An emotional holiday shows the strengths and weaknesses of Frances and Robert.
Secrets being revealed at family gatherings isn’t a new storyline in television shows. Divorce, however, manages to turn their holiday episode into their best episode yet. ‘Christmas’ reunites Frances and Robert as they try to maintain a certain degree of normalcy for their kids’ sake. Yet this episode not only adds another layer of complexity to the couple’s relationship but it also does wonders to flesh out Frances’ character.
Thus far, Sarah Jessica Parker has done a fine job playing a character who seems to make every wrong decision with poor intentions compared to Thomas Haden Church’s fully realized Robert. The introduction of her parents, who seem to prefer ignoring serious issues rather than confront them head on, explains a lot about how her own marriage dissolved. When she finally gets up the courage to announce to her entire extended family that she is getting a divorce on Christmas, it’s an awkward moment that anyone with stressful holiday celebrations can relate to.Image Credit: HBO
Of course, Robert realizes the kind of sympathy that Frances needs along with the impending disappointment she will receive for cheating, that he steps in and claims he had the affair. It’s a moment which shocks her but nonetheless it’s an act of kindness that Frances has been desperate for. As the two lay in bed together that night, it’s a sad moment of two characters who once would sacrifice anything for each other yet now sit on opposing sides of a battle.
The holiday may be over after the big divorce drop but secrets are still to be unveiled. Frances clearly resents Robert’s healthy relationship with her parents and the fact that they seem to adore him. It becomes remarkably noticeable as her father, Robert, and Tom all play in the backyard while her mother doesn’t even offer her words of support. When Frances mentions this, her mother implies that affairs are for people who are bored and that every couple has secrets. While Frances isn’t able to get a definite answer, she realizes that she may become her mother down the line. Is there anything scarier than becoming your parents?Image Credit: HBO
However, the real bomb that drops over Christmas vacation happens in the car ride home. Frances accuses Robert of wanting a congratulations for taking the fall for the divorce but he claims that the truth of the matter that as they’re still married it’s part of his job to defend her. The answer doesn’t satisfy her and he reveals that it’s humiliating for him when other people find out that she cheated on him. Poor Tom hadn’t plugged in his headphones and has become the first of the kids to find out his mother’s greatest secret. This will probably lead to a lot of justified teenage angst in the upcoming episodes.
‘Christmas’ also gives each of the supporting characters their own holidays scenes which are as awkward and uncomfortable as expected. Diane gets into a passive aggressive battle with Nick’s ex-wife and adult children in a scene of family discord. Julian’s dinner is interrupted by another husband coming to punch him over his infidelities. Dallas probably has the worst of the bunch, being forced to spend her night watching television as her son and his girlfriend fool around under a blanket. They aren’t exactly compelling but seem like brief and awkward intermissions from the actual story.
Divorce is really on to something now that it’s passed the halfway point. Hopefully all is clear for a strong ending to the season.