Switched at Birth, “Portrait of My Father” (1.03)

An image of Daphne's phone-interpreter.

A review of the popular new drama’s third episode, written by Becky Hartman Edwards and directed by Michael Shultz, after the jump…

With this episode, we see even more complication and development within the family structure, as well as a bit of class discussion in the Bay/Ty plot. While that plot was largely uninteresting, as I find myself not really connecting to their romance (or, in most scenes, Bay and Ty as characters), I really enjoyed the rest of the episode.

The Regina/Kathryn and John/Daphne dynamics were the heart and soul of this episode, and both moved forward nicely. The episode did a good job of showing how both Kathryn and Regina are trying to build a relationship, and the problems in their dynamic that will lead to, say, both becoming defensive before fixing a communication error. Kathryn is trying to connect with Daphne and Regina in her own way, which includes buying Daphne a boatload of clothes and finding Regina a better-paying job. Meanwhile, Regina is holding her tongue and being more open to Kathryn being involved in their lives, even if their parenting strategies thankfully weren’t a bone of contention this week.

And the episode introduced Marlee Matlin as Emmet’s mother and Daphne’s basketball coach, bridging the line between the two storylines. Though she doesn’t play a huge role in moving this episode around, she a big – and welcome – presence to the series. I’m a big fan of Matlin‘s, and am happy to see she’ll likely be around for a long while.

The best part of the episode was watching both John and Daphne move from somewhat 2-dimensional characters to 3-dimensional. Daphne has bee great to watch, but other than her feelings about the conflict in her life, has largely been immensely positive and nice. And that goes double when she;s with the Kennishes. So seeing her get rankled about John getting overinvested in her basketball career was a wonderful chance to get under her skin, as was her rather ugly dismissal of the well-meaning Liam. Meanwhile, we’ve seen that John has immediately taken to Daphne as his daughter, but his conflict has largely been with Regina, so it was nice to both see him have some conflict with his newest child, and some self-awareness about his pushiness. This was the episode where Daphne’s relationship with her biological father moved from ‘nice and occasionally heartwarming’ to ‘real’.

Overall, an enjoyable episode exploring more of the complexities of the premise. I’m still a bit worried about its longevity, but it’s got a really strong cast of characters and the writing is really aware of its characters’ psychological inner lives, so I’m slowly becoming less and less worried with each week.

4 Responses to “Switched at Birth, “Portrait of My Father” (1.03)”
  1. Ariel says:

    How can you not love Bay/Ty? I cried in the Axe Girl scene!

    • R. Lackie says:

      I’m not sure. I’ve loved Vanessa Marano elsewhere, and I understand Bay as a character, but her abrasive personality has me at arms length. That said! In the latest ep, “Dogs Playing Poker”, both were pretty fantastic.

  2. Lizzy Weiss says:

    This is Lizzy Weiss, the creator of the show. So glad you are enjoying it and writing about it so articulately. Speaking on behalf of all of the writers, it’s always gratifying to read intelligent and thoughtful analysis of our work. n


    • R. Lackie says:

      Hi! Really pleased you stopped by, Lizzy! As a someday TV writer, I know how invaluable properly dedicated responses to our writing is, and how it feels when someone really engages with it. I’m really happy that you found your way here!

      After getting behind a couple weeks, I wasn’t sure whether I’d keep it up with the in-depth episodic reviews, despite having plenty to say. I think you may have changed my mind. I love the show, and I love how tight a grasp every episode so far has had on the characters’ psychologies without being too obvious about things, so there’s always stuff to talk about here. Any time you have something to say, or a response to a review (or to correct me if I get it all wrong!), feel free to stop by and comment. You’ve really made our day.

      – Bob

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