The Family Recap: Mystery Solved, Already

The Family

Nowhere Man
Season 1 Episode 6
Editor’s Rating *****
Joan Allen as Claire. Photo: Giovanni Rufino/ABC

Wow! Things are actually happening on The Family! It’s almost hard to believe that “Nowhere Man” is just the sixth episode; it feels like 900 hours have passed since the plot moved anywhere significant. But now we seem to be getting places, at least for the moment. This isn’t to say that showrunner Jenna Bans hasn’t driven herself into a dramatic hole in the long run, but at least decent twists are happening right now.

Yes, that thing we already knew to be true turned out to be true: Adam is not Adam. He’s Ben, the other kid whom the evil Doug kidnapped before he kidnapped the real Adam, and Willa apparently found him and helped pass him off as Adam. Good job, Willa! It is sort of difficult to imagine something as simultaneously horrible and stupid as that. The real wonder is that it took anyone on the show this long to figure it out for sure. In the end, it’s a doctor who gives the game away, revealing to Claire that the kid she thinks is her son has his appendix — something her actual son had removed. (Joan Allen, as usual, plays this horrifying moment nicely.) Next time, get the kid’s appendix taken out, Willa.

Since everyone on this show is dumb as a stump, it shouldn’t be too shocking that they let this random kid into their lives. Everything Willa does in “Nowhere Man” is foolish. She lies to Bridey about Adam/Ben’s paternity test, saying that he’s the result of Claire’s infidelity — any guesses as to whether that little fib will come back to bite her? — and then she just crawls under her desk for like two days straight instead of trying to solve her mess in any way, and then she hooks up with Bridey, apparently giving into her sapphic side for the first time with the worst possible person. It’s appropriate that the episode aired on the same day as the start of the baseball season, because Willa’s idiot batting average is a clean 1.000.

So, Willa comes home to find an understandably distraught Claire waiting for her. Claire is apparently either pretty clairvoyant or instantly aware that only Willa would be wacked-out enough to engineer the Ben mess, because she immediately knows that her daughter is behind everything. From the previews for next week’s episode, those two definitely have a fun conversation ahead of them.

Of course, this raises some significant questions. The most obvious one: Is the actual Adam dead or alive? The second most obvious one: What’s going to happen with Ben? This is where the long-term dramatic hole comes in, because it’s hard to see how any tension around those two questions can be sustained over one season, let alone multiple. The Family is the kind of show that would really benefit from being able to follow the British model of television. Think of what things might be like if 13 episodes were all we got, and then everyone moved on! I suspect things would be better.

But I digress. Adam/Ben winds up in the hospital after he has a close, sweaty encounter with his former captor at the mall. It has all been arranged by the industrious Nina as a way to lure Doug out of hiding, and, somewhat improbably, it works. Doug happens to see Adam/Ben talking on TV about how he wants to go to the mall, so naturally he heads right over there with his poor, sweet, pregnant wife, whom he ditches so he can stare down menacingly at Adam/Ben from on high. It beggars belief that this character would do something so obviously stupid, but whatever. Also, it’s not like Adam hasn’t been out in public before, so it’s weird that this one time brings Doug out of the shadows, but whatever again. All seems to be going okay until Nina and her crew begin very ostentatiously flooding the mall with panicked agents, causing Doug to flee. (Remember: Everyone is a moron.) Nina is saved when the Feds recover a jacket Doug threw out, and doubly so when she catches his wife on a security camera. It would be totally fine if Doug gets caught, if only because The Family could stand to lose half of its characters and plot lines. Something tells me that we’ll have to wait quite a few episodes to see if that happens.

In the meantime, the Warrens are headed towards an unholy mess. Will they cast Ben into the wilderness? Will they confess anything to the public? Will they survive one week without murdering each other? The next episode looks like it’s going to contain a lot of screaming Joan Allen scenes, which can only be a plus.

Random Thoughts:

  • I was glad that Willa took more than one second to read the paternity test Bridey gave her. One of my TV pet peeves is when people are given complex documents, instantly breeze through them, and then go, “But this says that dinosaurs are actually humans!” or something, as if they could actually have digested anything in the time that it took. Willa waits about five seconds, which is an improvement.
  • The less said about Hank’s run-in with the woman from the cake shop, the better. My fidelity to this recap is the only thing that prevented me from turning off the TV and washing my eyes out when she unbuckled his pants. I still don’t know why Hank is on the show.
  • For that matter: the less said about Willa’s encounter with Bridey, the better. At least one sex scene has appeared on The Family in each episode, and all of them have been extremely, extremely un-sexy. This time we got two of them. Ugh.
  • Pity that random guy who’s trying to run Claire’s gubernatorial campaign. If I were him, I’d run for the hills,

The Family Recap: Mystery Solved, Already