Tuesday, July 10, 2018

REVIEW: 'Love Is ___' - Yasir Reflects on His Life in Order to Provide Nuri with Clarity in '(His) Answers'

OWN's Love Is ___ - Episode 1.04 "(His) Answers"

Nuri considers a ski trip with Keith while Ruby and Yasir come to an agreement. Yasir pleads for Nuri's forgiveness.

"(His) Answers" teases that it's going to fundamentally be about Yasir providing answers to the big questions that Nuri asked about his life at the end of last week's episode. They are a complimentary pair of episodes that are incredibly necessary to their arc as a couple. They are still at the stage where they are constantly afraid that the other is just going to completely vanish from their lives because this connection isn't as special as they believe it is. Of course, it's clear from the opening sequence of this hour that they can't stop thinking about each other. They are both fantasizing about the other being in the bed next to them. It's only after a moment that they come back to reality and see that they are all alone because there is tension and uncertainty between them at the moment. They don't know where they stand. As such, Yasir is just wandering around actually contemplating his answers to Nuri's questions - namely if he is simply just using her in order to get his life back together quickly to support both Ruby and his kid back home. Meanwhile, Nuri is wondering if she should just accept the invitation to go skiing with Keith even though it will likely include having sex with him as well. These are some huge personal stakes for the series. And yet, it's also starting to feel like the show is getting very repetitive with the way it is telling its stories. So far, these episodes have featured a lot of Yasir and Nuri not being able to connect with each other or communicate their feelings to the other. They are leaving messages or just barely missing the other. It makes it seem like they only really connect at the beginning and end of each episode with the middle stretch being one long fear of uncertainty over what is happening now that the other has gone away for a bit. Yasir believes he's ready to answer these questions that Nuri asked. He just can't find her. As such, he fears that she has already moved on and he doesn't blame her for doing so either. It's just weird that this episode is titled after the central act but it takes the entire episode to actually get to that point.

This is also the episode where having the framing device of the wiser version of the characters articulating their feelings in the moment actually helped. The Yasir in the future is simply more eloquent with the way he is approaching the thought process behind his current understanding of the situation. It's making me appreciate Clarke Peters so much because he is able to be compelling and concise with his views on people constantly using others when one truly thinks about it. He can go on and on about coming to the realization that people are always just perpetually trapped in this cycle. Kids are dependent on their parents and then they are dependent on their friends and lovers. That is always going to be an aspect of relationships. Yasir being honest about that may be the truth but it could have the opposite effect on his relationship with Nuri as well. Wiser Yasir is able to explain that in a very gripping and vital way. It makes the audience understand the situation better than what is currently happening in the '90s. Of course, that could also make the audience worry that Will Catlett isn't bringing the same kind of charisma and charm to the role as Peters is. And yes, that could develop into a significant problem. But it's also just hampered by the fact that Yasir's story has been so repetitive this season so far. He's constantly getting into disagreements with other people only for everything to work itself out in the end just perfectly fine. Yes, he's at a low point in being homeless. But that was only the truth of his life for a brief moment in time.

Of course, it's much more violating for the show to feature Yasir and Sean actually breaking into Nuri's house. That's not okay in the slightest. The show is trying to suggest otherwise by saying that it's the '90s and people were a bit more safe and secure than they are nowadays. It's ultimately trying to say that it's no big deal that Nuri left a sliding door unlocked and Sean came in to use the bathroom. It's an absolutely ridiculous premise for the story though. It provides no value except in forcing Yasir and Sean to worry about where Nuri is currently at. They don't know why she isn't at home. It's the weekend. Yasir and Nuri should be having this conversation about their true selves right now. Instead, Yasir is seemingly just chasing a ghost not knowing where she will appear next. He is still all caught up in the romance and needing to prove that he is the right guy for her who will do anything to make her feel special. But this shouldn't be comforting or charming to anyone. It's not okay. In fact, it only further highlights how Sean is the sleazy best friend who is always getting into trouble. Yes, he has responsibilities now in caring for a child and trying to make things work with his girlfriend. But he's also using the internet in order to form connections with other women as well. Sure, it's the show mostly stating the same fears that people nowadays have with getting too personal and graphic online. But it's also just fun when Yasir and Sean's girlfriend team up against him at the sheer thought that he could possibly handle more than one woman in his life. He's struggling just to keep the one that he has happy while also caring for their child. That's funny while not distracting just how problematic he can be a lot of the time.

