Dear Edward has really excelled at showing the different shades of grief thus far: The despair and rage that comes with profound loss are palpable among almost all of the mourners we’re following. With Adriana now running for her grandmother’s congressional seat, we also see how loss can sometimes be a motivator. And now, in “Haunted,” we get a new shade, one most likely familiar to anyone who’s found themselves navigating their own grief: that of making an impulsive and colossally stupid decision.
Amanda! Steve! Amanda and Steve! What are you doing? I know you’re both insanely attractive and also sad, but this is … complicated. Or messy? Or whatever else you want to call sleeping with your dead fiancé’s brother … which is probably also the appropriate thing to classify “sleeping with your dead brother’s fiancée when you yourself are engaged to someone else” under. Maybe we simply call it Not a Good Idea. So how did things with these two go from Amanda yelling at Steve the moment he entered group to some nice afternoon sex? Grief, baby! Well, grief and a couple of martinis and the specter of Amanda’s engagement ring.
The loved ones of the plane crash victims are given a binder to look through all of the belongings pulled from the wreckage of the crash. The whole concept of looking through this binder of items that belonged to now-dead people is unnerving in and of itself, but it’s especially terrible for Amanda, who comes across the engagement ring she practically threw back in Brent’s face before he boarded that fateful flight. When the ring finally arrives in the mail, Amanda is unmoored. There’s a reason this episode is called “Haunted,” kids. Brittany S. Hall does an incredible job of showing just how consumed Amanda is by the last few minutes she had with Brent, who it turns out was headed to Los Angeles to enter a rehab program after relapsing. At the airport, a strung-out-looking Brent pleads with Amanda to wear the ring and promises this program will really work. We don’t know the details of their relationship up to this point, but whatever’s happened before, it’s clear Amanda is done with the pleading and the promises. She refuses to keep the ring and walks off. And then Brent dies.
However Amanda’s been coping since the crash, the ring’s arrival blows it all up. It’s why she can’t bring herself to step inside the group session that day. So when she runs into Steve, who has a very nice fiancée named Daphne, by the way, and he asks what he can do to help her in that moment, the answer is simple: Get her a drink.
Oh, day drinking. Its perils will come for us all at some point! Here’s the thing: Amanda and Steve’s conversation is kind of lovely. They understand each other’s loss better than anyone, and Amanda feels safe confessing her guilt over her last interaction with Brent. She had to get it off her chest. And Steve’s perfect response, “He always liked to have the last word, mother fucker,” lightens both their load for a little while. And that’s when they start making eyes at each other. Steve is the one who goes in for the kiss, but it’s Amanda who keeps it going. Suddenly, they’re in bed together. Speaking of being haunted, this choice — while understandable and probably extremely enjoyable!! — is probably going to stick with the two of them for a while.
But these two grief horn dogs aren’t the only two haunted by the crash. Honestly, everyone is — including me! Remember that first episode? Holy hell! — but none more than Edward, for obvious reasons. This week, he’s specifically haunted in two ways. First: Literal nightmares! Lacey puts the kibosh on Edward sleeping at Shay’s every night. You know what? Both sides of Lacey and John’s argument make sense to me: Yes, it would be good for Edward to sleep in his own bed at his family’s house (Lacey), but also, this kid has been through enough, why not let him do something harmless that brings him comfort (John)? Anyway, Edward’s first night at home does not go well. John finds him in the kitchen, unable to sleep. When John asks what’s going on, Edward tells his uncle that sometimes he feels like “the crash is sitting in that field, and it’s just never gonna stop burning.” That is grim. Almost immediately, John comes up with a plan: What if he were able to show Edward that the crash isn’t there anymore? It’s all cleaned up; it’s just an empty field. If John goes to Colorado and takes photos of the field so that Edward can actually see it’s gone, that might calm his fears. Edward seems touched by his uncle’s offer and says yes. But let’s be honest here — a big part of John going to Colorado seems to be about him needing to go, too. Unsurprisingly, Lacey hates this idea. John goes anyway.
Meanwhile, Edward is still dealing with complicated emotions regarding his brother Jordan. Now in possession of the coat, Shay finds some receipts in the pockets that point to Jordan having a girlfriend and an address that could hold some clues as to who she might be. Shay immediately puts it together that the mystery girl who gave Edward that shrunken head in the grocery store must be Jordan’s secret girlfriend. Edward does not take this well. He blows up at Shay for even suggesting Jordan kept secrets from him. When she brings her theory up for a second time, Edward gets mean: “Why are you so obsessed with my life?” he spits at her. The two stop talking to one another. This small rift doesn’t mean that Shay’s theory isn’t nagging at Edward. He convinces Lacey to let him take the day off from school and go into the city with her. Lacey isn’t thrilled about dropping her 12-year-old nephew off in Central Park while she goes to grief group, but she is actively trying to give Edward what he actually needs (rather than what she thinks he needs), and right now, he needs his independence. First, he stops to take his family’s model sailboat out for a spin on the pond — something he used to do with Jordan all the time.
