Hello, and welcome to AfterEllen’s recaps of The Family. This is not a super gay show, but we do have a lesbian (or is she?!?) character who may become important. So heads up: We may be doing some glossing over to scenes that are not so much relevant to her. But hey, there’s plenty of fun to be had!
We start with a frantic search through old evidence boxes. A policewoman who we’ll learn is Nina Meyer tells you that in every career, there’s the case that makes you and the case that breaks you. And sometimes those are the same case. She comes up with a ship in a bottle.
A barefoot boy walks along a deserted highway and oh, good, we’re in for a treat. If you’ve seen the opening to the noir classic Kiss Me Deadly or the opening to the French classic Diva, you know that if you see someone barefoot in a non-barefoot transportation scenario, you are in for some awesome dark craziness. Let’s do this.
Our barefoot young man comes up to the outskirts of a town that my brain is insisting on reading as Red Vines, but it’s Red Pines, Maine.
Now it’s 10 years ago, and get used to flipping back and forth in time. We’re at a terrible campaign event for Claire Warren (the always terrific Joan Allen), who is running for City Council and seems to be pretty bad at it. Two of her kids, Danny and Willa, are helping out, but the youngest, Adam, is staring at a SHIP IN A BOTTLE! I thought we’d have to wait for that, but no: Bango, ship in a bottle, right up top.
Claire’s husband John is sweet and supportive, and Danny wants to bail because teenager. Willa is totally into campaigning and rules and is basically Leslie Knope. Dad checks in with Adam to admire the ship he built, and Adam tells him that there’s no crew because it’s a ghost ship and also because this is a day of creepy omens. Dad finds that adorable.
The kids leave, Mom tells them super casually to watch Adam, and Danny immediately peaces out while Adam walks up to the scariest ice cream truck in all creation. It might as well be dripping hatchets.
Back in the present, the barefoot boy has hit a gas station and needs a ride into town.
Back in the past–but not enough in the past to know what happened during a crucial few minutes–Danny makes out with a girl in the rain as Willa gets more and more desperate to find Adam. A worried Willa turns, police lights flash on her face, and now we’re in the middle of search squads at the picnic area, and then we fade to the desperate family sitting at home. It’s a really well-done shorthand for the awful stages of a child search. The family is already at a breaking point as the two older siblings try to throw blame and their parents scream at them.
(Psst. In a fast, angry aside, Danny tells Willa she wouldn’t even know what making out is because she’s a “freak of nature.” Five bucks on Willa having some ladyfeelings she’s not dealing with.)