While aging continues to wallop Sam, she is reminded that, on occasion, some people appreciate her.
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Introduced This Episode
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I Might Be Old, But I Still Have Value: Jessica, Sam
With a hand experiencing muscle atrophy and bills up the wazoo, Jessica Barden really being aggressive with Sam being part of her show is appreciated. Granted, it is hard to say whether she is all passion and no action, but she is a silver lining in Sam’s world filled with frustration.
The Things Duke Does & Can Do: Pepper, Duke
Between capturing an owl and accidentally cutting a piece of Pepper’s finger off, Duke continues to amaze. However, with her maniacal laughter as Pepper screamed and passed out, we’re also reminded, as amazing as Duke can be, there might be a darkness in her scratching its way to the surface.
A Dual Quincenera: Renita, Jose, Sam
With the daughter of the man who handles the neighborhood plants, Renita, having a quinceañera on the horizon, Sam speaks to her father, Jose, about maybe having a dual one. Thus allowing for Frankie’s wish to be fulfilled, without the cultural appropriation undertones that Sam was worried about. Plus, considering Sam is starting to hurt for money, sharing the fees will make the first party she got to throw for Frankie a bit cheaper.
Cathartic Release: Max, Sam
As seen when Frankie and Duke had a battle of curse words, cathartic releases are how the family blows off steam and sometimes reveals some hard truths. For example, despite how Sam’s career has provided so much for Max, it seems Max looks down on what Sam does. Hence her conversation with the nail lady in the last episode. Also, that could explain why Max takes advantage of Sam as she does. She simply sees what Sam does as easy, especially in comparison to hosting, so the idea of Sam not being able to clean, cook, or what have you, is a failure on Sam’s part.
Hence why Sam throws around the c you next Tuesday word, and there is a vicious back and forth. One which does have some laughs in it, thanks to Frankie and Duke listening, but that only being made clear when Sam compliments Duke, and she thanks her mom. But, in the end, with Max telling Sam what she really thinks about her and Sam doing the same to Max, they find peace. The kind that allows Max to realize Sam will have fights like this about her kids growing up, and moving on, three times, and she is in for a whirlwind as each daughter is going to hit her differently.
Characters Introduced This Episode
Renita (Marcie Robledo)
One of the friends of the girls, either Duke or Frankie, who we meet as an owl rests in Sam’s room. Based on her having a quinceañera planned, it is assumed she is 14.
Jose (Lombardo Boyar)
Renita’s father, who is also the local gardener who takes care of both Sam and Phyllis’ plants.
Herself (Jessica Barden)
It isn’t necessarily clear if the Jessica Barden, from “The End Of The F***ing World,” and the one on “Better Things” is one and the same, at least in terms of background and resume, but she is noted to be an up and coming actress. One who absolutely adores Sam and wants to work with her.
Sam’s Parenting Style
Sam’s household operates on honesty. Hence why, at times, curse words can fly about, and whether it is between sisters or Sam and Max, things are laid out there. For it seems, after dealing with Phil and her secrets, the inability to say certain things in that household, Sam knows what works best.
Now, granted, when it comes to Xavier, Sam doesn’t get involved or provide comments, but that is for the benefit of the girls. Simply put, she doesn’t want her sordid relationship with him to affect the potential relationship the girls could have. That’s their dad, he is her ex, and she wants that to be made firmly clear.
This Jessica Tease
While Jessica Barden isn’t the biggest name to ever touch “Better Things,” the interesting part here is Sam working consistently and what that can do for her. Thus far, she has done voice-over work and a movie but didn’t have a consistent flow of cash. So how that changes things, and seeing her connect with an actress like Jessica, could provide some form of continuity. Particularly in the form of lessening Sam’s money worries and us getting to see what life is like on a tv set.
Heck, depending on Jessica’s show, it could very well be a show in a show situation where we get insight, beyond interviews, how Adlon’s show works by showing that through the actual storyline. You know, something very meta.