“The Family” recap (1.8): Atta Girl, Willa


We’re back with the opener/closer voiceover convention, which is fine. Today it’s Hank, talking about the masks we all wear. OK, sure. Ten years ago, Hank is evasive with his mom after a date with a lady. Mom Asher, thinking she’s figured it out, says it’s OK if Hank’s gay; he says that’s not it. Hank’s mom also announces that she lost her spot at the rec center, so she’ll be teaching piano to kids at home. Uh oh.

Hank voiceovers that if you take your mask off, you risk being seen. Do you ever feel like sometimes this show is worried that we won’t get stuff?

Present day, Claire awkwards with Ben, who doesn’t know she knows he’s not Adam. Be careful, show. We are teetering on the edge of a Three’s Company plot. Ben tries an “I love you” and gets a “goodnight” in return. Ouch.

Willa is in church and another woman comes in. She introduces herself as Governor Lang’s wife, Patty. How would Willa not know this when Maine politics are on the national news all the time? Patty Lang threatens Willa with some excellent high-res photos of Claire definitely drinking too much and maybe driving drunk and falling asleep on a bench. Willa did, for the record, warn Claire that she might get seen if she went out. Patty tells Willa that if Claire drops out now to “get some experience” and waits four years for Lang to be out of office, these pictures don’t have to come out.

Ep 8 Pic 1

First off, since we’ve established that one of Claire’s big gotchas against the Governor is his affairs, I think it’s safe to say that the Langs have a complex and interesting marriage. I may want to see a show about that. Second, is Patty Governor Lang’s Willa? Does every Maine political candidate have one family member who goes rogue? Third, who the hell took these pictures and then brought them to the governor instead of releasing them and either a) getting a giant story or b) stopping Claire’s campaign right there? Did an ordinary citizen take the pictures and not know where to go with them? Red Pines has more newspapers and TV stations than it has grains of sand. Since the Governor himself has already had a humiliating dogfight with Claire, he would presumably just release the photos. Does Patty have her own private spy photographer out tailing Claire at all hours of the night and day? It feels like a bit much for the early stages of the Maine governor’s race.

It doesn’t really matter, since this show glosses over everything to do with reality when it needs a plot point. There need to be damning photos of Claire, so POOF, there are production-quality photos of Claire out late at night in a completely unpredictable spot. Fine.

Anyway, Patty says hey, sure, a male candidate could get away with a night of crazy drinking, but a woman candidate can’t, so it’s time for Claire to drop the hell out of the race if she doesn’t want those pictures fed to the ravenous Red Pines media maw.

Detective Meyer talks to Craggy Doug’s girlfriend Jane, who she randomly spotted on mall security footage after the Terrible Plan went down. Meyer says that Adam’s abductor was at the mall when Jane was. Jane thinks back to Craggy Doug getting her out of the mall right quick and casual and it starts to click in for her. (After ten freaking years of other little clues didn’t?) Jane lies that she didn’t see anyone from the refinery at the mall. We’re all hoping that she goes home and straight-up murders Doug, but no such luck.

Jane does go home and tears the place apart looking for Doug’s blue jacket. Which is not there to find, because he ditched it at the mall.

Late at night, Ben turns off the alarm and takes a key–the one he pulled out from between the bricks at the bunker–and leaves the Warren house. Hank watches from a window.

Ten years ago, a boy about Adam’s age shows up at Hank’s house for a piano lesson. Mrs. Asher isn’t there and it’s raining. Hank, crying, hides to keep from letting him in. Claire spots Hank skulking inside the house and not letting the kid in and wonders what the hell.

OK, this is one of the areas where I’m hitting my limit with this show. This whole Sympathy for Hank thing had better be a long con. The show seems to be making the case, over and over, that Hank has never really done anything wrong and has been trying his best not to hurt kids. It has even been pointedly vague about Hank’s exposing-himself-in-the-park rap to allow the audience to think that maybe we’ll find out it was some sort of mistake or no big deal.

It’s true that there are pedophiles out there who have never given into their impulses and have never harmed a child, and they should be have better access to help. But Hank is NOT one of them. The show has made it clear that Hank had child porn on his computer, and child porn isn’t made in a vacuum. Kids get abused and abducted to make it, in fact, so let’s quit fucking suggesting that Hank’s only crime is a victimless one. Hank hasn’t abducted any kids, but he’s the market for people who do. Hank is how people a lot like Doug get paid. If the show’s writing team, in all its desperate, flailing attempts at blow-your-mind hipness, has lost sight of that, it’s reprehensible. So let’s hope this vile pretension gets blown up with all speed.

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