I don’t know that So Help Me Todd 1×16 “Twelve Worried Persons” is the best episode of the season, though it has to be in the running. It is certainly one of the most fun episodes of the show thus far. While tackling one of the more interesting mysteries-of-the-week, the episode managed to move a couple plot threads forward that have been dangling for a while. Which is something that was sorely needed, so close to the season finale.
Although there are several plot threads woven throughout “Twelve Worried Persons,” the episode manages each of them well. There is, of course, the mystery-of-the-week – the murder of a juror at Susan’s first trial. Margaret’s (Marcia Gay Harden) sister Patty (Kathryn Greenwood) is in town, dropping at least one inconvenient bombshell. Allison (Madeline Wise) is still struggling with her marriage. Todd (Skylar Astin) has a new love interest, Amy (Briga Heelan). And Susan (Inga Schlingmann) isn’t particularly thrilled about said love interest.
I don’t know if it was the way the whole team worked together to solve the mystery-of-the-week, but it was somehow just more engaging and interesting than it is most weeks. Not that the mysteries on So Help Me Todd have ever let me down. But I was thrilled seeing everyone brainstorm together. (Everyone but Susan, that is. Of course.) It brought a different, chaotic energy to these scenes that I would love to see explored more in the future.
But as much fun as the mystery was, it wasn’t really the point of the episode – any more than it ever is, at least. There was a lot emotionally going on for the characters. For the Wright children, this episode brought with it the need to face an uncomfortable truth: while their father was a good dad, he wasn’t a good husband. Margaret had been making plans to leave him when he died, as he’d become emotionally abusive to her in their marriage.
Finding out your parent isn’t who you thought he was isn’t easy. To Todd and Allison’s credit, while it’s a truth they’re going to have to mentally process, they never once doubt that their mother is telling the truth. I’d like to think that would always be the case for the Wright family, but given where they started in the series, I can’t be entirely sure. It could be a sign of how far they’ve come together.
Allison is struggling with more than one revelation this episode. In realizing how miserable her mother was in her marriage, she seems to have come to terms with the fact that she’s not happy in her own. Does that necessarily mean divorce? No, maybe not. (We’ll have to see next episode.) But it does mean being honest – with herself and her husband – that she isn’t happy. You can’t fix a problem in a marriage until you’re willing to admit that it exists, after all.
If there’s one area of So Help Me Todd 1×16 “Twelve Worried Persons” disappoints, it’s a recurring one. The episode starts with Susan preparing to go into her first jury trial. When she witnesses the juror’s death, it seems that she’ll finally – finally – take a bit of center stage and we’ll get to explore her character more. But rather than using this as a vehicle to explore Susan’s character in greater depth, the plot is used as an excuse to shift her even more to the sidelines. She’s a witness, so she can’t possibly help with the investigation!
From a real-world perspective, that probably makes sense. But we so often have to suspend disbelief when watching television. I’d have happily suspended this one to see her character more. Which isn’t to say that Susan has no role this week. We do get to see her reaction to Todd and Amy’s kiss. And, of course, she isn’t happy about it.
We’re so close to the end of the season, I suppose we might as well wait to see how this particular plot plays out. But so far (and I know I sound like a broken record on this), I feel like this is the one area of the show where the writers are really dropping the ball.
It’s fun to be a shipper. It’s fun to root for your favorite couple. There’s even something fun about the agony of watching your ship confront roadblocks. As long as will-they-won’t-they love-triangle nonsense isn’t dragged out too long.
To a certain extent, you can root for a ship because it’s too pretty people standing next to each other, I suppose. But to really invest in a ship, you have to root for both sides. You have to care about both parties in the relationship. Which means understanding them. Or at least knowing them, in some degree. We care when our ship is hurt because we can feel the hurt alongside them. We sympathize when they’re being idiots because we understand why they are the way they are. Even if we don’t always agree with it.
Over the entire course of the first season, the audience hasn’t really had a chance to get to know Susan. We certainly haven’t been invited to truly understand her, what she’s thinking, or why she does the things she does. She kissed Todd because…she’s uncertain in her relationship, I suppose. (Why? Because Peter’s (Desmond Chiam) so busy? I guess?) And Todd is there, and they have a history. She even seems kinda turned on by other people trashing him. She wants…something. She’s drawn to Todd because…reasons. And she’s not just accepting that and breaking things off with Peter because…? She’s pushing Todd away because….? We want her and Todd to get together because…why not?
There’s so much potential to Susan’s character. Her awkwardness in her first opening argument is endearing. She has moments where you think the show is finally going to give her more to do…only to be disappointed. With the way the writers pushed Susan to the side again with only a couple more episodes to the season, I can’t help but be skeptical that we’ll get there this year. But, boy, would I love to be proven wrong.