The adult children panic when Nora considers moving with Isaac to D.C.; plus, Robert loses his bid for the presidential nomination but may go back on the trail

By Mandi Bierly
Updated April 21, 2008 at 05:57 PM EDT
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Credit: Michael Desmond
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You missed this show, right? You may not have known how much until you watched this episode — which had everything that makes us love Brothers & Sisters: a Walker-sibling phone tree; a Walker-family get-together that, as Holly pointed out, turned into a brawl; a Kevin-and-Sarah pity party; a Nora-and-Kitty heart-to-heart; and no mention of Justin’s drug problem. (The only thing he was addicted to in this episode was the word yo.) We also got movement on major story lines like Robert’s presidential bid (failed), Nora and Isaac’s fledgling love affair (now long-distance), and Rebecca’s paternity (results TBA!). And, in a daring move, we saw Tommy in multiple scenes. What-what-what? Well done!

As the episode opened, it was Super Tuesday, and all the Walkers were keeping an eye on the polls — even Sarah, who only had seven minutes to have sex with Graham until she had to pick up her kids. (I did not miss you, Graham. Sorry.) After Robert got his sexy butt handed to him in the primaries by Congressman Taylor — and I came to terms with the fact that Kitty took his last name and Tommy is also a Republican — Mr. McCallister bowed out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination, and we flashed forward three months. His butt was now sexier in jeans and a polo shirt — and in a gynecologist’s office learning how to give Kitty hormone shots, lamenting that the office needed new magazines if they still had a Newsweek with him on the cover, and thanking a nurse who told him, ”By the way, I voted for you.” (Cue Kitty’s eye roll.) Personally, I am keeping my fingers crossed for a pregnancy — partly because I want to see Kevin and Sarah torture Kitty with alcohol that she cannot drink but mostly because I think her mood swings will be entertaining. (If her line ”Oh, really? Well, you’re gonna tell me, Robert, or I am going to inject you with so many hormones that you will, in fact, grow boobs and sing soprano” was any indication.)

That tiff was over Robert’s attempt to keep Isaac’s secret — Isaac was planning a romantic dinner for Nora, with whom he’d been living for the last three months, so he could ask her to move back to D.C. with him. He’d been offered an adjunct professorship there. Whether Nora would leave the family she holds so dear to start a new chapter of her life with Isaac was not only the subject of a Walker-sibling phone tree (”Yo”), but also the heart of the episode. Even though none of the kids thought Nora would actually say yes (”Well, we never thought that she’d get busted for smoking pot, either,” Kitty said), they all showed up at Nora’s house to block Isaac’s mojo. The next best thing to a drunk Walker is a sneaky Walker, I say. Eventually Nora figured out what was happening (”Kitty?” Pause. ”Hello.”), and the kids’ plan backfired: Nora announced she was moving to Georgetown.

Her decision led to many a great scene: First, the Walker boys’ getting-to-grill-you golf outing with Isaac, which was a hit from the moment that Kevin told Isaac to swing first. (”Yeah, take your time. Hopefully I can pull a muscle before it’s my turn.”) I’m not sure why those three thought they could outwit a professional spin artist, but their attempts were valiant: Justin was concerned about whether Isaac had enough room for Nora, who ”comes with a lot of knickknacks…and pillows”; Tommy wanted to make sure Isaac’s prostate was healthy (!); and Kevin, who handles Nora’s financial affairs, asked how much Isaac owed on his town house. Naturally, it took Kitty to get Isaac to question whether Nora had actually thought the move through. This is a woman who needs to be around her family, she said. If Nora is on the other coast, both she and Isaac will grow to regret it. With that tension brewing, there was only one thing to do: Get the Walkers in the same room for the birthday party of ”the new one,” Rebecca.

That scene was a glorious clusterf— of passive-aggressive behavior. Let’s start with David, who’d given Rebecca what Holly recognized as his mother’s necklace. Was he trying to insinuate that he was Rebecca’s father? It’s about damn time! Justin overheard their argument and later told Rebecca about it, which led her to submit some of David’s razor clippings for DNA testing. (Holly told David, whom she’s now dating, that there was ”a remote possibility” that Rebecca could be his but begged him not to press the issue for her sake — I mean Rebecca’s. Looks like we’ll find out next week whether it’s okay for Justin to be attracted to Rebecca in her bikini. Hooray!)

Then there was the Walker tradition of the embarrassing birthday toast, which the kids started without Nora because they wanted to get used to doing things in her absence. After the squabbling scared the peripheral characters out of the room, Kitty (a.k.a. Oh Wise One) told Nora what they were all thinking: Nora was moving to D.C. because she’s afraid to be alone and was replacing William with Isaac.

