The Twist We Never Saw Coming: An Uptick In Quality
I felt profoundly unsettled upon finishing Friday's episode of All My Children--it was kind of enjoyable and not once during the episode did I go through my normal routine of huffing (as in "huffing and puffing", not huffing paint, although I do understand the urge to do the latter during some episodes of AMC) and rolling my eyes and squawking things like "Are you--I can't even!" at my television, a routine that is purely for drama's sake, as I almost always watch AMC by myself. What's that about, people?
I have four theories:
1. Rumors are swirling about AMC's future and they are stressing me out a little bit and, perhaps (?) boosting my fondness for the show, as though I am using "Big Yellow Taxi" as a cautionary tale and making a point of knowing what I've got before it's potentially gone.
2. Reese and her rampant hateability are responsible for a good third of my AMC-related enjoyment in the past couple of years. She is the WORST and mocking her is so much FUN, and Friday's show and her actions, which I can describe only as assed-up and terrible, gave me ample opportunity to point and laugh at her. Plus, she wasn't even on-screen, so it was a win-win.
3. No Krystal, Greenlee or Ryan = awesome.
4. The show was genuinely good.
Let me recap!
We opening with Jackson brooding at Erica's place. She enters, all breathy and charming, and he drops a bombshell: he'd been waiting for her to come home so that he could say goodbye to her in person, as it would be ungentlemanly to move out while she wasn't move.
Over at Krystal's, Bianca is having Mommy & Me time with Miranda and Gabrielle before Reese arrives. Bianca is in an outfit that has led me to believe that she spent her time without a real story having off-screen adventures, one of which led to a run-in with the law that saw her going up against a judge who, in lieu of jail time, sentenced her to wear this thing because I'm sorry, I can't live in a world where a hot rich girl would voluntarily put on an olive green sack and then say, "You know what this needs? A drab, flyaway cardigan and also a belt worn in the most unflattering way".
I'm still not exactly sure how I feel about the new Marissa, although I will give Sarah Glendening credit and admit that she's much less boring than her predecessor. Marissa the character is definitely still dull and also kind of unnecessary, but Glendening at least brings some energy into her scenes. Also? Pretty hair.
Anyway, Marissa finds the news of Reese flying into town to be off-putting and is trying to coax Bianca into expecting the worst-case scenario, but Bianca blithely says that she doesn't want Reese's time in town to be taken up by lawyers. Blissful delusion is definitely a trait that she and Reese had in common. Marissa compares the custody dispute to her issues with JR and Bianca testily tells her that Reese is nothing like JR. Yeah, JR is occasionally entertaining.
Cara and Griffin's overbearing and stereotypical mother walks in on Cara and Jake hugging, leading her to make an expression that will remain plastered on her face for the remainder of episode.
At the hospital, Griffin tells Kendall that he can't imagine Zach would want her to risk her health, and she counters by asking if he's ever been in love. He basically sputters in response, and she takes his silence as a no and gets sassy:
Kendall: Until you love someone with your whole heart and soul, when you feel so close and so connected that you're almost the same person, you will never know how it feels.
Erica's: she asks if Jack is angry about her kiss with Caleb, but Jack tells her that it's about them, not the loathsome mountain creature, and he's not even sure the wedding should happen, telling her that she hasn't made room in her life for a partner.
At Krystal's, Marissa tries to talk some sense into Bianca, asking her why Reese is all of a sudden flying in NOW and not at any time over the past few months that she's been away from her daughters? She urges Bianca to at least consider that Reese has an agenda, but Bianca is all "Some things need to be discussed in person!"
At the hospital, Griffin asks Kendall to explain what she means about her relationship with Zach and she obliges with a monologue that I'm sure warmed the hearts of every Zach and Kendall fan still watching.
Kendall: What Zach and I had...you know that cliche about people finishing each other's sentences?...it was more than that. I would be thinking about him and the phone would ring and it would be Zach, thinking of me...[...]He could get inside my crazy, all over the place thoughts and I could get inside his dark, complex ones. We saved each other's lives, but not in the way you do. We did it by letting the other person in, totally. We knew each other so deeply and so intimately...
At Confusion, Evil Diana is chatting with Ricky who, remember, is pretending to be a minister. The way she caresses him isn't exactly holy.
