Ooooh baby, this episode of Dear Edward has a little bit of everything: We’ve got romance, we’ve got breakups, we’ve got truly dickish dads showing up, we’ve got emotionally loaded dumplings, and yes, we’ve got $3,500 dollar bottles of Champagne being drunk with sugar cubes in them. That last thing is Dee Dee, but you probably already figured that out.
Let’s begin with the romance, because this show has an abundance of Very Sad People, so when you find a bright, joyous light, you need to hold on to it tight — and that’s what I’m doing with this perfectly lovely little arc we’ve been getting with Adriana and Kojo. Aren’t they just so freaking cute? Who can even stand it? Now that they’ve finally stopped denying their obvious feelings and chemistry, we’re getting sweet little moments of pillow talk and Adriana learning Kojo’s language. Then, when an old video resurfaces of Adriana’s very progressive and passionate college-valedictorian speech, she decides to take Kojo and Becks out of town to avoid the firestorm that seems to erupt. They head to the mountains she used to visit with her grandmother. It’s a place for hiking and s’mores, a place where work does not exist, and Adriana can breathe easier. It’s a place where Kojo can talk about how Ghana, too, has mountains, and if Adriana is going to continue to run away to be in the mountains, she should at least come to his mountain. Full disclosure, friends: I audibly swooned at this. It’s so romantic! From now on, all love interests in all TV shows should be telling the object of their affection to run away to their mountain. I don’t make the rules, but, boy, if I did!
Kojo doesn’t stop there, by the way. Over a campfire and s’mores with Adriana and Becks, he tells a story about the queen of New York, who gets banished to the mountains, where she winds up meeting “the most handsome man she’s ever seen,” who happens to be the king of Porta-Potties. In each other, they find the “deepest” and “truest” love either has ever known. Once the queen is allowed back in New York, she’s faced with a decision to return to her life or follow her heart and stay with the king. Anna Uzele and Idris DeBrand are just so, so good here — you can see it all over their faces as the story changes from something silly to something very real. Adriana wonders why the King can’t go back to New York with the Queen. Kojo explains that it isn’t part of the story. And both of them know this is true: Neither can just walk away from their lives to be with the other — at least, not right now.
And so, this bright light, this joy, winds up being as tragic as the rest of Dear Edward (okay, maybe not quite as tragic, but you know what I mean). The days (and episodes) are ticking down; Kojo has a passport for Becks, he’s informed the grief group that he’s headed back to Ghana, and sooner rather than later, Kojo and Adriana are going to have to say good-bye to each other. If Dear Edward has taught us anything thus far, it’s that slamming a hammer into a wall can do wonders for your mental health and we can never have nice things.
Speaking of couples full of tragedy, we should discuss Lacey and John. Things have been growing increasingly tense between Edward’s aunt and uncle since John returned from Colorado. When the grief group decides to throw a garage sale at Sam’s place since so many of them are having trouble getting rid of their loved one’s belongings, John shows up and starts showing people pictures of the crash site and talking about how profound his time was there. It upsets everyone — Dee Dee excuses herself to go have a cry. Eventually, Lacey pulls him away and tells him to stop doing this. He’s making everything about him, and this is a hard enough day for everyone already. Lacey’s right about how inappropriate it is for John to spring these photos and his story on people still in the raw stages of grief, but I can’t stop thinking about John having to repeatedly remind his wife that he’s grieving, too. Once again, there’s no space for him.
