Well, I’ll be up-front: This recap has turned into a Connie Britton stan account. It’s been leaning that way since Dear Edward’s pilot episode, but there’s no way around it now. Britton is living it up as the sometimes ridiculous, often out of touch, always entitled Dee Dee, and we are all privileged to witness it. When she drops that hard-F in front of an infant and says, “Excuse me, sorry, baby”? That’s living. When Dee Dee learns that part of her husband’s secret life in Los Angeles was volunteering at an LGBTQ youth center and responds with “No, Charles was a Republican. I mean, I had to tell him a thousand times not to refer to them as ‘the gays.’ That doesn’t make any sense”? Living. Her face when she doesn’t understand why it’s funny that she has called someone else entitled? You get it. There are a lot of great performances in this sprawling ensemble; even in just three episodes, Taylor Schilling, Anna Uzele, and Idris Debrand have all stood out. But Britton is really stealing the show.
In lesser hands, Dee Dee would be a caricature. In the episode “Stuff,” thanks to both Britton’s performance and Megan Chan Meinero’s writing, Dee Dee begins to reveal more of her complexities. She may seem as if she lives in her own bubble, but she’s not lacking self-awareness in every regard (just in some!). After heading to L.A. to figure out what her husband was up to, she is reeling. His condo is a fully lived-in space with record albums all over and a bathroom full of toothbrushes. She learns he was a beloved volunteer at the youth center. Out here, he went by Charlie. He considered L.A. home. There are pictures of him with a man that could point to something romantic. She is hurting and angry. She feels beyond betrayed. But later, after a few vodka-and-crans, she allows herself to get vulnerable — something she’s been actively avoiding — while talking with Linda, who is also in L.A. to meet Gary’s parents. Dee Dee talks about how when she and Charles met, they had nothing but each other. They were a team. She loved the life they built. She loved it so much that maybe she “put blinders on” to keep the dream of it real. She doesn’t have those blinders on anymore. For someone like Dee Dee to admit this — to realize it in the first place — shows us that there’s a lot more to her than how she presents herself to the world. And when you have a profound breakthrough like that, what’s left to do but smash things? Dee Dee and Linda end up at the Wreck Room — which Dee Dee originally believed was a “depraved sex club” Charles was using to cheat on her but is actually one of those places where you’re allowed to smash and break things for cathartic reasons — and they smash the hell out of some shit. Dee Dee still has a way to go, but you have to tear it all down to build it back up, right?
It’s nice to see Dee Dee and Linda bonding outside of group (though Dee Dee really had to be worn down, didn’t she?), and there’s another great pairing in this episode: Adriana and Kojo. These two are 100 percent hooking up at some point, and while their glances at each other have gotten longer and more meaningful, for now they’re still just friends while Kojo waits the six-to-eight weeks for Becks to get her passport so he can take his niece home to Ghana. Adriana helped Kojo with his list of issues in the previous episode, and now it’s his turn to help Adriana with hers.
Adriana Washington is running for Congress, folks. She’s terrified and has to get over 1,000 signatures to even get on the ballot, but she’s doing it! Kojo is so proud. He is also uniquely situated to help Adriana with her other problem: Her toilet is acting up. Of course, he’s going to help her with that. And of course, he and Becks are going to help her get those signatures. The three of them wind up spending a lovely day together, in which you can literally see Kojo falling in love with this woman. By the time he’s telling her that he knows she’s going to win this election, forget it, I’m done, it’s so swoony I forget I’m watching a plane crash TV show.
Although the plane crash is never too far from the focus of Dear Edward, is it? There is one gorgeous little scene in which Adriana is braiding Becks’s hair, and Becks starts talking about her mother. “I wish it was my mom that lived,” she tells Adriana after saying that there was just one little boy who survived. Adriana is choking down tears and trying to be there for this little girl in any way she can. It wasn’t her mom she lost in the crash, so Adriana tells Becks she doesn’t know what she must feel like but knows it must be really hard. She speaks plainly and honestly, and the two of them are forging a bond that will surely only grow stronger now that Adriana has pretty much forced Kojo and Becks to stay at her place since she got a glimpse of their living conditions. It is a quietly moving story line poised to get pretty complicated in the near future.
And what of that boy who survived? It’s probably not a great sign that, three episodes in, the title character is one of the least interesting of the bunch. Maybe it’s just me? Maybe he just needs a haircut? Maybe it’s that he’s so closed off to the world, as a way to protect himself, that he remains just a little bit unknowable. It’s probably that last thing. And really, it’s not for a lack of trying: He does seem to want to bond with Shay, the only other kid around for miles and possibly the only other friend Edward has had other than Jordan. But the moment he starts feeling even a tiny bit normal, there’s something that pulls him back into himself.
Shay, who is a great foil for Edward and pushes him in all the best ways, decides that nothing fun ever happens in Nyack, so they’re going to solve this mystery of the girl and the shrunken head. She figures out that the head is from the gift shop at the Museum of the Odd and Peculiar and decides they should go on an adventure. The two of them sneak into Manhattan and head to the museum to find more clues about this girl. The museum proves unfruitful as far as the mystery girl goes, but we do get some moments that deepen Edward and Shay’s relationship. Edward keeps pressing Shay about her dad and why he doesn’t live with them. She will hear no implied slander against her dad, tells Edward the subject is off limits, and walks off. The look of devastation on Edward’s face when he believes he might have ruined his only friendship — which, let’s be honest, at this moment is more about him trying to find a replacement for his brother than seeing Shay as her own person — is so sad. He’s clinging to Shay for dear life!
But of course, one little spat doesn’t mean their friendship is over, and they move on pretty quickly, as kids do. But the day’s drama isn’t over. Edward is already a little on edge (even for him) after watching his family’s belongings arrive at Lacey and John’s house all packed up neatly in boxes. It’s unnerving to see that all that’s left of his family fit into the back of this truck. So his big idea to take Shay to see his old apartment building and then go to his and Jordan’s favorite falafel truck is … not the best choice for him. When he realizes Faakhir may be the only person on the planet who doesn’t know what happened to his family, Edward goes along with it. He talks about Jordan and his parents as if they’re still here; he invents a future for them. The moment he walks away, though, he collapses. It’s too much. For a minute, he had them and then they’re gone again. He won’t explain himself to Shay, and he runs off.
Later, Lacey finds him sitting among his family’s boxes. She’s upset, of course, that he ran off to New York City and lied about it, but she sees he is in distress. To calm him or to take his mind off things, she brings him to the family’s metal-fabrication shop and teaches him how to use the machines. It works. Maybe, for a few minutes, Edward feels normal again.
• Is it just me, or is the offer from Gary’s parents to have Linda live with them in L.A., where they can help care for her and their late son’s child, not so bad? Sure, it’s a little presumptuous to think Linda would pack up her life in New York, but she sure stomps on the idea pretty quickly. At least think about it!
• While in the L.A. condo, Dee Dee solves the mystery of Charles signing off on his final text as “your lonely pilgrim” — it’s a lyric from Bruce Springsteen’s “Brilliant Disguise.”
• Hey, we finally get the letters that go with the whole “Dear Edward” thing! The mystery girl from the grocery store slides a letter for Edward through the door and runs off. When John finds it, he adds it to a secret stash full of hundreds of unopened letters addressed to Edward. I guess we’ll get more on that later!
• “With all due respect, just shove your kombucha up your ass.” Dee Dee, an icon.