Tuesday, January 13, 2015

REVIEW: 'Switched at Birth' - Daphne Struggles on the First Day of College & Bay Tries to Support Emmett in 'Bracing the Waves'

ABC Family's Switched at Birth - Episode 4.02 "Bracing the Waves"

Daphne struggles with the speed and depth of her coursework, which is made more difficult when Josh picks and chooses what he will interpret for her. Bay tries to balance her long-distance relationship with Emmett and fulfilling her sentence, all while dealing with an aggressive person on her team. Kathryn has a meeting with a movie producer about her book.

I always appreciate shows that have been on for a few seasons allowing their main characters to change and mature. This was bound to have happened during the fourth season of Switched at Birth. The kids all graduated from high school and needed to enter the next phase of their lives. Yes, their high school stories have been vastly entertaining to watch across the last three seasons. But there's something exciting about the characters heading into the unknown that brings focus back to who these people are at their cores and want they really want in this world.

Daphne and Emmett have both entered the college world while Bay is forced to do community service for taking the fall for Daphne. The parents are figuring out what's next for them as well. This opens the show up to much more story possibilities. College is a whole new place to explore for Daphne and the show has already been able to mine great story beats about her in a world full of hearing people. And then, Emmett is all the way out in Los Angeles. He's just texting with Bay and slowly getting his bearings out there. Film school is a passion for him. So, I wonder if we'll get little glimpses into that world that is so far away from the rest of the characters? Or will the show find some way to get Emmett back to Bay? She's dealing with other stuff throughout this episode but the show always remembers that she is hurting from this long distance move just as much as he is.

Daphne is somewhat isolated as well. She is surrounded by an entirely new cast of characters. Granted, so is Bay but Daphne's new acquaintances are at least civil to her. She has new confidantes in her interpreter, Josh, and her roommate, Iris. Yes, her three fellow classmates who meet outside of the study group was a mean thing to do. But it's also very much a part of the students' identities of wanting to excel in this class and not wanting to slow down for Daphne. Daphne may be in over her head at college but at least she's making progress on moving forward with her life. That's what Bay wants from her even though she can't stand to be near her right now.

Daphne is an independent woman. That has gotten her into trouble in the past and it seems perfectly reasonable that it would go her into trouble again with Josh. She needs him to act solely as an interpreter but that's never been how he has done the job. His parents are deaf and he would always have to be both their ears and their voice. He's very protective of the deaf community. He doesn't just want to be silent when the other students exclude Daphne. He wants to make sure they know they are being douchebags. But that's never been who Daphne is. And that's not what she wants from an interpreter. She needs someone who can understand her and her needs and will support her as she embarks in this field of study. It's going to be a long journey for her. But at least now, she has Josh as a friend who is willing to help.

And then, there is Bay who keeps on getting beat down. With everything she has been through recently, she has been able to rely on Emmett for support. By doing that though, she was keeping him back from his own dreams. She needed him to leave for Los Angeles in order to do what he really wants to do. But now, she's in the muck of community service that only seems to be getting worse. She has found herself in a very precarious situation since taking the blame for Daphne. Things could be getting a whole lot worse for her too. Her probation has already been extended. And now, she's fighting with the blonde girl who could get her in even more trouble. At first, that just meant doing the cleanup task that no rational person would want to do. Her problems with Emmett seem rather small in comparison to the issues the other girl is having with her kid in the foster care system. And yet, I already get the sense that after all this bickering is over the two of them will become friends. By the end of this episode, they are already looking out for each other to make sure they don't get in more trouble. Later in the season, I'm only expecting Bay to help the other girl realize how bad her boyfriend in prison is and what exactly she needs to do to get her kid back. I'm hoping that will be better than Bay feeling the need to constantly apologize even though she didn't really do anything wrong - at least not knowingly.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Bracing the Waves" was written by Henry Robles and directed by Michael Lange.
  • Kathryn is going to turn her book into a musical. Can't the show give her a story that is grounded in emotional reality and the rest of the cast? Her first book had that quality. But the new one about baseball and sex is just too damn ridiculous and now it's only being extended further by the idea that Kathryn can write a musical. Those lyrics she thought up with Renzo were horrible. If that was the kind of writing in the book, why does everyone keep saying how incredible it is?
  • Regina is gonna try to win back the community of East Riverside by helping a coffee shop get off the ground. That's something that allows her to deal with complications of her story last season. The specifics don't make a ton of sense to me though.
  • Daphne's professor was upset because she wore sweats to the first day of class! Plus no food or drinks. She is kinda strict.
  • Tank pops up for a second to offer some horrible advice to Bay. Why? Or why couldn't it have been Toby? This season needs more Toby.
  • Honestly, how long until Daphne kisses Josh?