In an Emmy-reel speech, Nora then explained why she said yes to Isaac: ”To get away from all of you.” Didn’t you love how as Nora confronted her children about the eye rolls, sighs, and constant looks they give each other when she speaks, they were rolling their eyes, sighing, and giving each other looks. (It sounds trite on paper, but these actors are good enough to pull it off.) That side of the relationship between a parent and adult children is one you don’t see often: a mother who’s been accused of being manipulative, controlling, and invasive debating whether to set herself free and to think of only herself for once. In the end, Kitty admitted to Nora that the children were being selfish by not wanting her to leave, and Nora said she understood: When Kitty had moved to New York, all Nora had wanted to do was say, ”Stay. I need you.” Maybe, Nora acknowledged, she had never learned to enjoy her own company and that’s why she never feels anything has actually happened in her life until she tells her kids. (”Maybe that’s why we’re so lousy at keeping secrets,” Kitty said. Which, you know, does make sense.) What happened next — Kitty leaving the room only to return and say, ”Please stay. I need you” — made Nora swallow hard and catch her breath. Which made me well up. (God, I love Calista Flockhart and Sally Field together.) Predictably, Nora told Isaac she had to stay in California, and he understood.

NEXT: Robert gets a phone call

Here, however, is what confused me: Why would everyone leave Nora alone on the day that Isaac’s flight left? I guess it’s realistic: The kids would go back to taking Nora for granted. And they did need a reason for Kitty to pick up the phone when Robert wanted to get it on. She expected it to be a weepy Nora, but instead, it was someone from the Taylor campaign. Kitty’s assumption that he wants to ask Robert to be his running mate will be proven correct next week. I can imagine that going back to the Senate is a letdown once you’ve been on the presidential campaign trail, as Robert told Isaac, but I, for one, was fine without the everyone’s levelheaded! politics in this episode.

Something I could also do without, which I’ve already mentioned: Graham. He’s giving me a reason to not like Sarah, and I won’t stand (or rather, sit on my couch) for that. From what I could decipher of Graham’s sales pitch — which wasn’t much — he’s trying to get Sarah to expand the business to the tune of $20 million so that it can supply produce to 1,800 stores in mainland China (up from, um, 10). After Tommy caught Sarah and Graham kissing and made her second-guess mixing business with pleasure, Sarah decided she couldn’t do Graham’s deal. Not because it was a bad one but because she’s in a personal relationship with him. Huh? I’d follow that reasoning if Saul weren’t begging her to do the deal. But if he was agreeing that Graham’s plan is sound, why wouldn’t she grow the business by pulling the trigger? My guess: This is a weak setup for Saul to snap and take action on Nora’s you owe nothing to anyone in this family motivational speech. Since we’re not gonna get to the bottom of Saul’s social life anytime soon, apparently, that means he has to lash out on the business end. I’m betting he’ll go back on his word to help Sarah turn down Graham’s proposal in a way that doesn’t implicate her and threaten her romance: ”You know I’ll take care of it,” he said. ”I mean, after all, what’s one more favor? We’re family, right?” Someone is about to go Alias on your ass, girl.

So, what do you think will happen in next week’s ”night of surprising revelations”? And what was your favorite dialogue from this week’s episode? The nominees:

1. Holly ”helping” Nora bake Rebecca’s birthday cake

Holly: ”I remember the last time we were around a cake.”

Nora: ”All right, I threw it in your face. But I recall a bowl of peas headed in my direction.”

Holly: ”True.”

Nora: ”We’ve come a long way.”

Holly: ”We both have men in our lives now.”

Nora: ”Luckily, not the same one.”

2. Kevin and Sarah’s discovery of Nora’s store-bought lasagna (my winner)

Kevin: ”Omigod, it’s from a store.”

Sarah: ”So is the lettuce.”

Kevin: ”This, this is really happening, isn’t it? She’s leaving.”

Sarah: ”I think she’s already left. God.”

[Kevin starts to cry.]

Sarah: ”Kevin, don’t go there.”

Kevin: ”What, uh, what are we going to do?”

Sarah: ”Stop it. I cannot hold this family together by myself. Don’t make me slap you. Kevin. Kevin! [Slaps him.] Come on, be a man.”

3. Sarah’s birthday toast

Sarah: ”Rebecca, there are many reasons to celebrate this last year. Not the least of which is those bangs have finally grown out.

Nora: ”I thought they were adorable.”

4. Nora’s clarification at the end of her post-toast rant

[To Rebecca] ”None of this applies to you, sweetie. You’re fine. Happy birthday.”

5. Kitty’s response to Robert’s suggestion that they ”continue this examination in the bedroom” (my runner-up)

”Oh, you’re such a Republican. If we were Democrats, we would just be doin’ it on the couch.”

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Brothers and Sisters

Calista Flockhart and Sally Field star in the teary family ensemble drama
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