Better Things: Season 3, Episode 11 “Get Lit” – Recap, Review (with Spoilers)

Frankie finding her friend hiding.
66.67% (2)

Frankie’s point of view, and why she is contentious with Sam is put out there, but whether or not Sam accepts responsibility is a whole different thing.


Network
FX
Director(s) Pamela Adlon
Writer(s) Joe Hortua, Ira Parker
Air Date 5/9/2019

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A Stranger In My House: Frankie, Sam

A medium is brought in to help the family deal with Murray’s presence, but while he does confirm and calm a few things, one thing which remains an issue is Frankie and Sam’s relationship. You see, while Frankie is often shown as the one who starts things, we see Sam with snide comments and noises picking with Frankie. Mind you, not with just the sisters and Phil around but with a guest. One who just gave Frankie a compliment.

And with that, you feel pushed to wonder if it is really Frankie who is to blame for her relationship with Sam? Could it just be, all this time, Sam’s part in saying something snarky within earshot has just not been captured on film? Could it be that Sam’s lack of engagement in Frankie’s intelligence has made her feel like a stranger in her own home?

I mean, take note: When Duke had her period, she wished Max was there despite Frankie showing the utmost kindness. So, you have to wonder, does Frankie blame Sam for feeling like the black sheep of the family?

I Don’t Like Being Taken Advantage Of: Sam, Max, Phil

Sam going off on Max and her friends.

I believe we can all agree Sam likes feeling needed. She likes people pursuing and valuing her time, attention, and investment. Hence why she flips out on Max and her friends when she discovers a bowl with weed in it. When it comes to Max’s friends, she has given them money, time, gone to bat for them, yet they steamroll her and never mind her like they probably do their own parents, and she is sick of it.

Though, she may not be alone. During the aforementioned medium visit, Phil sits in and hears Murray’s presence described and hears Duke’s excitement over him being identified. Mind you, no one ever seems that excited when Phil shows up, but a dead man these children will never meet gets this reaction? A man who might be the reason Sam brought in a stranger? The idea is enough to lead Phil to storm out and later on, just to snub Sam, she smokes weed with Max’s friends. Even pushes Max to be a lookout since she isn’t letting her off the hook for not being kinder to the grandparent who is actually alive.

Snapping The Olive Branch: Frankie, Sam

While the episode isn’t completely from Frankie’s perspective, it’s clear that it wants to do for Frankie as we’ve seen done for Duke and Max. Specifically, expand her relationship with Sam to show how and why there is this weird back and forth. With Duke, things are perfect since Xander disappointed her early so she knows Sam is all she has. When it comes to Max, her abandonment issues with Xander lead to her prepping for Sam to do as her father. Hence maybe why she tries to pile on the guilt since she thinks that might be the only way for Sam to ask for forgiveness.

Now, as for Frankie? Well, let’s just take into consideration that Sam suddenly wanting to chaperone Frankie’s trip to a slam poetry event appears to come after Sam tells Max and her friends off. Making it seem she just wanted to get out of the house. Not that she was invested, for note she hasn’t talked to Frankie about her poetry at all, and when they are on the bus, it is Frankie’s teacher who brings up how well Frankie is doing in the 9th grade – after skipping a year.

But you know what the big thing is for Frankie? She doesn’t want to be treated like an idiot. In a season 2 episode she notes how she trusts Sam enough to tell her the truth and while it may often be random facts about the conversation happening, Frankie trusts Sam with the truth. Yet, when it comes to Murray, Xander, and so many topics, Sam doesn’t trust Frankie with the truth. Which seems to infuriate her, based on her poem, since she refuses to see Frankie as an individual.

Frankie during her slam poem.

Note: Max and Duke largely can be treated the same since they are dependent and, as shown by Max, Sam not only enables this but likes it. Hence why you never see her try to teach these kids to cook or do anything which would push them to be independent. With Frankie, on the other hand, while self-sufficient, she wants to learn, she wants the truth, and for Sam to recognize that while her sisters may not be ready, she is. Mentally she can handle it, Sam can rely on her, and even engage her in a conversation which isn’t superficial. Sam, either actively or passively, made Frankie learn how to handle herself.

However, it seems something scares Sam about Frankie being so sure about herself and smart. Maybe, like Max, she fears abandonment so not getting close to Frankie keeps her from growing an attachment to her? Perhaps her comments are meant to cut Frankie until she is small and manageable? Heck, taking note of her praise of Frankie after she was told off, perhaps that was her attempt at extending an olive branch?

Yet, the problem is, what Frankie wanted was never an olive branch. Publicly calling out Sam, it was about trying to coerce her to tell the truth. And what is lying to someone like Frankie besides calling them stupid? So to pretend that Frankie wasn’t talking about her, that there isn’t’ something wrong in the family, that might have been it. Not to say Frankie wanted a fight but a joyful reaction showed that, once again, Sam was not taking her seriously.

Question(s) Left Unanswered

  1. Why was Jason calling Frankie’s name like that after the contest?
  2. Is it safe to assume the Plan B, cigarettes, and book was Max’s or could it possibly have been Frankie’s? I’m just saying, Max is over 18 so her buying that stuff shouldn’t be an issue. Frankie or even Duke? Then there is a reason for Sam to flip out.

