Julia (to Tommy regarding their daughter): "She doesn't have a name. We named him William. She doesn't have a name. I can't lose them both".
The joys of life and the very woe of death never rang more true until this episode opened with Tommy at the hospital with Walkers in tow as Julia went into premature labour with the twins. Warning – this is an episode with a downbeat ending and it's one that will make you have a tear in your eye.
Going into premature labour, the risks are always well documented but for the most part, things do tend to turn out well but here things get worse than a bunch of Walkers in one environment trying to outdo each other for talk time. It's almost surprising but necessary that they are relatively mute here.
Poor William Jr isn't even an hour old and already his kidneys are failing him and when a standard dialysis doesn't help, the next options is another dialysis or a transplant which happens to be the best option for the child's survival. However the only donor available is his unnamed sister and that in itself is not a blessing in disguise.
By going through with the transplant option not only do Tommy and Julia run the risk of losing their son but also their daughter and it's actually quite amazing that ABC aren't skimming over the big issue here. Instead of trying to underplay Tommy and Julia's plight, the network and the writers of this episode manage to get things pitch perfect here. All the more power to them as a result.
It's incredibly uncomfortable to watch these scenes as well what with the unenviable dilemma the new parents have to go through but also anything involving kids in danger is a bit hard to watch.
Tommy's against the idea of using his daughter to save his son and there are some incredibly powerful moments when he seeks out both Nora and Saul for advice throughout. With Saul, it's more to do with the outcome of the episode but with Nora, it's the advice that only a parent can give that's really needed.
While neither Saul or Nora can make the decision for him, I like that Nora is able to tell that as a parent you almost have to know when not to be one. It's gotta be hard for Tommy to consider that mentality with both his kids' lives being at risk but seeing as Nora was trying to be there for him, I guess that's all that really matters. It also must have been hard for Nora to give Tommy any advice. I take it she hasn't experienced a miscarriage or premature births so it had to have been hard to be able to say the right thing while keeping a realistic frame of mind. Still she and Saul were there when Tommy needed her and for that, both of them rock.
With exceptional performances from both Balthazar Getty and Sarah Jane Morris, this storyline could've been soapy but both actors hit it out of the ball park and elevate it into something very meaningful. If I saw this kind of plot on Grey's Anatomy, I don't think I would be half as impressed as I was here.
It's also a kind reminder that when given a major storyline both Getty and Morris are every bit as capable of delivering as any other main actor on the series. We've had to wait ages for a major plot for Tommy and Julia and now that we've got it, I couldn't be more satisfied – from a dramatic standpoint. I've had people close to me lose children and it really is the hardest thing in the world.
Was it predictable that William would die in the end? Actually I was rather hoping he'd survive so when he was announced dead, I was shocked. Then I was moved by Tommy's incredibly powerful little good bye speech to his son as Julia held and the rest of the Walkers with Rebecca looked on. I'll even admit that I got close to the tears as well and if a TV shows makes me cry, I definitely love it more.
The death of a child is hard to watch and the rawness here is to be praised. There are also some rather lighter scenes when Julia and Tommy decide to call their baby girl Elizabeth and Saul got a great one liner when the kid cried on his critique of her looks. Saul works well with the lighter moments doesn't he?
Julia and Tommy weren't the only people with a major storyline coursing throughout this week because this episode is also noteworthy for the end of Sarah and Joe when they come to the conclusion that their marriage is well and truly bitten the dust. On any other show, this kind of plot would've been left for a second or third season.
Despite two kids and ten years of marriage, Sarah and Joe's problems have always been there and thanks to the Rebecca debacle, they've been brought to the fore big time. They still obviously care for one another and only last week Sarah was adamant to save her marriage so it does feel like she's throwing in the towel just too quickly.
It's also strange that Joe is also so quick to admit defeat. Sarah was beginning to get past the kiss and she seemed more upset than he did when they came to the conclusion to separate. Am I one of the few people who was hoping that they would actually work it out?
Even worse was the fact they then had to tell both Cooper and Paige that they were splitting up. This episode definitely tugged with kids this week. First with poor William Jr dying and now with the reactions of Paige and Cooper when they get this particular bad news. Thank God this show has a good knack for picking child actors or else this scene would've been a chore to watch.
Paige isn't thrilled to hear that her parents are separating and although both Sarah and Joe do tell her as gently as they could've done in the circumstances, Paige's biggest fear is having to go through the same dynamic that Gabe has done with his mum and Joe and even Joe can't say anything to relieve her.
What's even more affecting is that Cooper doesn't completely get the whole concept of his parents separating. To him, he's happy that Joe will take him to cooler places during the weekends but he turns the moment on his head when he picks up on Paige's sadness and asks if he can go to her room when she leaves. It's a really sweet scene to which Sarah can only agree to let him off. It'll be interesting to see how being a single parent affects Sarah more than Joe.
