Monday, June 10, 2013

'Switched at Birth' Review - 2.11 Mother and Child Divided

        On the summer premiere of ABC Family's Switched at Birth, Regina returns home early from rehab to discover that Daphne has grown closer to the Kennish family; Bay runs into her ex-boyfriend, Ty, who has returned from Afghanistan; Travis and Emmett invite girls over to the house while Melody if out of town; and Kathryn's elaborate ideas for Toby and Nikki's rehearsal dinner rubs Nikki the wrong way.

        Just like the Season 2A episodes were building up to the monumental all sign language episode, it is immediately felt that Season 2B is building up to the big "What If?" episode. Both narrative structures are great at giving these string of episodes a driving force as well as great connective tissues that make the series engaging and exciting to watch. After going off the rails into melodrama at the tail end of the first season, Switched at Birth proved in the first half of its second season that when it buckles down on these characters and their relationships between each other, it is a truly groundbreaking series.
        The Noah debacle, Regina's relapse and their opposing views on the pilot program despite both fighting to keep Carlton open have created a huge rift in the Bay-Daphne relationship. Their dynamic is the main focus of the show. Their rift has pushed both characters into the arms of the families they were meant to be with from the beginning. Yes, they were some plot mechanics in order to get both of them were they needed to be at the end of the hour. But the prospects of each living arrangement are more intriguing and exciting than what they were in this hour. It was a little unbelievable at Daphne's insistances of pushing Regina away. During the midseason finale, she was in tears because she believed it was her fault that Regina fell off the wagon as drastically as she did. Regina comforted her and said it was no one's fault but her own. And now, in this premiere, Daphne is angry at Regina for "abandoning" her - a situation that has only benefited Daphne as she has gotten a credit card, a posh job at John's senate office, a new love interest and a spot at the Kennishes' country club. And while Daphne leaving Regina for the Kennishes is because of her hatred for Regina, Bay leaving her family to live with Regina is because she doesn't even have a close bond with her and she wants one. Bay and Kathryn were on very good footing in the midseason finale and barely interacting here - as Kathryn is busying with Toby and Nikki. She and her father will basically never see eye to eye on anything. Bay recognizes that Regina shares her interests but doesn't understand why Regina is hesitating to bond with her. Regina's decision to keep quiet about the switch weighed very heavily on her which has kept the walls up from her getting to know her real daughter. Now, the two are together - and if Angelo ever decides to be a permanent piece of this family - and they have the best chance at getting to know each other and perhaps the missing piece they each have been missing. 
       One, sometimes frustrating, recurring plot on the series is the revolving door of love interests for both Bay and Daphne. It is evident that Bay and Daphne will both eventually end up with Emmett and Travis respectively. But until the show fully commits to keeping those pairings together it is set on introducing new love interests for both characters during each cycle of episodes. Bay has had Emmett, Ty, Noah and even Zarra if you feel inclined to include her here. Daphne has had Wilke, Chef Jeff, Travis and Noah for a little bit. Daphne is essentially sticking to this formula for this batch of summer episodes with the introduction of the new British guy at work. But the show is trying to do something different with Bay by reintroducing Ty to the show. Ty was a character that had a lot of potential in the beginning of the show's first season but he had to be written off in order for Blair Redford to star on The Lying Game. Now, he is the first past love interest to make a return appearance and that is startling to Bay as she is unsure of how to react at first. She has no problem building up a friendship with him again but it is very clear that he has been through a lot since last we saw of him. Plus he used to be close friends with Daphne so I'm intrigued to see how she reacts to his return. As Bay noted at the start of the episode, Daphne has completely forgotten her East Riverside roots and has become the polished and uptight daughter of the Kennishes. Perhaps all of these characters and stories colliding together will happen many realize their roots and how they need to remember where they've been and what they've been through in order to grow to become a better person.
        Because both Emmett and Travis are giving space to Bay and Daphne, they have largely been involved in separate plots. In the past, this has also led to episodes omitting them almost completely. I hope this doesn't happen again to these characters in these episodes because they bring out interesting layers in some of the other characters. Their brother-like friendship has been an amazing development from the earlier episodes this year and their adventures in this hour were fun and enjoyable to watch. Plus it gives us some lower-stakes the rest of the drama happening on the show as they set out on their search to get Travis some action.
        I was worried about what would happen to Toby this season because the first half of season two was a really strong string of episodes for him. His relationship with Nikki has been the best thing for his character development. We are suppose to be rooting for these two as a couple - wasn't that the whole point of Zoey Deutch popping in for two episodes? The introduction of her leaving for Peru and their quick engagement was a narrative question mark for me. How could the show keep Toby interesting without Nikki? Well, apparently Nikki is staying over the summer months and the main meat of their story this cycle will be battling his parents over their wedding. While this may delay the inevitable of her leaving, I'm happy for this couple staying together now even though his parent's disapproval and Kathryn's extravagant decorations for the rehearsal dinner feel like overly familial narratives. 

So what did everyone think of the episode? How do you feel the show handle pushing the characters into the families they should have been born into? Are you excited by the return of Ty? Upset that Angelo and his baby custody battle apparently are still a plot the show wants us to believe in? Share your thoughts in the comments.