The Kyle arc was a way for Ephram to make peace with his past. Kyle shared the same father issues, the same piano gift, and the same genius-loner personality trait as his teacher, but he let Ephram experience a modicum of what life would be like with as a father. He helped Kyle come to peace with his identity. Ephram helped pay for Kyle’s college application fees. And he tried to help Kyle avoid the mistakes he made a few years earlier. Kyle was a simulacrum of every aspect of Ephram’s life. Ephram learned and forgave because of the experience. At the end of their arc, he learned he taught piano well enough to land Kyle an audition at Julliard. He made peace with his past, but what about his future?
Ephram’s story in “The Land of Confusion” is one of my favorites in the season and the series because he chose a life where he could have it all—piano, family, a lover, children in whose lives he’d make a difference, and children of his own. It marks the culmination of season four’s Ephram redemption story. The writers needed to bring him back from his miserable character assassination in late season three. The show’s full of characters that think a choice is singular, an either/or. The either/or obsessed Ephram in season three. If he couldn’t make time for Amy, he’d lose her, but he’d lose Julliard if he couldn’t make time for piano. Ephram made the first adult choice of any young character in the series. One’s life is what one wants it to be. The writers tied up the loose Madison thread without her making an appearance by having Ephram calling her to apologize for his behavior in the café when she told him about their son. Wonderful. Thank goodness The CW cancelled the show.
Jake runs parallel to Ephram but Jake’s story returns to that dreadful therapy session he had with Andy in “Free Fall”. Ephram made a choice Jake seems incapable of choosing for himself: a healthy work-life balance. Nina made him aware that he cut his hours at the office but made up it by starting a clinic and acting as sponsor for every addict in Everwood. Jake told Andy in the therapy session that he didn’t like what Andy represented, which was a curious admission in a story predicated by Andy kissing his girl; however, in this episode, it crystallizes, especially because of the echoes and flashes of Andy’s neurosurgeon life in Manhattan. Andy represented Jake at his most flawed. Jake saw his reflection in Andy, but he’s not close to achieving the peace Andy found in Everwood.
I basically have ignored the Hannah/Bright story aside from a sentence or three. They’re in the motions of TV coupledom, so they’re dull. Hannah’s too passive, and Bright’s too horny, but they suck at communication. Bright cheated on Hannah with Ada, the girl last seen making a fake ID for Ephram in season two. Of course, he feels remorse after it’s done, and, of course, Hannah’s full of apologies and understanding after their brief fight about communication, so she praises honesty and thinks they’ll be super together as long as they’re always honest. Bright couldn’t be honest with her if the annoying kid from Liar, Liar wished it for his birthday. They start their ‘new’ post-fight phase dishonestly. This relationship was a drag. (Fun fact: Chris Pratt sliced his tendon cutting frozen steaks before the episode and the writers wrote in the ‘broken hand by bad karate chop’ detail to explain the sling).
The viewer may’ve noticed the slight, subtle narrative shifts. Andy remembered his feelings for Nina when she mentioned marrying and having a baby with Jake. Her relationship with Jake is uncertain though. Bright and Hannah, of course, are headed for crying, resentment, and separation. Ephram figured out his professional/vocational future, a choice motivated in part by his love for Amy, and Amy will leave her annoying self-righteous phase soon. The doldrums of mid-season for a network drama with 22 episodes to produce are ending. The narrative is about to refocus on what’s most important for our favorite characters.
Tom Garrigus wrote the episode. Charlie Stratton directed.