[Gak! I wrote this a few weeks ago and never posted it. I’ve actually gotten caught up with my Cleaner watching (see how much better that reads than “my The Cleaner watching”?), but had watched only “Split Ends” and “The Things We Didn’t Plan” when I wrote this. ]
If “Split Ends” and “The Things We Didn’t Plan” are any indication of what’s to come, I’m there. Well, I’m there with the remote in case I have to fast-forward through the family crap scenes.
I watched “Split Ends” last week, so it’s a bit dusty in my mind. It took me a couple tries to finish the episode, but when I did, I liked it. The family of broken women recovering together was… I’m struggling for a word here. “Sweet” doesn’t work, nor does “nice.” I guess “comforting” comes the closest to describing how I felt.
The episode gave us a glimpse into the enigma that is William Banks. At one point he tells Amber “You’re “beautiful,” because that’s what she needs to hear. But he’s unable to forgive his friend Greg, even though recovery is supposed to be about forgiveness. If we can have more views into William’s psyche, minus the family, I’m all for it.
“The Things We Didn’t Plan” was nearly perfect. (And not just because there was no Melissa or kids.) I loved how the camera work at the beginning emphasized the episode’s key people in saturated color against a black and white background. And I liked that William spoke of his team with pride in his voice. Most of the time, William’s interaction with Akani and Arnie is to chastise them for screwing up, or getting too personal, or whatever. It was pleasant to see them all working together.
I’m not sure if this episode indicates a turn in the tone of the show, with producers realizing the family isn’t working and knowing they’ve missed a gold mine in glossing over Arnie and Akani. Not to mention taking advantage of Benjamin Bratt’s appeal. Maybe they took my comments about why season 2 hasn’t been working to heart. Except that 1) I know they’re not scouring the internet to see what I have to say, and 2) the episode was filmed long before I voiced my disappointment.
I felt William was treated as “single” in this episode. He didn’t mention his family, and even seemed to do a little flirting with Evan, the diner’s owner. I thought they had a lovely chemistry and would enjoy seeing her again. (Although the surprise of the wheel chair was a little hokey. I mean, it was next to her seat. William, the great observer, didn’t notice it??)
I loved the Arnie/Akani interaction. I never want to see them hook up as a couple, but their sibling-like sparing is entertaining. Akani trying to convince Sunshine, the homeless woman, she can take care of her dog because she has experience taking care of animals—she takes care of Arnie. Of course, Sunshine wasn’t convinced Akani was doing such a good job with Arnie as she retorted “That scrawny thing?” But underneath all the teasing, Arnie and Akani do care about each other.
I think perhaps we got a hint into Akani’s background. When Sunshine’s daughter refused to take care of the dog, wanting nothing to do with her mother, it seemed to hit Akani particularly hard. I got the feeling it’s something more personal for Akani than just trying to take care of a “client.”
In an episode full of good performances, Jamie McShane really stood out as Leonard, the cocaine-addicted detective. Having the shakes as he was going through detox (the “for real” detox, not the “just pass the drug test” detox) was an inspired addition. Even if it wasn’t the actor’s choice, he did it brilliantly. Of all the stories, his was the most tragic, and his actions the most courageous.
I sometimes complain that the series goes for the rosy ending 99% of the time (3 separate cases, 3 positive outcomes? Really?). Even in the case of Evan and Leonard where the outcome isn’t pleasant, only the positive is emphasized. Then again, maybe it’s not such a bad thing to see the good in a bad situation.