He removes her hand from his chest, but he doesn't tell her that purring at him in an over-the-top flirtatious and sultry manner isn't really good for his whole cover. He's trying to explain to her that he hasn't made progress yet on tracking Zach's evidence down, because it's sort of hard to badger Kendall about it all the time. Diana points out that they have another problem in Griffin, who she refers to has the "hot pitbull" and Ricky quickly says that they'll take him out if necessary. There's a little bit of regret as he talks about Kendall and how she's so different from the people that he usually ruins, but Diana wonders where these second thoughts were when he blew Zach's plane up...
Speaking of the pitbull, he's making a deal with Kendall, who is shocked that she managed to get through his thick skull. He says he'll give her a week with no medicine, but if she starts to feel run down, she has to let him know. And also:
Jake and Tad drink coffee in the cold, giving Cara and Mrs. Castillo some privacy so that the latter could aggressively interrogate and berate the former.
Jake: Sweet, sweet lady.
Tad: A peach. I wonder how you say Steel Magnolia in Spanish?
Jake expresses worry for Cara, who has had a rough day, thanks to a run-in with the shockingly relentless Agent Trumbull. This role must be almost like a homecoming of sorts for Real Andrews, because "shockingly relentless" is the best (and most family-friendly) way to describe Taggert, his General Hospital character.
Mrs. Castillo is basically repulsed by the idea of a man and his ex-wife living in the same house, and I am sort of with her on that front, mostly because the ex-wife in question is Krystal. Cara tries so hard to talk up Tad and the way Jake moved on, and Mrs. Castillo cuts to the chase: she can see that Cara is headed for heartbreak and is here to take her home.
Outside, Tad is making small talk about Mexican wedding traditions, including mariachi bands and treating the bride's brother like a pinata, which piques Jake's interest. Jake reminisces a bit about when he and Cara got married and I half expected to see Amanda lurking in the background just in time to overhear that, since that seems to be her major role on the show these days (technically, I guess that counts as a spoiler for later in the show).
Cara tells her mother that she's getting married to Tad no matter what, and her mother reminds her of how broken-hearted she was when she broke up with Jake and how she made excuses for him and still wears his ring on a chain. Cara says she chose the wrong man before, but when her mother counters by asking if Tad's the right man, she just begs her mother to stop with the questions.
Kendall doesn't know what to make of Griffin suddenly becoming the...well, he's not the Ned Nickerson to her Nancy Drew, because they aren't dating. Let's call him the George Fayne to her Nancy Drew. He tells Kendall that Zach brought him to Pine Valley to help people and he is going to start by helping Zach and Kendall. He reasons that since doctors are pretty good at solving things, he might be able to help her and suggests that they start with the letter. He asks her to go over it again for him and, adorably, she closes her eyes and recites it, occasionally pausing and getting choked up. Man, Alicia Minshew is good. Griffin is surprised that she knows the letter word for word, but she looks totally surprised that it's even a question--like, of course she is going to commit to memory the last thing Zach gave her, isn't that only natural? Griffin asks her who, specifically, Zach mentioned in the letter and she says it was just her, the boys and his casino partners. Griffin finds that last part a little odd, since it's a personal letter to Zach's wife. Kendall fills him in on the drama with the casino partners and their threats and harassment, and Griffin points out that she might have her answer right there.
--Okay, can we talk for a second? I would LOVE an arc of Kendall investigating Zach's death. That should have been her story from the start--there could have been the grief and the mourning and then a determined pledge to find out what happened to Zach once and for all. It would have been awesome and it was staring the writers right in their faces, so why they chose instead "You know what would be ridiculous? Lots of heart problems and collapsing in the woods and then more heart problems and also shooting David!" is beyond me.--
Bianca is telling her increasingly impatient daughters that Reese is running late when a very officious looking French man walks in, with a woman in tow, and introduces himself as the attorney representing Reese. Bianca is confused and even more so when the lawyer gives some half-assed excuse that Reese had a work emergency and, slimily, introduces her to the woman standing with him: a nanny, who is going to be with the girls when they go back to Paris to be with Reese. Realization suddenly dawns on Bianca that she married a total fucking douchebag, and the Mama Bear comes out.
She even repeats herself in French, just to make sure that he and the nanny, standing awkwardly in the background, understand.
