The Family: Election Day – Finding Ben (Review)


ANA MARIA JOMOLCA, JOAN ALLEN, LIAM JAMES, RUPERT GRAVES, MARGOT BINGHAM

‘The Family’ this week sees election day arrive and apart from all the other revelations in this episode Bridey goes all out to find Ben and his backstory. This was an eventful installment. We learn what Hank Asher did to become a registered sex offender and how far Ben will go to keep his secret. Meyer may not be able to save Clements who clearly does not have much time left.

A crucial clue about Ben may have been uncovered by Nina (Margot Bingham) during her interrogation of Doug  Anderson (Michael Esper). Having done her homework, the detective does a small “This is Your Life” summation of the kidnapper’s world as a boy. She mentions one man who groomed Doug when he as a youngster  who made him feel it was normal to keep a  child in locked up in a bunker for 10 years. 

Doug reacts sourly to this information and it seems that Ben may well have the same condition as his former keeper. Although Ben has a lot to hide, and he has been working with his kidnapper, apparently in an attempt to keep his murder of Adam secret. (If Ben actually killed the Warren boy as all he really admitted to was “hurting” his bunker-mate.)

Ben’s face is a picture of agony when he learns that Meyer wants him to identify the kidnapper.  Claire Warren is initially annoyed and then later realizes that Ben lied at the “line up.”  Nina is convinced that Mr. Anderson either has Agent Clements (Matthew Lawler) or has killed him. 

John Warren (Rupert Gravescoldly tells his former lover to stay away from his family.  Willa focusses on getting Ben out of the spotlight and out of the family’s life. Anderson proves to be a predator and a master manipulator as he outwits Meyer.

Clements gets desperate in his effort to get Jane (Zoe Perry) to release him a’la ‘Saw,’  and after a lot of cringing and vacillating she agrees.  Bridey uses the thumb drive to start her article about the Warren’s secret and the diner where she sets up allows her to meet  a woman from Ben’s past. 

Willa “comes out” to Danny and reveals the truth of what happened to Adam. Something that Claire (Joan Allen) may already suspect since she knows Ben’s tells. Jane fails to release Clements before her boyfriend comes home and the two have a confrontation where Doug accuses her of helping the agent.

During their argument Jane angrily informs Doug that she had the baby.

Jane tells Clements that they are not going to kill him but he has to stop the authorities looking for him.  Meyer gets a break courtesy of Doug Anderson’s shoe and Claire Warren visits Asher (Andrew McCarthy) and learns things that upset her.

The flashback of Asher at the park reveals why he was so easy to crack when Meyer came to question him after Adam went missing.

Asher still dreams of rectifying his mistake and Claire wins the election.  Her lack of a speech raises a few eyebrows and Willa gives a shortened talk to the press and her mother’s supporters instead.

Jane and Clements (Perry and Lawler) have an intense chemistry and between the two of them just kill it.  Lawler with his character’s focus on getting away and his increasing frustration with Jane still manages to work in a modicum of anxiety and his sense of encroaching doom. Perry’s portrayal of Jane gets more desperate and freaked out by the moment.  Although she still has room for a little anger to be directed at Doug (Esper).

Nina has the prologue and epilogue narrative piece and it is about knowing how a story will end.    Claire looks lost as the realization sinks in that Ben lied and hurt/killed Adam and takes away her victory as new governor.

This penultimate episode of ‘The Family’ sets up much in the way of plot twists and whether or not Meyer catches Doug and saves Clements. Reading between the lines of Hank’s story, where he so frantically wants  a second change to atone for his one mistake,  and the answer Nina gives the sex offender about huge mistakes, it seems that Clements is doomed.

ANDREW MCCARTHY

At the end of the episode, John Warren has turned on Nina, Ben comes across as being just as manipulative as Willa and Claire looks one step away from a breakdown.  Agent Clements has painfully lost a thumb and looks set to  lose his life.

Another reviewer has mused about how the show would be affected by the real Adam showing up next week. That would be the ultimate twist in this dramatic series. While the show has several  main characters are not overly likable and easily twist the truth it would be a brilliant conclusion to see who falls apart first.

Kudos to Liam James who plays Ben. One moment lost little boy, the next,  creepy impersonator of a dead kid he may have murdered.  Great chops on offer here and his performance has been nuanced from the start. Bravo.

More mad props should go to Alison Pill whose laughing/crying “coming out”  was touching.

‘The Family’ concludes next week on ABC. There has been no word of a sequel as yet and, indeed, there may not be one. The show may wrap up on episode 12 so all eyes on the telly next Sunday.

Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, http://MikesFilmTalk.com Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

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"I hold it, that a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical."

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