After Christina Applegate opens the episode self-identifying as an atheist, I guess I turned on the religiosity radar. Or did I? Because the Christian imagery is everywhere this episode. Woo-loving spiritual White lady Linda Cardellini takes the cross she and Applegate find at the dead husband’s accident site and puts it up in her bedroom. Troubled sons Sam McCarthy and Luke Roessler both find comfort at the Christian church where Applegate doesn’t want them to go—Roessler in the gay friendly dance choir.
There are also these weird optics to the police detective Diana Maria Riva, who it turns out didn’t do her job investigating the husband’s death. Weird the only Latinx woman, who’s also the only cast member not rail-thin and is mean to Applegate turns out to be shitty at her job. Of course, not even Cardellini’s sort of boyfriend Brandon Scott (who’s real good) figures out how to crack the case before Cardellini.
And now Cardellini has got herself into a whole bunch of trouble—sadly, the episode doesn’t really get into how she’s feeling about it outside reaction shots, which is sort of “Dead to Me”’s problem; it’s entirely about the interiority of its cast and can’t figure out how to visualize any of it.
But it’s all getting very real. The cliffhanger is very intense and big things are seemingly about to happen, which are going to be absolutely devastating.
The main plot of the episode is McCarthy dealing his dead dad’s pills at school and Roessler freaking out on the school choir. Then there’s a whole gun subplot, which has Applegate hating guns—as much as she hates Jesus—so will she end the series a gun-and-Bible toting Mama Bear?
I mean, it’s probably more realistic than what they’re going for now. But we’ll see.
Director Minkie Spiro tones down the bad, intentionally awkward composition but there’s still some of it.