Dear Edward does something really smart here: It gives us a glimpse of John and Lacey before the overwhelming vacuum of grief that came with the crash, before the tragedy of the several miscarriages they went through, when they first met and fell for one another. Even smarter, it’s not through a flashback — it’s simply through them telling the story of their first meeting to Linda and Edward at dinner. Like Uzele and DeBrand, Taylor Schilling and Carter Hudson give such a great performance here. You can see them remembering that day, how they felt about each other at the beginning of their relationship, and how attracted they were to one another at one point. It’s no surprise then that after dinner, Lacey and John end up having sex after, what we can assume, has been a while. It almost seems like a rekindling of things. Afterward, Lacey feels like this could be the moment they get back on track, that they’ve finally found each other again. It’s why when John turns to her and says he thinks he needs to move out, she can’t even speak; her face is shocked and hurt. I think everyone can agree that, thus far, Connie Britton is stealing the show, but don’t sleep on Schilling, friends. Her performance as Lacey has been so layered and quietly powerful, and this moment might be the best evidence of that yet.
Another scene from “Folklore” will stick with me for a while: The Steve-Brent flashback. Since the big blow-up at dinner with Amanda, Steve hasn’t been showing up to group. Amanda tracks him down and first apologizes for trying to blame Brent’s relapse on him and, second, tells him that not going to group therapy and not talking about what he’s going through is a bad idea. He starts attending again, which is a great step, especially because we’re just beginning to understand how deep and complex his pain about his brother really is.
At the garage sale, Steve goes through some of Brent’s things that Amanda brought. He finds a road atlas they used as kids. It’s a nice memory, so he brings it home. Inside, he finds a handwritten recipe for his grandmother’s dumplings, bringing him back to the last time he saw Brent. We finally get to watch the interaction at Steve’s office that we’ve heard so much about. Brent came to make amends, and he brought their grandmother’s dumplings as a peace offering, hoping they could eat them together. Steve doesn’t want to hear it. He can’t believe he’s even shown his face here or that he would use those dumplings as a bribe. He throws the dumplings in the trash and tells Brent to “get the fuck out.” It’s crushing to watch for a swath of reasons, but especially because we know it’ll be the last time they see each other. While Steve’s reaction is harsh, and you can see Brent really trying, it’s also easy to understand. Dear Edward has done such a great job allowing the audience to feel empathy for both brothers — something that makes the situation all the more gutting.
• Watching Edward fall madly in love with Mahira and misread her kindness and grief for Jordan as reciprocating his feelings is so awkward, which is probably the point. At least Eddie’s hallucination of Jordan warns him that Mahira’s “we need to talk” text is not a good thing. It doesn’t seem like Edward is heeding Hallucination Jordan’s advice, but what is adolescence without some heartbreak, anyway?
• Edward’s relationship with Shay is also getting more complicated: Shay’s dad is back. The adults around note that Xavier is “kind of a dick,” and it’s clear that statement is true from the little interaction Edward has with him at Shay’s roller derby tryout. Unfortunately, Shay thinks her dad walks on water. So, when he tells her that roller derby is a dead end and golf has more of a long-term trajectory and that it’s weird that Edward is sleeping over so often, she ditches both roller derby and Edward — the two most important things going on in her life. Edward has continued to be an ass to Shay in regard to Mahira, but still, ouch.
• Hey, look at Edward noting that Shay subconsciously uses her dad’s jacket on her derby crash pad so that she can “beat the crap out of him.” Very astute for a 12-year-old!
• Sam is growing closer to Vernon, and that paired with his wife Sienna noting that she always thought Ben had feelings for Sam, makes Sam lay on the heterosexuality pretty thick. Please let this man come out. He is suffering!
• It’s Dee Dee and Charles’s 25th wedding anniversary, and an engraved bottle of champagne he had ordered for her as a gift arrives on her doorstep, sending her into a tizzy. First, she slams her trusty hammer through the wall again. Later, she breaks that baby open and drinks it alone in her kitchen out of a juice glass. Thankfully, Zoe, who books a last-minute trip to Barcelona, is aware enough that when her mom pleads with her to stay because she needs her, it is so out of character for Dee Dee that she must really be hurting — Zoe postpones the trip and arrives to share a glass of champs (in a flute, thank you very much) with her mother.
• I would watch 30 minutes of Dee Dee talking about why she is “against garage sales on principle” and then another 30 of her actually interacting with people at a garage sale. Make it a spinoff, please!