Tight Rope Walker
Original Air Date: Feb 25, 2013
Karen Belgrad – Senior Editor
Next week may be the all-ASL episode that ABC Family is touting as groundbreaking, but this week’s installment was definitely nothing to sneeze at (even though I have a horrid cold right now!). Once again, the show deftly mixes deaf culture with relationship drama and comes off the better for it.
The nifty thing about Switched At Birth is that you often forget that the show is actually educating you. It’s easy to think of shows where they used symbolism to drive their points home, but this one does not tiptoe around its central issue of how the deaf community is expected to adapt to the hearing world. Which brings us to our main story of the evening…
Carlton School For The Deaf: We’ve known since the cut the basketball program last season that the school is in dire financial straits. And it’s been stated that the hearing pilot program was launched with the expectation of bringing in more cash flow. But what was glossed over is that a pilot program is testing ground for launching a full program. And now that it’s come to that, the students, led by Melody, are up in arms. Katherine is surprisingly clueless as to why they are against the pilot program expanding, for as much as she’s learned sign language to communicate with Daphne, she hasn’t really grasped what it means to be deaf. Melody enlightens her, telling her that it’s about the freedom for the deaf students to be themselves, not to spend their days worrying where they fit in the hearing world. Katherine still doesn’t get it, but Melody’s speech empowers Daphne to speak at the school board, where she talks about feeling like the hearing kids are invading her “home, within the sanctuary of Carlton. She also gets a dig in about how the board found money to pay for sports equipment for hearing schools, but it’s not enough to sway the board. She later tells Katherine that board has decided to close Carlton and disperse its students amongst the other schools in the district.
Melody/Emmett: Melody and Emmett get more screen time this hour than we’ve seen of either lately, so I wanted to make sure to call them out. Hopefully this a trend of including Emmett in plots that extended beyond his love life with Bay. This week, while he and Melody are bickering over his tardiness to school and other minutia, he begins to notice the interest (academically speaking) that his mother has taken in Travis. In fact, despite his lack of financial or home stability, Melody tries to make Travis see what the future can hold, including encouraging him to apply to Gallaudet University. Emmett is initially a little jealous, but when he learns of Travis’s home situation from Daphne, he suggests to Melody that they invite Travis to move in with them. Travis may be on the calm side right now, but I’m guessing, with his anger issues, this may not end well.
Regina/Bay: After her encounter last episode with a clearly drunk Regina, Bay wastes no time in going to Daphne with her suspicions. But Daphne doesn’t want to hear it, assuming she knows her mother well enough that she would recognize the signs. Regina thwarts Bay’s attempts to go to the jazz club, so Bay suggests a dinner with Noah, Zane, and Daphne. Zane arrives with a bottle of wine, which sends up red flags for Bay, but everyone else shrugs it off as him not knowing her history. Bay takes it upon herself to visit Zane at the club, where she gets confirmation of Regina’s drinking and tells Zane that her bio-mother is an alcoholic. Zane brings it up to Regina and tells her he doesn’t want to be a bad influence. But it sets Regina off where she tears into Bay and admonishes her to stay out of her business. Within a few hours though, Regina crawls back to Bay and apologizes, admitting that embarrassed and humiliated by her slip. She apologizes profusely, and vows to call her sponsor and attend meetings, but asks Bay to keep this between them. Bay agrees, which is immediately apparent as a mistake, as Regina calls her sponsor, but deletes the voicemail she was leaving without sending it.
-Toby continues to hang around Elisa Sawyer, but is off put by her wild ways, including stealing money from her mother. John encourages Toby to do whatever he does for the right reasons, with the right person. This gives Toby motivation to reach out to Nikki for a reconciliation, pointing out that he does have faith… in their relationship.
-Noah likes ATV-riding and country music. Bay likes art house films. Daphne is now playing Juliet opposite Noah’s Romeo. And they both like basketball. Raise your hand if you see where this is going…
Episode Title Art: Tight-Rope Walker by Jean Louis Forain
And there you have my TwoCents! Be sure to share your TwoCents, comments, and feedback below!