Episode #2: “Sole Searching”
by Dan Tomasik
Jordi’s surgery has a hiccup, Leo struggles to belong, and Kara’s parents visit.
In several areas “Sole Searching” has improved upon its already impressive pilot (points for using a Queen song that hasn’t been in a hundred other shows/movies), but certain issues still remain. The most apparent is Charlie Rowe’s performance as Leo. Teen actors can be very hit or miss, and while Rowe does have some strong moments, he also has moments that feel forced, awkward, or corny. Fortunately, he is surrounded by experienced actors, both younger and older than him to learn from. He is by no means a bad actor, simply an actor with room for improvement.
On the positive end of the spectrum are the performances by Ciara Bravo (Emma), Zoe Levin (Kara), Rebecca Rittenhouse (Brittany), and Octavia Spencer. Miss Bravo owns her role as a smart, sweet, but fundamentally flawed teen with an eating disorder. It’s an unfortunate truth that some people can have all the answers to others’ problems but surrender to their own. Levin has managed to balance out Kara’s behavior as well. This time we are treated to a few moments of genuine human honesty. She’s still a cruel and selfish queen bee bitch, but intentionally showing weakness is a strong step in the right direction. On the staff end of things, Brittany gets to show off her tough side, with varying results. She’s still seems a little naive for someone with a nursing degree (her reaction to teens drinking is a bit silly), but in her own way she’s improving. As for Octavia Spencer... need it be said she’s still the absolute standout of this series? Whether it’s the wit, the drama, the harsh realities or the moments of kindness, Octavia Spencer can do no wrong. No one messes with Nurse Jackson.
The story is much more fractured this time around. Whereas last episode featured everyone in a group, this time everyone feels separated. Jordi is alone or unconscious most of the time, Leo is rebelling against Nurse Jackson, his illness and even Dash, Charlie has about 15 seconds with Jordi before losing him, and Dr. McAndrew can’t even say the thing that’s on his mind. On the female end Emma is mostly alone, lying to Brittany, or varying in her help/hate relationship with Kara, and then there’s Kara, who is surrounded by people who love her and yet completely alone.
One element in definite need of praise is the depiction of Kara’s moms. While same-sex parent couples aren’t as rare as they used to be, they’re still in short supply. As for a positive portrayal of a flawed lesbian couple, that’s a true marvel. Kara’s mothers are successful, supportive, and yet painfully neglectful of their daughter when she’s right in front of them. It’s such a fascinating depiction and offers insight into some of Kara’s issues. Emotionally detached support, it’s scary to think how much damage it can do to a kid.
Charlie Rowe needs to calm down, get to the heart of what he’s playing, or it’s going to continue feeling forced.
Less division, more interaction within our dysfunctional little family. It’s called Red Band Society, not Hospital.
Episode Score: 8.2