A major shift in Sam’s life leaves you to question what the coming days and months will be like as she loses two people she loves the most.


Aired 4/18/2022
Network FX
Directed By Pamela Adlon
Written By Joe Hortua
Introduced This Episode
Gabriella Holly Freeman
Ben Clive Russell

Recap

That’s My Business – Gabriella, Ben, Phil, Sam, Duke, Max, Caroline

The England trip starts in Liverpool, where we meet Gabriella, Max’s cousin, and Ben, from Phil’s neighborhood from back in the day. They join most of the England trip, with Max and Gabriella talking about the art scene, and Gabriella even noting her friends, alongside her person, loves Max’s photography.

As for Ben, he tells old stories about Phil, her mother Shirley-Jane, and gives Sam a take on her mom and grandmother, whom she didn’t necessarily know before. Like how Phil’s nickname was Phyllis the clitoris. But, alongside that, we learn Phil’s family has always been very anti-monarch, which conflicts with Caroline’s, who always loved the monarchy. Which helps you understand further why Caroline often is a bit of a black sheep in the family, and Phil has very little love for her.

Now, as for Frankie? Uh, they arrive in England, but where are they for most of the trip is unknown. We do know that Duke sticks with her family and videotapes most of it and even, thanks to Gabriella, gets her first taste of beer.

Thank You For Your Permission – Caroline, Marion, Sam, Max, Phil, Duke

Originally, this whole trip was supposed to be just Caroline and Marion going to England so Caroline could spread her mother’s ashes. However, Marion made this a family thing, including paying for everyone. This bugs her since, as noted, she isn’t the most beloved person in Marion’s family. But what becomes a major kicker is when Phil, after revealing she and Max will stay in England, uses Sam’s shock, her hangover, and falling down a flight of stairs to try to get out of being there for Caroline.

Being the only good person among them, Sam says they are going to be there for Caroline, and with not knowing the full story, Caroline puts all the blame on Sam for why people are trying to back out. But, rather than out her family then and there, she just takes the hate and keeps it moving.

Thus leading to everyone watching Caroline dump her mother’s ashes into the river. Then, later on, Duke watches Phil and her brother miraculously walk and talk together as older people, then as children. Which makes it seem, like her sister and grandmother, maybe all Duke needed was a change of scenery?

Somewhere, Across The Sea – Max, Sam, Duke, Frankie, Marion, Phil, Caroline, Ben

Perhaps as an act of revenge for trying to use her to get out of Caroline’s thing, Sam announces during dinner that Max and Phil aren’t coming back to LA with the rest of the family. Let it be noted that only Sam knew, so everyone is shocked. Duke and Frankie are surprised but come to terms with it, and Marion? He seems excited at first but then does get emotional. Seemingly, like Sam, a lot of his life has been about worrying about his mom and thinking about her. So it is a shift for Ben to take her off their hands.

However, Marion is more worried about Sam since her mother and eldest are leaving at the same time, and he knows how she is. Her life revolves around the needs of those two, and with Frankie’s level of independence and Duke soon to be off next, Sam is forced to realize that her inner circle is growing smaller. That the people she has been in relationships with the longest are creating distance between them.

Things To Note

Question(s) Left Unanswered

  1. So are they going to sell Phil’s house back in LA now?
  2. If Gabriella is Max’s cousin, who are her parents? Are they Max’s cousins on her father’s side?
  3. Has it spread throughout the family Max had an abortion?
  4. Am I the only one surprised Sam wasn’t more hurt after falling down a flight of stairs?

What Could Happen Next

  1. With the next episode being the series finale, all you can expect is tears.

Review

Highlights

Sam Losing Access To Her Longest Relationships

From what we’ve been shown thus far, Sam hasn’t had a lot of good romantic relationships. From her ex-husband to the few exes we’ve met, they have been hell and the worst kinds of lessons a person can be. So when it comes to Phil and Max, even though Sam has struggled with both, had shouting matches, and definitely has been gaslit by both, they are her constants.

