Tuesday, March 06, 2007

"Oh, the Greek tragedy of it all": Brothers & Sisters

Yes, I realize I've used two Emily VanCamp photos in two weeks, when this show has a vast, talented ensemble. Then again: she's Emily VanCamp?

Anyway, after weeks of rather light, silly episodes things took a more dramatic turn on Sunday with "The Other Walker", when the existence of Rebecca, Holly's secret lovechild with Walker patriarch William, was revealed. Rebecca had shown up for a couple minutes last week (with VanCamp also added to the main cast, which means she's here to stay) but really got mixed into the show this week, which abandoned the whole "focus in depth on a couple family members a week" thing and checked in with the whole cast's reaction to the news. While this was one of the main flaws in the show during its much-maligned early episodes (where the writers had a lot of trouble handling the large ensemble) it worked fine here, getting across the seismic shock of Rebecca's revelation.

Then again, since Rebecca's existence had been confirmed ages ago, it also seemed a little half-baked, with the scenario (the Walkers conspire and argue over whether to reveal a devastating secret about William to Nora) a re-tread of the earlier episode where the siblings learned of Holly's status as secret mistress before Nora did. Thankfully, the conniving of Tommy, Sarah and Kevin did not last long, with Saul (I hope I'm not confusing anyone by not ascribing the myriad names on this show to their respective actors) confessing everything to Nora early on, mostly because secret-keeping is always a disaster for these characters. It's always nice to see some of the more backgrounded actors in this ensemble get a little something to do: Balthazar Getty has been afforded a little more screentime in recent weeks, and Ron Rifkin got something to sink his chops into when his burgeoning relationship with Holly was sunk by Sarah telling Rebecca about her father's identity. Okay, enough exposition. I'm getting tired typing out all these names.

Despite all of the crazy drama/wacky situations the Walkers get into every week, Brothers and Sisters deserves commendation for keeping things mostly on the level, reality-wise. When a character does something bad, like Sarah spilling the beans this week, it feels justified, not just a melodramatic twist to drive the story along. While Sarah's mini-betrayal worked well, and Rebecca's confrontation with her mother directly afterward was great work from VanCamp and Wettig, other plot twists were a lot more obvious. It was clear Kevin's closeted actor boyfriend was doomed from the minute Kevin called and badgered Asian Harry Knowles, and it was equally clear that nice sensitive Justin was going to be the one to bridge the gap between Rebecca and her new siblings. Still, I'm glad closet-boy is gone (not the worst storyline in the world, but it had played its course) and I liked Justin and Rebecca's episode-ending 'tell me about yourself' talk (aside from "Afghanistan! That must have been intense."). But I think I'll like basically anything involving Ms. VanCamp.

Now that sweeps are over, I'm not sure when this show is back, but stick with it! Things can only get better! EMILY VANCAMP!


Todd VanDerWerff said...

I think Emily Van Camp should join Jayma Mays in the South Dakota Dark Company Players.

David Sims said...

Life With Andy's ensemble just got a little sexier!