Two things: 1. I am loving the dilly out of all these road trips! First the Big Three last week and now Beth and Zoe this week. (I am wondering though, did Randall pack the ladies “many pitted fruits?” Or did they behave as normal people do and eat crunchy, salty, chocolaty things?)
2. I, too, had a dad named Abe who died of lung cancer even though he was never a smoker. So yeah, this episode wrecked me, pretty much.
3. Okay I lied. I have THREE things to say. Susan Kelechi Watson is a genius. We’ve seen her do her stuff before, but this week she left nothing on the table. Someone give that woman an Emmy and a Golden Globe to go with it!
How about you? what did you think of the glorious (to me) Beth episode? I personally think it ranked up there this season, anyway, if not the entire series.
- We meet Beth’s fearsome mother, played by an always formidable Phylicia Rashad, in the hallways of the school at which she rules the roost as principal. She is a strict, no-nonsense teacher who does not suffer fools or, as it turns out, dreamers.
- Flashback: Too bad her youngest child, Bethany, is a dreamer, lost in a reverie of sketching ballet shoes and dancing ballet. As Beth’s dad says, their “little Island girl” could dance before she walked.
- Oh, how I adored Beth’s dad, Abe. With his sing
song-yJamaican accent, gentle, loving nature and wonderful warmth, he won me over in seconds.
4. In the present, Beth and Zoe discuss their fears about “laying down the law” with their steely mother and aunt. “You’re gonna lay down the law with her, right?” Zoe asks Beth. “And not just lay down?” Uh oh. Sounds like there is a history there.
5. In the past, we have Goran Visnijic (E.R) playing young Beth’s Eastern European ballet teacher at an exclusive ballet school. We learn that Beth’s parents have agreed to scrape and work extra to pay for her tuition there, even though there are no guarantees she will ever be recruited past high school. But that’s the dream, and dreams die hard.
6. Fast forward to Beth’s senior year of high school, and indeed, her ballet teacher tries to tell her maybe she should cut her losses, or work 10 times harder. Beth chooses Plan B.
7. Beth’s beautiful dad has lung cancer, though he never smoked. “So unfair, right?” And I was bawling, remembering when I got the call that my dad had stage 4 lung cancer. SO unfair. When she hugs her dad after the announcement, the tenderness between them was palpable. Definitely one of my top Tissue Moments from this show.
8. Ugh! When it comes to grieving and guiding your children in grief, Beth’s mother is incompetent and foolish. She denies Beth the space she needs to mourn the father she loved. I mean, “dry those tears…?” Can I get an amen from all my social worker pals? This stiff upper lip stuff is total crap. But Beth’s mom is a woman with a plan and a script: work hard and you will succeed. Except when you don’t …
9. In a beautiful scene, Beth sees her dad’s old chair with his bead massage thing still draped over it. She flashes back to a conversation with him, when he told her she could dance before she walked. “That’s just who you are,” he says, plain and simple.
10. But life took her in another direction. “I’m gonna forget. I’m gonna forget that part of me,” she says to her dad. And then she cries. “I can’t be me without you.”
11. Beth finally confronts her mom for refusing to continue paying for ballet lessons after Beth didn’t get the solo. “You didn’t have to take that away from me,” Beth finally vents the old festering hurt. “There’s no air with you. No air to be sad. No air to fail.” (And therapists all over North America rejoiced!)
12. But the thing about air is you gotta have it from somewhere. Abe was the air and light for his wife, and Beth found someone like him to marry. Randall is her air, her dreamer. This trip to visit her mom has reconnected Beth to her dear dad, and to her childhood dream. She tells Randall that she knows what she wants to do with her life now (or should I say again?): Dance and teach dance. And return to being Abe’s little Island girl once again.
Holy Moly! I even cried writing the recap!
What a profound episode, don’t you think?
What did you want to be when you were young?
Did Beth’s story stir some long lost dream inside of you?
Comment below and we can all boo hoo together. Pass the Kleenex and get out your dancing shoes!