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?


Network
FX
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.

Highlights

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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Season/ EpisodeSynopsisEpisode InformationTopics & Focused Characters
Season 3, Episode 8 “Easter”It’s Easter and while Max does a photo shoot, and Sam cooks up a storm, Phil causes a bigger scene than usual with Duke and Marion.
Director(s) Pamela Adlon
Writer(s) Sarah Gubbins, Robin Ruzan
Air Date 4/18/2019
Introduced This Episode
Esther Margaret Avery
Olivier Shak Ghacha
Walter Harrison Page
  • Max’s Photoshoot: Sam, Olivier, Max
  • Phil Is Shameless: Walter, Esther, Phil, Duke, Marion
  • The Truth About Your Mother & Father: Marion, Duke
Season 3, Episode 9 “The Unknown”It’s a slice of life episode which largely seems to be self-contained until we realized how integral Mer was for everything that happens.
Director(s) Pamela Adlon
Writer(s) Sarah Gubbins
Air Date 4/25/2019
  • The Troubles Of Not Feeling Appreciated: Tressa, Mer, Sam
Season 3, Episode 10 “Show Me the Magic”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?
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
  • A Ladies Night Ruined By Men: Lala, Lenny, Pascal, Tressa, Sam
  • I See Grandpa: David, Sam, Duke, Frankie, Murray
  • Daddy Isn’t Here: Sam, Murray, Duke
Season 3, Episode 7 “Toilet”Sam's colonoscopy packet.

It’s Mother’s Day and the eve of Sam’s colonoscopy, and it seems she needs to let some s*** go.
Director(s) Pamela Adlon
Writer(s) Pamela Adlon, Joe Hortua
Air Date 4/11/2019
  • My Middle Child: Frankie, Sam
  • The Only One Who Cares: Duke, Max, Sam
  • Physically Fine, Mentally/Emotionally Worn Down: Sam, Dr. Miller
Season 3, Episode 6 “What is Jeopardy”Dr. Miller (Matthew Broderick) saying Hi to Sam.

