Thursday, September 18, 2014

REVIEW: 'Married' - Russ Thinks About Costa Rica While The Gang Share Their Death Fantasies in 'Family Day'

FX's Married - Episode 1.10 "Family Day"

When Russ, Lina and Jess visit AJ at rehab, everyone's issues come to a head.

I haven't loved everything about this season of Married. It seemed week-in and week-out that all the characters were asked to fill the same kind of role - and where's the fun in that? Some of those qualities simply were not that good either like AJ as a whole and the nagging wife aspects of Lina. However, "Family Day" is a much stronger episode than how the series began. It did grow over the summer. And that improvement has been wonderful.

And the finale features what is likely my favorite scene of the entire series so far - the entire gang at Russ and Lina's apartment enjoying some food and sharing their death fantasies. It's weird enough to be fun while also simple and well-executed. Married has lived in this world of low key energy all season long. It didn't exactly lend itself well to some of the bigger moments. But in the simple ones like this, it is truly special and delightful. Every single character's answer to how they want to die was exactly in tone with everything we know about them. So, Lina wants murder-suicide, Jess wants a glamorous OD, Shep wants to eat brisket in Memphis, Bernie wants to be straggled during sex and AJ wants to shit himself to death. All of it is quirky and yet works so well. The only thing missing was Russ' answer - and yet he seemed perfectly happy with the reality his wife painted for their future. It lends itself to her always controlling aspects of their lives like she has all season long. However, it didn't play like that. It played like mutual respect - which is something I can't argue against.

But the finale is much more than just that one scene. It's a great summation of the finale's plot and the season as a whole. But the rest of the running time is spent at AJ's rehab where all the characters seem more broken they've ever been before. On some level, they all respect each other as friends. And yet, in that room with AJ, none of them could get along with each other. Shep was just an observer. Jess was more fascinated with the problems of the rest of the patients. Lina is realistically looking for a new house while Russ is completely sold on the idea of moving to Costa Rica. It's a ridiculous premise that Russ is fully committed to. There's simply no way that kind of move would happen with everything we know about this family. And yet, it's the exact kind of wish-fulfillment that better defines these two characters. They are clueless about this dream. And yet, they are open to planning it and dreaming about it happening one day. That doesn't help the situation right now - which gets a pretty lame solution in that the new owners don't wanna move in right away - but it gets us into the mindsets of these characters in interesting ways.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Family Day" was directed by Andrew Gurland with story by Daisy Gardner & Andrew Gurland and teleplay by Daisy Gardner.
  • I love that both Russ and Jess suck at pool.
  • Also really enjoyed Russ trying to avoid talking about rehab with his daughters while Lina is doing the exact opposite - in a very passive aggressive way.
  • Didn't quite get the cold open with Russ surfing and Lina busting him for taking a day off from work and calling him an idiot. Not enough of it worked or connected to the overall theme of the finale enough for me.
  • At least, Russ can carry the luggage.