Thursday, October 6, 2022

REVIEW: 'A Friend of the Family' - Jan Listens to B's Lies Justifying the Time Spent Away From Their Families in 'The Mission'

Peacock's A Friend of the Family - Episode 1.02 "The Mission"

The search for Jan escalates as the Brobergs call in the FBI. Jan is tasked with a disturbing life-or-death responsibility.

"The Mission" was directed by Rachel Goldberg with story by Brian Chamberlayne & Rachael Paradis and teleplay by Brian Chamberlayne

Mary Ann and Bob want their daughter home safely. That's what they desperately want more than anything else. The hours drag into days. The days then turn into weeks. They are afraid of putting their personal lives in the spotlight. They want to keep this quiet because they fear what their neighbors will think. Another member of their community took Jan. Mary Ann and Bob were comfortable with how intimate B was with their entire family. They couldn't see how he was grooming Jan. That's precisely what he was doing. He was planning for this abduction. He concocts an entire story so that Jan isn't terrified. Of course, she still is. She was chained to a bed in a strange environment. She had no idea what happened to her. She was being held against her will. B presented himself as her safe space. She could feel comfortable and protected with him. And yet, he was the one abusing her. He told her she needed to take "allergy pills" to enjoy horseback riding. In reality, that medication was his form of controlling her. Whenever he wanted to abuse her physically, he made her comply with this pill. That's one of the details he's most afraid of getting out. He needs to control every aspect of this story. He is keenly aware of how others perceive him. He preys on those perceptions. No one wants to believe B is capable of hurting Jan. However, he's in therapy to treat his pedophilia. The public doesn't understand what that term means. Gail was led to believe her husband suffered from manic depression. That was the story he offered her. That's what she passed along to everyone. It explained his behavior. It alarmed everyone over what he could possibly be doing with Jan. However, it's far from the true darkness that lurks within him. He is obsessed with Jan. He needs to take her away. They must be together. It's sick and depraved. Mary Ann and Bob are warned they should be prepared for Jan to be different when she returns home. The FBI agents can't articulate what that means. Instead, they simply mention another case that grabbed national headlines. Mary Ann says her daughter is stronger than Patty Hearst. She would never be brainwashed in that way. She will always remain a good girl. But it's so easy for B to prey on Jan's mind. From their first interaction, he was talking about aliens. And now, he props Jan up as being special and needing to provide salvation for an entire alien race. No one can possibly understand the importance of this mission. It has to be someone who comes from this world. Humans are blissfully in the dark. All of this allows B to have Jan for 37 days. He is eventually arrested. Even then, the breakdowns of the criminal justice system prevent the separation from taking hold in the way that best protects Jan's mental health.

Jan returning home shouldn't be seen as the end result. It provides a sigh of relief for the families left behind. She is safe. She wasn't killed. Jan still carries the burden of what this experience was. Not many people are willing to reckon with that fact. Sure, they beat themselves up over how they couldn't see what B was truly doing. It's still agonizing for them to call the police in the first place. Even then, it's hard for them to get in contact with an agency willing to help. At that point, days have passed. Mary Ann and Bob can't sleep soundly until Jan is home again. That offers the perception of peace. The family is reunited. They are desperate and willing to do anything to make that a reality. Throughout all of this, Gail remains close. Her actions shouldn't immediately push her out of their lives as well. And yet, the FBI agents are quick to be alarmed by the ways in which she tries to minimize what B did. She hopes this is one big misunderstanding. She wants to offer support. However, she's presented as yet another person deserving of empathy. She was left with nothing. She needs to be with the Brobergs in order to have purpose. She's trusted to watch the other children. Mary Ann and Bob must go to Mexico to get Jan. Gail is reliable. She was deceived too. She is a victim in all of this as well. Everyone bonds over a common goal. It's all about protecting the idea of Jan. Her innocence must be preserved. That's still not addressing what this time away has meant. This is only the second episode. More time will be spent dealing with the aftermath of this kidnapping. Jan refuses to give up on B. She still listens to him more devoutly than anyone else. He has received the messages that must be obeyed. He has the orders. She must preserve herself in order to continue being of service. She carries that burden. Meanwhile, Bob lingers in horror over realizing B and Jan got married. It doesn't make any sense whatsoever. Jan is just a child. Plenty of people were deceived. No one could imagine the horrors B committed. They didn't perceive him as acting this way towards Jan. It was a different time. These issues weren't prominent and discussed. It all lingered in the shadows. It wasn't common knowledge. It wasn't until the end of this ordeal that Mary Ann realized she no longer had Jan's birth certificate. B invaded their lives so significantly that it can't all be untangled in an instant. That took time to develop and grow. This experience will inform their lives significantly moving forward. That's unavoidable. They can't go back to the family they once were. Jan is on her knees praying for God to keep her family, B and their mission safe. The change has already occurred. Deprogramming is necessary. The family simply doesn't have the tools to make that a reality for her any time soon.