It's one of those weeks on this series where good intentions cause fights and crossed words still cause bad feeling among the characters. It also means that Rebecca's proper introduction to the family doesn't go off without a hitch either.
Rebecca's introduction to the Walkers was never going to be a walk in the park. Holly has managed to piss them off by concealing the girl's identity and becoming a stockholder in Ojai Foods and given that Rebecca's identity was also kept secret from certain Walkers as well, the outcome for a dinner would only equal dysfunction of some kind.
The friction between certain people is felt in the opening scene with Nora ignoring Sarah's calls, Kevin being frosty towards Saul and Holly also left out in the cold by Rebecca. It's only Kevin who is unjustified in his anger. Both Nora and Rebecca on the other hand are more than entitled to it.
Also Holly does no real favours for herself by trying to push Rebecca into instantly forgiving her. The girl's 20 years of age, so she's hardly going to be wooed with breakfast and you didn't exactly fill in the blanks of your own free will. Rebecca might've been a hell of a lot less mad if Holly had been the one to tell her.
Then again, Rebecca might be cutting off her nose to spite her face because while Holly did lie to her, the woman is still on her side and apart from Justin; none of the other Walkers have been tripping themselves over in an effort to get to know the girl.
When Justin openly admitted that he and Rebecca were hanging out on a semi-regular basis, Nora's only reaction was to yell at him for wanting to know the girl. Then Justin further upped that pedestal of his by defiantly telling his mother that Rebecca isn't going away. At least someone seems to have cottoned on to that fact.
Nora then did a U-Turn and decided that instead of acting like a dolt about William's illegitimate daughter, the better option would be to invite the girl over for a meal so she could get to know Rebecca and Rebecca could also experience first hand how wacky her newly acquired siblings are. Okay Nora mightn't have been thinking the latter thing but I'm pretty sure many viewers were.
Given her own fateful experience of a family dinner with Nora and company, Holly almost wins points for doing her best to dissuade Rebecca from attending and if Rebecca wasn't still pissed off with her mum and curious, then Holly's little scheme might have worked. Rebecca fairly knows how to put her mum's nose out of joint to by telling Holly not to come with her. Holly did not seem to like that one bit. Perhaps she wanted a rematch with Sarah.
Still Rebecca decided that dinner with the Walkers would be fun and while she already had an ally in Justin, she must've thought that they would be a tough crowd to please. Nora can be pretty formidable at the best of times and despite a hesitant moment; Rebecca really didn't seem to have had to do anything to get Nora's approval.
I have to give kudos to Nora. I know she has a tendency to put her foot in it and can be borderline crazy in her own colourful way but given that her husband had a 20 plus affair and grown up daughter from the same other woman, she really handled things at the dinner with a certain grace that wasn't exhibited by anyone at that meal apart from Justin and Julia.
Nora at least seems to have the emotional intelligence to realise that Rebecca is completely blameless in the William/Holly mess and even made a genuine effort during the dinner to engage in polite conversation. Heck even Rebecca responded to that in her own equal genuine way.
It's too bad that everyone else forgot to bring their manners with them. Kitty decided that instead of meeting her baby half-sister, it would be a far better option to have dinner with Robert and his kids, especially given that one of them hates her. Kitty might be right about the dinner being a nightmare but she still should've attended.
Sarah's only contribution during the meal was to make constant snide comments. I get that Sarah hates Holly and has no desire whatsoever to let that slide but it was bad enough that she was the one who told Rebecca about her parentage out of spite but she didn't need to act like a complete **** towards Rebecca during the dinner. The thing Sarah, Kitty and Kevin are forgetting is that Rebecca is blameless in this situation and yet they still act she's the one to blame for their whole family being at odds with one another. William's to blame and even Nora is able to see that so why can't the three other Walker siblings see that?
To Sarah's credit she did only attend the dinner to make amends with Nora but did she really have a point in trying to use the way Nora seemed to easily embrace Rebecca as leverage? I don't think she did and eventually Nora will forgive Sarah but if Sarah doesn't stop acting so petulant with the way she kept making nasty digs at her new sister or even ignoring Nora's calls towards the end of the episode, then here's hoping the olive branch doesn't get extended as quickly.
Then again, Sarah wasn't the only one who behaved badly during that dinner. I know Kevin also wasn't open to the idea of having Rebecca factor in his life now but he did come across as a major jerk during the meal when he tried to get a piece of DNA evidence by pulling the girl's hair. Someone has been watching way too much CSI but even when Kevin can be a pain in the ass, he still has some good comic moments, especially with Justin trying to calm him down. Kevin could have a point about Holly possibly lying about Rebecca's parentage but I really don't think she is and Kevin had no right to do that either.
Another thing that he was grossly in the wrong about as well was meeting Chad's manager Donald and then taking the man's advice about concealing his and Chad's relationship.
For a guy who has spent the last three episodes whinging about being in a relationship that's closeted, Kevin's dumb assed actions have now enabled that complaint. Chad is a fairly famous actor on a boring day time soap. The way Donald was dithering on, you'd swear to God, he was the next George Clooney. Coming out would change Chad's life but realistically, it wouldn't destroy his career.
It's also great that even Chad is coming around to the idea that being openly gay isn't career suicide. Even if him and Kevin broke up (which they will) after he had came out, that wouldn't be the biggest devastation in his life or career. Chad might be a bit melodramatic but Kevin's almost worse.
