Friday, February 17, 2023

REVIEW: 'The Upshaws' - Bennie and Lucretia Grow Concerned Over Regina's Worsening Depression in 'Now What'

Netflix's The Upshaws - Episode 2.16 "Now What"

The family sends Regina off as she takes on a new endeavor, but a sudden change of plans has Lucretia and Bennie worried about her - and the future.

"Now What" was directed by Sheldon Epps with story by Erin Jackson & Jonterri Gadson and teleplay by Dino Shorté & Nicole Bilbrew

Bennie and Lucretia believe Regina is emotionally out of sorts as a result of her heart attack. And yet, those issues have been bubbling inside of her for awhile. In fact, they truly could be traced back to Althea's visit that sparked tension between Regina and Lucretia. The sisters eventually found that they need each other. They can't survive alone. They require that support. That eased some tension. Regina appreciates all that her family does. However, it was easy to get distracted from her pursuit of returning to school. At one time, she knew she needed this degree in order to be paid what she is worth. It was the requirement for her to move up in the world. That was her aspiration. The whole family was supportive of her dream. And now, she tosses it aside despite getting accepted into a school. She doesn't want to spend a weekend away visiting the campus. That drive is no longer as strong as it once was. The heart attack helped her put it into words a little bit. She doesn't have all the answers. Nor does her family. They can't immediately fix it themselves by having an Upshaw-themed trivia night. It's a sweet gesture. It doesn't get at the underlying issue. It's frustrating for Regina to see things happen so easily for Bennie and Lucretia. Of course, they are also content with what they have. They don't want to change anything in their lives. Others don't always understand it. However, it means something that Bennie owns his own shop. He's the boss. He gets to dictate the terms of how this business operates. That got him and Lucretia into trouble. However, they had the tools to get out of it. Moreover, Bennie could find another job because he is actually a good mechanic. That's the strongest skill he has. He has found his passion. He pursues it. He doesn't need anything more than that. Meanwhile, it's a struggle for Lucretia to complete a visit with Frank in Atlanta. She doesn't believe she can leave her home and family for any amount of time. When she even tries, that's when Regina has a heart attack. She will do whatever it takes to defend her family. That's simply who she is. It's not productive for a relationship. It's sudden when things end with Frank. However, it's understandable. The timing just never works out for these two because they want different things out of life. It took Frank actually living a day alongside Lucretia to realize that. He is proud of who she is and what matters to her. It's simply not a life she can ever leave. This is what makes her happy. Again, she has that clarity. She doesn't want things to change. When the shop opens again, Bennie and Lucretia saw no reason to alter anything with the space. They had the opportunity to improve things. They opted against it because they already had everything they wanted.

Regina stands in contrast to that. She feels pressured to have her life figured out. She spirals because of her fears and depression. It's more than just a typical mid-life crisis as well. She yearns for a place to belong. She found peace at the clinic. She was so desperate for a job that she took whatever was offered. She couldn't be picky about the neighborhood where it's located. Her family has concerns. That proves how they are doing better than some people in their community. Regina doesn't freak out. She knows how to organize this system. She isn't concerned about how to pay for her medical treatment after the heart attack either. She knows she was lucky because it was a minor anomaly. She also knows precisely how to navigate the billing system. That's what she did for this company for years. No one is ever going to trick her. She got to luxuriate in the care. Sure, her family fussed over her a bit too much and wanted to make dramatic changes to her life. They did so much in service to her. However, she doesn't know if that's actually enriching to her overall spirit. It's scary. The family is strong because they didn't lose Regina. But they are just now seeing her emotional struggle. It wasn't caused by the heart attack. It was apparent beforehand. Bennie is furious over his wife keeping this secret. Of course, Regina doesn't know what to do either. Bennie has been on his best behavior. He still slips and returns to the casino. That place turns out to be refuge for her as well. It's a place for all their hopes and dreams to die. It's presented in a fun package. It doesn't mend the troubles in their souls. It's just masking their pain. They haven't reached a place of acceptance yet. They aren't reaching out for help in ways that are actually productive. Bernard was in a similar spot earlier when he was projecting his insecurities onto Hector. Sure, most of that character development happened offscreen with Bernard explaining himself later on. It's mostly just a celebration that he doesn't have a big reaction to Hector performing in drag. He at least has the words to vocalize what he's going through. Elsewhere, Kelvin announces that he wants to live with Bennie and Regina. He does so mostly because he can live his own life in this household. He won't have to live in the shadow of Tasha and Noah's engagement. They want him to prosper with them. He simply believes he's better off with his father. Of course, no one has had that opinion of Bennie before. It will only add to the chaos in the Upshaw house. That won't be helpful to Regina either. It's the cliffhanger for the season. It's incredibly personal while not offering complete resolution to the drama. It's satisfying mostly because the viewer knows more episodes are coming. This isn't the end. It's just the middle of the journey. No one can deny Regina's depression. It just can't be easily fixed either especially when she doesn't fully understand why she's feeling this way.