Other Noteworthy Facts & Moments

  • Frankie is 14 and Duke is 11

Collected Quote(s) & .Gifs

“If you want to protect me from the world then prepare me for the world.”
— Frankie

Highlights

Sam Went Off On Max & Her Friends

When it comes to Max, Sam does let off some steam, like she did when Max dropped out of high school, but by the time the situation is over, she makes up with Max. This time was different since she not only went off on Max, but was so pissed she went off on people who weren’t even guilty. She brought up helping one kid come out to his parents, giving money to another, and basically raising one. And she doesn’t end things with coddling Max or the people she called out. She storms out and tells them to clean up and move out. Now, likely move out meant just to get out the house and do something with their day, but it could have also been she is truly sick and tired of Max and all she does for her friends with no return in investment.

Realizing Max May Not Really Have Friends

Max watch as her friends get Phil high.

Let’s take into considering how Max and Frankie do show themselves as people who have a lot of acquaintances, but Frankie usually sticks to Jason. He is the main one we see her hang around either by sleepovers or hanging out at school. With Max, considering how Sam went off, it pushes you to realize she may not have friends but people using her to experience what it is like to have Sam for a mom.

Take note Max is the one who feels like she has to apologize and no one apologizes to her or asks if she is okay after Sam went off on her. Also, later on, two of the guys are still smoking and get Phil high. In my mind, as much as you want to blame Xander and question why Max flips out on Sam, I think we got our answer. Max knows she is being used, that her friends, outside of Paisley maybe, would abandon her in a heartbeat. I mean, for goodness sakes, one was taking money from Sam to buy expensive sneakers.

And with seeing how they treat Max, and her home, it makes every time she said Sam doesn’t invest in her perhaps about how far she’d go for her friends and her being jealous. Maybe taking note the fights she took Paisley’s side in, compared to admonishing Max, making her think she minas well runaway since Sam doesn’t care.

Heck, bringing Frankie into this, maybe a shared feeling amongst Frankie and Max is that Sam is more into appearances than motherhood. So to refute anything her kids may say, she will buy off and part-time parent so her kids can’t give her s*** for not being a full-time parent ever. Just because Sam’s friends can back her up and say she is trying and all her kids’ friends will say Sam is cool and make Sam’s kids feel guilty.

But this is assuming the dark side of Sam we saw this episode was her taking off a mask and not just a bad day.

Frankie Got To Have A Moment

Frankie being there for her friend.

In the entire series, there are only a handful of moments with Frankie which make you believe she is on the show for more than a random fact, to spread the unfiltered truth, then get promptly ignored. With this episode, while it wasn’t completely about her, it allowed us more into her world than any episode this season and probably in a more natural way than the entire series. The way she handled being given a compliment by that medium, while one could argue it might have seemed smug, that smile before the man said “but” pushes you to think she isn’t praised outside of school too often. Much less, praised in a situation where Sam could hear.

Plus, taking note of her willingness to not get on stage for her friend, it makes it appear that moment she had with Duke, it wasn’t a one-off thing because Duke was getting her period – that’s how Frankie is. Her being chill and not confrontations, it isn’t her lying to the viewers and whoever is in the room. It’s just something about her family, no one being honest, that makes it so she has to do as Sam often does and call out the BS in hopes something will change.

Which is why her poem was so important. It directly addressed the problem she had with Sam and yet how did Sam respond? She wasn’t embarrassed, didn’t ask to pull Frankie aside, she praised her like she did a love poem or a feminist one. Making it seem she missed the entire point.

Understanding Sam and Frankie’s Relationship On A Deeper Level

Frankie looking at Sam as she congratulates her.

While I’m not trying to paint Sam as the bad guy, there is a need to admit with her being the lead, and a mom, things are geared towards making the kids seem crazy, ungrateful, like brats, and Sam is a saint. However, it doesn’t seem that way with Frankie anymore. Between the eye rolls, the comments, showing up suddenly on Frankie’s trip and avoiding the fact she was called out, it makes you realize Sam is holding onto this idea that, perhaps because she is a better mom than Phil was, she is a good mom.

So even if she is always butting heads with Frankie, maybe the justification is she never said or did anything as bad as Phil did? Yeah, she barely checks on how Frankie is doing at school and someone has to prompt her to ask, but at least Sam is making sure Frankie is going to school and has a good education. Which could explain why she stopped and helped Frankie with reading A Raisin In The Sun. While she can’t engage Frankie intellectually, having a moment when she felt needed, superior even, she couldn’t help but take that moment.

For unlike Max and Duke, who show themselves as vulnerable on a regular basis, Frankie is strong and barely shows weakness. Which could also explain why Sam went to that poetry event, beyond getting out of the house. It was another rare moment to see Frankie beyond she shield and jabbing sword she always has out. Yet, again, with Sam proving she is unable to talk to Frankie like she isn’t simple, or willing to show her underbelly to win Sam over, it seems their relationship is at an impasse.

Thus leading you to wonder if, like Xander, maybe Frankie is prepping for a life without Sam in it and is just biding her time. Making her own village, similar to what Sam has done, since she knows her mother can’t do anything beyond be toxic and, on the rare occasion, give her the smallest bit of hope to string her along. Which, for Frankie, hasn’t come in so long she has topped believing that hopeful moment may ever come.

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