Monday, March 3, 2014

REVIEW: 'Switched at Birth' - John Gives a Gesture of Adventure to Kathryn in 'Dance Me to the End of Love'

ABC Family's Switched at Birth - Episode 3.08 Dance Me to the End of Love

Daphne dances with the idea of pre-med studies and asks for more responsibility at the free clinic; Travis hesitantly invites Mary Beth to a school formal even though he doesn't know how to dance; Bay is left spinning when her teacher demands more of her art; and John jumps at the chance to win Kathryn over.

"Come on, it's time to dance." - Renzo

I really had no clue what to expect when I heard Switched at Birth was going to be doing a dance-themed episode this season. It's Season 3A's "event" episode - following in the footsteps of the all-ASL and What If? episodes from Season 2. Those prior episodes are series' highlights as well as some of the highest rated episodes of the second season. It should be no surprise that the show would try to replicate that success. However, the conceits of those two episodes were intrinsically-connected themes to the overall show. Deaf culture is a perspective that only Switched at Birth is dealing with now and the switch was the main thing that propelled us into this world. Before this season, dance hasn't been a part of this show. That shouldn't take away the effect of this hour - but the emotions it brings out don't hit you quite as viscerally as the past experiments have.

But the dancing was just a fun and campy addition to the show which served as a compliment to the regular story beats already occurring. The episode didn't put the season's story arc on pause just to have its characters do performance after performance of unique dance numbers. Every time the show went into that fantasy universe for its more colorful sequences it was totally justified. And the show went there just the right amount of times too - Kathryn's opener, Bay and Emmett's dance & Daphne's dream. The rest of the numbers were naturalistic and a pleasant delight. They inform these characters in fun and interesting ways. Tank has some rhythm. Travis struggles to dance and thinks that's just another thing he can't do with Mary Beth. Toby's got some skills too.

And yet, everything was centered around the split between Kathryn and John and their growing apart in life. Kathryn has found this new and existing universe in dance. John is uncertain of what she wants anymore. She wants adventure. That final sequence hits you in the heart in all the right ways. It's a wonderful gesture to Kathryn and one that proves that even though they argue and disagree from time to time, these two are a great pairing.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Dance Me to the End of Love" was written by Lizzy Weiss & Michael V. Ross and directed by Millicent Shelton.
  • So, Dancing with the Stars exists in this universe. Wouldn't they think that Angelo and Melody look a lot like Gilles Marini and Marlee Matlin? Their dance was still very lovely though.
  • Plus, putting Angelo, Toby, Travis and Melody together just sounds like a very interesting get-together. And it was!
  • Daphne's also thinking about going for pre-med now. Loved the parallel between her struggles with the job and those of Dr. J's when he was first starting in the field.
  • Bay to Tank: "Mhmm, encore now."
  • Bay: "My toolbox is a little empty at the moment." Teresa: "Then get a bigger toolbox."
  • Toby to Angelo: "I'm not interpreting that."
  • John: "If it's adventure you want, it's adventure you'll get."