The truths come out as the family confronts Justin about his drug abuse; plus, Robert and Kitty talk about raising a family together

By Mandi Bierly
November 12, 2007 at 05:35 PM EST
Scott Garfield

This was the episode when the entire Walker family came clean, Sen. Robert McCallister accidentally got dirty with the King of Pork, and Rebecca and Holly were missing for 95 percent of the time. Hooray!

Let’s jump right in: After Holly persuaded Rebecca to tell Nora that Justin was abusing painkillers (you with me?), the family staged an intervention. I’ve never been to an intervention, but I imagine a confronted addict would react as Justin did — by pointing out everyone else’s faults: Clearly, Nora has no idea what’s best for him, because she pushed him to take the pills in the first place. Sarah can’t possibly preach about ”taking responsibility” when her husband didn’t consider her a dependable parent. Saul can’t speak at all, because he’s not Justin’s father. Kevin’s not allowed to tell anyone to be serious when he’s never even been in a serious relationship. Holly and Rebecca need to stop pretending they’re a part of this family. And, oh yes, everyone is an alcoholic. (Admit it, you kinda snickered at that.) Only Kitty was able to snap Justin out of his defensive rage, convincing him the family’s motives were pure: ”I’m bleeding and I’m aching because I just had a miscarriage, but I’m here and I’m dealing with you and I’m dealing with your addiction….Tell me, what is it that I’m doing that isn’t all about how much I love you?”

Now, here’s the question: Would you have gone along with the idea of Justin detoxing at home? I get that it was a necessary construct for the episode, and that Justin’s argument about what it could do to Robert’s campaign if the press found out his future brother-in-law was back in rehab made some sense. But I just don’t believe the family would risk his recovery just because Nora wanted to mother him through it personally.

I also had a little problem with Tommy’s late, sympathetic entrance: ”What’s going on? Saul said you were all high on drugs and it was some big emergency.” I guess he was just pissed that his Saturday in bed with Lena was interrupted to watch Sarah sit and knit during ”the lull between hell and hell and vomiting.” And maybe Tommy knew he’d be facing some questions from Saul about the affair. Only, for some reason, Saul didn’t really ask Tommy anything. He just told Kevin that Tommy had been at Lena’s, then got into a battle with Kevin over who is the lonelier man and stormed out telling Nora he couldn’t be ”this person” anymore. (The next day, he returned and told Nora that he wished he had a family of his own and had found someone to spend his life with. He also said he was once in love with a man. I wish we’d seen Nora run to the pantry.)

The rest of the Walkers took shifts watching Justin. Tommy and Kevin stayed with him all night, which meant Tommy had more lines this episode than he’s had in the season’s first six hours combined. At one point, when Justin promised Tommy this would be the last time he went through detox, I thought we were gonna get some kind of meaningful flashback, but alas, it was a cutaway to Robert ice skating with his young daughter. (She’d come to visit, just long enough for us to find out that she’s a vegetarian, has already had at least two boyfriends, hates soccer and cameras, is afraid the Secret Service will watch her pee if her father becomes president, and really doesn’t want her dad having children with Kitty.) Anyway, I still can’t decide whether I’d want Tommy and Kevin babysitting me. It’s fun to watch them bicker over whose turn it is to get up — and whether they should tell off the drug dealer (I so wish Kevin would have done that) — when it’s happening to someone else. At least they could have distracted Justin by talking about Reverend Boyfriend not returning Kevin’s calls in front of him, but they waited until he was in the bathroom to get into all that. When Tommy and Kevin finally had their calm heart-to-heart in the kitchen — after Nora locked Justin in the house — they got into what a lot of us have been wondering about for a while: Is the son destined to make the father’s mistakes? I can’t help thinking that the cut to Tommy’s face after Kevin said he never knew William was cheating on Nora was significant. Did Tommy know? Has anyone found a reason to like this character?

NEXT: Kitty and motherhood

The only scene that left me warm and fuzzy this week was the one between Justin and Kitty. You knew what would happen — she’d be questioning whether the motherly ”cuddle gene” skipped her, just as he fell asleep on her arm — and yet it was so sweet to watch that you had to rewind. You also had to feel protective of Kitty when she told Robert that she wanted to get married and start trying for another baby as soon as possible. Were we supposed to believe Robert when he told her he wanted a child now, too? You saw his face when he fired 25 percent of his staff (for not knowing about the King of Pork’s shady dealings before they allowed Robert to accept funds from him and pose for a photograph): ”Look, I’m warning you,” Robert told campaign manager Travis. ”Don’t mistake my kindness for weakness again. I am the most ambitious man you will ever meet.” Scary. And yet Robert tells Kitty that she means more to him than the campaign? I’m not buying it. I don’t blame Robert for not wanting to raise another child when his job already keeps him from knowing the two kids he has. But I do think he owes it to Kitty to tell her the truth. Maybe deep down he’s afraid what a broken engagement will do to his image, even though Kitty isn’t exactly the most beloved First Fiancée. I wonder what Kitty will tell him at the altar next episode.

What do you think she’ll say? (You’ve got two weeks to ponder.) And while I’m bombarding you with questions: What changes will Nora and Justin make in their relationship, besides him being man enough to make his own oatmeal? (Now that I’ve seen how gorgeous Nora’s backyard is at night, I understand why he still lives at home.) Are Tommy and Lena really over (and will that affair come back to bite him when Julia returns)? Will Scotty’s baked goods tempt Kevin into betraying the unreachable Reverend Boyfriend? And what’s next for Saul?

Calista Flockhart and Sally Field star in the teary family ensemble drama
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  • Bebe Moore Campbell
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