Better Things: Season 4 Episode 5 “Carbonara” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

With Max away, Sam spends a lot of time with Duke and Frankie!

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Frankie looking at Sam.

With Max away, Sam spends a lot of time with Duke and Frankie!

Directed By Pamela Adlon
Written By Patricia Resnick
Aired (FX) 3/26/2020

This content contains pertinent spoilers.

It’s Hard, Sometimes, To Be This Wonderful: Phil, Sam

Phil, in all her eccentric glory, always knows what to say to make you do a double-take or question your sanity. Be it little things like markdown a Prada jacket at work to her saying she isn’t 100% sure the man Sam has called her father is really her dad. You know, little things to keep people’s minds stimulated and show where Frankie got her ability to knock you on your behind.

They Change So Quickly: Duke, Sam

Duke processing what her teacher said.

Things change so quickly with kids as they live in a world where they financially don’t have to foot the bill, and consequences don’t wallop them upside the head just yet. Hence Duke, who does ballet and soccer, deciding to drop soccer since her teacher, who is likely to give her an eating disorder, makes her choose. To which Sam doesn’t get the opportunity to question anything since she needs to talk to Frankie.

Quality Mother/ Daughter Time: Sam, Frankie

Someone who, throughout the episode, she spends more time with than ever before. Frankie cooks for Sam, and they share that meal together, with their usual banter. Also, Sam takes Frankie to the gynecologist. This, of course, is odd for Frankie, and Sam to a point, but considering she meets a woman whose kids seem to be playing STD bingo, Sam realizes she needs to count her blessings.

What Must Also Be Noted

  1. Sam is, apparently, getting a lot of likes on Hinge.


A New Thing To Fixate On For Sam

Is it necessarily a shock? No. However, being that Sam has been in a rut about her age and aging, it does present a distraction or something else to fixate on. Especially considering, alongside Sam’s biological dad might not being the one who raised her, there is the potential of dating.

Sam and Frankie Having A Rhythm

Frankie taking note of Sam's past relationships.

When it comes to Frankie and Sam, we’ve seen them go back and forth since they were introduced. However, one thing we haven’t really gotten, well two things, is Sam go full off on Frankie like she occasionally does Max, and Frankie and Sam, on a fairly consistent basis, have a good ebb and flow. That changed this episode since it seems Sam is starting to figure out a way to handle when Frankie goes left and says something callous.

For example, when she talks about Sam having failed relationships, that probably hurt, but it seems Sam is starting to realize Frankie is just callous or, no pun intended, frank. It’s not that she is trying to go for the jugular, it is her default. Plus, in a strange way, it comes from a place of love. Which I think Frankie gets too, hence why, despite how awkward the gynecologist conversation is, she goes along with it since she knows it is Sam trying to do what is best for her.

Understanding Why Duke Is Feeling Insecure

While being a teenager is likely to trigger ill feelings about yourself, being that we never saw Duke insecure about her person, her talking about her weight, and things like that, came sort of out of nowhere in episode 3. However, with meeting her dance teacher and hearing her criticisms, it makes it seem less about how Max looks or how cool Frankie is, and it seems like those feelings stemmed from how her teacher talks.

If not, in reverse, Duke already had issues with comparing herself to her sisters, and the teacher amplified them. Plus, who knows, maybe like Max, Duke may look down on Sam, but rather than it be about the things Sam did or did not due, maybe she looks at her mom physically and fears becoming that? Alongside being single when she is 50.


Understanding Why Duke Is Feeling Insecure - 85%
Sam and Frankie Having A Rhythm - 90%
A New Thing To Fixate On For Sam - 80%


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