The Family recap: Betta Male | EW.com

TV Recaps | The Family

The Family recap: 'Betta Male'

Meyer gets closer to exposing Ben, but her partner's disappearance stalls her progress

(Giovanni Rufino/ABC)

The Family

Season 1, Ep. 9 | Aired Apr 24

Doug’s spanking new kid-dungeon finally has its first tenant on The Family. Fortunately for Red Pines and rest of the world, Agent Gabe Clements has not vacated either just yet. I’ve never been so happy to have eulogized a supposedly dead character way too soon. Though, I was pretty into the version of The Family that Clements’ possibly posthumous opening voiceover suggested: the one where a dead cop helps his trusty partner solve their last case from beyond the veil. Next season, maybe.

Of course, Clements’ sad, continued existence doesn’t make much sense when it comes to the wellbeing and freedom of Doug and Jane, the kidnapping Bonnie & Clyde of New England. I assumed the FBI agent was for really real dead because there’s no rational reason why it would be less messy for his attackers to keep him alive. The reveal of his condition comes late in the episode, when Jane brings the bloodied man a sandwich. “I’m so sorry,” she mutters repeatedly, indicating that it’s her guilt that saved his life (for now — untreated head wounds aren’t good for anyone’s health) and has also put Jane in a very precarious mental state. The beams are sighing all over this joint, as the hidden-in-plain-sight sanctuary Doug built for them is starting to give.

And maybe that’s what Doug wanted to talk to Ben about. The full-time carpenter, part-time jailer spent a day at Hank’s house in this episode, fixing some warped cabinets and getting his jollies about the one he pulled over on the entire system. Doug tells Hank that he feels “like [he] owes” him; he does the job for free, but it’s not a gesture of generosity. Ten years ago, Doug could have stuffed Adam into that trunk and drove until he’d put 10 states between him and the Warrens. But he enjoys this too much. He likes to stand in someone’s home with the knowledge that he has or is in the process of destroying his life. He likes seeing Claire’s face plastered on billboards, knowing exactly where her missing progeny is. Hell, he’ll probably vote for her. And by the end of the season, Doug’s downfall will probably come courtesy of his propensity for gloating and for failing How to Be a Criminal 101. The first rule of Criminal Club? Never return to the scene of the crime. And don’t talk about Criminal Club.

Doug also comes to Hank’s house as soon as the speed limit will allow because he can’t resist the chance to be near Ben, or at least Ben’s new home. He couldn’t have predicted that Willa would ask Ben to stay home and skip Claire’s debate, but Doug’s plans for the night are set when he sees Ben through his bedroom window. The kid doesn’t close the door properly after the pizza delivery man, and suddenly Doug is in his bedroom. “Hey Ben,” he says, softly. “Time to have a talk.”

As far as we can tell, talking is what they did. Ben is visibly agitated when Willa, John, and Claire come home from the debate. But he’s there, and he’s outwardly in one piece. What did Doug want from him? Whatever it was, it took precedence over taking Ben again.

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Before Doug arrived, Ben watched on an iPad while Claire outed him to the entire state. Kind of. Incumbent governor Charlie Lang takes Claire to task during their first head-to-head, accusing her of exploiting her family tragedy for votes. Claire magnificently counters that every politician uses the tools at their disposal to get their ideas in front of people and that her notoriety was no less earned than Lang’s rich boy lineage. She also shaves about 10 years off of Willa’s life when she announces that the Adam the world knows is “not [her] son.” But Claire veers into metaphorical territory, talking about how trauma alienates and how she will never regain the boy she lost. But every single thing that she says is true in the present situation as well. She’s raising a stranger, and it’s pretty weird for her. It’s a claim that supports both the public lie and the private truth.

NEXT: Spy games

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