Monday, February 11, 2019

REVIEW: 'One Day at a Time' - Victor's Wedding Forces Strong Emotions from Penelope and Elena in 'Ghosts'

Netflix's One Day at a Time - Episode 3.13 "Ghosts"

At her ex's wedding, Penelope experiences a surreal conversation. Elena finds she has more she needs to say to her father. Dr. B gives Lydia her gift.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Netflix's One Day at a Time.

"Ghosts" was written by Gloria Caldeon Kellett & Mike Royce and directed by Gloria Calderon Kellett

Everyone expects Victor and Nicole's wedding to be difficult for Penelope. To her, she is annoyed by the amount of pity she receives from the family and friends who are also in attendance. She is continuously bombarded with the idea that she cannot be happy until she has a healthy romantic relationship. That's the story that she has always been told. It's the narrative that is so popular throughout our understanding of the human condition as well. Lydia and Berto set a high standard for her. She was happy with Victor for a long time. They have a beautiful family together. She is also happy that he has found love again. But now, she is full of bittersweet emotions throughout this day because she is one of the only single people here and she feels like she doesn't belong. She feels like an outsider because she can't relate to the same experience as everyone else. It's a unique plot device when Berto shows up as a ghost to essentially interrogate her about her recent romantic actions. He wants to understand how she is feeling about the men she has been with lately. He too is curious if she still has feelings for Victor. He also wants to know why she couldn't make things work with Max and Mateo. There just wasn't the spark there that excited her. There were too many obstacles to overcome. Those are significant issues. She shouldn't compromise her life and her happiness just to conform to the standard that society has seemingly agreed upon. For a brief moment, it does seem like all of this is building to some big romantic reunion between her and Max. And yet, that's not the narrative twist the story is going for. It still features a couple reuniting. And yet, that is Schneider and Avery. Of course, their breakup occurred offscreen. He is now 30 days sober. He is on the road to recovery once more. She is scared but willing to give him another chance. That's beautiful because it shows how committed the Alvarez family is to helping him get back to the solid ground he was on before this relapse. They love and uplift each other. Penelope just needs to make it clear that her happy ending doesn't need to revolve around finding a great romantic connection. She may never have that in her life in the same way. She may have several people who come into her life like that. Right now though, it's much more important to celebrate with her as she becomes a nurse practitioner. That has been her goal for awhile now. She finally achieves it here. That's the victory that is worth celebrating. It's so rewarding because it proves that she is focusing on herself and her future happiness. She made this move in her career in order to improve her overall life. She succeeded on her own. This is so fulfilling. The entire family is there to cheer her on. It's a momentous occasion. It's so freeing watching her come into the office with her name on the door alongside Dr. B's. This is her version of a happy ending. She is damn proud of it too.

Of course, Penelope isn't the only one who is experiencing big emotions during Victor and Nicole's wedding. Elena is still having a tough time reckoning what should be happy feelings towards her dad when he still hasn't completely made up for the mistakes of the past. She doesn't want to ruin this wedding for him. She stresses out about her toast. She gives one that is still emotional but funny. It's just right for the occasion. However, it's not her truly speaking her mind about how she feels. She knows that she is more welcomed now than ever before. But she still feels like that girl who was abandoned during her quinces and wasn't accepted upon coming out. She feels like she's the only one having to make adjustments as well. She is trying to make Victor feel comfortable so that he can enjoy every part of his second wedding. It's heartbreaking listening to Elena give the speech to Alex that she wanted to say to her father. But it's also so rewarding when Victor gives Elena the father-daughter dance they didn't have at her quinces. That is such an unexpected moment. But it's also one that proves he is in a much better place now and understands that he still has to make things up with Elena. This is his way of showing how much he supports her now and will be there for her. She can finally feel safe and loved by him. That is so beautiful. Sure, it's awkward when Dr. B tries to repeat the embrace from the first quinces dance. That doesn't work here. But it's also a solid comedic beat to ensure that the audience is experiencing all of the emotions during this event. The wedding has meaningful dances but it also has many of the characters doing the chicken dance simply because Lydia wanted to master a dance from another culture. That is one of the many things still left on her bouquet list. However, it's not the big gift that Dr. B had planned for her. He wants to take her back to Cuba. That too would be such a meaningful gesture. Her home holds a special place in her heart. She has always feared returning because of the trauma that forced her family to leave in the first place. She figures that a pier in Miami is a good enough place to spread Berto's ashes. But that's not where she is at the conclusion of the season. Instead, she is actually back in Cuba. It's a return to her roots that also surprises her daughter. It's a surprising moment and one that should immediately trigger a fourth season pickup from Netflix because the audience simply needs to continue spending time with this special and loving family.