The Family Election Day – RECAP: Returning from work one evening, John Warren comes home to find police all over Hank’s house. He goes across the street to check it out only to find that Hank has taken down the “for sale” sign from his house. Hank surprises John, telling him that he’s decided not to move. After years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, it’s pedophile Hank who breaks the case wide open.
Hank expects to become an instant celebrity when he goes to the police station to show detective Nina Meyer why she needs to arrest Doug. Nina’s been preoccupied looking for Agent Clements who’s being held in the cellar dungeon by pregnant Jane who gives birth while Clement assists. The strangest thing in a show that has more strange things that you can count is that Ben meets with kidnapper Doug on a park bench. They’re sitting beside each other on a park bench as if they are old pals. The episode ends when Doug walks into the precinct and points to a wanted poster of himself on the bulletin board. “I’m him,” Doug tells Nina.
Review and recap The Family Election Day
In the latest episode (aired May 8), we pick up with Nina interviewing Doug at the police station. “You’re wasting your time,” Doug says, “I’m not the guy you’re looking for.” He fends off Nina in a disturbing fourteen hour interview. You’ve got to hand it to Nina, though. When she presses Doug for information about his girlfriend Jane, she knows what buttons to push:
“Do you have to take a pill to nail her (Jane) or do you just picture a little boy?”
Nina has done her homework on Doug’s background. His mother was a divorced woman with lots of boyfriends, one of whom groomed Doug for molestation. This is not lighthearted stuff. The story line is enhanced by intense psychological dialogue and creative techniques that conjure the kind of murky atmosphere that engages people who enjoy being frightened.
I’m still a little puzzled as to how the Warrens can keep the charade of Ben/Adam going with so many people suspecting that Ben is impersonating Adam. But The Family does hit on enough of the right notes to keep you watching. There is a long dialogue piece in which Nina confronts Doug with his childhood background:
“He (the pedophile) filled in some soft, gooey piece you’re missing…love, support, confidence… just to earn your trust so it’s confusing when you crossed the line and before you knew it your sexual responses were conditioned to thinking that keeping an eight year old boy in a windowless pit for ten years was normal.”
Speaking of pits, FBI agent Clements is still in one but he’s managed to gain sympathy from Jane who is busily but ineffectively trying to hacksaw the chains binding Nina’s partner. Clements comes up with the bizarre suggestion that she get him a bottle of whisky and a knife to cut his thumbs off.
At the same time, Claire Warren and her family are doing well at the election when they get word that Nina has a suspect (Doug) in custody. The Warrens are to bring Ben/Adam to a police lineup to see if he can identify his kidnapper. Ben/Adam seems to have come down with a bad case of Stockholm Syndrome when he refuses to tag Doug as the kidnapper. We get the reason for his failure to cooperate later in the episode.
There’s a bright spot in the seeming rehabilitation of Hank Asher who has gotten a job at a financial firm and earned the admiration of his peers and his boss. It’s a relief to see Hank’s career shift and the cheerful office atmosphere. But the very next scene puts Hank near a playground watching some kids from his parked car. It’s from a decade ago and it’s the reason he’s on the list of sex offenders. Back in the present, Hank is sorely disappointed when he learns that Nina didn’t have enough evidence to keep Doug in custody.
One of the engaging small part characters features a truck stop waitress named Sally who takes Bridey’s food order: “We’re more of a you-tell-me-what-you-want-and-I’ll-tell-you-what-you-can-get kind of place,” the waitress says. As Bridey’s writing out her story for hours, she’s become quite chummy with Sally the waitress and confesses that “you know I have had sex with a brother and sister to get this story I’m working on?” “BLT?” responds the waitress wryly. “You’re not one of those folksy advice-giving waitresses, are you?” Bridey concludes.
Life goes on at the Warren household where everyone’s manning the telephones trying to get out those last minute votes for Mayor Claire Warren. The governorship seems within her grasp, and Ben/Adam has fit himself into the picture by showing some savvy in facing the media and getting out the vote. But the real mastermind of the Warren clan is Willa who doesn’t like the ugly state of affairs.
