Wednesday, February 26, 2020

REVIEW: 'Party of Five' - A Family Reunion Now Highlights the Distance Felt Amongst All of Them in 'Mexico'

Freeform's Party of Five - Episode 1.09 "Mexico"

An unexpected family reunion in Mexico exposes cracks in the happy facades both the Acosta children and their parents have put up. Back in L.A., Emilio collaborates with Natalia on a new song and bond over their romantic histories.

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.

"Mexico" was written by Amy Lippman and directed by Edward Ornelas

People respond in different ways to trauma. Gloria and Javier's deportations have had an impact on so many people. They have all responded in ways that have set them on diverging paths. It was important for Val to reunite with her parents and feel their comfort once more. That may only be a fleeting dream though. This episode marks the first time the Acosta children have reunited with their parents in Mexico. It isn't a complete reunion because Emilio can't make this journey with them. He is confined to America because of his DACA status. He understood the value of this trip. And yet, the precise details remain vague for everyone involved. Javier and Gloria don't know why their children are here. They no longer know what is going on in their lives or how to connect with them. Only four months have passed across the series so far. That is enough time for these relationships to change. They are no longer what they once were. The siblings have had to grow more independent. They may need their parents from time to time. That resource is still available to them. There is just a stark difference between a conversation over the phone and being in the same physical space. This is a reunion everyone is grateful to have and embrace fully. However, the deportation has also highlighted the many cracks within the facade of this family. Natalia can deduce that Emilio has been so unlucky in his relationships because his parents set an impossibly high standard for what love should be. All of the Acosta siblings suffer in that way. They have an idea of love and family that was shaped by how their parents led. And now, they have to change those expectations. When they struggle to do so, it makes them feel the crushing weight of failure. It never has to be as dire as that. Those are just the expectations and burdens the siblings often place on themselves. They look to each other for that support. And yet, none of them can be the perfect replacement for Javier and Gloria. The parents themselves can't offer any reassurance or clarity in that regard either. Their lives have changed too. Since they were deported, their lives have only been seen fleetingly. It was only through those video calls. They tried to maintain their connections in America. Javier was micromanaging the restaurant which caused friction with Emilio. That makes it clear that he is this larger-than-life personality who is so used to charming his way into whatever he wants no matter the potential costs. Gloria sees a pattern that has emerged in her life. She has been willing to follow Javier no matter where he went because of the profound love they shared. But he was always the one making the decisions. He was the one who dictated the terms and felt that she could get over whatever emotion she was feeling in any given moment. And yes, she does transfer the loss of one family onto a new one. She has done that previously and is doing so again. That is devastating for Val. She feels like she is being replaced. That means she fears being abandoned and misunderstood. That is crushing for her. It's devastating to the family overall when there is the sheer suspicion of tension between the parents. The audience is let in on the fact that Gloria wants to separate from Javier. She can't be beholden to this life with him anymore. She has to find her own sense of identity and independence after a life was taken away from her. She doesn't want to follow him. She wants her voice and concerns to be heard. Her children are suffering though. There is the pressure for them to share every single thing that has been going on in their lives. And yet, they aren't all ready to discuss what has been happening. Lucia is essentially forced into talking about her connection with Sully even though she doesn't know how to process any of it. That makes her afraid to come out because she doesn't know what that even means for herself before being able to let anyone else in on it. That is a struggle that has to be carefully balanced. Lucia refuses to have that conversation knowing its complexities. She doesn't let her mother in. That distance is felt everywhere in the story at the moment. Emilio has grown accustomed to being the guardian. He works well with Natalia. But he doesn't quite know how to spend his time without his siblings. That means they will always be able to rely on each other. But they push each other away too because of the struggle to feel secure in their lives. That anxiety may always be felt. That can be damning. It just means they have obstacles to overcome that needs the reassurance and love from those around them no matter what happens next. That can just be a tall demand when others aren't sure if they can offer that to others when they are insecure about their own lives. That is a lifelong struggle for some as detailed in Javier and Gloria's story after being forced out of America and away from their children.