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Frequency - Seven Three - Review: “Two Sides To Every Story”

Frequency keeps delivering one strong episode after another. This is yet another show - in a long unfortunate line - that shows how incomparable ratings are to quality. The quality of this show is impressive as it tackles this complex world week after week allowing the viewers into the lives of these multi-dimensional characters. There are friends and foes and everything is in a constant state of flux. Time isn’t fixed in the universe of this show, leaving it completely open to manipulation. While the ratings may not tell that story it is the truth of the matter. This is a series worthy of finding its way onto the lineup of even the most stringent of television watchers. At its core, this is a series about a family struggling to deal with all the obstacles time keeps throwing at them. There aren’t any big grand time escapades just realistic scenarios. The characters exist where they exist, forever separated by the constraints of time, yet they are very resourceful people who are learning to deal with the obstacles before them. This episode tackled what father and daughter will do in order to be there for each other without actually being able to physically be there. It also finally allowed series leads, Riley Smith and Peyton List, to share significant time on the screen together. This was a slightly different format this week yet it thrived on the strength of the chemistry between Smith and List.

That’s the thing about this show, it is very aware that it has a strong cast and plays to their strengths. Whatever this show throws at them they embrace the challenge and charge forward with it. If you listen closely enough you can tell that List was either sick or getting over being sick, because her voice cracks throughout with obvious effort by the actress to cover it as much as possible as she strained to keep her voice even, yet you would never be able to tell based on her performance alone. While every episode heavily involves her , this one required just a little extra from her. Not only did she have to deliver in the 2016 timeline, but she also had to tackle 2008 as the show delved into Raimy’s first day on the job across two different versions of the same event. Everything List did she had to do twice and to challenge her, even more, she had to maintain similar mannerisms in both versions with two different scene partners. She doesn’t falter, not a single time. The same goes for every member of this cast. These writers are smart and to fully materialize the words of smart writers requires very gifted performers. Frequency has talent in spades across all aspects of the production. If I have to complain about one thing about this episode it’s that Gordo isn’t in it. I started off expecting he’d be the character I wouldn’t like yet he fast became a favorite. He helps break up all the darkness circling around Raimy. Still, even though I missed him, I do understand why he wasn’t in the episode. It was jam-packed and there just simply wasn’t room for everyone. With that said, I look forward to his hilarious return next week.

Raimy may need him more than ever given that the loyalty of one of her closest confidants may be coming into question. Satch is either playing Stan in a very impressive way or he’s more entrenched in the whole conspiracy than we could have ever realized. In the span of a single episode, he went from a character I was desperate would learn Raimy and Frank’s secret to one that I hope never finds out. He went from trustworthy to questionable before the close of the episode. While I wanted to hate the fact that the writers called his loyalty into question it actually ended up being a brilliant move for the writers to make him a conflicted character. He seems to genuinely have a soft spot for the Sullivan family, but somehow he got into bed with the Devil. I’m very curious to see how Satch’s divided loyalty impacts things in the weeks to come. Raimy is already starting to question him, so it’ll be very interesting to see her reaction if she finds out he’s been talking to Stan behind her back. Now, there is always the off possibility this will be a double cross with Satch secretly working his own angle to try and help take down Stan. However, with each passing indication of connectivity between these two characters the odds of that possibility diminish. I have to give props to Mekhi Phifer for the nuances in his performance that make it tricky to determine the truth behind what Satch is up to.

That’s the thing about Frequency, every character has a very layered story. Just when the viewer thinks they have something figured out there is something thrown in to upend everything. These characters are ever changing forcing the audience to keep up with their evolution. It’s a brilliant writing strategy that not only encourages audience attention but demands it. The writers have yet to get bogged down with any of the characters stuck in a rut. Each week they are evolving, keeping not only character growth moving but challenging the audience to think about what caused those changes.

Part of the beauty of this story is that at any given time one small tweak in Frank’s time can cause massive alterations to Raimy’s time. While Frank’s time is a bit more fixed Raimy’s is always subject to change. That allows for cool and unique cases like this episode presented. For the first time since the series began, we were finally allowed to see Raimy interact with her dad as an adult. It was also a major test for the onscreen chemistry of both Smith and List. In real life, they are very close in age as well as longtime friends. While List was able to expertly pull off the mother to daughter bond with Devin Kelley I wasn’t sure how the real life friendship between List and Smith would translate. When you get a dynamic like this in such a unique situation the fear is justified to worry that the performers won’t be able to pull off that unique familial bond. Thankfully, in this case, the fear was totally unwarranted. The makeup and wardrobe teams brilliantly transformed each performer to reflect the older or younger age this episode demanded of them. The moment these two stepped into the same frame together they each immediately exuded the appropriate reactions. Smith, who already gives off a very fatherly energy, managed to hold that in place opposite List. He treated her as a father would treat his daughter and used the appropriate vocal tones to convey fatherly worry and stern protectiveness. For List, she perfectly captured the energy of a young woman under the thumb of a father whose protection she thinks she has outgrown. The problem is, no matter how old we are or what our profession is, our parents are always going to be there trying to protect us whether we like it or not. And, that is the dynamic that List perfectly captured as Raimy tried to break free from her father’s shadow. She acted young yet seasoned, naive yet smart, and scared yet brave. In those moments she perfectly captures Raimy’s evolution across time from the young girl with a hero detective for a father to a young woman trying to carve out her own legacy. Together they brought to life the heartwarming relationship between these two. I hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of scenes of them together.

