It’s a turning point of sorts. In some ways for the better, as shown by Sam, Frankie, even Xander (!) but, sadly, also for Duke.
|Directed By||Pamela Adlon|
|Written By||Joe Hortua, Ira Parker|
This content contains pertinent spoilers.
For My Children? Anything. – Sunny, Frankie, Sam
With Sam delivering Xander for Frankie, for the most part, Frankie is a happy young person. Her mother, even if for a moment, put aside her feelings, and with all that Frankie has dealt with lately, she thanks her for that. In fact, in front of everyone, she thanks Sam for taking on raising three girls as a single mom and also slights her dad a bit.
But, while Sam is happy for Frankie, seeing Xander put on airs and graces like this is just another day of being a good dad? Oh, that drives Sam crazy and leads to her hoping she has some weed leftover for liquor just won’t do. Leading to Sunny following her and confronting her about her anger and being unable to let go.
This leads to Sam reminding Sunny she just barely got out of her relationship with Jeff, and it makes her quite defensive. But, despite the way she acted, Sunny sticks by her side for she remembers lashing out at Sam in the past, and she knows Sam is angrier at herself, and the situation, than Sunny. Even if she doesn’t like to be on the other end of a call out.
I Can See The Light – Sam, Jeff, Rich, Xander
It remains unclear how Xander is so oblivious about the kind of dad he is. Could it be due to his mother, who we briefly met, his father, or is Xander truly an idiot? Well, no one knows, but they make it clear how they see Xander. Rich, for example, who has been everyone, from Max to Duke’s emergency contact, alongside playing the role of the father in taking them places for extracurriculars, he gives Xander a huge piece of his mind. For he loves those girls, and it seems a part of him is hurt when people mistook him for their dad, and he can’t claim them as the bond he has with them pushes him to.
Then, as for Jeff? Well, let’s take note, Jeff was in Xander’s position not too long ago as being seen as the deadbeat who didn’t contribute time or finances into raising his kid. However, he made amends, owned his stuff, and now Sunny will give him the benefit of the doubt. But, Xander’s main issue is he doesn’t see what he did wrong, and with that, Jeff doesn’t argue. He knows that mindset and figures, the only way it’ll end is if Xander wants
A New Dawn, A New Day – Xander, Duke, Sam, Max
Which, after his conversation with Jeff and Rich dressing him down, it seems he may want change. Now, what was the last straw? That’s hard to say. Maybe it was not knowing how old Frankie was and making that clear in his speech – in front of everyone and being called out for it? Perhaps Duke whispering something as to not embarrass him, or Rich, if not Jeff, who was probably the nicest about Xander being a deadbeat.
Either way, Xander goes to Sam, and while he doesn’t do an outright apology, there is an admittance he can do better. Which, for Sam, seemingly is all she wanted. Their relationship and the money issue, that’s their thing. But which further creates issues amongst them is the girls suffer no matter how much she pays in alimony.
So, the plan is, he, her, and the girls will have dinner Friday. One which hopefully gives all the girls some time with their dad. Also, a dinner that hopefully will address Duke’s growing attitude. For when Sam asks of her to say goodbye, she notes they didn’t come to see her and how they only come around when Sam asks of them to, and they keep it to that. Mirroring a bit of what we heard Frankie say in the past.
But, while it seems Duke is ready to raise hell, if Frankie can cool it and Max grow as a person, Sam can handle this one more time.
What Must Also Be Noted
- What did Duke whisper in her dad’s ear so he wouldn’t be embarrassed?
- Who was that girl Frankie was having a very intimate moment with?
Frankie Giving Sam Her Due And Calling Out Her Dad In One Swoop
While each child has given Sam her troubles, Duke being the latest one to push back, Frankie currently holds the gold medal. Yes, Max has been a bit of a money pit, but she is coming around. Frankie, on the other hand, her brilliance has often led to her being at an opposing end to Sam. Be it because she, similar to Max, is perhaps embarrassed by her or the lack of honesty or engagement continually upset her.
The point is, Frankie giving her mother props and verbally noting her father not making a lot of good decisions, really puts a period on the idea she understands Sam beyond how she once did. She gets that, while she doesn’t make the choices Frankie would always want her to, she does make good choices, and they are for her benefit. Also, it seems she gets that she is one of three, and that has been taxing. Especially since her dad isn’t financially or physically helping.
Seeing The Overall Arc Of Sam’s Relationship With Her Kids
With Sam’s girls, you can see an arc of sorts. From Max to Duke, there have been patterns and repetition, as noted in the recap section. Max was Sam’s biggest headache, and then she chilled out as it became clear to her all Sam puts up with and does so these kids can have a good life. This could be said with Frankie who had to see how other families operated and take note of how her father was.
Heck, I’d say, taking note of how the community came together for Max’s graduation and Frankie’s party, Duke too needs to understand the family dynamic and how she fits in it. Because her statement about them never coming to see her, it contradicts Rich being around, amongst others. Add in Duke is definitely veering towards Frankie territory, but through a different lane, and it seems, as both Frankie and Max said, she is going to add some grays to Sam’s head. Leaving us the viewer seeing the circle of life.
Xander Realizing He Did Something Wrong
In this season, we met Xander’s mother, or at the very least saw her, and in a previous season, we’ve met his father. Both seem to enable the worst in Xander and played a role in him being the man we know. However, it seems something broke in him this episode. It’s hard to say what, since there are so many factors, but we appreciate him finally being willing to step up.
Mind you, there have been times the kids have appealed to Xander, and Sam has spoken to him, and he didn’t show up. So let’s take him wanting to do better with a grain of salt. Even if it would allow Sam to move on – finally.
It Being Shown Sam’s Anger Dealt With Men Not Doing Right By Their Kids And Less About The Men Themselves
With that said, Sam’s inability to move on has evolved thanks to this and the last episode. I’d thank Jeff and Tom for that as it seemed clear her harboring of hate had to do with men not showing up. Yes, Sam gets that relationships go south. However, not stepping up for your kids or making the marriage the only reason you took on the responsibility of fatherhood might be her key issue.
But, as noted, she isn’t without blindspots. Tom, since she has no relationship with him, she doesn’t know his side of the story. However, with getting to know Jeff, we see Sam is capable of forgiveness, perhaps even a friendship. The issue is, her default is siding with her friend and going hard on whoever they present as doing them wrong.
Sunny Calling Out Sam & Sticking Around Even After She Was Pushed Away
Which made Sunny’s reveal as to why no one says anything also an asset. Particularly since “Better Things” often operates without explanation. People are people and, normally, they don’t explain their behavior. So to verbally hear it is the loyalty of her friends that has allowed Sam to be this way for years, it puts into perspective a lot.
I’d even say it add weight to what Duke said. Outside of Rich, who does Sam really have a close relationship with? Who would, as Sunny did, not only call out Sam but also stick around and help her find some weed after? If not smoke it with her as well? What this episode really did was present some ability to see beyond the curtain and understand the dynamics of everyone a bit more.
On The Fence
Xander Not Knowing How Old His Daughter Is & Admitting He Has No Excuse
Well, outside of Xander. I still feel that we’re in the dark about why he is who he is, and an explanation will come, thanks to his daughters, but whether that will be held till the end of the show or season, it is hard to say. All I know is, with Tom getting to have his piece, explain his side, and this show not being afraid of repeating itself, on some topics, I sincerely hope Xander notes what led him to be the kind of father he is.
Oh, with the answer not being some BS, I did what my dad did since his dad has a job and seemingly followed that whole “Provider” role. Xander, on the other hand, just takes money from Sam and doesn’t seem to do much else.
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