By Mandi Bierly
Updated March 09, 2009 at 04:29 PM EDT
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Some people think that the Walker family dinner routine — sit, pour wine, fight — is getting old. But I find that even the most predictable scenarios can be entertaining if they’re well-acted. Case in point: The family’s overly enthusiastic group “Hi!!!!!!!” to Ryan at Nora’s ill-timed meet-the-half-sibling shindig. I had to rewind. I may even have snorted.

But back to the beginning of the episode….Nora was determined to have her children meet Ryan, and we were led to believe that they were avoiding him and Nora because they didn’t want to bond with him. Actually, it was because no one had yet told Nora that Tommy had been arrested for embezzlement. While Justin stayed away from Tommy’s arraignment so he and Rebecca could pretend that her mother potentially putting his brother in jail was something they could actually avoid talking about, Sarah and Kevin went and actually did something even more stupid — they acted surprised when Julia got pissed enough at her law-breaking husband to throw his ass out. (You stand by your man, not a d-bag who wants to save his family’s business and put in a pool.) Meanwhile, Nora decided to take Ryan up to Ojai so Tommy could give him a tour, but Rebecca saved the day by playing along with “Bring your illegitimate child to work day” (“Yeah, I went to that last year,” she said) and shared everything there was to know about fruit with the guy.

Instead of our usual Walker Sibling Phone Tree, Sarah actually spoke with Justin face-to-face to ask him to ask Rebecca to ask Holly to drop the charges against Tommy. He initially balked, so Sarah, head of the “Free Tommy Walker Campaign,” took it upon herself to present the offer to Holly: Tommy would return the money and forfeit any involvement with the company. Holly declined… but later said she’d think about it after Rebecca asked her to drop the charges not for the Walkers, but for her and her relationship with Justin. I think Holly probably would’ve done it, too, had Nora not thrown, as Saul described it to a pre-medicating Scotty, “the worst-timed dinner in Walker family history.” (I’d like to go on the record as saying that I’ve now fully warmed to Scotty. There was a time when Reverend Boyfriend was in the shower when I wished that Kevin had chosen someone else, but I do love them as a couple.)

addCredit(“Michael Desmond/ABC”)

Dinner was served buffet style so Ryan wouldn’t feel trapped and stared at — and so he could overhear Scotty and Kevin talking about Tommy’s arrest and bring it up to Nora, who he assumed had been trying to pretend all was well for his sake. Oops! Up to this point, you could argue that Tommy was just in denial about his probable trip to the pen, but no, he actually doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong. He’s just doing what his father did, what the rest of the family is too scared to do. Obviously, the best part of this fight was when Nora said she despised William for taking the money out of the company’s pension plan and Tommy said, “Really? Well, you sure loved living off of it, mom,” and Nora slapped him. Hard. Tommy confessed everything in front of Rebecca, who was rightfully pissed when Justin didn’t try to stop Tommy from turning on her. (Presumably, she did find the time during the meal to tell Justin that she’d gotten her mom to at least think about dropping the charges, which is something Justin could’ve blurted out at that moment.) Justin saw Ryan comforting Rebecca and later tried to avoid another argument about Tommy by starting a fight about him. But Rebecca realized Justin will always side with his family and said she has to chose hers. She broke up with him and told her mother to do what she has to do with Tommy. Had Tommy shown any remorse for his actions, Rebecca might not have given her mom the greenlight. My mother thinks Holly is pure evil, but I’m with Rebecca and Holly here — I don’t think Holly is to blame for this fiasco.

We’ve yet to see how Nora will react when she sees Holly, but so far, I think her response to the situation has been appropriate: Slap Tommy for being so cavalier and not thinking how it would affect his family if he got caught; confront Saul on his decision not to tell her about Tommy’s plan when he first heard it. Saul had a good argument — the old Nora never wanted to know the messy details, which is why she willingly closed her eyes to William’s affairs and risky business deals. But Nora was right: She has changed. She’s not running away from things now, she’s confronting them head on. (Does that mean she’ll speak to Ryan about his crush on Rebecca when it becomes apparent? We’ll see… )

While all this drama was going on at Nora’s, things at Kitty’s house were equally tense with Robert’s arrival home from the hospital. He was in denial, not wanting to tell his two children from his first marriage the truth about his heart attack. After a lecture from Kitty, he told them. Then, he asked Kitty to shut his bedroom door and he broke down in the first tears we’ve seen him shed. It seemed like it might be a breakthrough — as though he realized his life has changed and he was beginning the mourning process that would eventually lead to the acceptance of a new path — but the preview for next week showed Kitty coming to Nora’s house and Sarah telling Robert that Kitty doesn’t want to fight anymore. (Does that mean she really will leave Robert, or is it more “clever” editing by ABC’s promo department?) In my fantasy, Kitty moves home with Nora and Ryan (who’s sticking around to hook up with Rebecca bond with his flawed half-siblings and “help” Nora). It’ll be great to have more Walkers under the same roof. (Sarah’s certainly doing her part boarding Tommy and Justin, who came to her after his break-up because he was consumed with thoughts of using drugs again.)

So, should Kitty fight to save her marriage if Robert keeps putting his career ahead of his health and his family? What do you want to see happen to Tommy now? How do you feel about Ryan’s budding interest in Rebecca? I know at least one commenter had a hard time last week believing that Kevin cares for Robert as much as the writers are telling us he does. Are you buying it? (Regardless, Kevin’s “Tell Robert I… like him a lot” line after Kitty told him to tell Tommy that she loved him was great.) And, what will go wrong next week during the Walker boys weekend getaway? (Something has to.)

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