I've finally started to watch the second-season DVDs of Once & Again, after a too-long break in between my re-watching of the first season last summer. My lengthy, perhaps too-lengthy--post on that first season is here. As I go through the second season, I thought I'd try and post about episodes as I see them, rather than go the full-season-in-one-long-post approach again. So let's begin.
Episode 1 - "Little Girl Lost"
The second-season premiere was not what I remembered. The first season left off with the full two families -- Rick, Lily and all four kids -- getting together for the first time, with the last shot of that last episode a shot of Lily and her kids opening the door for Rick and his kids. I could have sworn that the second season picked up right at that moment, but my memory is, it would seem, faulty. The episode actually picks up a few months later, with a new school year beginning. Eli is a senior, Grace a sophomore, and Jessie a freshman. It had been established in the first season that Jessie was in seventh grade, so it would seem that she had skipped a grade, a fact they allude to but never really address or confirm explicitly. My guess is that they wanted to have all three older kids in the same school, but didn't want to really get into any "the perils of skipping a grade" stories, so tried to have their cake an eat it too--and for the most part, they succeeded.
At first, I was a bit worried--the story seemed pretty dry and uneventful, lots of stuff about Jessie being scared at starting a new school, and some light comedy with Rick and Lily getting caught in the morning by her kids having fallen asleep on the couch. But soon enough I was reminded of how great this show truly was. The entire core storyline, which deals with Grace and Jessie's difficulties in being forced together at school and in their lives, was simple, basic stuff, but the emotions and complications they wrought out of it were superb. Once again, we see a real issue not being actually solved--at the end of the ep, Jessie's problems aren't anwhere near resolved. And once again we get an insightful, painfully honest look at divorce, as Rick tells Jessie at the end that his new life will impact hers, and not always in a positive way, and that he wishes he could make that not the case but that he can't. Campbell and Wood, as Rick and Jessie, completely shine in this episode, with Wood's acting during a spoiled Monopoly game between Jessie, Grace, and Zoey a particular highlight.
Episode 2. "Booklovers"
A Judy-centric episode, with Judy starting up a singles club at her bookstore to drum up business. The idea for the singles thing is inspired (were I single I'd easily go to something like this--a singles bar at a bookstore, basically, where everyone wears nametags listing their favorite book), but the real heat in the episode comes from the interactions between Lily and Judy. Lily's epiphany at the end, when she realizes that a very real, very substantial piece of her wants her sister to fail, is handled brilliantly, and is the kind of uncomfortable but very, very honest character trait that this show positively excels at highlighting.
Very much looking forward to the rest of this season.