October 20, 2008 at 07:46 PM EDT

When last night’s Brothers & Sisters kicked off with Nora’s aggressive yard sale, I half expected (and half hoped) the Walker matriarch might slap a couple of her “25 cent” price tags on foreheads of Tommy and Julia, thus freeing the show’s fans from another plotline involving the family’s fifth-wheel sibling and long-suffering wife. (All in favor of an alien abduction arc to explain Julia’s frequent absences, say “Aye!”)

Alas, it wasn’t meant to be, as tensions surfaced for the umpteenth time between Tommy and Sarah over the world’s most uninteresting childhood time capsule unearthed during the garage-clearing process the past, present, and future of Ojai. (Best line: “You’re pathetic, Tommy. You’re just Holly’s little bitch.”) Not surprisingly, Sarah and Tommy reached a happy resolution (read: beers were opened, sipped) but I know I can’t be the only one hoping that Sarah’s freedom from Ojai, from her janky ex-husband, and from her suddenly nonexistent kids, is all going to lead to some very meaty scripts for the magnificent Rachel Griffiths. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see her forty-something exec forced to take a middle-management job under a much younger boss? And whatever happened to her pal Noah (Michael Beach), you know, the one with whom she used to share lunches, and looks of lust/guilt, back in season 1?

Certainly, Sarah deserves a little excitement, considering Kitty is inthe process of adopting a baby and changing career paths; Justin isembarking on a tentative path toward love with his former half-sisterand dealing with the conflict of becoming an Army recruiter; and Kevinis wrangling to stay out of the corporate closet at his law firm whilejuggling an unexpected job offer from his Senator brother-in-law. (Iparticularly enjoyed the lifetime Liberal’s assertion that, if hired,he’d immediately use Robert’s computers to send damaging emails thatwould bring down the entire Republican party.) Even Sarah’s mom islaunching a charitable organization to add to her already full scheduleof meddling in her kids’ lives.

Meanwhile, the show’s other power mom remains entirely enigmatic. I wasnot unmoved by Holly’s “I’m not giving up on us” speech to Rebecca, andI loved the way she used her “oh, I have no plans this weekend otherthan going through this massive pile of work on my desk” sob story to score a little daughterly affection. (No one can guilt you likeyour mom!) But she forgot to mention the little detour into spying andtreachery as part of a well-balanced weekend agenda. I was exasperated Holly would leave the incriminating file on her desk, whatwith Rebecca in the office to do filing, but maybe it’s all part of hermaster plan?Possible, since I cannot for the life of me figure out her end game.

In other episode news: I dare not ask if the limeade at Saul, Sarah, andKevin’s poolside gathering was spiked, considering Nora said somethingabout the whole scene occurring in the a.m. Anyone else raise aneyebrow over typically buttoned-up Saul sporting a gauzy, lazilybuttoned white linen shirt and flip-flops? Who else keeps forgetting Justin’s current girlfriend is not only his former half-sister but also the daughter of his father’s longtime mistress?* And, yeah, I was a littleunderwhelmed by Justin and Nora’s back-and-forth over the speed anddepth of her knick-knack purging, but the monkey statue, well, it wasworth every penny.

Finally the best exchange of the night:
Robert: “Good stuff. Very tasty.”
Nora: “It’s a mix!”

Oh snap! Guess someone isn’t quite over the Senator’s verbal smackdownduring the adoption dinner!

* Double ick.

More on ‘Brothers & Sisters’:
Gillian Flynn’s ‘Brothers & Sisters’ review from Oct. 24, 2008
Recaps of every season 3 episode of ‘Brothers & Sisters’
The five broadcast TV shows you’re most ’emotionally attached to’

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