Monday, March 23, 2015

REVIEW: 'Chasing Life' - April Prepares for Another Round of Chemo While Leo Spontaneously Proposes in 'One Day'

ABC Family's Chasing Life - Episode 1.21 "One Day"

April is blindsided by bad news but fights to maintain control over her destiny and to stay strong for her family. She also learns that The Post is cleaning house, but despite her determination to keep her job, extenuating circumstances keep her head on the chopping block. Meanwhile, Brenna learns she is a bone marrow match for an anonymous patient.

The second half of the first season of Chasing Life has been about April learning how to move past the worries of her cancer and life her live. It's been a complicated process for her too. She's been trying to be a good reporter, sister, daughter and girlfriend. And yet, she was also extremely worried about her cancer coming back. As soon as she started to accept her life for what it was and not worry over every symptom that might point to a relapse, it's revealed that her cancer has in fact returned. This time it is much more aggressive as well.

April is now in a completely different head space than where she was when she first learned she had cancer. Before, she wanted to internalize this struggle. She wanted to focus on making sure her life was good before hitting the pause button for treatment. She learned that it was much better to be open and honest with the people in her life. They rose to the occasion to be supportive of her in this time of need. They are now worrying right alongside her and that's what she is most concerned about when she learns about her relapse. April really doesn't have a reaction to it at all. It sucks. And yet, she knew this was always a possibility. She needs to get her life in order to be able to start treatment. April wants time and that's the one thing that Dr. Hamburg can't give her. It's a horrible prospect for her prognosis to only be 2-6 weeks without treatment. That is very scary and gives immediate stakes to this finale.

Chasing Life handles stories about cancer and the medical world much better than it handles anything else. Yes, it's not the only thing that is defining these characters. If it were, I doubt I would enjoy it as much as I do. And yet, the show always remembers the lives that April and the other sick characters are fighting to have. No matter how bleak things may get for her, there always has to be some amount of hope. Right now, she is holding onto the idea of what she is going to miss during this second month-long hospital stay. It sucks but it's what she is clinging onto right now. She has no idea what her future may be. She just wants to control as much of it as she can. But she also has to learn to let go of some things as well. She frets too much about her job and whether or not it will be there for her after another medical leave when Raquel is cleaning house after taking over the top position as editor-in-chief. Raquel sees so much potential in April but not the drive. She can't fire her because of her illness. And yet, that comes with the price of Danny losing his job.

April is allowed to see the world more clearly because of her grim diagnosis. She's not worrying about fighting for stories or Natalie dating her ex-boyfriend. All of that seems trivial in comparison to what she is about to undergo. So, she simply forgives Natalie and will learn to be comfortable with it while also quitting her job at the paper so that Danny can stay. She is being selfless in that moment. She wants to be able to live long after this experience is over. But right now, she's not letting those details bring her down. She just wants to spend this last day on the outside as happily as she can with her loved ones.

April wants to celebrate Brenna's 17th birthday and Thanksgiving, go to Bermuda with Beth and enjoy some sex with Leo during this day. It's simple and all put together in the moment. The meal doesn't go that well because Brenna and Emma aren't the chefs in the family. But it's the effort to make things okay for April that's worth it. She's so focused on how everyone else is processing this information. She has been through this before so she comes off as an old pro at knowing what's going to happen and when. That's not the mentality she should be heading into chemo with. This relapse sucks and she has a right to be angry about it. Dr. Hamburg really is an awesome doctor because she sees that within April and makes sure that she gets to release some of that anger before starting treatment. She is allowed to get everything off her chest while also doing some solid demolition work for the hospital.

And then, comes the concluding moments of the episode where April has just gotten her first round of treatment and is settling into her new room for the next month. She is alone with Leo and just wants him as a boyfriend and to binge watch some show on Netflix. Ever since his surgery though, Leo has been thinking about what he wants his future to be as well. He doesn't have that structure that April had with her job. The world is endless to him and he still doesn't know entirely what to do. However, he does know that he is in love with April. He wants to be there to support her in her time of need. He's happy to do it. But their relationship has also been untraditional. They came together because they were both facing this horrible disease. Leo has seemingly gotten out from underneath it while things are looking worse for April. That makes it even more apparent that they should live in the moment and embrace what they have right now. His proposal to her isn't something he planned. And yet, it's something that he really wants. He knows that any version of his future will be good as long as she is a part of it. She feels the same way. And after doing one too many Leo-centered cliffhangers, I am so happy that April got to answer his proposal and we didn't have to wait until the second season to learn what she said. Of course, she said yes. Why wouldn't she? She is getting ready to fight for her life again. And yet, this finale isn't focused on the grim details about her relapse. This episode is about her choosing what is important in her life with such concise clarity. That is very rewarding. She ends the episode in a happy place which is the exact mood she needs to be in to beat this disease. Everyone is on her side and rooting for her. The family has a solid plan of action for these next few months. And now, they just have to get through it together.

Some more thoughts:
  • "One Day" was written by Patrick Sean Smith and directed by Wendey Stanzler.
  • The scenes showing the cancer patient for whom Brenna is a bone marrow match really seemed out of place. It was an introductory storyline in an episode that is suppose to be concluding the season. Nothing ever happened with it and it just came across as the show establishing something for the next season.
  • Natalie has no judgment over learning that Brenna had an abortion two years. But now, she knows that secret as well and probably doesn't know it's a secret to the rest of the family. So, I'm sure she'll let it slip sometime soon.
  • Beth seems in a much better place this week in regards to her recent breakup with Graham and the demands of her job. It's a good thing too because April really needed to rely on her throughout this day.
  • Part of the attraction Natalie and Dominic had towards each other was because they had to keep it from April. Now that she is learning to be okay with it, I'm sure that will change the core dynamic of it - for better or worse.
  • After some time apart, Sara and George spend most of the day stuck at airports where they are able to talk and clarify that they still want to be a part of each other's lives - especially in times like this.
  • That April-Leo foreplay scene was just so beautiful. They just make each other - and the audience - so happy.