Monday, March 7, 2022

REVIEW: 'Better Things' - Max Agonizes Over How to Tell Sam About a Procedure She's Had in 'Oh, I'm Not Gonna Tell Her'

FX's Better Things - Episode 5.03 "Oh, I'm Not Gonna Tell Her"

Sam volunteers.

"Oh, I'm Not Gonna Tell Her" was written by Joe Hortua & Judy Gold and directed by Pamela Adlon

The kitchen is Sam's domain. It's her greatest expression of joy. Her kids know it's better to order food than make a mess in her space that she'll have to clean up later. And yet, the kitchen is invaded by Xander. He's the last person Sam would want there. She fears the worst. That's what she always does with him. It's a pattern she has been stuck in for awhile. It hasn't exactly been a healthy way for her to live. Her attempts to break the cycle haven't gone well either. As such, it's something that is always present. She loves venting about it to her friends. Their lives have moved on and grown though. They are annoyed she can still be stuck in this way. Sunny and Jeff have already gone through the whole array of emotions. They've gotten divorced as a result of Jeff's many heinous actions due to his addictions. They've resented each other while still trying to co-parent. They've moved on with respective love interests. They've both remained in Sam's life. They've acknowledged the great things the other has done lately. And now, they are seeing each other romantically again. All Sam can do is laugh. Jeff knows he just has to suffer through it and actually play towards the comedy. That's the best way to handle the situation. It was always going to be a struggle in telling her. Sunny wanted to hold off for as long as possible. Sam has a habit of pushing her way past the uncomfortable and into truth. It's a great skill she has. That makes her such an insightful director. She knows when things aren't playing well to the desired audience. But again, she is incredibly territorial. Bad energy sends her spiraling. That's all that Xander conjures at this point. He makes a delicious meal for the girls. He cleans up after himself. He leaves a plate for Sam to enjoy as well. No one would know he was in this space except for the documentation the girls provide. They see the precarious nature of him cooking. They taunt their mother with the footage too. They express glee from it. It's exciting. They recognize the importance. They soon move on with their lives. They fight with one another. Sam eventually makes it back home after a day volunteering. It's not rewarding or enriching work. She gets to spend a little bit of time with the kids in the community. She sees how little the world has actually changed and the impact that ultimately has on this young generation. She can't do much to make it better either. She simply opens a world of possibilities as they can be applied to jobs on TV and film sets. She understands the business. She knows the ins and outs. So much hope exists. She feels that on occasion. One wrong move is all it takes to drastically alter her mood though.

An uncomfortable conversation awaits Sam too. She will more than likely offer Max complete support upon learning she had an abortion. Max tightens up whenever someone asks about her day. She was sure of this decision. She has Rich to be there for her. She makes him a part of her secret. He doesn't want to keep things from Sam. He remains loyal to Max. That friendship is special. The girls know they can rely on Rich for anything. Their dad wanders in and out of their lives. Rich is always there. That has been a problem for him in the past with his own personal life. He has even wanted to put more distance in his friendship with Sam. He is still a reliable and constant presence in the house. He is always welcome. This secret lingers though. It brings out a fierceness in Max when interacting with her siblings. She knows when Frankie is being unreasonable and Duke is acting foolishly. She seeks to protect them. She can appreciate that while not wanting to become a mother right now. She doesn't have to explain herself. She knows she will have to offer more of the story when talking with her mom. She wants to delay that conversation for as long as possible. She knows she has to tell Sam eventually. She can't state she'll never tell her. She wants that freedom. She can't bear it though. That too weighs on her. She is surrounded by love and support. She doesn't need a reason to come home and spend time with her family. She loves her sisters. Sam doesn't have to justify the time she spends away from the family either. The girls are responsible enough so that she doesn't have to take care of them all the time. They frustrate her. The moods shift so quickly. Sam is guilty of that too. She was obsessed over her old baseball cards. She organized them into piles. All of that hard work can disappear in a second. Frankie exerts her own sorting system. She too seeks joy from this collection. Sam loses the special connection to it. She has her own projections onto this memory. It has become tangible once more. The cards are in her hands. She reflects. She's devastated when her perfection is disturbed. Her house is out of control. She can't accept the skull that has suddenly replaced the statue at the top of the stairs. The camera pointedly shoots that reveal from a new angle as well. It's suddenly a foreign and strange space. Those can still be discovered in this house despite the history it has for the family and the viewer. That takes a keen eye. It's being disturbed in a significant way. That disruption doesn't have to be bad. It's concerning for Sam because her order is no longer secure. That sets the stage for new qualities to be explored and cherished just as much. It's simply hard accepting how things have changed. The items that once brought comfort can evolve too even though they are seen as the same as they have always been.