She takes Ben/Adam aside and tells him she’s scripted a program out for him. He’s to go away to boarding school in the far left coast as the first step in making him disappear from their lives. This does not sit well with the imposter who keeps a dark secret, known only to Willa.
We’re getting to the end, folks, and so there’s something I must say about the careful scripting, the direction, and the superb acting throughout. While there are expected stock scenes on the campaign trail, the actors from top to bottom bring strangeness and intrigue to their performances which keeps you fascinated.The topic is unpleasant but this is a horror story of more than medium intensity.
There’s a scene where Claire Warren advises Willa not to play poker because she doesn’t recognize the ‘tells’ as she does. Claire noticed that Ben/Adam always curled his fingers when he’s lying, just as he did when facing the police line-up. Claire knows that Nina has identified the right guy as the kidnapper. What Claire doesn’t know is that Ben is responsible for Adam’s death, something he had previously confided to Willa.
“Why didn’t Ben identify the kidnapper in the police lineup?” Claire wants to know.”
“To protect himself,” Willa finally answers.
The underlying thought, of course, is that Doug is holding Adam’s death over him. Doug knows Ben killed Adam. If Ben were to turn on Doug, Doug would turn on Ben.
The final scenes of this episode point to a dramatic climax as Detective Nina Meyers collects some scrapings of dirt from the room where she interviewed Doug. What that will show in the way of proof may be revealed next week.
One of the high points of the episode has Bridey still in the diner four hours away from her newspaper office. It’s closing time and she’s alone with the guileless waitress who doesn’t quite get how uncanny smart Bridey is. In a sisterly conversation, the sly Bridey gets the waitress to tell her what the biggest regret of her life was. As a seventeen year old mother, waitress Sally had to put her child in foster care when she was jailed for a criminal offense.
“And what was your boy’s name?” asks Bridey.
You guessed it: “Ben.”
It was only then I realized the whole purpose of the scene and with what deliberation Bridey went to New Hampshire, sought out the woman she had tracked down, and received confirmation that the waitress was Ben’s mother.
You do not want Bridey Cruz assigned to your case. With charm, wit, and the promise of something more, she will steal the secrets of your soul.
Other episodes of The Family reviewed on TV Eskimo include:
1.2 All You See is Dark
1.3 Of Puppies and Monsters
1.4 Feathers or Steel
1.5 I Win
1.6 Nowhere Man
1.7 All the Livelong Day
1.8 Sweet Jane
1.9 Betta Male
1.10 Fun Ways to Tell Your Boyfriend You’re Pregnant
Characters and cast of The Family The Family Election Day include:
Claire Warren – Joan Allen (Face/Off, The Bourne Ultimatum, The Bourne Supremacy, DeathRace, Room, Luck, Nixon)
Willa Warren – Alison Pill (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Milk, Midnight in Paris, Goon, The Newsroom, The Pillars of the Earth, In Treatment)
Det. Nina Meyer – Margot Bingham (In Between Men, Boardwalk Empire, Matador)
Danny – Zach Gilford (The Purge: Anarchy, Friday Night Lights, The Last Stand, Devil’s Due)
Adam – Liam James (2012, The Way Way Back, Psych, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, The Killing)
Bridey Cruz – Floriana Lima (Allegiance, The Mob Doctor, Poor Paul)
John Warren – Rupert Graves (V for Vendetta, The Madness of King George, Death at a Funeral, Maurice, Sherlock, Last Tango in Halifax)
Hank – Andrew McCarthy (Weekend at Bernie’s, Mannequin, The Spiderwick Chronicles, St. Elmo’s Fire)
Gov. Charlie Lang – Grant Show (Melrose Place, The Possession, Devious Maids, Big Love)
Pock-Marked Man/Doug – Michael Esper (Shades of Blue, Nurse Jackie, A Beautiful Mind, Frances Ha, The Drop)
Agent Gabe Clements – Matthew Lawler (God’s Pocket, Knight and Day, Law & Order)
Jane – Zoe Perry (Deception, Cotton, The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond)
Gus Flores – Felix Solis (Colony, The Good Wife, The Following, The International, The Forgotten, Man On a Ledge)