So much of Up All Night has been about Reagan and Chris trying to hold onto their youth while dealing with being new parents, so it’s about time that we get a glimpse of what their lives looked like before Amy was born – even if it’s just a few hours before this life-changing event. Doing a flashback episode – and one with little explanation besides the quick opening title “Sometime last year” – is a risky move for a show that hasn’t tried anything this conceptual yet, but it paid off in spades. Audiences tuning in a minute or two late may have been a bit confused at first, but it was worth losing a few tardy viewers because the flashback showed off a new trick that Up All Night can pull off gracefully and offered up A and B-plots that were more unified than they’ve been in past weeks.
The episode picks up with a very pregnant Reagan Brinkley and husband Chris preparing for the birth of their daughter. After being understandably grossed out by a birthing video with Chris, Reagan coaches her staff on what to do in her absence. No one is more afraid than Ava, who is dreading losing Reagan to her maternity leave so much that she’s insisting that Reagan has just gained a lot of weight. It’s not a stretch to say that Ava fears Reagan’s childbirth more than Reagan does.
When Reagan starts to go into labor at work, Chris kicks off his paternity leave early to take her to the hospital. Ava heads to Reagan and Chris’s house to pick up some things Reagan forgot, sending the couple to the delivery room in her private limo. After some stalling, Ava’s assistant Missy convinces her to get over her fears of losing Reagan to her family and to show up at the hospital for her best friend’s big day.
At the hospital, Chris and Reagan find that they’re going to have to throw Reagan’s 30-page birth plan out the window. Against her original wishes, Reagan ends up adding an epidural and a C-section to her birth plan. To throw another obstacle in the way of Reagan’s perfect birthing experience, Chris mixes up their “Birth Mix” with his “Workout Mix” when it comes time to play music. Reagan ends up reluctantly giving birth to House of Pain’s early 90’s hip-hop track “Jump Around.” Despite all of the complications, seeing their beautiful newborn daughter instantly makes everything better for Reagan and Chris.
“Birth” represents a nice change of pace for Up All Night, giving the show a chance for some character exposition that couldn’t have been gleaned from anything but a flashback. It was nice to see the job that Chris walked away from to be a stay-at-home dad, as well as how Reagan’s type-A personality impacted her birth. Maybe it’s just that I enjoy the show more without the baby stuff, but I’d love to see another episode exploring Chris and Reagan’s past. “Birth” felt like it could have been the show’s pilot, and it actually establishes the characters more fully than the actual pilot did. Up All Night’s cast and crew are finding their groove after a half-dozen episodes, and this experimental installment was definitely a success.
Bradford Evans is a writer living in Los Angeles.