overnights

The Conners Recap: Oh, Baby

The Conners

Miracles
Season 1 Episode 5
Editor’s Rating *****

The Conners

Miracles
Season 1 Episode 5
Editor’s Rating *****
Photo: Eric McCandless/ABC

The Conner family’s big news — the miracle teased in the episode title — is that Becky is pregnant. Since Becky was told by doctors during the reboot season of Roseanne that her chances of conceiving were around 5 percent (because she was too old and “pickled,” as per Darlene), her impending bundle of joy comes as a surprise to everyone, including Becky, and Dan, and both of the La Casita Bonita co-workers who might be the dad.

But before we get into more specifics on that, let’s note that the title is actually “Miracles,” plural, because something equally surprising, and wonderful, might be brewing for Darlene. Sara Gilbert’s middle child continues to be the highlight of the rebooted Conner universe, and thanks to a breakup and a new job, Darlene is possibly headed for a professional and personal rebound.

On the dating front, Darlene and her new boyfriend Neil (Justin Long) have dinner with Dan and Jackie, who make an observation that gobsmacks Darlene: Neil is rather reminiscent of another man in Darlene’s life, another man who was easily controlled by bossy Darlene. They’re talking about David, of course, and when soft-spoken Neil apologizes for questioning Darlene’s demand that he not order shrimp tacos at La Casita Bonita, she finally sees what her family sees. The next day, she breaks up with Neil.

“How’d he take it?” Jackie wonders.

Darlene: “He was devastated, until I told him that he wasn’t.”

On the work front, Darlene’s still serving cocktails at the casino, but a “help wanted” ad in a tabloid Dan picks up at a convenience store gets her excited about writing. The publication is Lock ’Em Up, a round-up of everyone who’s arrested for sundry offenses in Lanford. The accompanying mugshots are the real selling point, but when Darlene goes to the Lock ’Em Up offices to apply for a copy writing position, she tries to convince editor Ben (guest star Jay Ferguson) that some snappy copy could boost sales. She even pitches a website — Lock ’Em Up has yet to hit the interwebs — she could create to draw in the kids.

Ben says … no. He doesn’t care about lively copy. People pick up his paper for the pics, he insists. Only after a back-and-forth that reveals that (1) quippy, stubborn, self-possessed Ben is no David or Neil; (2) Ben and Darlene have instant chemistry; and (3) Darlene is in the rare position of being in a room with someone she respects, Ben agrees to hire Darlene, allow her to spruce up the copy a bit, and to launch that website she promises is key to the media company’s future. He even offers her a percentage of the profits she brings in with the digital edition of Lock ’Em Up. They decide to go out to dinner to celebrate. Ben suggests Chinese food, because he’s in the mood for shrimp fried rice. Darlene suggests he doesn’t want to order a shrimp dish, as shrimp is not processed ethically.

“Oh, you’re confused … you thought I was a child, when I’m actually a grown-ass adult,” Ben tells her, prompting Darlene to apologize(!) and tell him she didn’t mean to be pushy (!!).

Yeah, Darlene likes Ben. And Ben likes Darlene. This is the storyline I’m most excited to see unfold across the rest of The Conners’ season. Darlene, as was always clear would be the case, is the new backbone of her family. She is the most mature, sane member of the Conner clan (more so even than Dan or Jackie), and the strongest and most resilient. It’s both a callback to her teenage relationship with David, which never really evolved past their original dynamic, and a hopeful peek into the future, suggesting that she could have met the person who will be her equal in a new, adult relationship.

The future for Becky seems much more uncertain. She’s pregnant, and she’s sure the baby’s father is either her boss at La Casita Bonita or a busboy at the restaurant. She tries her boss Ramon first, because she thinks he’s more likely to be in a position to help her financially. Ramon knows right away he’s no papa, though.

“I had a vasectomy,” he tells Becky.

“Ironically, that used to be music to my ears,” Becky says.

Ramon tells busboy Emilio he’s going to be a dad, and, via translator Jackie, Emilio lets Becky know he’s there for her. Jackie offers to help him learn English, as he reveals to her his ambition to learn the language and get a better job.

Meanwhile, Becky’s friends and customers Maria and Bridgette are happy to hear her news, and note how stressed out she is about her impending motherhood. They’ve been trying to have a baby themselves. Maria tells Bridgette she thinks they should adopt Becky’s child, and allow her to be a part of its life as they raise it.

Pretty big decision to make before you’ve even gotten your first margarita.

Around Lanford:

• When Becky is taking orders during the family’s night out with Darlene and Neil, every food item they mention is making her nauseated. Dan doesn’t buy her food poisoning excuse; he accuses her of going back on her promise to stop drinking so much. Neither he nor Becky knew at the time she was pregnant.

• Dan also fires her from his construction company, saying it’s too dangerous for her and the baby to be on job sites.

• But the two bond, in another classic Roseanne callback moment. Just as he did after fighting with Becky about her then-boyfriend Mark in season three’s “Her Boyfriend’s Back,” Dan makes Becky one of his trademark milkshakes, so thick it won’t even pour out of the blender. They share it with two spoons.

• During a conversation with Darlene, Jackie reveals her new boyfriend Peter (guest star Matthew Broderick) is living with her. He still doesn’t have a job though, despite life coach Jackie’s recommendation that he get one.

• “To Becky, I think I speak for everyone: I can’t wait to see how this plays out.” —Darlene, toasting Becky on her pregnancy announcement.

The Conners Recap: Oh, Baby