In Switched at Birth, ‘Tree of Forgiveness,’ everyone seems lonely and desperate to connect with something, no matter how wrong for them that thing may eventually be.
The big story of the night is Bay’s renewed commitment to her art, and the length’s she’ll go to be a part of the street art gang she recently encountered. Sadly, most shows would have dropped Bay’s passion for the illegal and risqué for something more conveniently artistic, but Switched at Birth has thankfully stuck to its guns and allowed Bay’s enthusiasm to become something much more active to the storyline. Now inducted into the group and, crucially, accepted by their leader, Bay has something to root for in Emmett’s absence even if you can tell it’s going nowhere good.
But her father still doesn’t understand, and seems intent on never making the effort to. John Kennish has been written this way from the beginning, not bothering to learn ASL when his biological daughter came back into his life, pressuring Toby to become a sports star like him, or taking little interest in Bay’s passions. Here, it turns hostile, and the graffiti on his wall has a bad effect on his and Bay’s tentative father/daughter relationship. After stewing on their argument for most of the episode, a quick pep talk from Emmett urges Bay to confront him, confessing all about her street art habit. Needless to say it doesn’t have the bonding effect she was hoping for.
But a father/daughter unit that makes some progress this week is that between Daphne and Angelo, a strained dynamic that Switched at Birth thankfully hasn’t been tempted to gloss over. We learnt of Daphne’s resentment towards her father earlier in the season but, since Angelo has made a return, we haven’t spent much time on her reaction. This is the man who abandoned her as a young child, and Daphne was convinced for years afterwards that it was because of her deafness. Now he wants to make amends she just isn’t having it, and most viewers really can’t blame her. Eventually, due to an unfortunate incident with a nail gun, the pair end up spending the day together, but the damage is far from repaired.
Elsewhere, the ramifications of Emmett’s dalliance with Simone are still being felt. Toby has seemed to take a back seat since the big reveal and this week we got to see just how badly he’s really coping. If we think about it, Toby was dealt the worst hand since it was both his sister and his girlfriend involved. He had every right to lash out at Emmett a couple of weeks ago but now seems adrift in his own hopelessness. With Wilke gone, his typically interfering mother is worried he could be neglecting his music, and signs his up for a church sing-song. Reluctant at first, we’re treated to a Lucas Grabeel crooning session (did anyone else has High School Musical flashbacks?) and he and Kathryn share a rare, sweet moment.
Another character we haven’t seen too much of lately is Emmett, who might have been granted a perky new love interest this week in the form of Robin. Still holding out for a reunion with Bay, he’s reluctant to begin something new but, after a little push in the right direction from Daphne, seems to accept the impulse to move on. Fans of the relationship will no doubt be devastated by this development, but I can’t see this new girl standing in the way of true love for long. Bay and Emmett actually exchange a few civil, almost kind, words this week, and their scenes together seem to be paving the way for an end-of-season reconciliation. For now, Robin seems perfect for him, and I’m interested to see where it goes.
And this is where Switched at Birth has distanced itself from its lesser peers, making a potentially melodramatic love square into a true exploration of all sides. Not only do we understand Bay, Toby and Emmett’s side of the story, but we glimpse what the whole affair has been doing to Simone, too. Most other teen drama’s would have made the former Queen Bee character into a pantomime villain, but Simone has always been more layered than that, and a stolen moment with Regina proves how hard she’s taking the mass vilification at school. I really hope the character returns full time, and teen alcoholism is definitely something we don’t see tackled enough in these shows.
A lot of relationships were repaired this week, but Bay’s new friendship with the leader of the street-art gang seems to be distancing her from friends and family. I’m fascinating to see where this new path takes her, but let’s hope it’s back into Emmett’s arms sooner rather than later.