Monday, August 19, 2013

REVIEW: 'Switched at Birth' Ends 2nd Season with Bay, Daphne & Toby Dealing with Consequences in 'Departure of Summer'

ABC Family's Switched at Birth - Season 2, Episode 21 "Departure of Summer"

John and Kathryn contemplate telling Toby their true feelings about his decision to marry; Daphne must own up to her mistakes and deal with the consequences; Bay works on a plan to continue her relationship with Ty while he is overseas; and Angelo finds himself in over his head.

Switched at Birth closed its second season with the end of summer and an episode that was very reflective of what has happened during the summer months. It turned out to be a very tumultuous season for these characters. While all these stories came to a head in the finale, it has forced them into a situation where they have to deal with the consequences of their actions. The ramifications of their actions make the characters have to talk to one another and putting this collection of characters together is a truly shining moment as the summer has pulled many of them off onto their various paths. Holding onto to what you believe and who you truly love was the underlying theme to the hour. It brought everything and everyone together well in the perfect low-stakes way this show is so great at operating at.

From the first moment that Toby and Nikki told John and Kathryn about the wedding, they were against it and assumed that it was just so they could have sex. They never came out and said this to him because they love their son and want to make sure he makes smart decisions. Enter Nikki's mom - who isn't afraid to put her true concerns out there. Toby, Nikki, Bay, Daphne and Emmett all know that when you love something, you have to hold onto it and never let it go. Emmett articulated this perfectly in his best man toast. And yet, the parents are all very hesitant to jump on board with this because they simply don't understand it. This confrontation opens up a conversation between Toby and Nikki about whether this marriage is about their love for one another or if it truly is just a means to sex. They do the deed and realize that all they need is to feel close to one another. They don't need the support of others because their love is strong. They cancel the wedding and get married at City Hall - which momentarily makes John happy. But the small stakes of it all and it being just the two of them is the perfect way to show just how perfect this union is.

Daphne started the summer as a true Kennish daughter - growing closer to her real parents while Regina was in rehab. She was given independence and the means to do just about anything she wanted. She's the type of person who will stand up and fight when she sees injustice. In season 2A, she stood up for the deaf community and emerged as triumphant as those circumstances would allow. Now, she's trying to do the same thing to get rid of corruption in local politics - but the way she's doing it this time is much more severe and stemming from her toxic relationship with Jace. Earlier we assigned a lot of the blame of thid story on the new British guy because of how much he was changing who she was and how she would deal with stuff. But now with the full picture clear, her emotional arc was well-rounded. She knows had badly she has messed up and the severity of the consequences are only getting larger. Ty notes how the two are far away from East Riverside. That is entirely true. Daphne has been privileged to be given this opportunity and she let herself be swayed into making a bad decision. Now she could face jail time - or simply community service. With the added context of how her demonstration at Carlton could come across, her future is largely uncertain. It was a powerful moment for Daphne and one that could have a lasting impact for the series - despite the initial shortcomings at the start of the plot and the increasing mustache-twirling of Sen. Coto.

For a while now, I have been expecting a tragic end to the Bay and Ty romance simply because it was what I have come to expect from watching similar stories play out elsewhere in the television medium. And yet, how this story played out throughout these last eleven episodes was very riveting. Bay and Ty's love for each other was wonderfully fleshed out - even though Emmett was always lurking just underneath it. Their largest obstacle was facing his redeployment and the conversations that that sparked were honest, emotional and heartfelt. Bay desperately wants to hold onto him - she gave herself to him in a way that she hadn't done for anyone else. He truly does care for her too but he also has an overwhelming sense of duty and follow through on the commitment he made. The reveal that he is heading to the frontline of the war zone was devastating as you could read the fear on his face. In his mind, he would rather break Bay's heart now instead of waiting until something happens to him while she's stateside holding on to the thought of moving to Germany for him. And yes, our hearts break for Bay as she is hurt from being cheated on yet again. She confronts Emmett about this as now she is even more confused about what drives someone to cheat knowing how intimate she had become with Ty.

Angelo's search and eventual discovery of his daughter has just been this very small story that's just been simmering along all summer. It - like many of Angelo's stories - got shortchanged in favor of everyone else's stories. Thusly, it was very hard to get attached to. And yet, when he comes to the decision to give Abby back to the dads who adopted her, it felt earned. How the plot got there - through Adriana and the reappearance of one of the fathers - was bumpy. But it felt like a natural concluding point to the story.

Overall, "Departure of Summer" was a great conclusion to a truly fantastic season - that started off earlier this year with Daphne's revolution at Carlton and spanned through the summer with Bay's relationship with Ty and Toby's engagement to Nikki. The all-ASL and What If? were the event episodes but the episodes surrounding them made the second season of Switched at Birth a wonderful thing to behold.

Some more thoughts:
  • As was said before, the show has been renewed for a third season and will return in January. And I cannot wait to see more of this wonderful show.
  • "Brave" by Sara Bareilles scored the final montage and helped make that moment great.
  • Mary Beth and Travis Update - They are a happy couple. Plus Mary Beth is friends again with Bay and that's great. Here's hoping that she will pop up again early in the new year.
  • Ty, on the other hand, probably won't reappear early in the third season but I do not see this hour as the final one for him to appear - especially since he no longer has The Lying Game to star on.
  • It was an overall low-key episode for Regina but the show never forgot how she would be impacted by Daphne's action too. Kathryn and John were the talking heads but Regina was never ignored from the conversations - a subtle way to show how their co-parenting skills are evolving.
  • Did Daphne's story ever match the emotional impact that Bay's and Toby's did? No, not really. But it was very nice to see both Coto and Jace get their comeuppance.
  • And who was Toby and Nikki's witness at their City Hall marriage?