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Party of Five - 1.01 to 1.03 - Review: The Way the World Ends

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I don’t know much about the original Party of Five. I know the five Salinger children suffered the tragic death of their parents and learned to come together while dealing with all the things life threw at them. And I'm sure, it included some sweet 90s tunes.

The Freeform reboot takes the basic premise of the original, but roots the show in the social, cultural, and political issues of today, as well as tackling the at times painful realities of adolescence and young adulthood.

It’s hard to be brief when unpacking Party of Five episodes because so much happens, almost too much. Let’s start with some hopefully quick and dirty recaps of the first three episodes.

Pilot - Episode 1
The episode begins by introducing each of the Acostas. Emilio (Brandon Larracuente), the oldest, is heavily invested in his wanna be rockstar lifestyle. Lucia (Emily Tosta), Beto's twin, is hanging with friends but studying while they snap selfies. Beto (Niko Guardado) while on the bus with friends reveals that he’s been cut from the team because of his grades. Val (Elle Paris Legaspi) is with her parents, Gloria (Fernanda Urrejola) and Javier (Bruno Bichir), basking in their praise over being placed in 9th grade math as a 7th grader. Rafa, the youngest Acosta sibling, is with them.

Javier is warned that ICE is about to raid the restaurant and works to get all of his undocumented workers out of the building, but Javier and Gloria are the targets this time. Unable to produce citizenship papers they are handcuffed and taken away, leaving behind a crying Rafa and a pleading Val.

The house, restaurant, and family are in disarray with Gloria and Javier being detained. Emilio doesn't step up to become the adult in their lives until he’s left without a choice. He's called in to school by the principal because Lucia's school performance has plummeted, as have Beto’s grades. Emilio does eventually try to act as a parental figure to his younger siblings, but he gets push back from them.

Lucia’s behavior isn’t limited to poor academic performance and disrespecting teachers, she has also acquired new friends and a house party is the direct result. Meanwhile, Beto has stepped up as the de facto manager at the restaurant, including hiring a new hostess, Vanessa (Amanda Arcuri), a grad student in psychology. Her entire skill set seems to be Beto's crush on her rather than her qualifications.

At the detention center, the parents and children both put on brave faces. The parents pretending they are hopeful that the court ruling will go in their favor, and the children pretending they are sticking together and staying strong. Once their deportation is a sure thing, Javier and Gloria debate what would be best for Rafa - going with them or staying behind with his siblings. In the end, Rafa stays behind.

The Acosta children are on their own for the first time.

Margin of Error - Episode 2
Javier informs Emilio that Oscar (Mann Alfonso), the Acosta's longest standing employee and close family friend, steals a little bit from the nightly deposit. On a related note, Val finds a wad of money rolled up in one of Rafa’s socks. It turns out it was Gloria taking money from the nightly deposit. She was taking money to set aside for Emilio. Gloria’s secret is revealed only after Emilio insults Oscar who reacts by quitting his job. Emilio later makes amends and Oscar returns to the restaurant.

Val starts having nightmares about immigration and ICE. She also decides that prayer might bring the family the miracle they need—her parents deportation being reversed. Val's nightmares mean she starts waking Beto every night, sleeping next to him means she's able to sleep at night, but it means Beto isn't getting the sleep he needs.

Lucia is struggling with her parents' deportation. She is acting out by dumping old friends for trendy new ones. She has a confrontation with a former friend, which makes her miss a planned meeting with Beto. She was planning on giving him the answers to a test he was sure to fail.

Val introduces Lucia to Matthew (Garcia), a homeless teen. Matthew doesn't share much about himself with the Acosta sisters. At the moment, we know he's from back East and on his own.

After a few moments of flirting, Emilio and Vanessa hook up in the van after work.

Long Distance - Episode 3
This episode introduces Uncle Louie (Danny Nucci). Turns out he obtained the restaurant’s liquor license, but it’s costing the restaurant a significant portion of the bar receipt. Emilio gets the liquor license in his name then refuses to pay the remaining month’s money to Uncle Louie. Louie retaliates by calling in a false ICE alarm to the restaurant. It's a clear threat.

Beto hasn’t given up on Vanessa, but he doesn’t know that Emilio has started secretly sleeping with her. Beto overhears Vanessa’s voice during a call to Emilio and confronts him later that night. Despite knowledge of her relationship with Emilio, Beto still works to impress Vanessa. Beto attempts to assassinate Emilio’s character by telling Vanessa about his past with women.

Lucia works to get Matthew a job at the restaurant. Matthew isn’t just homeless, he let his DACA status expire and refuses to get it renewed, so he pays for an illegal Social Security number.

On the parent front, the kids start to worry when they don’t hear from their parents. Emilio finds out that Javier is still controlling the restaurant’s decisions from Mexico. He's also attempting to parent from Mexico, which leads to a fight with Emilio. Emilio calls him to mend fences and set ground rules. Beto lets Gloria know that she needs to talk to Val less often because it’s all she’s thinking about at the moment, which is fueling her nightmares and limiting her.

What I Loved:
Val’s testimony at her parents hearing was heartbreaking to watch, especially knowing the inevitable outcome.

Seeing Lucia as a burgeoning activist. I think she needs something to believe in, as well as a way to channel the anger and hurt of losing her parents.

Beto being the emotional center of the family.

What I Didn’t Love:
Lucia’s whiplash personality—activist and newly fashioned party girl, but I get it as the manifestation of her anger.

What did you think of the first three episodes?

Stay tuned for Part 2 . . . Episodes 1.04 to 1.07.

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