Wednesday, January 8, 2020

REVIEW: 'Party of Five' - Emilio and Val Disagree Over How to Handle the Family's Finances in 'Margin of Error'

Freeform's Party of Five - Episode 1.02 "Margin of Error"

Val turns to prayer in hopes of getting her parents back, which Lucia denounces as a useless approach. Emilio questions the honesty of his employees, which only offends the staff and leaves Emilio to run the restaurant on his own.

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 Freeform's Party of Five.

"Margin of Error" was written by Amy Lippman & Christopher Keyser and directed by Rodrigo Garcia

Their parents being deported to Mexico comes across as the first major moment of adversity that the Acosta siblings have had to face in their young lives. That can be understandable on a number of levels. It shows just how strongly their parents tried to protect them from the ugly realities of the world. But it can also ring hollow given the numerous ways this world discriminates against communities of color. The siblings are hoping this tragedy can earn them some sympathy as they try to land on their feet and figure out how to be there for each other. And yet, the world doesn't care to give that to them because they have contempt for what Javier and Gloria did. There is already the look of suspicion cast on everything that the siblings are doing now too. There is a lot of pressure to stay together and support each other. That is the directive that their parents gave them when they said goodbye. But it also feels as if these kids have operated from a place of privilege because they feel free and unburdened by how their actions can potentially come across. Javier is the one who gets it into Emilio's head that Oscar can't be trusted to make the nightly money runs because he has a history of stealing. At first, it feels as if Oscar is accommodating to the fact that he and Emilio haven't built up a rapport of support where the new manager can trust him with that responsibility. That is just a facade though. Instead, he reads the situation as yet another example of people refusing to trust him because of his past addictions. He was never the one stealing money from the restaurant either. Instead, it was Gloria who always felt the urge to help Emilio whenever she could. She wanted him to have his independence while also feeling the security of help from the people who loved him most. It is ultimately his decision on what to do with the money Val finds in Rafa's drawer. He is the one trusted with the responsibility of looking after his siblings. He may disappoint Val in the moment by refusing her request to go to Mexico to see their parents right away. However, he is doing all of this to create a steady financial future. All of this highlights how Oscar and Javier's relationship wasn't as strong as Oscar was led to believe. It also means Emilio gets off on the wrong foot and doesn't quite know how to come back from all of this. He needs Oscar to remain a loyal member of the restaurant staff. The actions his parents took just make that more complicated for him. He has to find his own path. That means adding his guitar to the decor of the restaurant. It's a nice visual for him being a part of this environment now. But his story also comes to a concise conclusion here. With Lucia, she believes that Beto should be given some slack because of what has happened to their parents. She is more than willing to help him cheat in order for him to pass his physics test. He is the one struggling the most in school. He is placed on academic probation at the conclusion of this hour which will only create more problems and stress for the family. But Lucia is the one constantly reaching out in the hopes that others can understand when they certainly aren't obliged to provide her with that comfort and emotional support. She believes her teacher will be understanding. She isn't because she has to be fair to the entire system and not one kid in particular. Of course, the educator has vitriol towards Javier and Gloria as part of the problem with the perception of immigrants. That thinking is incredibly toxic as well and Lucia sees it for the very first time here. This is a part of the culture though. She isn't going to find unanimous support simply by talking to a person of color. She knows nothing about Matthew beyond him being homeless and having the same skin tone as her. She hasn't lost the ability to talk to someone who understands what she's going through though. It's all about her and what she needs. It's all framed through the question of faith and Val's need to make a miracle happen for the family. That may only occur in small doses. But it does get Lucia back in the pew to pray. That may be the only place she can find support and comfort in a world that isn't conditioned to uniformly give that to her whenever she needs it. That may make her harsh and angry. But it still centers around everyone having some trauma to endure and not always feeling the necessity to help others rationalize it when they don't know how to cope with it themselves.