Brothers & Sisters came thisclose to losing me this season, but I’m so glad I stuck it out: Nothing says May like sobbing while watching the final moments of an episode.
We’ve known since January that Rob Lowe would be leaving the show, and the promo for the season finale showed Kitty distraught after a car accident – and still I started to go numb as Rebecca and Justin went running toward the massive pile-up. I can’t imagine knowing that everyone you care about was involved in a wreck, and having to search for them. A truck had apparently gotten cut off and overturned. Robert and Kitty were the first vehicle to hit it, then the rest of the caravan headed home from taste-testing the menu for Scotty and Saul’s new restaurant at the Ojai house were part of the accordion effect – save the newlyweds, who’d gotten a late start because they were deciding that sometimes being there for your spouse means living separately for a year so he can go to Haiti for school credit and she can accept the job she wants. Rebecca was on the phone with Holly, who was trying to convince her and Justin to let her thrown them their Hawaii wedding now that she, Nora, and Sarah had struck water at Narrow Lake. Nora had paid for more digging and the company found an aquifer. Rebecca got abruptly disconnected from Holly, which made my stomach turn. So many things were excruciating to watch during the hour because you knew what was awaiting you at the end. Seeing Holly, Sarah, Nora, and Saul run through the water at Narrow Lake like they were children playing in a fire hydrant – did I see slo-mo??? – was one of those moments. You wanted to be happy – especially because we thought we were celebrating Saul testing negative for HIV – but the higher we got from seeing a resolution to that pain-in-the-ass Narrow Lake storyline, the farther we’d have to fall.
At the accident, when Kevin tried to help Saul, who was bleeding, we found out that Saul had lied to Nora when he told her he was fine. “Don’t touch me! You can’t!,” he yelled at Kevin. I’m not sure how I feel about that plot point. It’s great that they’re drawing attention to HIV again, and storywise, it’s worthwhile to learn that Saul had acted on his attraction to men when he was younger – he felt ashamed, so it was done in secret, and never twice with the same person so it wouldn’t feel real. But it just felt like it was introduced too suddenly, too forcibly. On the same morning Saul learned that Kevin slept in a sleeping mask (and Kevin learned that Saul slept in a muumuu), while the sounds of Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical” filled the air, Saul discovered on Facebook that one of his old acquaintances had been living with HIV for decades. It was about as subtle as Rebecca and Justin joking right before the crash that every time they talk about having a big wedding, something bad happens.
Back to the accident: Sarah was fine, as were Scotty and Nora. Nora told Rebecca she couldn’t get Holly out of the car, so Rebecca went to find her while Justin checked on Kitty and Robert. Robert looked so still, it was as though he was paralyzed. He had blood on his head. When Rebecca screamed for Justin to come help Holly, Robert told Justin to go. (I think Robert knew he was dying, and that Justin, who’s worked on soldiers in combat, would have the strength to leave him if it meant helping someone who could be saved. Holly looked bloody, too, but she moved a tiny bit, so I predict she’ll live.) Kitty was left alone with Robert, who echoed a conversation they’d had earlier in the episode when he got dizzy from his arrhythmia, and they had to call an ambulance to the Ojai house to take him to the hospital. Kitty had told Robert that she loved the hero and the vulnerable man who, after his heart attack, was afraid he wouldn’t be able to keep up with their son. As he sat there in the car, he told Kitty that she was right: he was afraid he wouldn’t be able to keep up with Evan, but as he watched Kitty hold him and saw how strong and loving she was, he knew she would. Then, he went silent, his eyes open and still.
Both Rob Lowe and Calista Flockhart were amazing in that scene. She could have been screaming for help, but in that moment, when you find out that someone you love may really be dying, you’re lost. Sometimes you can’t yell. Maybe it’s your brain’s way of pretending it really isn’t happening. Because if it was, of course you’d be yelling. And the second someone comes and sees what you’re seeing, it’s real. They’ll say he’s gone. Kitty looked around for help and back at Robert, saying, “Oh god, somebody… somebody… somebody help me. Help me. Robert, Robert, it’s gonna be okay. It’s gonna be okay. Stay with me, Robert.” As the camera panned out to show the scope of the accident, you saw from a distance Nora walking and calling Kitty’s name. You just wanted Nora to get there. This episode did a nice job of reminding us that as much as Nora butts in to everyone’s lives when they don’t necessarily want her to (more on Kitty’s campaign bus in a minute!), she’s there whenever they do need her.
We know that we’re jumping ahead a year when Brothers & Sisters returns in the fall, and that Kitty is “single,” so it’s safe to assume that Robert died. I’ve had issues with his extreme levelheadedness over the years, but I’m suddenly glad that he always ended up doing what was right in the end. When he was in the hospital earlier, he told Kitty about both his heart problem and the situation he’d gotten himself in with Stanton, the man he was trying to nail for bribing him to get highly-inflated defense contracts. Robert had refused to release the tapes because Stanton, who knew what Robert was up to, had started an anonymous Citizens for a Corrupt-Free America website to start rumors about Kitty, like that she was using Robert’s private jet to campaign and that her wig cost $4,300. Robert didn’t want Stanton to ruin Kitty. But that wig comment (which was true – who knew?) went far enough that right before the accident, Kitty had told Robert that they had to release the tapes now. The question is: When the show returns in the fall, will Kitty be a Senator, or will she have dropped out of politics? I think she will have been appointed to fill Robert’s seat after his death and won the election.
Now, we can get to the one true bright spot in the episode: Sarah’s depression. Sarah has always been my favorite Walker (save the time she was with Steven Weber), and this episode made me feel closer to her than ever. A) Why would she look for a new job when she could spend her days looking at Luc in a wifebeater? B) Cold pizza is really good. C) She just wanted to lay on the couch, watch TV, and drink. All of that made “rabidly democratic” Nora dragging Sarah along on Kitty’s Campaign Bus for the weekend when Robert couldn’t make the 16-stop journey completely insane but hysterical. The fact is, Kitty is running for Senate and should be focused on her campaign and not on keeping Sarah from commandeering the remote control on the bus or in the hotel room that the three of them shared. While Kitty was trying to work on a speech, Nora was pushing for facials and Sarah was asking for the bus keys so she could go get more wine. I love that Nora told her she wasn’t driving (or cabbing) anywhere, then suggested they send out an intern for alcohol. Honestly, the only thing I really wish I could change about my own mother is that she doesn’t drink. If she did, I could say stuff like, “Don’t get involved, keep drinking.”
Your turn. What did you think of the season finale? Did you cry? How much will you miss Rob Lowe? (I’m looking forward to single Kitty, but I’m glad he got a moving exit that exceeded my expectations.) Do you want Holly to live or die? (Live, Holly, live!) And how convenient that the one-year jump means Justin will be back from Haiti, Kevin and Scotty’s baby will be born, Saul will hopefully have figured out how to live with his new reality, his and Scotty’s restaurant – comfort food meets organic meets tapas – will have found its legs, and the Walkers will be settled into the water business?