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'Brothers & Sisters': Trapped in the (corporate) closet

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Brothersandsisters_lThere are times when Brothers & Sisters can be as subtle as a rock to the head — which doesn’t mean I love it any less — but Kevin’s struggle with the corporate closet on last night’s episode was as nuanced as it was devastating. I thought we were headed for a fairly standard (and pat) storyline: Kevin pretends to be straight to land major client. Kevin realizes that returning to the closet is depressing. Kevin stands up to boss and gets promoted to partner anyway.

And after that adorable chat with adorable Scotty, it appeared my hunch was right. I mean, the tone was lightening considerably as the episode drew to a close. There was Tivo’d Olympic diving in the background. There was Kevin wryly explaining that “in a moment of Faustian proportions, I pretended to be straight.” And there was Scotty offering a trick proposal that he’d be fine if his spouse kept lying (with no more complaint) or if he drew a line in the sand with his law firm, then admitting that Door No. 1 wasn’t really an acceptable option. Which made it all the more devastating when Kevin succumbed to the lure of making partner and — just like he did during the client dinner —  spoke volumes by saying nothing at all.

addCredit(“Mitch Haddad/ABC”)

Mitch Pileggi and Matthew Rhys (pictured) played out their pas de deux perfectly,the older attorney hinting again at the promise of a promotion (whilesomehow managing to come off as slightly menacing), and the younger manwilling himself to believe he’d do more good from a corner office inthe future than standing his ground and fighting in the present. Whatmade the conundrum interesting is the fact that, as Robert pointed outearlier, “you can live a principled life and not do a damn bit of goodfor anybody.” The writers (thankfully) didn’t provide any easy answers,and I’m hoping the preview in which Robert invites Kevin to be hiscommunications director isn’t an indicator that they’re not interestedin exploring a very real (and very intriguing) story arc over thecoming weeks.

Thematically, the idea of “courage” also played out in Sarah, Saul, andJustin’s plotlines, but not quite as successfully. The parking-lotscene between Sarah and Saul — Her: “Stay and fight for this family!”Him: “I can’t, Sarah. I just can’t.” — seemed painfully underwrittenfor actors the caliber of Rachel Griffiths and Ron Rifkin. Let’s allraise a big glass of vino to the idea that their sudden departures fromOjai will lead to more fruitful dramatic scenarios (and betterdialogue).

Justin’s almost detour from sobriety, meanwhile, was far moreinteresting, particularly in the context of an Iraq veteran findinghimself in the role of reluctant military recruiter, but I didn’treally think it worked as fodder for advancing his relationship withRebecca. (Especially not his decision to abandon his girlfriend without a car in a stranger’s house. Awkward!)

What did you think of last night’s episode? Did you find itamusing that Kevin and Nora both referenced Robert’s blowup during lastweek’s adoption-dinner blowup? Did anyone else feel like the bulk ofRobert’s showdown with the neighborhood beekeepers got left on theediting room floor? And how hilarious was Sarah’s response (“Oh no, Ican’t eat. I can drink!”) to her mother’s offer to cook for her to helpher deal with unemployment?