As Sam revisits her past, far more than she’d like to, Phil finds herself part of one life-changing event and admitting that, for her personal life, things aren’t the same.
Director(s) Pamela Adlon
Writer(s) Pamela Adlon, Ira Parker
Air Date 4/4/2019
Introduced This Episode
Deezy Miller Matthew Broderick
  • It’s Time: Phil, Frankie, Duke, Marion
  • The Doctor Who Used To Make Out With You: Dr. Miller, Sam
  • One Last Time: Xander, Sam
Season 3, Episode 3 “Nesting”What begins as a nice family dinner becomes what all do – a bit of bickering, regret, and then a thankful calm.
Director(s) Pamela Adlon
Writer(s) Joe Hortua, Sarah Gubbins
Air Date 3/14/2019
Introduced This Episode
Murray Adam Kulbersh
Reiki Sharon Stone
Mer Marsha Thomason
  • Exes and New Beaus: Sam, Jeff, Sunny, Reiki
  • We Need To Talk About Phil: Marion, Sam, Phil
  • Papa Can You Hear Me: Murray, Sam
Season 3, Episode 4 “Monsters in the Moonlight”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
  • Work: Sam
  • The Seduction: Mer, Sam
Season 3, Episode 5 “No Limit”After a trying few days, Sam has a bit of a breakdown that drinking with friends won’t fix.
Director(s) Pamela Adlon
Writer(s) Pamela Adlon, Joe Hortua
Air Date 3/28/2019
Introduced This Episode
Lala Judy Reyes
Ida Rose Abdoo
Dr. Babu Usman Ally
  • Irrelevance: Sam, Lala, Ida
  • So Much For A Childhood: Sam, Frankie, Duke
  • The Doctor Is Here To F***ing See You: Sam, Dr. Babu
Season 3, Episode 2 “Holding”Between dealing with ass****s on set, and then at Duke’s school, Sam tries to pick her battles and one leads to someone getting smacked.
Director(s) Pamela Adlon
Writer(s) Pamela Adlon, Ira Parker
Air Date 3/7/2019
Introduced This Episode
Sylvester Charlie Robinson
  • All This Money & Nothing But Hot Air: Sam
  • A Push To Move On: Duke, Xander, Sam
Season 1/ Episode 1 "Sam/Pilot"In a way, the show is like a female version of Louie with the exception that Pamela Adlon is less socially awkward and she has three daughters instead of two.
Season 2/ Episode 1 “September”Better Things returns and Sam’s house is in a bit of disarray. Though, as I’m sure Sam would say, “What else is new?”
  • Duke
  • Frankie: Frankie, Jason, Sam
  • Max: Max, Arturo, Sam
Season 2/ Episode 2 “Rising”In this episode of Better Things, it seems the idea is: Sam is only a mean person if you give her reason to be a mean person.
  • Rodney: Sam, Rodney
  • You Made Your Bed: Jeff, Sam, Duke
  • Mom-Cation: Sam, Frankie, Sunny
Season 2/ Episode 3 “Robin”Could Sam have really found love? May the title of this show, Better Things, no longer be wishful thinking but actually here?
  • Robin: Robin (Henry Thomas), Sam
  • Get Me Away From These Children: Sam, Max, Frankie, Robin
  • Sometimes It’s Not Just The Thought But Effort That Counts: Robin, Sam
Season 2/ Episode 4 “Sick”As Sam is trying to talk herself into breaking up with Robin, Xander shows up and reminds her why she fears love.
  • Two For One Special: Phyllis, Sam
  • Too Good To Be True: Sam, Rich (Diedrich Bader)
  • Xander: Max, Sam, Frankie, Duke, Xander (Matthew Glave)
Season 2/ Episode 5 “Phil”While Phil has always been mean-spirited and quirky, something is seriously wrong now. To the point, Sam isn’t sure if she can handle her anymore.
  • It’s Not as Glamorous as It Seems: Phyllis
  • Prepping For End Game: Phyllis, Sam, Marion (Kevin Pollak)
  • The Girls Meet Robin: Robin, Duke, Sam, Max, Frankie
Season 2/ Episode 6 “Eulogy”In a change of pace episode, we’re shown what it is like to be in acting alongside a reminder of how much Sam means to her kids. Sam and Frankie anyway.
Season 2/ Episode 7 “Blackout”After a blackout, Jeff and Sam head on down to the store to buy a generator. Which leads to her running into Robin.
Director(s) Pamela Adlon
Writer(s) Pamela Adlon, Louis C.K.
Introduced Characters
Mia Bunnyann Riley-Holmes
Season 2/ Episode 8 “Arnold Hall”Pray for Sam everybody. For between Xander’s dad Arnold and Frankie, she may actually lose her mind – if she didn’t already lose it.
Director(s) Pamela Adlon
Writer(s) Pamela Adlon, Louis C.K.
Characters Introduced
Arnold Rade Serbedzija
  • Crazy Grandpa Arnold: Sam
  • You Made Me Wear A Dress: Frankie, Sam
Season 2/ Episode 9 “White Rock”During a trip to Canada with her kids, a family secret is learned about from Sam’s uncle Lester.
Director(s) Pamela Adlon
Writer(s) Pamela Adlon and Louis C.K.
Characters Introduced
Jarita Jane Carr
Lester Nigel Havers
Sad Lady Megs Calleja
First Nations Man Ray Thunderchild
  • Those Ghost of White Rock: Duke
  • Aunt Marion: Max, Duke, Sam, Frankie
Season 2/ Episode 10 “Graduation”It’s Max’s graduation and perhaps the parting lesson Sam gives her is about consistency and a reminder of what love is.
Director(s) Pamela Adlon
Writer(s) Pamela Adlon & Louis C.K.
  • Daddy Wasn’t There: Max, Sam
  • Yet, You Are Worthy: Sam, Max
Season 3, Episode 1 “Chicago”It has been more than a year since we were gifted with a new episode of Better Things, and this feels like an appetizer for what’s to come.
Director(s) Pamela Adlon
Writer(s) Pamela Adlon
Air Date 2/28/2019
  • It’s Hard To Say Goodbye My Love: Max, Sam
  • Mom, What You Do?: Phyllis, Sam
  • One Down, Two To Go: Frankie, Sam, Duke

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