Better Things: Season 4 Episode 7 “High Man, Bye Man” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

Frankie asking if Sam will talk to her in her room.

As we get to see the dynamic between Marion and his wife, Frankie continues to rebuild her relationship with Sam.

As we get to see the dynamic between Marion and his wife, Frankie continues to rebuild her relationship with Sam.

Directed By Pamela Adlon
Written By Pamela Adlon, Joe Hortua
Aired (FX) 4/9/2020
Introduced This Episode
Caroline Rosalind Chao
Dormin Joey Jennings

This content contains pertinent spoilers.

What Sam Escaped – Caroline, Marion, Dormin, Sam, Phil

Max and Dormin (Joey Jennings) as Max notes she loves her uncle's impressions and he notes he hates it.
Max and Dormin (Joey Jennings)

With their second home bought, with the home base being in LA, Marion and his wife Caroline hold a housewarming. One that, alongside Phil picking with Caroline, has a bit of contention. Something that Sam notices, and perhaps Marion’s son Dormin as well, but Marion gets sensitive about.

The reason why? Well, as seen to varying degrees in the past, Marion is trying to build a life that is nothing like his mother or Sam. He wants to be married and worth through those issues. When it comes to his kid, while he loves Max, you can bet your last meal he is so happy his son is going to Stanford, has a major secured, and seems to be doing something with his life.

Which is no shade to Max, or Sam, to a degree. However, what Marion seems to want is to do what his mother failed to do and avoid what Sam enables in her household.

Weed Is A Helluva Drug – Sam, Duke, Frankie, Max

Due to Sam being unable to have surgery, she takes to marijuana for her pain. Which, with Sam not someone who usually partakes, leads to her taking too much at once. Thus leading to Sam being high in ways that may make her feel good, but makes her housebound. And boy did she have bad timing for that since Duke ends up not wanting to go to a sleepover, and this requires Max to leave work early to get her.

But, while Sam is dealing with an intense high, she and the girls come together. Granted, in some nice ways, like watching a movie together on Sam’s bed, but then there is Frankie talking about Sam’s demise and then joining Max as she pees. Because boundaries, things of that nature, high Sam doesn’t believe in that.

You Really Do Love Me, Don’t Ya Kid? – Sam, Frankie

Sam taking in all that Frankie is doing for her.

Since the beginning, Sam and Frankie have had a very hot and cold relationship. One which chilled out when Frankie was willing to talk and Sam was able to sync to her wavelength, but also volatile when Sam didn’t know how to speak to Frankie or answer her questions. Yet, as it becomes clear Sam is really gone, Frankie takes note of the situation her mother is in.

Mind you, she doesn’t take advantage of it but definitely uses the moment to reveal she did lose her virginity. Also, it gives her the opportunity to take care of Sam. An idea that she has often pushed as something someone else should do, especially as Sam gets older, yet between her cooking in the last episode and making ice cream for Sam in this one, you see a shift. Maybe one that isn’t about grand gestures or doing as Duke does, and showing affection openly and with company around.

If anything, it seems in Frankie often getting lost between Max’s neediness and Duke portraying herself as “The Good One,” Frankie didn’t know how she could fit in. But, with seeing Max as helpless and Duke slowly beginning her transition away from being momma’s little baby, it seems to have given Frankie the opportunity to show she could be what Sam wants and perhaps needs.

What Must Also Be Noted

  1. Apparently, Duke is just graduating from elementary school.


Frankie and Sam Spending Quality Time

On Twitter, we often have, indirect messages, conversations with @imaginarymargo about the complexities of Frankie and Sam’s relationship. Mainly because, up until this season, Sam and Frankie had one episode per season where their relationship was explored, and that’s it.

However, thinking back, it seems each season has focused on one member of Sam’s family, and it seems they saved the best for last. Since these recent episodes have honestly rivaled what we saw with Duke, and are almost at the point of surpassing what we saw with Max. Only because of Max’s fear of not being smart enough, and things like that, it hasn’t changed. Max hasn’t necessarily evolved beyond less actively being a hole in Sam’s pocket.

With Frankie, there is a huge difference since we’ve mostly been kept in the dark. Frankie has been almost a rebel who didn’t want to come off dependent like Max, nor wanted to be overly affectionate like Duke. For as long as we’ve known Frankie, she has wanted to assert her independence and, we’d say, wanted Sam to recognize it. That is, alongside treat Frankie as someone who can be depended on and handle the truth.

So with spending time with her dad, I think she realized Sam didn’t tell her the truth about certain things because either she wasn’t ready, didn’t think Frankie was, or she wanted Xander to control his own narrative. To expose himself rather than Sam do it for him. Add in Phil’s health scare, and you can understand why Frankie is obsessed with Sam’s death. For after spending so much time challenging her, Frankie has realized how much time she has lost. Making it so Frankie now has to figure out, in their family structure, how to make up for it. Specifically, how to get some one on one time.

Marion’s Fear Of Becoming Like His Mother Or Sister

Marion and Caroline (Rosalind Chao) during their housewarming.
Marion and Caroline (Rosalind Chao)

I believe Marion sees his mother as bitter because she is alone and recognizes Sam is lonely as well. But, both his mother and sister handle their loneliness in terrible ways. Phil handles it by being unabashedly disagreeable and making it seem it is the world which is the problem and not her. As for Sam? Well, she tries to figure out how to integrate into people’s lives by filling a need and, for some, becoming an enabler.

With that in mind, Marion seems to want to try a different path. For while, yes, he and Caroline aren’t the best relationship out there, but they make it work. And I think that is what he values the most, people making it work. Sam couldn’t stay with her husband, and Phil is at that point in life where she isn’t going to work at making others comfortable. So Marion, to find his own way to be happy, is committed to his marriage. For he sees the alternative, knows he could easily slip and become like his mother, or lonely like his sister, and neither seems to rub him the right way.


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