While their scenes together were amazing the show decided to show what that day was like for Raimy without her dad. That then forced List to shift scene partners from Smith to Anthony Ruivivar (Stan Moreno). I must admit that while I have a large dislike of Stan I am enthralled by Ruivivar’s performances. He has nailed the little nuances that make Stan so unpredictably horrible. Because of Stan’s general darkness, I was expecting some pretty big differences in his scenes with Raimy versus Frank’s. The contrast wasn’t as grand as I had expected, but that was perfectly instituted to show the great deceptive abilities of Stan Moreno. I am quite curious as to why Stan took such an interest in Raimy in the original timeline. After all, he had her father killed when she was just a kid. Was his taking her under his guidance a sign of a guilty conscious or was he trying to see if he could sway her to his side? No one can argue that Frank was and is a good detective so perhaps Stan was hoping to corrupt Raimy early in her career. What he underestimated is that Julie and Frank raised a strong and moral daughter who just wants to do good in the world. She’s definitely not going to make things easy on Stan now that she’s onto him.

I didn’t think Frank and Raimy could get any more creative after their sketch description across time, but Frank upped the game by figuring out how to get the physical case file into Raimy’s hands by leaving it to sit in his garage for twenty years. With these two working together it’s only a matter of time before they can find a way to corner Stan. The curious thing about Stan is that while he stands to lose a lot I don’t for a second believe he is the top of the whole conspiracy. I do believe he answers to someone, so whoever it is could be a much bigger threat than even Stan himself. Raimy has always been someone he has been cautious of, but after this case, I feel like she has a big target painted on her. The fight between these two is sure to escalate over the coming weeks especially now that he believes she is in custody of the file. Stan couldn’t have picked a worse family to mess with because they will fight to bring him down.

This was a Raimy heavy episode with a large focus on her side of the story, but the writers have perfected the art of giving equal time to both sides of the timeline. Last week Frank got more focus yet Raimy still got her time to shine. It was the reverse this week, yet Frank definitely got some great moments. Hands down the most heart-wrenching scene of the entire episode occurred in his time. When Julie confronted Frank over his earlier outburst it was obvious things weren’t going to go well. Then she dropped the big bombshell that their marriage was over. The truly sad part is that it was so evident how much she still loves him, but as a mother, her first priority always has to be her daughter. She felt this was the best way to protect her daughter. I’m sure the irony of that revelation wasn’t lost on anyone. What really stood out here were the emotionally powerful performances by both Smith and Kelley. She came in with such a resigned energy that it made it clear that Julie really didn’t want to do what she came to do. Yet at the same time, she sold Julie’s commitment to this painful decision. The acting here was perfectly done. It was even more impressive since she had to deliver half of her performance to Smith’s back yet she somehow still managed to capture the power of the special bond their characters will always share. For Smith’s part, the tears were the clincher of the whole scene. Frank is a man who has been given a second chance at life and even with it he still couldn’t figure out how to get his family a second chance to be together. He loves Julie with everything in him yet there is only so much he can do. At that moment it was all out of his hands and he knew it. It’s all the more tragic knowing that Julie’s days are numbered and it’s evident how helpless he’s feeling over still not knowing who the Nightingale is. It was stunning acting by both of these performers who deserve kudos for their work in this scene.

From start to finish this episode hit all the right points. This show has yet to deliver anything that wouldn’t rank high on the perfection scale. The people involved are proud of the show, the actors are fighting for their show, and the fans adore it because it is a show worthy of pride, hope, and admiration. As to what its future holds no one really knows. Its ratings are steady but not great, but on the CW steady might just be enough. The bottom line is fans can’t stop talking about this show because we have to get the word out about it so that this show can keep telling its grand story of hope across time. These gifted writers and phenomenal performers have so much story left to tell, so let’s help them get the chance to do so. Frequency can’t be a one and done series. A show this good can’t meet an early end, it would be a television tragedy. Spread the word about this show and help prevent that future.

Be sure to watch next Wednesday, November 9th at 9/8C on the CW.

Hit the comments with your thoughts about this episode. Did you like the dual memory exploration? Did you like the way Frank got the case file to Raimy in the future? Do you think Satch is truly helping Stan or working as a double cross for Team Sullivan?