Phil is Sam’s mom, and she takes care of her, sees her almost daily, and Phil’s eccentricities are probably as good as a morning coffee. Then with Max, it is always hard to see your oldest go. Yes, Max’s ability to be on her own, even far away from Sam, means Sam did something right. Especially since Max didn’t ask for money, as of yet, to help her move out to London and handle her bills.

However, that doesn’t take away from Sam increasingly being forced to realize she can’t live her life through the drama and needs of others. Sooner rather than later, she has to do things for herself.

Marion Breaking Down

Marion’s issues with Phil are well-documented. Yet, even if she has long been trouble and a pain in the ass, that’s his mom. She is someone who is a pain because she doesn’t get along with his wife and her comments. There isn’t physical abuse or outright abandonment. Yes, they aren’t as close as Sam and Phil are, but a part of him seems fine with that since his capacity for her crazy isn’t like Sam’s.

But, in seeing him breakdown for a second, it seemed to hit him that this might be the best their relationship could get. Never mind, with this trip, he gave her something that Sam couldn’t – a new lease on life. So while that may not elevate him to being the favorite, at the very least, both know that, despite their differences, at the core of it all, there is love.

Low Points

Uh, Where Was Frankie?

With Max and Duke having a breakthrough this episode, I must admit I feel like Frankie’s absence is either part of building up to something grand in the series finale or them just being forgotten. For I don’t know about you, but I found myself questioning where Frankie was during all of this? They weren’t there for Ben’s stories, Caroline’s thing, so were they at the hotel the whole time? I don’t think Sam would allow that. Also, while Gabriella seems cool, they didn’t interact with Frankie, so it felt like a pothole to see Frankie when they got to England and then not see them for more than a day until dinner before mostly everyone headed back to LA.

Better Things Directory

Network(s) FX
Created or Developed By Pamela Adlon & Louis C.K.
First Aired 9/8/2016

Character Guide

Not Created

Season Reviews

Not Created

Affiliate Link(s)

Links contain affiliate links which, If you make a purchase, we’ll earn a commission from the company.

Amazon

Phil sitting on a bench with a umbrella
Better Things: Season 5/ Episode 9 “England” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)
Overall
With nearly everyone Sam held dear showing their growth and ability to exist without her, it is bittersweet.
Highlights
Sam Losing Access To Her Longest Relationships
Marion Breaking Down
Disputable
Uh, Where Was Frankie?
79


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Avatar of Amari

I started Wherever I Look back in 2011 and have aimed to be that friend who loves watching various forms of media and talking about it. So, from bias, strong opinions, and a perspective you may not have thought about, you'll find that in our reviews.

7 Comments

  1. Avatar of luciliuz

    I’m trying to recall who’s the man (Mark) Sam run into in London, and the woman he’s with as well..
    and, does anyone have a comment about Duke watching Phil disappear for a moment with Lester (her brother), 2 kids playing instead..?
    I thought she was going to die, then she came back.

    • Avatar of Amari

      I know the woman is Pamela Adlon’s co-star from Californication, Natascha McElhone, but I don’t know the man off hand.

      As for the Phil thing, I was thinking she was going to die since she was home and at peace. Seeing Lester especially pushed that idea for it was like he was taken her to the other side. But I guess Phil wasn’t done with the family she has that is alive, so she played with her brother and then, off-screen, told him she’ll see him later?

  2. Avatar of Sue

    I didn’t get where Frankie was either when they did the ashes thing. And I did not get why Caroline went into that porta potty and dumped the rest of the ashes in there? can anyone explain that?

    • Avatar of Amari

      I was confused by that as well. A part of me wondered if, publicly, she wanted to seem like the dutiful daughter, hence making a scene of scattering her mother’s ashes. Yet, because of some issues they had when her mother was alive, maybe that is why she put the rest in a porta-potty, for people to urinate and defecate on for the rest of the day – including Caroline herself?

      It makes me wonder how often ahs Caroline talked about her mom previously?

  3. Avatar of Linda

    I love this show! I’ve watched all 5 seasons, and what does Hulu do?????? Right when Sam was doing her toast at the end, they switch to another show called “You’re the worst”. Well, Hulu is the WORST for doing that!!! I missed the ending of the show! I really don’t know what to do but complain, or Hulu, give me my money back for a month for the ugly snafu!

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