Also interesting is Rebecca who seems to be getting more close to Nora now that Holly doesn't seem bothered to make up with her. To almost prove that she isn't bad to the bone, Rebecca is quick to express sympathy with Nora over the twins but I suppose we'll have to wait another good while for her to admit to reciprocating Joe's kiss, right? Remember Rebecca, the longer you leave it, the biggest a Walker can hold a grudge.
In a lot of ways I like that Nora and Rebecca are trying to connect. Aside from Justin, Nora had the initial maturity to realise that Rebecca is worth getting to know and even attempts to unravel a bit more about the girl when she starts asking for more details on Chicago. Well someone had to and one thing Nora can never be accused of is being shy on a matter.
Of course Rebecca isn't exactly quick to divulge her antics to the wife of her dead father which makes you think that not only might Holly be a bit correct about Rebecca being a bad seed but also there's more to a deadbeat boyfriend behind Rebecca's decision to come back to LA. The cagey way she looks as well is a bit of a giveaway too.
Also hell does a rather funny thing and momentarily freezes over long enough for Kevin to get off his Robert bashing bandwagon to actually help the guy but like most things, it's something that Kevin has to be persuaded into doing. After all he stills hates Robert's politics and that's one thing he won't change his mind on.
When Robert is blackmailed by a former vet, Sergeant Cole, Kitty had to purchase expensive scotch in order to get into Kevin's good graces and while she was right to challenge Kevin on his own prejudice towards Robert's politics, a part of me does appreciate Kevin not thinking the un shines out of Robert's backside even if he does constantly go on about it too much.
I like Robert but you need someone to antagonise and not be easily impressed by his beliefs and in a lot of ways Kevin fits that bill more effectively than some tertiary character who you wouldn't give a crap about. That being said, it was also high time that Kevin did realise that Robert wasn't that bad a guy.
With Kitty being blinded by love, it's Justin who actually gets through to Kevin when he tells him about going to see a group of Army vets attending physiotherapy. I'm not entirely sure why Robert decided to take Justin there but it's an interesting scene and it's also great to have Robert interact with other Walkers away from Kitty. It's also a nice indicator that he's going nowhere as well.
Also I'm glad Kevin did take the case because he truly rocks as a lawyer and having him knock that jerk Cole off his sanctimonious perch was a sheer delight. Maybe it's because we don't get a lot of scenes with Kevin actually doing his job but when you give him something like this, he delivers it quite perfectly.
Outside of Robert not having to fear his secret being a source of gossip, this whole engagement mix up is then thankfully resolved when he proposes to Kitty and she actually accepts. In terms of TV romances, the pace isn't too slow and I'm sure that while they won't get hitched in the finale, I'm willing to bet some sweeps episode will give us the big wedding.
Also in "Favourite Son"
By any chance is Elizabeth a family name when Julia decided to call her daughter it? What is Julia's mum's name?
Saul (to everyone): "Anyone who wants to get whiplash go with Kevin. He almost ran me off the road speeding to get here".
Robert's blackmailer also has an illegitimate child too. I laughed when Kevin sarcastically referred to Rebecca as a joy.
Kitty: "You know if the Senator shared your politics, you'd be sharpening your claws right now"
Kevin: "Yeah maybe".
Joe: "So why didn't you come home?"
Sarah: "I don't know".
Is it weird that Kitty referred to Robert as "Senator" during her conversation with Kevin when in the last few episodes she's called him Robert to her family?
Nora (to Tommy): "Sometimes being a good parent is knowing when not to be a parent".
Tommy: "What if I can't choose?"
Nora: "They need you, they both need you. They need their father".
Two new writers scripted this week's episode. Here's hoping we'll get another from both Kruger and Silk next season.
Rebecca: "My Mom said something didn't she?"
Nora: "She was just concerned".
Sarah: "You have anything you want to ask me?"
Paige: "Can I go to my room?"
Rebecca was doing a Japanese ritual involving taking sips of the teas at a time with Nora.
Tommy (to William Jr): "Hey little man. It's your Dad. Daddy's here. Everything is gonna be okay. You're named after my father, your grandpa. He's gonna take good care of you".
Kitty: "That wasn't exactly my best moment but you can still say yes"
Robert: "No I can't accept your proposal until you accept mine".
Holly was the only regular not featured in this episode. I don't think they could've given her anything to do here anyway.
Tommy: "I'm wondering did I do the -?"
Saul: "Yes you did".
Standout music: "I'll Not Forget" by Samuel Gatlyn, "Good Gifts" by Melanie Doan and the superb "Wake Up In New York" by Craig Armstrong.
Saul (to Julia/Tommy/Nora re Elizabeth): "Look at her face. She's as pretty as her mother. I meant that as a compliment sweetheart".
Chronology: Straight after "Grapes Of Wrath".
"Favourite Son" is certainly an episode that most viewers won't find particularly easy to watch. There might be some light moments but overall with the death of Tommy/Julia's son, Sarah/Joe's marriage collapsing and Justin heading for Iraq, there are some tough times ahead.