All families are complicated, but So Help Me Todd 1×12 “Psilo-Sibling” makes it clear the Wrights are more complicated than most. Still, we all have some sort of family-induced baggage. It can be hard to separate who your siblings are today from the people they used to be. Which doesn’t mean you don’t love them. But…well…it’s complicated.
Family and Forgiveness
This week’s episode of So Help Me Todd puts Margaret (Marcia Gay Harden) and Todd (Skylar Astin) tackling a somewhat different legal predicament than usual. They take a break from murder and mayhem to dip their toes into the fun-filled field of property law. (Hey, some of us find it fun!) Their task this week is thanks to the governor, which brings oldest son Lawrence (Matthew Wilkas) somewhat reluctantly back into the fold.
In his previous appearance, I was a little on the fence about Lawrence. It isn’t exactly rare for two siblings to be so fundamentally different that they struggle to get along. That doesn’t necessarily make it easy to watch. But this week did a lot to helping the audience warm up to Lawrence and really root for him. Yes, he’s still…uptight. But he has grand career aspirations, and it’s also a reality that Todd’s particular brand of Mess could keep those dreams from ever becoming a reality. In that position, I’d be hostile too. Lawrence also has a tendency to regress to immaturity when in Todd’s presence. (Todd doesn’t regress because “immaturity” is essentially his permanent state.) But if there’s one thing siblings are universally good at, it’s making us feel like we’re twelve years old again.
With all that, though, this episode made it clear that Lawrence fundamentally has a good heart. Not just because he reaches out to his fellow veteran at the end – and genuinely seems to want to help. But also because of his confession when he inadvertently consumes some magic mushrooms and goes on a one-man trip. He wants Todd to like him. Yes, Todd drives him up a wall. They will likely never really see eye-to-eye. They’ll almost certainly never be besties. But you can love someone without really understanding them. And you can wish they could understand you, even while recognizing they probable never will.
This episode made me root for Lawrence and Todd to find some common ground. Because the truth is that Todd also wants Lawrence to like him. His constant nettling doesn’t negate the genuine hurt he felt to discover he was left out of the close relationship Lawrence and Allison (Madeline Wise) share. He may not want to admit it. (He definitely doesn’t.) But he wants Lawrence to like him, too.
Maybe they’ll get there one day. If Lawrence can find the time to focus on his family.
I mentioned the Wrights were a mess, right? Not just now, but there’s trouble brewing on the horizon for more than one of them, it’s clear.
Allison is still facing consequences from her prior arrest. Her outburst leading up to her day in court may have been cathartic, but it didn’t really solve anything. She may regret her actions, but the feelings that led to them are probably still there. There’s no reason to doubt she still wonders what her life would have been if she’d made more decisions for herself. And when she sat alone and repeated to herself that she’s fine, it’s clear that she’s absolutely not fine. Sadly, I don’t think she sees it. Even worse, nobody around her does, either. There’s a good chance Allison’s on a trajectory for another crash course; the only question is where she’ll burn out next.
Since I don’t think she has confessed her foray on the dating app to her husband, there’s a good chance conflict is brewing there. If so, she can at least have the cold comfort that she probably won’t be alone. It will be a miracle if Lawrence avoids marriage problems of his own. So far, Chet (Thomas Cadrot) has been understanding – if long-suffering. But being in a position where you have to act as a single parent even though you’re in a marriage is hard.
This week’s episode made it clear that Chet and Clem (Artemis Litsiadis) aren’t Lawrence’s priority. Maybe he wants them to be. I suspect we’ll see how much Lawrence wishes they had been only once there’s a chance it’s too late to do so. But he can’t even give his family his attention during a single dinner. His attention is constantly pulled away by the governor – and by Chet’s own admission, this far from an isolated event.
It makes me sad to think that Chet may decide at some point that he’s tired of coming second to his husband’s career. I can only hope that Lawrence is able to make the changes that are necessary to save his family before it’s too late. Then again, I hope the same for Allison, too.
The Wrights are a mess and will likely always be a mess. But I’m rooting for them, all the same.
Does pointing out the criminal under-utilization of Susan (Inga Schlingmann) warrant an entire section of the review? Probably not. But I feel like she deserves to be a priority somewhere. She sure as hell isn’t on the show. We’re on the penultimate episode, and Susan’s entire plot still can be boiled down to “is engaged to someone, for some reason. So she can’t be with Todd right now.”
Listen, show. I’ve been asking this for a while. But can we please do something with this character? She basically exists now just to exchange a little elevator conversation with Todd. We’ve seen more of Gus (Jeffrey Nordling), Margaret’s potential future love interest, than we’ve seen of Susan. And Gus has only been in three episodes. Hell, we’ve gotten more about Lawrence and Chet’s relationship, and this is only Lawrence’s second episode.
So Help Me Todd 1×12 “Psilo-Sibling” is Susan’s eleventh episode on the show. And yet her character is remains defined by her relationship.
Do better by Susan, show. Much, much better.