Being a parent, like being a politician- I assume- means a lot of thanklessness from the people you serve. In the case of being a parent, it means a lot of thankless days and nights from your parents. No one knows that better than Sam Fox, but what Better Things has emphasized is that she doesn’t come off as vindictive. Sure, a thank you would be nice, but if she doesn’t get it, that doesn’t mean she suddenly deprives her girls of their basic necessities.
Not to say that the thought never crossed her mind, though. Point is that Sam is, at the end of the day, a dedicated mother. Much as her kids, mostly Frankie and Max, give her shit, she will still come through when they need her. In just about any and every way possible, she will be there to support them.
Which brings us to the opening of this week’s episode, “Easter,” which comes around at a more apt time than last week’s “Toilet” happening around Mother’s Day, but whatever. We begin this week’s episode with Sam dropping Max off at…let’s not beat around the bush here, a pretty seedy looking hotel. She’s here to take part in a photo shoot with two of her friends, Olivier being one of them. Seems pretty routine. But there’s a problem: Max feels that Sam- who has every right to be cautious- never supports her.
First off, what? Second, the hell? Lest we not forget that the season premiere involved Sam helping Max move into her college dorm. While it’s admirable that Max is pursuing her passion in photography, her selective memory here is…off-putting. The moment isn’t played for laughs, as you can tell by Sam’s absolutely incredulous reaction. Sam absolutely has been there for Max. Hell, she’s even there to support Max’s passion in photography. It’s the closest thing Max even has to a passion. As far as I can tell, we don’t really know what drives her.
Still, Sam helps Max and the other two get set up before she herself gets set up. Almost. While Sam may have put her relationship with Xander behind her, I don’t think we can rule out that she still wants to get some. When some random driver propositions her, Sam expresses interest in the going rate for someone like her. So the man responds that it’s a buyer’s market and he wants to see her, ahem, caboose.
And it’s a very nice caboose, if I do say so myself, but the man is only willing to possibly fork over $35. He would’ve gone for $40, but doesn’t. What an ass.
Max’s photo shoot goes off without a hitch, and she ends up hitting it off with Olivier. That in and of itself isn’t a problem. But Sam finds out about it when a thank you note is sent to her home. This prompts a very good line from Sam in the form of “#HeFuckedHer.” I’m sure that Sam thought something that could happen, but she’s not bitter or angry about it.
Actually, we don’t see much of her reaction at all because Sam is too focused on Easter. We see her working her ass off on Easter baskets and giving out candy to everyone at her home. It’s a breather of a scene, in my opinion, because Sam isn’t doing this because of some last-minute task. She seems genuinely happy to be surprising her daughters, even if Frankie is already over it by the time Sam arrives in her bed.
However, this ends up being the last we see of Sam in the episode, as the focus shifts to Phil and, by extension, Duke. While Sam had the plans set for her daughters, Phil manages to corral Duke into coming with her to Walter’s Easter family get-together. Seems innocent enough, except given what we know about Phil’s relationship with Walter, it’s understandable why Walter’s family is giving her the stink eye.
But we’re just starting with the problems. First, Phil is far too competitive for her own good when it comes to the Easter Egg hunt. I’m not even sure how she’s allowed to compete alongside the kids, but it is admittedly funny to see her treat this like it’s an Olympic sport.
Duke isn’t as lucky, though. She ends up with a pretty nasty cut above her eyebrow from what I’m guessing was a thorn bush. Walter’s family is quicker to help out, though Phil just tells Duke to tough it out. She’s too focused on the Easter Egg hunt to help Duke, much to the chagrin of Walter’s family.
It doesn’t stop there. Once Duke is patched up, we’ve got Phil consoling her with…not the best of tales. She asks if Duke knew that her mother once almost got an abortion and didn’t marry Xander. Obviously Duke didn’t know about either of these things because I can’t foresee a scenario where Sam would ever bring it up. Either way, it just adds to the tension and makes things even more uncomfortable than they already are.
So Marion arrives to whisk Duke away from Satan, even though Frankie is nowhere to be seen. But Marion comes because Phil apparently asked him to be here. While she doesn’t remember that, she does use this as an opportunity to tell him off, saying that he’s insecure, and even railing on his past relationship. It’s a very uncomfortable moment made worse by the fact that Walter’s husband hears everything, but Marion stands his ground and demands a retraction.
When he doesn’t get it, he just leaves with Duke and we get, for my money, the best scene of the episode. While Duke is upset over what she heard, she asks if it’s true that her mother didn’t want to marry her father. Marion pulls over and tells Duke that we don’t get to choose our parents. In addition, yes, Xander himself is a bad person and a loser, but that does and should not rub off on Duke.
Not that Duke ever saw herself becoming like her father, but just in case the thought ever entered her head, but just in case, Marion shuts that shit down.
Plus, with all of the clashing that he has with his sister, Marion still has nothing but good things to say about Sam. She may be crazy and an ass at times, but she’s still a great mother. Above all else, she’s there. As with Max earlier on, she was present to support her daughter, even if Max didn’t think that was the case. Again, Sam’s work goes either unnoticed or receives no thanks, but she still does it because she cares. Come hell or high water, Sam will be there for her family.
We end the episode with Phil meeting with Walter’s wife, Esther, and it’s a quiet moment that allows Phil to get to know Walter a bit. It doesn’t exactly undo the fact that Phil has gotten close to Walter, but Esther looks even lonelier than Phil is at times. It’s a good ending to good episode- they even start singing along with Judy Garland. I’m left wondering where Phil’s mental state is going to take her next, though.