Elsewhere, Nuri is called into work. That's where she happens to be when Yasir comes looking for. That should really be his first guess as to where she is whenever she's not at her house. Her work is her greatest love at the moment. So, it makes sense that she would be at the office most of the time. Sure, it's strange for her to be there on Saturday. But it's also just her and Angela pitching story ideas to Norman in the hopes of fleshing out one of the female characters on the show more. The network's producer notes that the character is gaining more popularity. As such, it's worth developing her further in the hopes that it leads to her own spinoff series. Right now, she exists mostly as a catchphrase delivery machine. She doesn't have a personality or life beyond that. That is so extremely problematic. Nuri and Angela are working to fix it. But it's also so easy to get caught up in all of the bad ideas and just how easy it is for this small group of writers to get distracted. Yes, Nuri and Angela are brought in for this special meeting because they are women and Norman believes that they would know how to better write this female character. And yet, he is still rejecting a lot of their suggestions. It gets to the point where they are essentially just messing around and joking about the idea that when women say that they are "fine" they are another but fine. All of this makes for a fun distraction for Nuri. She needed this right now even though her personal problems are still heavily on her mind. She is trying to tell herself that she should go skiing and have a good time with Keith. She tracked down Yasir and demanded answers from him for a reason. She was hurt that he basically slammed the door in her face. But she is so caught off guard once Yasir does show up to finally talk with her.

It feels like a tragedy that the note Yasir leaves behind goes unnoticed by Nuri. She just collects all the mail up and puts it on the mantle not to think about for a little while. As such, it's a surprise when Yasir is just walking up to her doorstep while Nuri is planning on walking out to go on this trip with Keith. It's awkward especially once Keith shows up and Yasir gets very angry that Nuri could move on that quickly. He doesn't believe that this girl actually loves him. It seems like something she's just willing to say whenever she gets swept up in the moment. But at least she has a full and fulfilling life. Her life right now is full of so much complexities. Yasir just has the same struggles over and over again. Yes, he is fortunately invited back to live on Ruby's couch for six more weeks. That's the current timeline he has in order to find a job and make his dreams a reality. Ruby invites him back because he has been so sweet caring for her and she can't allow him to move back home. If he returned to the town they came from, her family would only worry about her more while in the big city of Los Angeles. As long as he's here, she can avoid that awkward conversation. But it's still the two of them essentially living a lie of being happy together. As such, it's important for Yasir to be completely honest with Nuri about his life and his past. He walks into her house and opens up about everything. It's very vital for this relationship. He shares his name, his birthday, the significance of his name change and the fact that he's been married and has a kid. He is a struggling writer-director who can't afford his child support. He's also furious when Keith shows up to take Nuri on this date. As such, the hour ends with it being unclear how Nuri is going to react to all of this information. Once again, she's been telling herself to just completely forget about Yasir and move on with her life. And yet, those feelings still linger. It should be fascinating to see how quickly these answers are enough to assuage her doubts about him.

Some more thoughts:
  • "(His) Answers" was written by Jerron Horton and directed by Cheryl Dunye.
  • Tim Reid shows up in the future as the wiser version of Sean. Yasir is able to thank him for taking that pitstop at Nuri's house to see if she is there. Of course, it leads to the whole breaking and entering thing. But it's mostly good and inspiring to know that these friendships for Yasir and Nuri are bound to last throughout their lives. Angela and Sean will be around for everything that happens for this couple. That's stability that should be appreciated.
  • It's pointed out this week that Nuri and Angela have different titles on Marvin. Nuri is just a staff writer. Her name isn't listed in the opening credits. She's just in the mentions after the show is done airing for the week. But Angela is in the opening credits. Her specific title isn't given here. But it's important enough to be just four after this white producer who comes into the room and is very excited about the changes coming to the show.
  • Keith is able to tease Nuri about some big decisions happening regarding the show soon. He can't tell her anything more. There needs to be a separation between them about work should this relationship work. And yet, it's destined to fail. As such, it's no big deal that he drops the news that a spinoff could be developed. It should just be fun to see if Angela and Nuri get that promotion after being so vital in developing this character in the first place.
  • How soon until the show introduces Yasir's first wife and his son? He is seen talking on the phone with his son this week. That proves that he is a present father trying to at least do something for him. But he's incredibly absent as well. This complication hasn't been a huge part of his story so far. Is that going to change moving forward? Or is it just something to be aware of that could pop up at a moment's notice?
  • At the rate the show is moving in regards to its timeline, Yasir could be staying on Ruby's couch for a long time. Yasir and Nuri have still only known each other for a couple of days. She even gets to point out that they've spent most of that time just trying to find each other after being mystified as to what happened to them. But again, six weeks could line the show up with its finale. Or it could go by at the end of next week's episode. Both seem like viable options.