Monday, September 7, 2015

REVIEW: 'Switched at Birth' - Toby Does His Research Before Making a Life Changing Decision in 'Between Hope and Fear'

ABC Family's Switched at Birth - Episode 4.13 "Between Hope and Fear"

Regina decides to go to Atlanta to find out more about the mother of Eric's son. John's financial stresses come to a head when Toby approaches the family for support. Bay is surprised to learn she and Daphne have opposing opinions about how to deal with the pregnancy. Travis visits Emmett and is dismayed to find Emmett has gone "Hollywood."

Everyone in the Kennish-Vasquez family learns about Lily's pregnancy and the huge decision she and Toby have to make in "Between Hope and Fear." It's a situation where everyone has an opinion on what they should do knowing that it's a child with Down's Syndrome. But this hour never plays like "a very special episode of Switched at Birth." This episode has many ideas on its mind. The stuff happening with the big pregnancy decision isn't the only story happening at the moment. It does affect other things going on in the characters' lives. But there's enough stuff also going on to keep this playing like a regular episode of the show.

Switched at Birth has done a really good job of handling this discussion in these first few episodes back. It's very complicated but the emotions are very on point. There is so much uncertainty regarding the future. They have so much to consider and that has led to some truly emotional and dynamic discussions. It was noticeable that the show never uttered the word "abortion" before this episode. But it's still something on everyone's mind. Everyone has an opinion on whether or not Lily and Toby should keep this baby. Some of it is fueled by personal politics or financial situation and some plays from extensive research. Bay definitely digs deeper into what raising a child like this means for Toby's future. She does more than Toby. Her concern is genuine. She wants to make sure he has all the facts before making this life-changing decision. But at the end of the day, the decision is his and Lily's to make together. Not anyone else's.

That is a powerful stance for the show to make and it does it so strongly here. Toby and Lily are the ones who'll be most affected by this decision. John and Bay are quick to point out the reality of the situation - how much it's going to cost, the ongoing health problems, etc. Daphne and Kathryn both fight for life and cherish the miracle that this has the potential to be. Both sides are right in this argument. But it's also a complex decision that Toby and Lily have to talk about. They need to be supportive of each other. The rest of the family needs to respect that. Give them their space to make this decision. They gave them all the tools necessary. Now they need to decide. No matter what they choose to do, the families need to be supportive and willing to embrace their decision - even if they disagree with it.

It's going to be a scary future for Toby and Lily. They both want to keep this baby. They know that it may be difficult. But at the end of the day, any baby has the potential to be difficult. They are just aware of what problems there will be. They don't know if it will be the most enriching experience of their lives. But they are united on this decision. They may not know where they stand as a couple. But they are able to come together and talk things through. It's scary and will change their lives. But it's also what they want to do. This doesn't have to be the latest mistake for their lives. It could be the thing that makes everything worth it in the end. The future may be uncertain but the family will support Toby the best that they can. That's all anyone can truly ask for in this world.

Toby and Lily weren't the only ones faced with a major life decision in this episode though. Regina was also faced with a dilemma where she needed all of the information possible before figuring out what she should do. Eric wants to move in with her. That would be the next reasonable step in their relationship. Though it's still slightly weird that things are progressing as quickly as they are considering she just learned the truth about him kidnapping his son from his ex-wife. She chose not to turn them into the police. But that didn't mean she should be as comfortable with the relationship as she was before. She had to force the truth out of him. He didn't willingly tell her what happened. She definitely needed some time to think whether or not things are moving too fast between them.

Eric wants to keep things moving as positively as possible. Daphne is all for the move but she's not aware of the full situation. Neither is Regina. That's what leads to their little trip to Atlanta. They need to know that Eric was right to take a son away from his mother. At first, his ex-wife seemingly has turned her life around. She is no longer an addict. She has a stable job and is regularly going to meetings. Her new husband also seems to be better than the way Eric had described him. And yet, things aren't what they initially appear. It's all because Daphne tagged along that Regina was able to see these people for how scummy they really are. They are now drug dealers who sell to addicts trying to get better. That's despicable. So, Regina did make the right choice in not turning Eric in. But now, she's also committing to a life with him. Moving in is the first step of that. She is now complicit in his crime. She is aware of what's going on and supports it. The life she and Eric have together could be the happiest they've felt in a long time. But they will always run the risk of it being completely destroyed at any possible moment. That's no way to live. And yet, they will try to anyway. It's a precarious situation that could go any number of ways in the future.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Between Hope and Fear" was written by Dayna Lynne North & Lizzy Weiss and directed by David Paymer.
  • Daphne and Travis must have some time off from school already if they are able to have an impromptu trip to Atlanta and a scheduled trip to Los Angeles.
  • Emmett is apparently changing himself in order to conform to the society he wants to be a part of in order to get noticed. That never goes well. He is loosing himself. Travis can plainly see that. Emmett is no longer the brother he once knew. It's devastating but there's nothing he can do to change it except call him a "hipster Ken Doll."
  • That little get together of people in the film industry who Emmett wants to impress was just so laughable. It was perhaps too on-the-nose with cliches of the medium. I certainly laughed every time the little dog in a purse with sunglasses on popped up.
  • Kathryn also finally learns about the financial stress John is dealing with. She deserved to know about the pressure he is under and why he freaked out at Toby after learning about the pregnancy. He does soften after that, but his money problems are still very present.