she wants more of him in her? Especially to counteract her dad’s influence? Excuse the questions but with us finally getting some headway with Murray’s ghost, I’m a little excited.

Highlights

How Deep Sam’s Loneliness Is

Sam crying over a mouse.

In nearly every other episode, Sam speaks about not feeling seen and points to menopause being part of, if not the problem – alongside aging. However, I think with us seeing Lala pack it up so quick, it isn’t just about aging and men not taking note. Sam wants real conversations. She wants to be engaged in intimate moments and discussions which makes her feel like something beyond a mother, beyond whatever David feels, and makes her feel part of something again. Which, unfortunately for her, it is like as soon as she feels a connection something interrupts it and she has to wait for days, weeks, if not months, for that feeling again. And it is driving her insane.

Duke and Sam Having A Moment

Duke is one of the characters who easily make touching moments on the show. Be it her making sure Sam has what she needs for her cleanse, her scene with Marion in the car, or learning about Murray on Sam’s bed. It’s those kind of moments which help you see Sam’s soft side and remind you that as gruff as she can be, it isn’t because she wants to. There is just a lot on her plate and often times no one steps up, but her, to address the BS. So Duke often allowing her to have peace helps you understand why she clearly is the favorite.

Murray’s Presence Is Starting To Make Sense

With Sam approaching the age her father died, it makes sense that a lot of things dealing with mortality, feeling forgotten, are starting to bug her. Maybe even lead to her dad feeling conjured up. For if it isn’t the idea of death staring her in the face, it’s the question of how will she be mourned? If not, when it comes to her kids, has she fully prepped them for a life without her?

Breaking all that down, I think the biggest thing here is that Sam probably didn’t get to really mourn her father the way she wanted to. With a showbiz career, and mom like Phil, who knows if she really got to sit, cry for days and weeks, over the man who was not only her father but probably one of her best friends. Taking note of Duke and Sam’s relationship, the way Sam presents things, likely her relationship to Murray was the same way. So him popping up likely is because the anniversary of his death is coming up paired with Sam reaching the point he left her and Marion.

Which, as shown by how terrible Marion and Phil’s relationship is, likely was a turning point in her childhood. And while Sam does have a community of friends, they have kids, don’t want kids, and that probably leads to some fear for what may happen to her children. And it seems Murray’s appearance is of a similar ilk to when Mary Poppins or other magical figures appear. With Sam at the end of her rope, unsure what to do, he is showing up since he likely was the last person she knew she could turn to. Thus why he brings up the gay thing and how that should have made her laugh. That’s what he once was to Sam – the person who knew how to make things better, if just for a moment.

Low Point

I Really Do Need Them To Put Some Respeck On Frankie’s Name

Frankie noting Sam never listens to her.

As spoken with luna margo valentine when we chat on Twitter, Frankie is getting a very raw deal from Sam. She doesn’t get these Duke and Sam moments, nor the pursuit of understanding Max gets so she can flourish. Frankie is mostly just given eye rolls and treated on the same level as Murray. Like she is a ghost that Sam is hoping will go away if she doesn’t engage her too much. But, luckily, it seems the next episode may force the two to spend some time together. Now, whether it ends in drama, we’ll find out.

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