A son returns, the past gets paroled, Jenn discovers the source of her illness, and Lizzie clears her name in the first part of this season's two-part finale. This episode had a good flow/rhythm to it and was somewhat reminiscent of shows from earlier seasons, in terms of the feel and quality of the writing.
The Past Not Forgotten
So Cassie's innocent New York escapade was revealed, albeit, not so innocently. Her posing for Julian turned out to be a mistake, as she thought he was taking shots of her having fun, when in reality, he videotaped their photography session, edited the video to make it seem sensual, and then posted it on the internet. Of course, Charles sees the video on the net and goes ballistic, upset with Cassie for lying about where she was and whom she was with the night this took place. He was already worried and upset about Cassie's leaning towards applying to art school in NY rather than sticking to the plans they had originally agreed on-- of them attending schools in the area so they could be together. Once he found out about Julian, he kicked Cassie out of his apartment. Later, Sage informs Cassie that on the night in question, Charles stayed at her apartment. Although he slept on the couch, he still hadn't let Cassie know that's where he was, and so he was guilty of omission just as she was. Cassie confronted him at his apartment and informed him that she was applying to Pratt regardless of whether he was coming with her or not. A level-headed Charles met Cassie in school the next day, apologizing for how he overreacted, but also for holding her back from her dreams. He told Cassie that he felt some time apart may do them good, and although he was not talking break-up, the thought of being apart from one another overwhelmed them, and with tears in their eyes, they hugged before walking away.
The Past Returns
Syd Glass, who held Cassie and Charles captive in the Sutton's home in season 3, called Eddie to inform him that she was up for parole. She let him know that she never intended to hurt his family, had dealt with her anger issues, and asked if he would speak to the parole board on her behalf. Eddie learned that while serving her sentence, she got her GED and was teaching art classes to other inmates. He showed up to the hearing, and after listening to her statement, was convinced that she was sincere in her apology and was a changed individual. Although the parole hearing officer told him that she would not be allowed to come near him and his family, Eddie informed them that he would be seeing alot of her, since he found some money that she may be able to help him determine the owner of. Lizzie showed Syd a diary, she'd found in the attic, that belonged to Syd's aunt. The aunt had Alzheimer's and wasn't able to remember anything to assist in the investigation, but when looking through a scrapbook, Syd located a picture of a man that was not in the family. Once Eddie got information on who the man was-- a Mr. Crawford-- and where he lived, he and Syd paid him a visit. Mr. Crawford was not forthcoming with his connection to the family or the money, only indicating that they were "looking a gift-horse in the mouth." At the end of the epi, Syd got frustrated with their lack of progress and left the Suttons a note to let them know she had gone.
Nate Ray came back shell-shocked from the war. He worked in logistics and was in charge of letting his troop know where the enemy was located based on intel intercepted from their radio communications. Unfortunately, we discover that the strike that resulted in him being injured and sent home- as well as the injuries of five other soldiers and the death of two others- was not thwarted because he gave the wrong directive. The radio he used gave out suddenly. All the men around him were saying they should abort the mission, but he felt they should follow the orders given and clear out the area. Unfortunately, he didn't realize the enemy had moved from their original location and they were blindsided. Nathan brought the radio back with him to fix, but also, because he couldn't let go of the guilt for what he felt he had caused. It was touching to see Tay's support and loyalty for his brother, which was a stark contrast to the contempt and disregard he had for Nate earlier this season. In an impromptu intervention (arising from Nate's having a flashback in the middle of the night), Eddie and Tay helped Nate release some of his guilt for what happened in Afghanistan. At the end of the epi, Eddie accompanies Nate to the VA hospital, where he begins treatment and counseling.
Lizzie & Andy: The Dynamic Duo
When Lizzie first started high-school earlier this season, she was tricked by the school's mean girls into sending an embarrassing text to her then-enemy-now-high-school bestie, Sylvia. Although she and Sylvia have long since cleared the air, the mean girls dug up the skeletons, and in a sadistic attempt to get Lizzie out of the school play, threatened Sylvia with revealing photos they said they'd share with the entire school of her with her ex-boyfriend. Her mother saw their threatening text, as well as Lizzie's old one that they sent to frame her, and reported her to the principal. Through a little P.I. work (and with Andy in tow) Lizzie discovered that the mean girls didn't actually have any photos of Sylvia; located where Sylvia's mother had moved her; and along with Sylvia, convinced her mom that she was innocent. Sylvia accompanied Lizzie to school and informed the principal of what had transpired, and Lizzie & Andy were able to depict their burgeoning love onstage.
A Time To Heal
During her extended bed rest, Jenn was able to do a little investigative work of her own, via her laptop and phone, leading her to the discovery that several other people were being treated for the same illness that she and the dearly-departed Rhonda had, and it seemed they had all been to the clinic. Although she knew people wouldn't be able to receive treatment at the clinic until the source of the problem was discovered, Jenn knew she had to inform the CDC of her findings so the facility could be checked out. Further online research indicated that the illness originated from rat droppings. Jenn was able to determine that all the other people with the illness had been at the clinic, except Rhonda. In looking through items belonging to Rhonda, Jenn discovered a photo of her with Brianna, the little girl Eddie rescued from the drug house earlier this season. Jenn discovered that Rhonda also stayed there at one point, and an investigation revealed the drug house as the source of the illness. When the house was bulldozed, the droppings got in the soil and Jenn, along with some of the other people who helped plant the community garden there, were infected. Thankfully, the outcome of this ordeal was positive for Jenn and the others, as they were able to receive the treatment they needed, and the clinic was reopened.
I liked how they tied Brianna and the Community Garden, from the first epi, into the finale. It contributed to the continuity of the overall s/l this season, and showed that in life, seemingly unrelated events and experiences may actually be interconnected, and recognizing these relationships may be key in bringing about positive outcomes.
I wonder if Syd and Nate Ray are next season's new couple on Lincoln Heights? It just seemed kind of interesting that their s/l's coincided so that they were back at the Suttons at the same time, and they look to be around the same age...hmm...
There's something missing from Lizzie's "high-school experience" s/l...it just seems to be underdeveloped. I think it was best when Lizzie and Tay's school storylines overlapped, because they seemed to be more interesting that way. Regarding her relationship with Andy, I think they may need more screen time to familiarize the audience with Andy as a character and with them being together, because at this point it just seems rushed, and I'm still not really sensing the chemistry between them yet.
All in all, this epi was a significant improvement from those aired in recent weeks, and I enjoyed watching it. I was glad that I didn't have to wait long to watch the next episode, or part two of the season finale: "Lucky"...