Monday, April 11, 2022

REVIEW: 'Better Things' - Stress Builds Within Sam as the Family Prepares for a Trip Abroad in 'Jesus Saves'

FX's Better Things - Episode 5.08 "Jesus Saves"

Sam deals with anxiety.

"Jesus Saves" was written by R. Eric Thomas, Cree Summer & Joe Hortua and directed by Pamela Adlon

Life can be overwhelming. How a person responds to that shows their true character. Sometimes all it takes is a release of emotions to a trusted loved one to ease that anxiety. Sometimes it takes standing firm in humility and kindness. So much of life is figuring out what an individual is comfortable with. It's always evolving and changing. It requires everyone around them to have awareness and empathy too. Those skills can be lacking in so many situations. That makes for the most depressing and traumatic moments. Some people have no awareness of how obnoxious and demanding they are. Sam knows how to live with a person like that. She knows Phil requires so much attention. She's set in her ways. She speaks her mind even when she doesn't know the full story. Sam has endured that for so many years. She has embodied it in her behavior as well. It makes her children embarrassed to be around her from time to time. And yet, this family relies on each other for comfort and stability. They aren't above calling each other out for their bad behavior. That may ease tension in the immediate moment. It doesn't signal some dramatic shift though. Sam is still annoyed by Duke. This time it takes an agonizingly long time for Duke to hand over her passport. It's not because she is trying to hide it. She simply doesn't process the urgency in the same way. Sam needs the comfort of knowing her kids are prepared for the journey. Duke holding out worries her. Sam's stress increases. That's not good or healthy. Her kids don't have that awareness. She believes they are doing this to her on purpose. In reality, it highlights the selfishness of teenagers. They are standing proudly in their identities and believe they must take the priority. Meanwhile, their mother simply provides a service. She cares and worries. She is always there. She can easily be tossed aside too. That's their overwhelming mentality. Even for a young adult like Max, she is too busy going through her own identity crisis to always provide support for her mother. She obviously loves Sam. She recently showcased that love even though she had to be drunk to admit it. She faces her own battles. It's cathartic for Sam simply seeing her kids provide support for each other. She is frequently tasked with that responsibility. She knows the siblings have their own special bond. It annoys her because they keep things from her. And yet, it's inspiring to see Frankie mock and then immediately comfort Max. Sam doesn't need to intervene to ensure everyone is taken care of. The kids can do that themselves which allows Sam to beam with pride and joy even though one of her kids was crying.

Of course, Sam's expression of emotions is just as valid. During a family memorial service online, Marion calls Sam saying she is being too loud with her physical gestures. She is muted. Her family is together on one screen. They are enjoying this experience. And then, Marion comes in to say Sam is doing something wrong. He knows her so well. He knows she is talking about the other family members in an obnoxious way. He has that personal understanding. He sees these gestures and can infer a lot. However, his opposition can't stand in the way of the joy Sam and her family experience when dancing along with the nurse who cared for their recently deceased relative. They are entitled to all of these emotions. Similarly, Sam is deserving of dual citizenship. Phil was born in the United Kingdom. She is very British in her mannerisms. Family lineage has been so important to Sam. She doesn't renounce all that means something to her in America. However, she has this entire corner of life that is present elsewhere. She is deserving of that celebration too. It's a full embrace of her identity. It should be celebrated. Of course, it's also agonizing to prepare for a trip to London. Sam worries not only about herself. She worries her kids won't fully be prepared. She dreads forgetting something. Plus, the night before they leave their house is invaded by friends who want to come experience life. It's not suddenly a strange, foreign concept. This space has always been welcoming to whomever stops by. Sam is annoyed but she doesn't immediately throw everyone out. That's a not a demand of hers. She is incredibly giving of her time. She appreciates when friends show up to support her. She offers the same when they are going through tough times. At this point, they may only be reminiscing over the past. Plenty of new adventures await them. They simply have to be open to those experiences. It's hard to be when so much of this peaceful atmosphere is interrupted by someone who doesn't abide by the same rules of the space. A fan is brought to Sam's house and immediately invades her privacy. She demands attention and the need to be told she is special. She seeks that validation. It's overwhelming. And then, the family gets on a plane and must deal with a guy frustrated the world isn't catering to his comfort. The world is the problem and he's the only one willing to do anything about it. He is annoyed a baby is on this long flight in front of him. The baby can't be blamed for acting like a baby. Sam loves interacting with people. She has fond memories of her kids when they were babies. She is annoyed by the guy sitting next to her. She has to endure this experience. She isn't the only one. The flight celebrates when he is silenced by the flight attendant. That showcases how good it is to simply be kind to people. They will then offer the support that's necessary and uplifting. Not everyone was nice to the flight attendant. She still stood up on their behalf to make this experience more peaceful.