Monday, October 22, 2012

'Switched at Birth' Finale Review - 1.30 Street Noises Invade the House

        On the season finale of ABC Family's Switched at Birth, the Kennish and Vasquez families are starting to fall apart; Daphne and Jeff's relationship is exposed causing them major problems; Bay and Zarra take off without telling anyone; and the trial reaches a shocking conclusion.

        This has been a very rough final third part of Switched at Birth's first season. In these last ten episodes, it seems as if the show wanted to please everyone with a storyline - and really failed at figuring out which ones were the most compelling and refreshing. They also really deviated away from the show's core and ground-relationships within the family too much - and thusly we were struck with Daphne at work or Bay with Zarra but not a whole lot of Bay and Daphne or Regina and Bay or Angelo and Daphne. It also really hurts that the show's two main stories from this fall run (Daphne's relationship with Jeff and Bay's street art with Zarra) just kept hitting predictable beat after predictable beat. As soon as they were introduced, I had my suspicions of where they would go in these episodes based on what I've seen before on other TV series. Up until this point, Switched at Birth had been really great at taking the predictable and turning it on its head while also being phenomenally acted. Vanessa Marano and Katie LeClerc continue delivering heartfelt and emotional performances but there was absolutely nothing deep in to these story arcs. I also respect Tania Raymonde and Justin Bruening as actors but their characters did add anything to the overall narrative or to the character depths of Bay or Daphne.
        The show was able to keep that the narrative formula mostly intact with its another subplots but these episodes were so dominated by Bay and Daphne's separate stories that it really limited what the rest of the cast was able to do. I mean Toby had this great, nuanced story with this new girl and yet it was really limited to only three episodes. Regina and Angelo's marriage was the big promotional push heading into this fall run and yet after the first two episodes it really fizzled out. The spring run had the great stuff going on with the Emmett and Simone characters and the fall run definitely could have been structured around the fallout of what happened with those stories. But Emmett was pretty much a non-entity in this run - only really contributing in the premiere, the finale and a handful of scenes in between. Simone was even more underused even though they set up this fantastic story of her joining AA and meeting Regina. That led to one heartfelt scene and then was completely forgotten about. The entire series had been building up to the trial of them suing the hospital and the show just managed to squeeze it in into the last two episodes. They did get a lot of great material out of those two episodes but I feel like they really could have done more with it.
        But with all the faults I had with this fall run of Switched at Birth, the beats that this finale was able to hit were quite impressive. Now, I can see how the thoughts behind the two stories where meant to effect the characters of Bay and Daphne. It was just that they dragged on for too long without, at times, seeming like they were doing anything to the overall narrative. The show needed for Bay's street art secret to come out and to find a way to make a reunion between Bay and Emmett seem natural. On both of those levels, the finale did an excellent job of resolving and teasing. I am ecstatic about the closure of these stories but also really excited about how the characters will react to everything (amongst each other) when the season returns for the second season. Conversely, I don't see how this arc with Daphne is by any means relevant to her development as a character.
       ABC Family just announced today that season two of Switched at Birth will premiere on Monday, January 7, 2013 at 8/7c. I, for one, am completely excited/anxiously hoping to see the show make a big return to its grounded episodic structure and character plotting next year.

So what did everyone think of the finale? Was it a fittingly strong end to an overall lackluster fall run? Share your thoughts in the comments.