Friday, February 10, 2023

REVIEW: 'Dear Edward' - Edward Enrolls in Public School While Dee Dee Eventually Discovers Her Husband's Truth in 'Chrysalis'

AppleTV+'s Dear Edward - Episode 1.04 "Chrysalis"

The burden of being "Miracle Boy" weighs on Edward. Adriana helps Kojo throw a Ghanaian funeral. Dee Dee unravels her husband's mystery.

"Chrysalis" was written by Rajiv Joseph and directed by David Boyd

People project so much importance onto Edward. And yet, he has no idea who he is. That actually makes him a pretty typical teenager. He tries something at school believing it will help him come across as cool. In reality, it only causes pain and embarrassment. He wants to do nothing but run out of the room. Of course, everyone is more accommodating to his emotional state because of what he survived. It's still a massive loss. He doesn't want to be known as "Miracle Boy." At school, that's a way to call attention to him. He feels the eyes of his classmates staring at him in the hallway. Part of it is internal pressure being in this new environment. This isn't how schooling has ever been for him. He has certain ideas about what public schooling is. And yet, Shay also validates his perspective by calling out the people looking at him. She tries to protect him as best she can. She even gets detention while trying to defend him. She has quickly proven herself to be an amazing friend. She knows not to push Edward too hard when he simply needs to do something that doesn't make sense to anyone else. That's his private business he has to handle. She expects the same boundaries. Edward reacts without always considering the feelings of those around him. Shay is concerned. Lacey has the story to help calm him down. She's not so different from her sister after all. She idolized Jane as perfect. That's the viewpoint many people have towards Edward as well. He has always done well at everything he has ever tried. Jane was the same way. The two understood each other. And now, Lacey has to step into that role. She's overwhelmed. She is also starting to understand how to be a guardian for Edward. Of course, Lacey and John have no idea what to do with all the letters for Edward they've received. Lacey has only opened a few. She knows just how insane some of them can be. John even notes how their privacy is being invaded because one letter was slid under their front door. That's scary. This showcases the power of Edward as a symbol. People project a miraculous nature onto him. They reach out hoping to grab a piece of that. It's what they need for comfort. Edward is just a 12-year-old boy though. He's struggling to find his way in the world. He purposefully does poorly on a test just so he is placed in the classes with fellow kids his age. He shouldn't have to hide his brilliance. That too could serve as a way to define him. It's a new avenue to explore for what makes him so special. All of this is information that has been purely within the subtext of the story so far. Now, it's becoming more blatant. However, that doesn't immediately make it vibrant and purposeful. It's the show only slowly building to its point. It wants to linger in Edward's world. That should still have momentum for how quickly everything is changing for him.

Across the country, it's agonizing for Dee Dee as no one is able to tell her if her husband was gay. It's a frustrating way to structure the storyline. Part of it is done with respect. The creative team doesn't want someone outside of Charles and Evan to share their sexual relationship. It just means there are numerous conversations where Dee Dee is desperate for answers and people exclaim that they don't actually know. The people at the LGBTQ youth center talk about how good Charles was. No one wants to talk about his personal life. Instead, they have to deal with the abrasive Dee Dee searching for clues. It's all simply too much. The story never wants to openly talk about the truth. It's a conversation that pivots around what was actually happening. Charles had no clarity about his sexual identity. He was questioning things about himself. He didn't have the strength to break the illusion of the perfect life for Dee Dee. She simply walks away from all of this fearing the absolute worst. She jumps to those extremes. She hopes to present herself as loving and forgiving by giving away the Rolex she bought for him. That's the gesture that allows her to move on. It's simply a very insulated story. One where people are reluctant to talk to Dee Dee. That's in contrast to other plot developments that require characters to be honest about their feelings. And even when they can't do that, it's usually explained away as children being unable to express themselves properly while dealing with this massive trauma. Dee Dee's storyline simply doesn't have that same basis. It's at least consistent with what has occurred in the previous episodes. The show chose to only focus on a select few members of the grief group. That suddenly shifts. It's strange. It means the audience immediately has to care about characters who have never been important before. Sam speaks for the first time. He still doesn't share his reason for being a part of the group. He simply uplifts Lacey's willingness to acknowledge and support her sister's greatness. It's clear he's talking about his own situation and the regrets he has. It simply doesn't have much power because the audience doesn't know anything about him. Similarly, Amanda's share is disrupted by her fiancé's brother suddenly walking into the room. She wants this space all to herself so she can grieve without being judged by someone in the same experience. She also blames Steve for refusing to let his brother in to atone for his past mistakes. It's all just setup. The show acknowledges how this tragedy affects a vast array of people. It doesn't do much service to the characters who have already been important. Now, the show wants to juggle more just to create enough story to pad out its season. That's never a good feeling to have. It also creates a jarring effect when a new aspect of Adriana's life is introduced. She's confused by a kiss but the audience yet again has no context for how she feels in that moment. Instead, it's more poignant seeing her sit beside Becks as she mourns her mother and joyful when they later dance. Those moments work despite the overall brevity.