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'Brothers & Sisters' recap: Another explosive family dinner

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Brothersandsisters_l“You’re adults! Get a filter!” With those five words, Robert McCallister (Rob Lowe) summed up exactly the life plan that the Walker 6 — Nora and her children Sarah, Kitty, Tommy, Kevin, and Justin — ought to be discussing with the therapists I’m sure each of them visit every week, but who we never get to see on screen. (Side note: All in favor of a shrink-themed episode say “Aye!”)

Then again, if these nosy, noisy, wine-soaked adults ever did learn to control their tongues, and their impulses, Brothers & Sisters would immediately cease to be the predictably soapy drama that’s come to represent the perfect nightcap to my weekends. Which doesn’t mean I didn’t love Robert’s stern reprimand in last night’s ep (directed by ER vet Laura Innes), or the way he kept at it when Nora & Co. took offense to it, saying they couldn’t pretend they weren’t angry with Kitty for writing an accidental (and family-secret-spilling) book about the life of a campaign staffer/political wife. “It’s not pretending. It’s being considerate!” Robert raged, and rightfully so.

Sure, Kitty was daft for inviting her crazy clan to dinner with the adoption-agency rep (and serving vino to boot) but their borderline sabotage of her dream of having kids seemed like an exorbitant punishment for the crime committed, even among the self-centered Walker clan. Something about Lowe’s performance as the polished Senator has always struck me as a little cold, but I did like his exasperated interplay with Kitty when she dropped the bombshell about her book on him right before the home inspection. And sure, Nora might as well have fixed a giant canned ham for dinner, but her initial response upon reading the (eventually coffee- and chicken-stained) manuscript — a curious “huh?” followed by an indignant “huh!” — was pretty hilarious.

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Of course, right at the point B&S looked like it was about todevolve into caricature last night, the writers went and gave us thatmagnificent reconciliation scene between Kitty and Nora. Indeed, SallyField’s monologue about the sometimes thankless role of motherhood,about her quest for respect and admiration from her children, about herstruggle to be recognized as a smart and talented person and not just ameal maker and child bearer, rang absolutely beautiful and true. Nora’sfinal remark about Kitty’s dedication — “You’re right. It doesn’t seemso bad in context.” — played as a larger depiction of all the Walkers’crazy behavior during the episode.

One area where context is verynecessary is the nervous romance playing out between Justin andRebecca, who just a few episodes ago were supposed to be linked among thosetitular Brothers & Sisters. Now, suddenly, we’re having to acceptthe sight of them making out on a couch while ignoring the (lowbudget?) action movie playing a few feet away from them. I was glad tosee Justin freak out a little about the idea of having sex with theArtist Formerly Known as His Half-Sister, but enjoyed even more the waySarah casually spilled the beans to Tommy (“He’s talking massageoils!”). Saddling Rebecca with a $2 million trust fund — and watchingher turn over the “dirty money” to Nora — certainly gave Emily VanCampmore to do this episode (even if the camera crew’s sudden and obsessive interest in her heaving bosom makes me a little skittish).

I don’t begrudge Rebecca her feelings:This season, Patricia Wettig’s Holly Harper has evolved as an even moreenigmatic, and possibly more deceptive, presence than ever.She’s a wily (and fun-to-watch) manipulator, whether bringing coffeeand donuts to milk info from (suddenly off-the-radar) Saul, or usingcocktails and flirtatious body language to try and get ahead of theWalkers in the quest to find Ryan. Here’s hoping Holly continues toprove a worthy adversary: Given the Walker clan’spenchant to forgive one another before the wine glasses even hit thedishwasher, this show needs a vital villain more than ever.

What did you think of this week’s show? Were you surprised to see Kitty and Robert get agency approval by the end of the hour? Did any of you tear up during Nora’s monologue? And what’s your take on Holly: Total she-beast, misunderstood mama, or somewhere in the middle?