Wednesday, January 29, 2020

REVIEW: 'Party of Five' - The Family Worries About the Future When Rafa Is Admitted to the Hospital in 'Rafa'

Freeform's Party of Five - Episode 1.05 "Rafa"

When Rafa ends up in the hospital, the family comes together to care for him. But their situation worsens when a social worker shows up to check in on them in light of recent events.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides 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.

"Rafa" was written by Michal Zebede and directed by Patricia Cardoso

The Acosta siblings idolize their parents. They look at them as the perfect versions of what parenting can be. They do so by accepting it as the norm. Anything that doesn't reach that standard is failure in their eyes. That makes all of this so precarious because they feel like they are messing up all the time. They aren't. They are functional as a family. They have endured this tragedy. Things can certainly get a whole lot worse as well. This episode sees Rafa admitted to the hospital for lead poisoning. That's dangerous and serious. It officially opens a case file in the Department of Child Services. That's something that Emilio will have to deal with on an ongoing basis. It's not this simple investigation that could be wrapped up with a throwaway piece of dialogue about how the day care Rafa goes to has a crib with lead-based paint. That does provide a simple solution to this mystery that runs the risk of uprooting the Acosta family once more. But the personal consequences of this trauma loom large over everything that this family does. Everyone is looking at them with curiosity and contempt. People proclaim their willingness to support them and look after the well-being of these children. The burden doesn't have to be entirely on Emilio. He feels that pressure. He believes that he is failing because he doesn't have the instincts that his parents did. He knows just how much they love their children. They gave up everything for them. The audience can get swept up in these grand pronouncements as well. Sure, the story has pointed out that Javier and Gloria are flawed human beings who are selfish and destructive as well. And yet, that influence is slowly waning on the proceedings. It's up to Emilio to decide whether or not to take Rafa to the hospital. Val can talk with immediate clarity on his eating and sleeping habits. Lucia gets lectured about the family not communicating with each other about what Rafa needs right now. Everyone fears that they are conflicting each other and it's at the expense of their youngest sibling. He survives all of this though. This could be a wake up call for the family. They could rally together and figure out how to manage all of this newfound stress. Emilio can certainly see some things that are going on with his siblings. He does his best to be there for Beto as he  becomes sexually active. He recognizes that Val is too pent up in the house with no other outlet to express herself. She ultimately appreciates that concern. However, the audience can plainly see that things are much more complicated with her because she is cyber-stalking the young girl she believes has taken her mother away. As such, she may be trying to become more like her as a way to fill this profound void. It won't work. That just highlights how she doesn't know how to communicate her true feelings with her loved ones. She is encouraging of Emilio when he cries in public. It's perfectly normal and healthy for a man to show his emotions when it comes to the potential destruction of his family once more. And yet, it's also clear that these siblings are still immature in a lot of ways. Lucia will steal a social security number from a dead patient at the hospital because she views that as the right way to be an advocate for her community. That's absolutely horrifying. Meanwhile, Beto should be concerned about his new girlfriend, Ella, just using him to hurt her father. The emotions amongst the siblings have to remain strong no matter what. As such, they shouldn't waste their time on matters that aren't genuine. They just fear making those mistakes and may miss out on something insanely important in the process as well. Life is complicated and these kids have to grow up much faster than they were expected. They aren't without help. That just makes it glaringly obvious and a little annoying when they refuse to process things in a rational way. They may believe that they are acting in their own best interests. Beto may just be obsessed with sex. Lucia may feel a burden to help the members of her community. Val may be overwhelmed by the stress of her family struggles. Some of these are obvious to the other family members. In the end though, they may each create their own difficulties because of a failure to communicate. And now, the family is officially under investigation.