I HATE Reese so much. I don't even need to see her face to be able to HATE her as much as I do right now. This awful attempt to get custody of the girls is, really, in keeping with her already established character traits of being an irksome freakshow of a human being, so I guess I should applaud the writing staff for keeping things in character, hateful warts and all...
Over at Erica's, Jack is leaving and tells Erica he left a book she's wanted to read on her nightstand. She tells him that he loves her, and he says he loves her, too, and starts to leave. His dramatic exit is interrupted by the sudden arrival of Marissa, who says that Bianca needs their help.
At the hospital, Kendall and Griffin are talking some more about the people Zach worked with, and Griffin suggests that she call the police, since the letter could indicate that there was foul play. She thanks him for everything and leaves. His phone rings and...
...it's Tad, warning him that Mama Castillo is in town and that Cara sort of desperately needs his help. Griffin plainly thinks to himself "FML".
Cara tells Mrs. Castillo that she knows what she's doing and that Tad is good and selfless and caring and all sorts of good things, but Mama C. isn't buying it. She asks her daughter to hold off on the wedding so that she doesn't get her heart broken again, which Jake and Tad hear as they walk in.
Bianca gives Miranda and Gabrielle money for the jukebox and Slimy French Lawyer introduces himself. Bianca shoos the girls away and sternly says that he and the uncomfortable nanny with not speak to her children. He points out that they are Reese's children as well. Bianca counters that Reese hasn't bothered to see them in months which, yes, exactly and, by the way Binks, that should have raised ALL SORTS OF RED FLAGS back over the summer. Slimy French Lawyer claims that the girls were being kept from his poor, innocent client and Bianca suddenly goes from Mama Bear to petulant teen and, in a scene that eerily reminds me of adolescent arguments with my mother, whines "That isn't whyyyyy!" Before Slimy French Lawyer can use this instance of brattiness to make a case for Reese, Erica Kane strides in out of nowhere and sneers, "Leave my daughter alone". And don't you dare try to argue, Slimy French Lawyer: Erica, Erica Kane comes armed.
Jack wonders what the eff is going on, and Reese's lawyer assures them that Reese just wants to see her daughters. Jack suggests that Reese go to expedia.com and buy her lazy ass a plane ticket, and and awesomely introduces himself as "The American lawyer who is going to become a big pain in your derriere". He explains to Bianca, who has apparently not watched Dateline or Law & Order ever, that this is a classic bait and switch: Reese would get the kids to paris and the custody trial would take place there. He tells Slimy French lawyer and the uncomfortable nanny that he'll have them both arrested for attempted kidnapping, which really doesn't seem fair for the poor nanny. She just stood there silently!
Kendall and her super short dress are back home. She picks Zach's letter up again and all of a sudden Ricky is standing there. Dude doesn't even have footsteps! He's like a floppy haired Ghostface. He says the sitter let him in and apologizes for scaring the hell out of her (sort of unwise to do that to someone recovering from heart issues, especially before she leads you to the information you're looking for!). He says he wants to make sure she's okay and it would be a WHOLE lot more believable if he could manage to tear his eyes off the letter at any point during their conversation.
He is bemused that she's obsessing like this all because Zach called her sweetheart, but she points out how odd it is to bring up business partners in a personal letter. She says she's going to dig deeper and call in lawyers, PI's and cops, and Ricky smugly tells her "Zach would be so disappointed in you". Hilariously, she responds with a look that says "Preacher man say what?!"
At Tad's, he apologizes for intruding and Jake decides to escape the awkward by getting something from his room. Mrs. Castillo is basically aghast and repulsed that Jake also lives in that house, probably wondering how the hell this house is big enough for so many married and formerly married people. Griffin comes in to save the day, though, and fake-happily greets his mother, who is OVERJOYED to see him. He talks Tad up a bit, but she is not even a little bit impressed, taking the opportunity to ask him about his love life. He gives her the "married to my work" line and she ruefully says it's time for him to meet a special woman...
