Thursday, July 7, 2011

The 2011 Summer Re-Watch: Everwood "Till Death Do Us Part" Review

Marriages are the theme of "Till Death Do Us Part." The episode meditates on the nature and function of marriages-why do some marriages succeed for years when others fail? When does marriage become so unbearable that two people decide to part ways? "Till Death Do Us Part" doesn't answer the questions it asks. In Everwood tradition, it's important that the questions are asked at all.

Andy Brown's at the center of the story as he confronts his first anniversary without his wife. Dr. Brown worked every holiday, worked the day the children were born, but he took his wife somewhere lovely every year for their anniversary. Now that she's gone, he realizes how he took Julia for granted. He misses the joy and hope she brought to his life as well as the stability and security of her love for him. Fittingly enough, in a thematic sense, Andy treats the local reverend’s hives outbreak. The origin of the hives is a mystery, but his wife believes her husband's allergic to him. Andy walks into a terrible situation--the Keyes' marriage is toxic, volatile and on the cusp of explosion. Mrs. Keyes thinks her husband resents her because she transformed her lifestyle--she was no longer happy and content in the role of the doting reverend's wife and she devoted her time to weight loss and becoming attractive again.

Mrs. Keyes' new diet coincided with her husband's hives outbreak. Andy and Harold meet to discuss the case and share files but the two doctors have no answers. The wife insists that her husband's simply allergic to her. In most cases, married couples on the verge of divorce use those metaphors (like being allergic to one another) to simplify a complex problem between them. And yes, the Keyes have become allergic to one another. Their marriage won't work because both parties have given up and resigned themselves to the next chapter in their lives as newly single, recently divorced individuals.

Of course, Andy doesn't want to witness the end of the marriage especially on the anniversary of his own wedding. He tells Mrs. Keyes that he finds the concept of choosing to end one's marriage hard to grasp because of how much he valued his own. Andy solves the medical mystery of the hives and hopes that will heal the rifts in the Keyes' marriage. Technically, the reverend was allergic to his wife but only because of her all-chicken diet--the antibiotics injected into the chicken caused the allergic reactions. Andy tells them that it's all curable but their marriage has more problems than a case of hives. Andy pleads with the reverend to hold off on the decision to end his marriage until the next day. The reverend ushers him out of his house, without any promises.

The Keyes part of the story doesn't particularly work alone as a marriage-in-crisis story. Their relationship is portrayed too broadly and their issues don't resonate. The episode suggests that, at the core, the Keyes grew tired of one another, that their paths were going in opposite directions. Andy's the only reason the story works at all. Treat Williams delivers a great, understated and effective performance as a broken widower who wants to fix these folks marriage before its broken.

The strongest parts of the A story involve Andy and his grief. When he learns that Ephram won't be home for dinner, Andy opens the mail with the travel information for his anniversary vacation that Julia planned. When he reads Julia's name on the ticket, he buries his head in his hands as the camera pushes back to show how alone he is on this night. Later, he prays in the local church for help and guidance. The doctor was never religious in Manhattan but he's in despair and broken. He's in need of grace and healing, so he pleads openly with God as the rain pours down and thunder booms like the night he lost his wife. At Sunday mass, the reverend delivers his annual Hope speech and names Andrew Brown the symbol of hope in Everwood for Andy's prayers resonated with the reverend, and made him believe that he could endure and hope even when love had left him. When the love of one individual disappears, one should rely on the love of the community to heal the wounds of the broken and dispirited. The Reverend Keyes vows to help Andy heal through the love of the community because Andy helped heal his own wound in church on that dark, stormy night.

The conclusion of the A story's moving because it reminds the viewer of what brought Andy to Everwood--the death of his wife, a promise to her, the chance to become a father and a doctor, and a chance to find peace and joy again at some point in his life. After mass, the Browns and the Abbotts decide to brunch together at Mama Joy's. The schism between the two doctors is disappearing. Everwood's more like home than ever before, and the Sunday morning is bright and beautiful. Andy won't always be a broken man.

Some other thoughts:

  • The Abbott marriage is the focus of the B story. Naturally, it juxtaposes the marriage between the Keyes. Harold and Rose get into a fight because Harold refuses to attend dance lessons with his life. Rose is angry because she devoted time to nurture their marriage in between their responsibilities as parents and Harold's put forth zero effort to the cause. The two love one another with their hearts, though, and they're the opposite of the Keyes. Harold was afraid they would outgrown with another and become the Keyes but Rose reminds him they aren't those people. The reconciliation's sweet and heart-warming. The Abbott marriage is among my favorite marriages depicted on TV.

  • Ephram and Amy spend the episode in a mine. They kiss and Amy immediately distances herself from him because Colin could wake up at any moment. Ephram worries things will change between them when Colin's awake, and they will. Before the kiss, Amy assures him that nothing will change because he's been a kind of miracle to her. Colin does wake up but he can't talk and he doesn't remember her. 

  • Tom Amandes' Dr. Abbott gets better and better with each episode. In this episode, he practices salsa dancing with his white coat. Before he dances with the white coat, he stands and moves awkwardly to the music. High comedy. 

  • Oliver Goldstick wrote the episode. Michael Schultz directed it.

UP NEXT: "Turf Wars"--Julia's parents visit the Browns and they criticize how Andy raises his children. Also, they support Ephram's wish to return to New York. The Harts ask Amy to leave the hospital because she makes things worse. Delia and her grandmother bond.


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Originally, I titled the blog Jacob's Foot after the giant foot that Jacob inhabited in LOST. That ended. It became TV With The Foot in 2010. I wrote about a lot of TV.