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Switched at Birth - "Four Ages in Life" - Review




Last week, “Switched at Birth” took a break after delivering a powerhouse episode as the halfway mark of its final and fifth season two weeks ago. In “Four Ages in Life,” we see the trickling impacts the fight against campus racism but the plot remains rooted with our central protagonists. The episode also sets us up nicely for next Tuesday, when the show will air its big 100th episode.

I'm so proud of "Switched at Birth" for reaching this lovely benchmark. The show has had its ups and downs, mostly ups, and it's been eye-opening for so many reasons, mainly for representing the deaf community in mainstream media like no other. The characters have always felt grounded and real, their stories have been rooted in culture and breaking societal norms. I'm excited to see not just what the 100th episode but what the final four episodes will bring our way.

Before that, lets dive into all that happened in "Four Ages in Life," which brought back the attention to the lives of Kansas' finest family.

Bay:

For a pleasant change, we don’t really revisit her complicated love triangle with Emmett and Travis. Instead, the focus is on her budding career as a tattoo artist. After finding out that her boss Noelle stole her falcon design, Bay asks Toby for advice. This leads to a short but sweet scene with the siblings — Daphne included — that I’ve missed. I don’t remember the last time three of them had a great moment together! More of that as we wind down, please.

She confronts Noelle, who admits that she borrowed Bay’s design because she was tired one evening and a customer was demanding something new and fresh. Bay thinks it's only fair that she get her own chair now, especially if her work is good enough to be borrowed. Our girl is determined to take a stand. Noelle allows her to get her own clients but she has to pay the $300 weekly fee, no holds barred.

Obviously, all the customers who walk in or call demand to be inked by Noelle because she's the one running the salon. However, when a seemingly young-looking kid walks in and narrates a sob story about wanting a tattoo to honor his dead father, Bay checks his I.D. and convinces him to let her be the one to do the tattoo, despite knowing he's underage. Turns out, the boy (he’s only 15), tattooed a gang sign on his arm and his father walks in later, demanding an explanation. Bay quickly handles the situation by drawing some more on the arm and making the ink seem like a flower, almost. And the day has been saved! Looks like Bay can continue working there.

We didn’t see much of Travis/Emmett and that’s okay. Bay is a wonderful artist and clearly, very passionate, so I want there to be stories about her work.

Daphne:

Much like Bay, Daphne also focused on her career this episode. But let’s face it: it’s Daphne! There has to be a complicated relationship involved. She gets to work at the clinic as a volunteer for extra credit and who’s her supervisor, you ask? It’s her old mentor Dr. Jackson. While you may think there’s no way this ends well, because the last time she saw him, he fired her for stealing. Dr. Jackson, however, is actually happy to see her and train her again. Angelo had died and Daphne was suffering, so he understood her actions but she did have to face the consequences.

Meanwhile, Iris is still avoiding Mingo, much like the rest of the campus. He’s quite tired of apologizing and wonders how he’ll ever get back to normal. His first step in that direction? Some crazy day of drinking and bar hopping. This lands him at the clinic for a broken arm. Dr. Jackson accidentally prescribes the wrong medication, which could have potentially killed Mingo. Daphne discovers this and finally confronts him about it plus other stuff she notices, like his shaking hands and memory loss. At first, he’s pissed at her for interfering but later on, when she suggests an alternative career option such as teaching his skills, he warms up to her again. Where did that advice come from? The ever-wise Toby. He references to his own musical career. He thought it would be hard to give it up and be a stay-at-home dad for Carlton but its actually been good for him and his music.

When she hears about Mingo performing an insane bike stunt as he’s drunk, she runs to stop him. Minho confesses that the only reason he’s doing it is to change his reputation from racist guy to crazy guy. Hmm, not much of a solution there, my friend. Daphne’s support turns into a full-on kiss. They both want to rekindle their romance, it seems, but Mingo’s silence when asked if he’ll break up with his girlfriend Amy first is enough for Daphne to tell him nothing will happen between them. I’m very glad she took this decision instead of jumping the gun with Mingo. I love him and I do want them together but I want it done right.

In the closing moments, Daphne returns to the clinic and meets Ally (Tristin Mays), a patient who had come in earlier. Ally tells Daphne she knows her. She recently had a heart transplant and her donor was none other than Angelo! Aw man, I know he'll return for the 100th episode so they set it up nicely but it's going to an emotional ride.

Regina:

Talk about a love affair and work problems, because Regina has stories about both. She talks to Luca about possibly expanding The Cracked Mug. On cue, he knows a private investor ho would be happy to help out. Of course, she wants to meet him, she says. Later, a customer, Alex, bonds with Regina by talking about his hometown and such. Luca walks in and we realize Alex is his father and the potential investor. Regina is definitely surprised, boyfriend’s parents and all. She gives them both of them the tour and just as she begins talking about the business, Luca takes their leave.

Alex is happy with Regina’s ideas and wants to look over the expansion proposal. Before he leaves, he takes a chance and asks her out. Awkward! Or at least Regina’s face screams that word. She confesses to her relationship with Luca and he tells her that Luca is the actual investor, not him. Apparently, he lied to both of them. He doesn't give her much of a chance to be mad, though, because when confronted, he tells her he believes in the business. The money came from a will and he’s been wisely investing in businesses. The Cracked Mug is the perfect opportunity. After thinking about it all night, though, Regina tells him she has to do this on her own. Her whole life, she’s relied on everyone else to help out. This time, it's all bets on her. Finally, she’s getting some traction, and her story doesn’t revolve around some explicit affair. Luca is a good man. Is he “the one” for her? Who knows. He’s the one for her right now, at least.

John and Kathryn:

After spending all season concentrating their story around sports, we finally circle back to their marriage. These two provide the comic relief of sorts this episode but even that’s done meaningfully. She walks in on John watching porn and boldly talks to him about it while he’s all shy. Say hello to the male ego, always the overbearing under-performer. Anyway, after she tries to pick up the pace of their sex life and he opts to watch TV instead, she [rightfully] gets pissed. He tells her that he’s experiencing some problems down there and she suggests doctor visits. Instead, he runs into Luca and talks to him about it. Yeah, not weird at all. By the end, after sipping on some tea and reliving their good ol’ days, all seems to be right in their world again. J & K, always the true ship of the show?

What did you think of the episode? Are you ready for the big 100th episode next week, which features the return of Gilles Marini as Angelo? What are your hopes for our characters in the last 4 episodes. Let us know in the comments.

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