And wouldn't you know it, we cut immediately to Kendall! She's asking Ricky WTF he meant about disappointing Zach and he backpedals, suggesting that he didn't mean it in a "I'm a total asshole" kind of way but a "Wasn't this letter from Zach actually a lesson about not letting anything come between you and happiness?" He says he's sure Griffin was trying to help, but going down the conspiracy theory rabbit whole is a bad idea. She looks lost and confused, but brightens considerably when she tells him that she's taken his (Not at all EVIL) advice to think of special places she and Zach had, and his eyes basically light up: it was their boat! Evil music starts to play and, looking like the cat who ate the canary, Ricky asks if she wants to go visit. She says no, but he's really ridiculously persistent and he offers, very casually and not at all selfishly, to go with her.
At Krystal's, Jack dismisses the lawyer, who sneers that he'll be in touch. Erica hugs her daughter, who has to bend down about three feet to return the embrace, and everyone there basically agrees that they will keep Reese away from the girls, even if they die trying and they will be proud to sacrifice themselves for such a worthy cause (I'm paraphrasing a bit). Bianca apologizes to Marissa for being a dick earlier, and Jack tells her that Marissa has a really good handle on the case. Marissa happily accepts the job and Jack tells Bianca to call if she needs anything. As he leaves, Erica gazes at him and tells him that he's wonderful.
Cara and Jake get called into the hospital, leaving poor Griffin and Tad with the overbearing houseguest. The three settle in for an awkward conversation that starts with Tad calling his future mother-in-law Mrs. C, and...as surprising as it is, it manages to go even more downhill from there. He admits that he'd have questions about the marriage too, if he were in her position, but that he's totally committed to Cara's safety and happiness. He allows that the whole brother thing is icky...and the age difference is sort of upsetting...and he's been married a whole lot...and has kids...Griffin stops him from listing ALL of his flaws and providing Mrs. Castillo with even more ammunition by offering a "But...?" to get him back on track and he lamely finishes up by saying that he and Cara are a new story, and that they'll have a happy ending.
Yacht Club! There's a romantic dinner waiting for Jack in his room. And Erica is also there. In a tutu.
Erica is here to make an appeal to Jackson:
Erica: I'm grateful to you because you're still in my life. Because you're still the same wonderful, gallant man I fell in love with all those years ago, and the man I'm still in love with. Jack, I know that we've lost our way and I know that I am somewhat responsible for part of that--for all of that, but you're my touchstone, Jack. You're my family. I don't want to lose you. Not ever.
Aww! And ha, I love that Erica's first instinct is to say she's "somewhat" responsible for some of their problems.
Kendall and Ricky are on the boat. She needs a second to regroup and says it's weird to be there without Zach. He tells her to take her time and might as well add "Let me know if you find something suspicious and evil-looking!" with how much his eyes are darting all over. His phone rings, and it is Diana, who he has to play off as being a parishioner. He evilly tells her that he's "still working on it, but we should have an answer for you...very soon". The music department really dropped the ball by not adding in a well-timed "Dun dun DUN"!
Yacht club: Jack didn't want to leave Erica and she says she's here to fight for him. He compliments her on her knack for BIG displays and she says she pulls out all the stops when she wants something. His answer? Picking her up like a tiny little doll with a huge head, and carries her to the bed.
Bianca is frustrated with her self for wanting to handle things nicely for the sake of the girls and not realizing sooner that her wife is a hosebeast with no morals. Marissa admits that her experience with JR colored the way she handled the case, and that she couldn't let anything like that happen to Bianca. The words of a good lawyer or a possible love interest?
At Tad's, Mrs. Castillo says this whole things is absurd and promises, one way or another, to stop the wedding. Griffin...is kind of impassive? Maybe he's just so used to his mother's histrionics that he doesn't bother with reactions.
At the hospital, Jake and Cara recap how hard their day was and, playing nervously with the chain around her neck, Cara says she couldn't lie to her mother and that she had a deep, real love with Jake. She cuts herself off and apologizes for making Jake uncomfortable and decides to take off her wedding ring because seeing it just reminds her of Jake, telling him to take it. This is, of course, witnessed by Amanda who just happened to be walking innocently down that particular hospital hallway with her tragedy of a hairstyle.
Kendall babbles a bit about finding a light switch while Ricky evilly continues his evil conversation. Diana reminds him that if Kendall finds evidence on the boat, they'll go to prison and that he will have to get rid of her. He's totally cool with that, shadily muttering "This is what I do". And with that, the episode is over.