THE FAMILY Review: “Election Day”

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Airtime: Sundays at 9PM on ABC
Episode: Season 1, Episode 11 (S01E11)

TB-TV-Grade-C+

Tweetable Takeaway: The penultimate episode of #TheFamily brings us no closer to a resolution.  


Another Sunday night, another frustrating episode of . It’s hard to pin down what annoyed me most about this episode, but arguably the biggest sin this episode committed was the annoyingly on-the-nose opening/closing voiceover, which verbosely assures us that while some stories are predictable, this isn’t one of them. WE KNOW. The Family tries so hard to shock the viewer with outrageous twists and turns that perhaps the most unpredictable thing would be if things turned out to be exactly how they seemed. If there’s a new shocking twist each week, is anything really that shocking?

At the end of last week’s episode, Doug walked into the police station. He seems to be there to clear his name, but we don’t really get to see any of Detective Meyer’s interview with him. She keeps him in the interrogation room for the full thirty-six hours the law allows her before she has to charge him, but we only see snippets of their conversation. He denies any involvement in Adam’s disappearance or any knowledge of Agent Clement’s whereabouts. Finally, Detective Meyer calls the Warren family to take a look at the line-up. Of course, Ben claims that the man who kidnapped him isn’t there, so they’re forced to let Doug go.

MICHAEL ESPER, MARGOT BINGHAM

Whatever Doug told Ben in their secret meeting in his room clearly scared him into keeping his mouth shut. Detective Meyer tries to follow Doug via a device she placed on his jacket, but since Doug is always one-step ahead of the police, he gave the jacket to a local skateboarding kid.

Oh and it’s also election day. Ben really takes to playing the role of Adam, talking to reporters after voting and cold-calling potential voters, but this only serves to make Willa increasingly uncomfortable. She has good reason to be freaked out by the kid. He admitted to hurting Adam last week, and he creepily sits in her bedroom, watching her sleep, waiting for her to wake up so he can ask her about confession. Willa tries to make strong-arm Ben into agreeing to going to a boarding school for traumatized children in California, but Ben stakes his claim on the family, cozying up to the still oblivious John while shooting Willa a menacing grin.

Anyways, Claire wins the election. However, she finds out this news at the exact same time Willa tells her that Ben killed the real Adam. After talking to Hank, Claire realized that Ben was lying about not recognizing his kidnapper. She senses that Willa knows more, and Willa tells her that she thinks Ben lied in order to protect himself. If Doug goes down for the kidnapping, Ben will go down for killing Adam. A horrified Claire can’t bring herself to give her victory speech, so Willa makes one for her.

JOAN ALLEN, LIAM JAMES, RUPERT GRAVES

Let’s talk about Hank for a moment. Throughout the show, the writers have attempted to give us a more nuanced version of a pedophile. Hank isn’t a monster—he’s actively trying to suppress his urges and he didn’t hurt Adam, even though he wanted to. However, in this episode we see why he got on the sex offender registry in the first place. He was caught masturbating in his car while watching a group of young boys play soccer. The police report the crime to his boss and he’s forced to resign from his , even though, in his words, he made a mistake and didn’t hurt anybody.

I’m sorry, but I no longer feel bad for Hank. At all. No matter how sneaky he thought he was being, someone clearly saw him if he was arrested. He could have traumatized a kid. Hank’s upset this episode that he didn’t get any glory for alerting the police to Doug (in a hilarious scene, he calls the news station himself, spelling his last name out for them, as if they didn’t all report on his arrest/release mere weeks ago), but Detective Meyer tells him that even if he cures cancer, people will still see him as a sexual predator. She’s right. In the end of this episode, we learn that he skipped his hormone shot. His urges could come back.

Meanwhile, Bridey spends all day working on her article at a random truck stop diner. She ingratiates herself with the waitress, Sally, telling her that she feels guilty about the possible effects her article might have on the family, calling herself a horrible human being for sleeping with a brother and a sister in pursuit of a story. Yeah right. She’s a soulless sociopath, and she’s only pretending to have feelings because she wants the waitress to open up to her. Sally tells this complete stranger that her biggest regret in life is getting involved with a boyfriend who landed her in jail, causing her to lose her son to the foster system. Her son’s name? Ben. Somehow, Bridey knew that Sally is Ben’s real mom and she gleefully calls her editor to tell him she has confirmation.

ALISON PILL, JOAN ALLEN

I almost forget about Agent Clements! He’s still shackled in the basement. Jane fruitlessly tries to saw off the handcuffs, but it’s pointless. He has a grim idea—if she cuts off his thumbs, he’ll be able to slip out and escape. Because Jane is rivaling Bridey for my least favorite character, of course she only cuts off one thumb. She couldn’t bring herself to finish the , so Gabe was put through excruciating pain for no reason. Agent Clements thinks that Doug is going to kill him, but after talking to him, Jane tells him that he won’t, if he convinces the police to stop looking for him.

There’s only one episode left in this show, with next week’s episode possibly serving as a series finale, as there’s still no word from ABC on its renewal. I don’t think it deserves a second season, but there’s still so much plot left up in the air that I’m fearful they won’t be able to tie up all the loose ends in one episode, and I’ll be stuck without answers forever. We’ll just have to wait and see.

TB-TV-Grade-C+

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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 any book she can get her hands on.

Twitter: @jtrof

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