Sweet Magnolias 2×01 “Casseroles and Casualties” starts just where the season one finale left off, and we finally get the answer to the one question that has plagued us this entire hiatus: Who was in the car? Turns out the obvious answer was, indeed, the right one. Klye was in the car. Well, Kyle and Nellie.
The answer doesn’t exactly make anything better, even though both are revealed to be okay pretty quickly in the hour. At least physically okay. The rest is going to take a while, particularly for Kyle
On the other hand, there’s Ty, who gets into a fight with Jackson as they await news and after an unfortunate push and a bad fall ends up with a broken arm. He’s predictably distraught, by that and by what happened to Kyle. Annie, meanwhile, still has it in her to defend Jackson. Season 2 is weird, man, what can I say?
So, let’s go into the answers, the questions and what Sweet Magnolias 2×01 “Casseroles and Casualties” sets up.
HAVEN’T YOU DONE ENOUGH?
This might just be the best Bill episode we’ve seen in the entirety of Sweet Magnolias, and guess what? It means absolutely nothing. Bill has too steep a ladder to climb to pretend that behaving like a good dad for one day means everything else he’s done is forgiven. He’s doing the bare minimum and he still expects to be rewarded for it, probably because he’s coasted through on the bare minimum for years. Except Maddie has had enough.
She makes it clear as they discuss the state of their relationship outside Kyle’s room. She’s done. She’s never taking him back. She never would. She respects herself enough to, and in the time since Bill left, she’s discovered she doesn’t need him – or anyone to hold her up.
That, however, doesn’t mean she doesn’t want Cal. Cal who is there, even when Maddie doesn’t know what she wants. The one who cut pizza into squares because he was told he should take a casserole and he literally couldn’t make one. Cal who just wants to be her partner in whatever journey she’s on. And as much as they were cute last year, it feels like season 2 is going to be Cal and Maddie’s season. The season we learn to love them – and Cal – because of who they are, and not because the alternative is Bill.
LOVE AND GRACE, THAT’S WHAT YOU GET FROM THOSE THREE
The relationship between Maddie, Dana Sue and Helen is at the center of Sweet Magnolias 2×01 “Casseroles and Casualties,” just like it always is in this show. Everyone is going through their own issues – Maddie with the kids, Dana Sue with Ronnie being back, and feeling like the weight of the world is on her shoulders, and Helen, as we learn at the end of the episode, with pregnancy. But these women are still, and always, there for each other.
And for others, as the conversation between Erik and Isaac proves. The way everyone sees them, the way the town sees them, that’s not fluke. That’s the kind of thing you earn.
This friendship is likely to be tested this season – Dana Sue already walked out of Margarita Night before Helen could share her news, something Maddie remarks hasn’t happened in a long, long time. But I have no doubt that, no matter what, the three of them will continue to be the center of this show, and the center of this town.
Sweet Magnolias doesn’t work if the three of them don’t work. And I fully believe the show understands that.
BEING THE STRONG ONE IS EXHAUSTING
Dana Sue’s issues in Sweet Magnolias 2×01 “Casseroles and Casualties” appear to be about Annie, but truly, they’re about herself and perhaps about the things she sees of her own experience in her daughter. The season starts in a bad moment for Annie, but she’s mostly okay. She’s got her mom and her dad, and she’s coping about as well as can be expected. Her mother, however, isn’t.
Because she sees it. She knows how hard it is to be Annie, because Dana Sue has always done the same thing. She’s always pretended she was stronger than she was. She’s always felt like that was the thing that made her special, the reason people depended on her. Except that just isn’t true. Maddie and Helen don’t love her only when she’s strong, and Annie isn’t her. Whatever mistakes Annie makes, they will be her own.
Yes, being the strong one is exhausting, and this is a storyline that probably ties into Ronnie and his offer to stay and help. I’m not at all sold on Ronnie, especially considering his history, but I see Dana Sue, and I truly want someone to be there to help her. Even when she says she doesn’t need help. No, especially when she says she doesn’t need help.
Agree? Disagree? What did you think of Sweet Magnolias 2×01 “Casseroles and Casualties”? Share with us in the comments below!