Also interestingly enough, Chad was visibly pissed off when Kevin suggested he took an actress to the premiere he was willing to take Kevin to. Kevin's attempts of making it up to Chad didn't seem to make an impact. Given the back and forth nature between these two, it seems ironic that Chad is on the way out of the series just around the point that the writers have succeeded in making him sympathetic.
For all of his collective mess ups this week, it's nice that the episode finally ended with Kevin doing something right by admitting that Saul was right all along in relation to the Rebecca situation. It's only too bad that Kevin had to annoy so many people in order to get to that conclusion.
Speaking of annoying Kitty was bad enough last week with not wanting to know Rebecca but her stupidity rose this week when she decided to ditch one dinner she knew was going to be disastrous in order to attend another one that would be even worse.
With her and Robert getting more serious, it was only a matter of time before the kids would factor in things and unfortunately everything in this plot stank of predictability. Jack was pretty aloof and didn't really seem to care about Kitty while the precocious Sofia hated the woman on sight, even going as far as to verbally bash Kitty when a waitress mistook them for mother and daughter.
Even worse is that while Kitty had the sense to realise that Robert was speeding things up between them a little too fast, Robert overreacted when Kitty mentioned that. Personally Robert was in the wrong in this episode but Kitty could've avoided the situation by declining his dinner when she was snubbing Rebecca. At least then we wouldn't have had to deal with beastly Sofia.
Speaking of dealing another issue arose this week – paternity. Yep, following Rebecca's arrival, Tommy was a little anxious to learn whether or not it was Kevin or Justin who impregnated Julia. My money's on Justin but mainly because I so don't want to see Kevin in any kind of parental role just yet but also because it would be kinda neat in its own weird way.
Julia meanwhile doesn't really give a damn and seems more fixated on objecting to having amnio but after the latest dinner from hell, she begins to see Tommy's perspective. It's a neat minor plot between the two but seriously in three episodes; Rebecca has seemingly had more to do than either Tommy and/or Julia have in two thirds of an entire season.
In fact we even got to see Rebecca's later reaction to Kevin's hair pulling antics because while Nora's able to embrace her, Rebecca still feels like an outsider and even blames Holly later (in a mature-ish way) for depriving her of having a crazy band of siblings. You know Rebecca, there are some people out there would kill to be an only child but I guess you might have a point.
Last but not least, while this episode focused on Nora getting to know Rebecca, it also saw her back into the world of school and also getting a hard time from her professor Mark and misanthropic fellow students about her prose. I'll admit the Dora saga doesn't win points for subtlety but in no way is Nora's writing anywhere near painful as having to listen to any of Jenny's from The L Word but it'll be interesting to see what will become of Nora in this domain.
Also in "All In The Family"
The episode began with several feuds but aside from Kevin and Saul, none of the others seemed resolved.
Nora (re Sarah): "I'll call her back"
Justin: "Good because everybody has to start talking to one another at some point".
Nora throwing her wedding ring in the water was also done with Addison in Grey's Anatomy a few weeks prior. I think Nora might end up regretting her actions even if she is pissed off with William.
Kevin: "Do you do everything your manager says?"
Chad: "Well I'm here with you so obviously not".
Kitty: "There's a very small person under the table"
Robert: "Yeah I know. Jack you've been found".
Do ten years old really listen to the Cheetah Girls? I have to admit I've never heard of them until I saw this episode. I'm not sure that's a bad thing either.
Julia (to Tommy): "I really hope it starts to hit you soon that we're the parents. Just you and me".
Donald: "You're the first guy that's ever gotten this far"
Kevin: "Did you bring me here just to tell me that?"
David Paymer who played Donald in this episode also directed it. He only had one scene so it couldn't have been too hard to multi-task.
Sofia (re Kitty): "Is she your girlfriend?"
Robert: "I guess you could call her that. I would call her that. Are you okay with calling her that?"
Kevin (to Rebecca, re Chad): "I know him"
Justin: "Like Romeo knows Juliet"
Sarah: "Like Siegfried knows Roy".
Is it me or for a supposed heavily pregnant Julia, the woman has hardly gained anything? She's pretty thin for some expecting twins.
Rebecca (re Ojai Ranch): "So boring there, is it?"
Sarah: "I'm sure your mother didn't find it boring".
Kevin (after pulling her hair/getting caught): "Oh I'm sorry"
Rebecca: "Why would you do that?"
Nearly all of the regular cast was present with the exception of Joe. His absence at the dinner wasn't explained or noticed by anyone else either.
Nora: "The world's not fair. You do what you can"
Sarah: "That's exactly what I mean".
Rebecca (to Holly): "You didn't deprive me of a father, Mom; you deprived me of a whole family".
Standout music: "Be Here Now" by Ray LaMontagne, "Today Is The Day" by Apollo Sunshine and "Sympathise" by Amos Lee". The best thing about this episode was the music.
Kevin: "Does high school ever end?"
Saul: "No, Kevin. It's like taxes. We're doomed to repeat year after year".
Chronology: At least a few days after "The Other Walker".
After a succession of incredibly strong episodes, I have to admit that "All In The Family" is one of my least favourites of the series. It's not the worst episode ever seen but its way too predictable in places and too many of the main character generally annoyed me throughout.