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'Brothers & Sisters' premiere: Tears and fears

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brother-and-sisters_lIt’s a strange thing about Brothers & Sisters: At the end of every episode, I’m always more eager to talk about the next episode than I am to write about the one I just watched. Is that a good or a bad thing? It means I’ll keep tuning in each week, but it makes the show feel like a rabbit chasing a carrot that it’ll never quite catch. It needs the big WOW. Could it be on the horizon with Kitty’s health scare? I’d bet my first born that I will sob next week when Nora is on that park bench telling Saul that it should be her going through it, not Kitty. If Sally Field musters half the emotion she had in that graveyard scene in Steel Magnolias

But back to the premiere: As usual, we got an episode full of comedy, drama, and squabbling. Let’s start with the lighter side to cheer ourselves up. Marion Ross returned as Nora and Saul’s mother, Ida, who visited for Justin and Rebecca’s engagement party. She looked absolutely fabulous and delivered some of the night’s best quips, whether she was telling Holly about the “bottle-blond tramp” mistress William had kept (she didn’t know Holly was said mistress until Holly blurted it out after the party went to hell), or complimenting Kitty and Robert on photos of adorable Evan (“Say what you want, but they do make cute babies”), or trying to understand how Kevin and Scotty could possibly become fathers (“Which one of you gets to sleep with the egg lady?”).

Though I missed Sarah at the engagement party — I think she would have been put in charge of entertaining Ida — her delivery of the line about how sorry she’d be to miss it was classic. Online dating didn’t pan out for her, and I’m glad: I don’t want to see her jump into a relationship. Let’s have her play the field for a bit, bring in some guest suitors who aren’t played by Steven Weber. I suspect her trip to Paris coincided with her maternity leave — Rachel Griffiths welcomed her third child over the summer.

Sadly, Nora and Holly didn’t end up in a food fight at the engagement party, but they came close. Their best moment was definitely the tête-à-tête deciding what story they’d tell Ida about how Justin and Rebecca met. (A close second would be the shot of their faces when the ill-fated white piano was first wheeled in to Holly’s home. Nora’s read such horror; Holly’s such happiness. Beautiful.) I’ve got to side with Nora: I don’t think her giving Justin her grandmother’s wedding ring to give to Rebecca broke the no-big-gift agreement. He had to give her a real ring eventually, and Lord knows the man has no money to buy one. Plus, a lot of grooms use heirloom rings. It’s not controversial. Unlike the car that Holly and David gifted the happy couple. (So when people give cars as a present, they really pay for it in its entirety?)

That about does it for the laughs. Yes, Kevin saying that he was afraid Nora would want to choose their surrogate, and Scotty responding that he was afraid Nora would want to BE the surrogate, was hilarious, but that story line is definitely going to cause some drama. Kevin said he knows that it’s his turn to wait for Scotty to be ready (for a baby), but I don’t think he was happy about it.

Speaking of waiting, am I wrong for thinking that Justin and Rebecca might want to postpone their wedding? Justin found out that he only got into med school because Robert made three calls and that if he doesn’t get at least a B on all three of his exams on Monday, he’s likely to flunk out. That is a lot of pressure to deal with, whether or not you’re worrying that you’ve been a quitter your entire life. Justin needs to make med school work because no one wants to see him move back in with Nora and have nothing to do but the occasional drug relapse. The idea of him taking Rebecca to the beach for a picnic/study session when he has THREE exams to prepare for made me nervous. I don’t trust him to be able to concentrate with her in a bikini. Lucky for him though, I also don’t see the show’s writers letting him fail. Still, I think he should let Rebecca (or Nora) handle all the wedding plans, elope, or postpone the ceremony until he has one semester under his belt.

That brings us back to Nora. That she would be apologizing for taking out her irrational fear that something bad was going to happen to her kids on Ida right as Justin and Rebecca narrowly avoided a car accident and Kitty underwent a biopsy on a swollen lymph node was painful but realistic. I know that foreboding feeling. Not as a parent, but as a child worrying about a parent. The doctor told Kitty “It’s not good news,” so there’s a chance she’ll dodge the bullet, but we haven’t had a serious illness on this show, so I’m thinking the writers will want to explore one. Maybe the idea of losing Kitty for real will be the “spark” that Robert needs to see in order to believe that there’s a chance of them saving their marriage. Maybe he’ll finally have to make a decision about what’s most important to him: His gubernatorial run (which Kitty is now actively supporting, while also writing political commentary) or his wife?

What did you think of the season premiere? Where do you think the Kitty story line is headed? How many tissues do you anticipate using next week?

Photo credit: Scott Garfield/ABC