Despite so many things being “cleared out” in the aptly named “Toilet,” Sam’s feelings and the repressed emotions she’s had throughout this season never come to the surface. There’s no catharsis or sense of her having an epiphany in this episode of Better Things. Yet it remains consistent with everything we’ve seen about Sam.
Even with her daughters, Sam is not what you’d call an emotionally available person. Sure, she may talk with her girls on occasion if the situation calls for it. But she’s not having heart-to-heart talks with her family about how she’s feeling or what’s going on in her head. Sam rolls with the punches because she can. She’ll endure everything that comes her way and take it on with her. Perhaps it’s fake laughter that hides real pain, but let’s not get all tragedy up in here.
In a way, it is sort of tragic what Sam goes through in this week’s Better Things. For one, it’s Mother’s Day. To go off on a tangent for a moment, I find it a bit odd that it’s Mother’s Day in this episode, specifically. That means that at the time of “Toilet,” it’s May. Yet the season finale will be on May 16, a mere four days after Mother’s Day in our time. It’s not an issue. I just find it interesting that, for the most part, shows tend to line up holidays with when they occur in the real world. Not so here, though.
Anyway, back on topic. It’s Mother’s Day. Spoiler warning: Sam doesn’t even get the courtesy of a text from Max or a verbal acknowledgment from Frankie or Duke. They’re being their usual selves. While Max is nowhere to be seen, Frankie is her usual asshole self, and Duke is supportive when she can be.
We kick off on the right note when Sam informs Frankie that she got her the tickets for a concert that she wants to attend. However, Frankie’s mind is already elsewhere. Rather than focusing on the present, she needs money right now for something else. Not even so much as a thank you when Sam reveals the tickets.
Karma does hit when Frankie ends up locked in her own room and the fire department has to be called to free her, so at least Sam can relish in that.
Not the only thing she’ll relish in. The bulk of this episode revolves around the preparation for and eventual colonoscopy that Sam will go through. While I don’t think you’re supposed to mix alcohol with the stuff needed, we see Sam make drink after drink until she eventually makes one trip to the toilet after another. And again. And again. Heaven help Sam if the bathrooms were occupied by one of her girls.
Only person around to help is Duke, and though the subject of her period doesn’t come up, she is helpful to her mother by leaving her extra toilet paper and reminding her to put vaseline on her butthole. Always the helpful daughter, this Duke.
So it’s time to visit the doctor’s office, and we get a brief appearance of Alysia Reiner again as Sunny shows up to accompany Sam. It’s nice of her to be there and support Sam through this because Heaven knows one of the girls wouldn’t have gone. Well, Duke might, but then Sam would have to explain what a colonoscopy is, and I don’t think she wants to have that conversation right now.
Sam is asked by one of the doctors to dream about something, and we’re treated to a sequence that looks like it could be a cult that walked right out of True Detective. It’s the entire family gathered to have dinner, but they’re wearing these creepy-as-hell masks.
Strange sequence, but we’re back to reality as Sam receives some rather serious news. Played against the constant pooping and the random farts we hear while she’s in the hospital, Sam learns that the doctor found two polyps, but managed to eliminate them. However, there was a third near her appendix and while there’s no certainty just yet, it could be malignant.
As I said, Sam handles serious situations with humor. While we see on her face how she grapples with facing her mortality, Sam also responds by pointing out how ‘polyp’ is a funny word. I tend to agree. Even though news like this would have someone counting down their days, Sam won’t allow this to drag down her mood.
She literally has something bigger to worry about in the form of getting a new toilet. I did like the conversation with the plumber, who told her that she should only be putting caca in her toilet. In addition, he doesn’t believe that four women on their own would be capable of producing poops like this. I don’t entirely disagree with this sentiment, but I imagine that Sam could handle most of the heavy lifting…er, heavy movements. Nonetheless, this sets Sam on the path to finally getting a new toilet.
We also get the final session with David Miller. Sam reiterates that she only came here to get the sleep medication, while David tells her that these sessions don’t necessarily count as therapy. Not in this circumstance. It’s because Sam and David have that past connection that she agreed to this in the first place, as David knows that she would’ve turned down seeing most, if not all, doctors.
He regrets not referring her to someone else more neutral, but had he done that, Sam would say even less than she is now. Again, Sam isn’t someone who opens up. When David rattles off a list of potential topics, Sam shoots down every single one because that’s how she rolls. David says that everything will soon catch up with Sam, but she’ll cross that bridge when she gets to it. She’s already put Xander behind her, after all.
The two try to recreate a moment that they shared when they were younger, but Sam leaves after David effectively fires her as a patient. So there’s that.
Despite everything that Sam goes through in the episode- Frankie even decides to test out the toilet by flushing towels down it- we end on the highest of notes. Sam receives a text from her doctor, informing her that the results of her test were negative. Hence, no malignant polyp. Huzzah!
I mean, I feel like that’s the sort of news you’d call to announce, but semantics. Sam has a clean bill of health, a new toilet, and she’s literally flushed away a mountain of her problems. Can’t think of a better way to celebrate Mother’s Day than that.