While it’s healing to do something that used to be so normal, it’s not really why Edward wanted to come to New York. He goes to the address on the deli receipts in Jordan’s coat pockets and discovers what he hoped was not true — Shay was right. The mystery girl is standing right there in front of him. She works here at her uncle’s deli. Her name is Mahira, and she doesn’t seem exactly thrilled to see Edward. Whatever her relationship was with Jordan, she clearly still wants it kept a secret from her own family. She ushers a frantic Edward out of the store but tosses an orange at him as a parting gift. Later, as a way to make amends with Shay, Edward shows her that written on the orange is a date and time to meet with Mahira and finally get a chance to really talk.
Out in Colorado, John’s met with a lot of resistance when he walks into a bar and begins to ask if anyone can direct him to where the crash site was. These people have clearly had enough of the hundreds who flocked to their small town, picking through every last remnant of the story of the crash. When one person immediately asks, “are you a podcaster?” I laughed so hard. That tracks. But then we see a familiar face at the end of the bar: The man from the rescue and search team who pulled Edward from the wreckage. He still looks as high and/or drunk as ever. When he learns that John is the uncle of the boy who survived, he doesn’t tell him that he was the one who found Edward, but he does offer to drive him out to the crash site. In a bout of “it seemed like a good idea at the time,” John is overcome with emotion when he reaches the field where the plane once sat in pieces. You have to imagine there is a heaviness to the place. He is faced with the reality of the tragedy, and he doubles over, almost unable to catch his breath. “All those lives … and all those people, they just fell …” he says, trying to form any kind of sentence. Finally, John asks the other guy to pray with him. Neither are religious, but John doesn’t know what else to do.
Back in New York City, Lacey and Edward meet up again in Central Park for one of my favorite scenes of the episode. Edward asks his aunt if she ever got mad at Edward’s mom because he’s so mad at Jordan right now. Lacey explains how you can hold both of those emotions for someone at the same time. The vulnerability she’s showing allows Edward to finally express why he’s been sleeping at Shay’s — he misses his brother. It’s not because he wanted to upset Lacey. Finally getting it, Lacey tells him that he “can sleep wherever the hell [he] want[s].” This moment of bonding is exactly when John’s photos of the crash site come in, including one that has the rescue team guy in the background. Edward remembers him and flashes back to that moment he first saw his face — perhaps the first real memory of the crash that Edward’s had come back to him.
This whole scene with Lacey and Edward on the park bench is so, dare I say, hopeful? These two finally seem to be bonding which is wildly meaningful for both Lacey and Edward in their efforts to move forward. What a sight for these sore and exhausted-from-holding-back-tears eyes!
• Here I am, gushing over Connie Britton’s performance YET AGAIN. I won’t apologize, though; that monologue she gives as Dee Dee opens up as to what’s been going on with her husband (she doesn’t give full details, but enough) to the grief group takes your breath away. It starts off so matter-of-factly with “my husband lied to me,” but builds and builds to her breaking down over “the grief and the humiliation and the rage” until she is sobbing that her husband “stole [her] life” from her. I’ll be watching this scene over and over and wiping away tears every single time, okay, thanks!
• But there’s more to that moment than Britton’s acting masterclass: It’s a huge step for Dee Dee to open up like that — to let people, basically strangers, see past the facade she’s worked so hard to keep up. Maybe it was that awful lunch with her awful daughter that did it. Zoe declares that she wants to quit school to travel, and Dee Dee expresses doubts that it’s a good idea (Dee Dee still hasn’t told her the truth about anything), Zoe lashes out by saying that she can’t just put on her makeup and act like everything’s normal like Dee Dee does. You can see how much it stings. Too bad Zoe doesn’t get to see just how much pain her mother is actually in.
• Okay, fine, another brilliant Britton moment: The way she slides in the line “oh that’s gorgeous, the wagyu” as a way to mask the building rage inside as Zoe goes on and on about her plan to Finally! Start! Living! is just so, so good.
• Linda has a lot of anxiety about her anatomy scan ultrasound and so asks Dee Dee if she’ll come with her so she’s not alone. Dee Dee, fresh off her grief group breakdown, tells her, quite coldly, that she can’t be Linda’s mother. As always, there’s more to Dee Dee than she wants to let on. Is it that Dee Dee now understands how scary it is to be alone? Is she a little inspired by Charles helping youths in need? Whatever it is, in the end, Dee Dee goes with Linda.
• Adriana is a little shaky on the debate stage at first — plagued by fears of not living up to her grandmother’s expectations — but then crushes it. That former chief of staff who turns on her can stuff it!!
• Will always be here for two men having a passive-aggressive pissing contest to prove they’re the best choice for a woman. They’re so dumb, it’s the best. And Kojo and Eric’s pissing content includes the mention of porta-potties, so that’s fun.
• Gah! Adriana and Kojo almost share a kiss on the roof — after he calls her extraordinary, by the way — but get interrupted at the last minute. I’d say I hate it, but I can’t lie: This has been a great will-they-or-won’t-they situation (and there’s no way they won’t, eventually).
• That montage of scenes with John reciting “Our Father” over it? Gorgeous.