Better Things: Season 3, Episode 4 “Monsters in the Moonlight” – Recap, Review (with Spoilers)

Sam driving back from hanging out with Mer.
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At this point in her life, Sam wishes things would get easier and it wasn’t always on her. Yet, who does she know willing to step up?

Director(s) Pamela Adlon
Writer(s) Pamela Adlon, Sarah Gubbins
Air Date 3/21/2019

The Kids: Sam, Duke, Max, Frankie

Being a single mom is hard for Sam. It means when Frankie flips out on her, or Max returns home, she has all the right to flip out a little, but she can’t go nuclear. Why? Well, two reasons, the first being that no one is there to explain her side of things and why she felt the need to flip out. Two, while Sam has created a bit of a community of family and friends, at the end of the day all her kids have is her since Xander is trash. This was seen previously when Max and Frankie tried to hold him to expectations he set, and Duke also ends up on the receiving end this episode. So, with that in mind, Sam has the unfortunate task of having to manage her emotions so that her kids aren’t traumatized by her as she was a bit by Phil.

Work: Sam

Sam telling off Nikki.

Sam has been in the business since she was a child, and has long become used to speaking up for herself and others, it makes the set conditions bothersome. Clearly, the director doesn’t care, nor his staff, and nearly every member of the cast and crew are too afraid to say anything and potentially become blacklisted. Leaving Sam, who really doesn’t want to, having to stick up for the little guys and girls and speak out.

An act which, arguably, seems to go in one ear and out the other since there is minor support, but largely everyone stays silent.

The Seduction: Mer, Sam

It has been a long time since Sam’s needs were worried about. Not just as a person who could use a massage or tag team partner, but sexual needs seemingly as well. If just on a regular basis. Making a dinner hangout with Mer complicated since Sam was warned about her, but there is something seductive about being listened to, someone opening up to you, and not to get something out of you. Thus leaving Sam very cautious but on the hook. At least, taking note of her masturbating after she hung out with Mer, it seems she has to work out some feelings.


The Pains Of Single Motherhood

Sam disappointed in Max.

As noted, there are certain issues with being a single parent, in this case, a single mother, which are universal. The main one being the fact you are a human being trying to balance out your frustrations with not causing your kids trauma. Something you see is hard for Sam and one of the best examples is Max. With how upset Sam is, Max tests if she would kick her out and be callous, like her father, and not care if she ended up strung out and raped. Which Sam replies with being okay with if that means she is out of the house.

Now, at this point, Sam’s kids understand her humor but arguably may still fear the shoe one day dropping. Perhaps explaining why Sam, after letting off some steam, asks if Max is hungry but does reinforce the idea Max is in trouble, and she did upset Sam. What we see is this delicate mental balance, especially since Phil isn’t trying to back her up, that Sam has been doing for decades. Making the fact Max was on her own mean one less person to walk that tight rope with. Especially considering Frankie has a temper and Duke? Well, she hasn’t settled into her personality yet to know whether she is one to walk on eggshells around. Though it seems part of her core is being sensitive.

A Leader With No Followers

One of the things pushed when it comes to Sam’s character is that she is social, adaptable, and can roll with the punches. However, she expects if she has a problem for you to handle it since she hasn’t found a way. Which sometimes is a problem for her since she handles the overall message well, but sometimes that delivery when noted in bits, it’s rough. Yet, there is a need to recognize the issue with her delivery is often since she is a woman.

Take what she said during the movie set fiasco, she multiple times tried to check on a small scale with people, and no one said nothing. Then when she tried to make a big thing out of it, only one spoke up despite massive suffering. All this reinforces how hard Sam’s life is.

Which isn’t to take away the certain amount of privilege she has fiscally. However, there is always the need to bring up what a person has to do for money and between being rocked around in a car, nearly choking to death, and feeling coerced to advocate for a kid whose mom clearly is trying to make a check, that can be a lot. Leading to all the money she might be making, perhaps not seeming worth it unless you came from the bottom and are, like the kid or her co-star, just happy to make some kind of money.

The Mer Temptation

Mer smiling at Sam.

I don’t know what Mer’s goals are, but she has Sam’s attention. The question is, what will she do with it? I ask since I don’t want to say Sam’s is in a vulnerable position, but Sam is often taken advantage of in relationships. Plus, with her being hurt and disappointed before, it makes letting people in hard and once they are in, it is not necessarily free range, but the length of rope given to hang yourself is moderate. So as for whether Mer may try to turn Sam out, since she puts straight in quotation marks, or just wanna be friends, that remains to be seen.

Either way, I feel as drawn in as Sam, so I want to know what Mer’s long term goals are.

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