THE FAMILY Review: “Betta Male”



Airtime: Sundays at 9PM on ABC
Episode: Season 1, Episode 8 (S01E08)


Tweetable Takeaway: A frustrating episode of #TheFamily ends with a few baffling but intriguing cliffhangers.  

followed its classic structure this week: a frustrating on so many different levels episode that ends with a few reveals/cliffhangers that make me want to tune in the next week. However, in its ninth outing, this formula is offering diminishing rewards. The reveals were so improbable. Despite the fact that we saw a sink literally full of blood, Gabe is still alive and being kept locked in the basement of Jane and Doug’s shed. There’s also the weird insinuation that Ben killed the real Adam, which doesn’t seem motivated by character at all, just the desire for a shocking twist. Of course, Liam James is essentially playing a blank slate that others project their emotions onto, so maybe it is in Ben’s character.

Let’s break down the ridiculousness of this episode. Nina is apparently the only detective on the Red Pines police force, as she’s still allowed to work the Warren case, visiting their house and interviewing the family alone, despite the fact that the entire town now knows that she’s been sleeping with John for ten years. This is clearly a huge conflict of interest, but apparently it doesn’t even merit a talking to from the chief. Also, despite not being able to track down Doug or noticing that her partner has been missing for over 36 hours, she’s able to deduce that “Adam” is really Ben in about three minutes.


She does this by visiting the foster home, clued into the fact that something is fishy when she watches one of the fake Adam’s videotaped therapy sessions, where he talks about his “imaginary” friend Ben who was a foster kid. She gets the address of Ben’s former foster home and talks to his foster father, who admits that Ben went missing ten years ago, but didn’t report it, as he didn’t want to lose his foster license. She takes Ben’s picture and shows it to him at the Warren’s house, after trying to get him to slip up by asking him detailed personal questions about what the real Adam did the day he disappeared. Willa and Claire could not have acted any more suspicious during this encounter, jumping to Ben’s defense and freaking out. It should now be obvious to Detective Meyer that both of them are in on the cover-up, but who knows with this show.

Doug goes to Hank’s house. Despite the misdirection last week that they were somehow co-conspirators, he’s only there to do repairs on the wood cabinets that he installed ten years ago. Meanwhile, the Warren family is preparing for Claire’s big debate against Governor Charlie Lang, but Willa tells Ben to stay home. Claire is having a hard time accepting him after the disastrous interview with Detective Meyer.

Oh, Bridey is now hooking with Danny again. She Willa a pathological liar to her editor in the beginning of the episode, but here she is, lying and playing with people’s lives seemingly without an ounce of self-awareness about how terrible her actions are. This scene of them drinking at the bar featured some weird shots of them from behind that seemed to indicate someone was watching them, but once again, who knows.

So the Warren family, minus Danny, who’s at the bar, goes to the debate, leaving Ben all alone despite the fact that his kidnapper is still very much on the loose. Of course, Doug breaks into the Warren house. In this episode, it’s not just the that’s frustrating. The filmmaking disappoints as well. There’s a shot of his hand reaching for the doorknob at a canted angle that screamed Lifetime movie, and the musical cues in this episode are over-the-top dramatic. Doug tells Ben that they need to talk, but we don’t see the conversation and he emerges from his room, shaken up but unscathed when the Warrens return. Strange.


Claire won the debate, because Governor Lang decided to take the brilliant route of attacking the grieving mother, claiming she uses her tragedies for political gain. She makes a speech where she essentially admits that her “son” is a stranger, but the public will interpret it as a metaphor for how much the horrible ordeal he went through changed him.

In another implausible , Hank notices that the logo Doug left on his cabinets is identical to the one from a birdhouse he bought at the campaign rally ten years ago, the night Adam disappeared. Hank now knows that Doug is the kidnapper and goes to the police station to share his findings. He has to wait, however, because the police have finally realized Gabe is missing after his adorable husband comes into the station looking for him.

Will they find Gabe? Did Ben kill Adam? Is anyone besides me watching this show? More answers to come next week.



lives for two things: spreading the “Superstore” gospel and themed “Law & Order: SVU” marathons on USA. When she’s not binge-watching her favorite shows, she’s reading any book she can get her hands on.

Twitter: @jtrof

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