Brothers & Sisters: “The Feast of Epiphany”

“The Feast of Epiphany”

January 13th, 2007 

In my current insomnia, brought on by a mutating cold that just won’t go away without a fight, I figured I’d take the time to comment on last night’s episode of Brothers & Sisters. The danger of this January strike situation is that some shows are returning with almost no notice – in the case of this series, I had completely forgotten it was scheduled to return. The show’s general success in the ratings demonstrates that viewers certainly didn’t tune out, but the fact remains that this one flew a little under the radar.

The whole point of the episode, of course, was that things can only fly under the radar for so long before they will blow up in your face. The episode dealt with the aftermath of McAllister’s war heroism being called into question, and then the whole slew of other underlying secrets and lies floating around. It also opened the door for an incestual potential relationship to lose its taboo, while also giving me false hope that we’d be saying goodbye to one of our regular characters. It was a busy, and ultimately fulfilling, hour of television.

First off, we get it – everyone has secrets. Everyone but Nora/Kitty (Who are always out of the loop on the family secrets) knows about Tommy/Lena, Justin is lying about having broken up with her, Kevin doesn’t immediately tell Scotty he’s going to see Jason, McAllister hasn’t told Kitty he doesn’t want kids, Sarah is a stretch but does have that business partner she flirted with a lot, and even Julia is holding onto a Phoenix affair that comes to light late in the episode. The episode’s moral, that you need to get the truth out there to cleanse one’s self, becomes most clear when McAllister’s main competition withdraws from the race due to his own secret: a mentally disabled son he refuses to acknowledge.

These “theme” episodes can often be preachy, but this one hit the right notes: the drama coincided nicely with Nora’s attempts to interact with Isaac (Danny Glover, returning), and it was just enough spectacle to make for entertaining television. The story seemed to come full circle, and it appears most people have taken the message to heart. By episode’s end, McAllister is the frontrunner for the republican nomination (By the way, he can’t actually win it can he? The show can’t become a White House drama, after all); it’s a quick turnaround for the family as a whole.

Disconnected from the family is the episode’s other major revelation, the continued presence of Ken Olin (Who is both executive producer of the series and Patricia Wettig’s real life husband) in Holly Harper’s life. Rebecca, after finding him charming and engaging, finally comes around to realizing that the elephant in the room is whether this low-rate shmuck (No offense, Ken) could be her father as opposed to the adulterous rich guy. On the one hand, Holly outright denies it…on the other hand, the chemistry between Dave Annable (Justin) and Emily VanCamp has been apparent since their first interactions, and any chance for them not to be brother and sister seems like something the series hopes to latch onto. Personally, still kind of weird – but Justin’s willing to sleep with his brother’s ex-mistress, I think he’ll be down with it.

I am far less down, however, to the fact that my one chance to rid this show of the lifeless and pointless Julia has been lost. I know that Tommy’s a father, and that he’s not his own father, but egads she just doesn’t add anything. I firmly believe that Nora kept her at that table not to enjoy her company, but to keep her from ruining the other scene. Tommy himself is a bit of a nothing character, but at least one which plays a role in the family as the curmudgeon who always sounds ignorant. But Julia is extraneous, and I would have loved for Tommy to become a new Justin and find himself in a terrible position in life for a change.

Cultural Observations

  • According to whatever sources I could scrounge up, there are two episodes left which will begin airing in the heart of February Sweeps starting on February 10th. The final episode, and the potential season finale due to the WGA Strike, is scheduled to air on the 17th.
  • I didn’t really mention Sarah’s fling with Steven Weber, who remains charming and the only member of the Studio 60 cast to survive intact. Their little “thing” is a good break for her character, who has had enough drama. I just worry that, considering how great Rachel Griffiths is, they will keep throwing her drama to get awards buzz.
  • There was an insinuation that someone in McAllister’s camp may have leaked the information regarding Adamson, but I have to assume it was something else: to end an episode all about clearing the air by placing another big secret into the series just doesn’t feel right.

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