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Party of Five - 1.04 to 1.07 - Review: Falls the Shadow

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Here are the continuing adventure of the Acosta family. Once again I'll try to be brief.

Authentic Mexican - Episode 4

Emilio and Vanessa decide to make their relationship exclusive. When a woman Emilio was interested in as a teen shows up to help cater the party, he’s reminded of how easily he’s tempted and how much more he wants out of life. His relationship with Vanessa ends.

An opportunity to cater a party for a wealthy woman tempts Emilio. He decides to close the restaurant and take the catering job. His excuse is that he’s thinking of the future because Javier never did.

Beto meets Ella (Audrey Gerthoffer), the granddaughter of the wealthy woman throwing the party. They hit it off right away and manage to disrupt the party when they knock down a partition while kissing. Ella’s father is furious, hurls racist innuendo, and demands Emilio fire Beto. Emilio stands up for Beto and ends the party. Ella later shows up at the Acosta’s to take a drive with Beto.

Val finds out that her mother is taking care of a girl her age, Amanda Davis.

Rafa - Episode 5

Rafa is sleeping too much and isn’t eating. Emilio suspects a virus, but Val suspects something more. A trip to the ER reveals lead poisoning, which brings the Acosta family to the attention of Social Services.

Lucia discovers the Social Security number Matthew bought from a stranger was a scam when she encounters the woman at the hospital. Matthew is unconcerned by the truth, but Lucia is worried about the risk it poses, so she seizes an opportunity to steal a valid number from a patient in the hospital.

Beto and Ella take their relationship to the next step, but the timing is poor because they are interrupted by news of Rafa's hospitalization.

Emlio tries to interest Val in extracurricular activities, but she’s become obsessed with stalking Amanda Davis, the girl her mother takes care of in Mexico, on social media.

Patch Job - Episode 6

Emilio still reeling from Rafa’s illness has let his other responsibilities fall by the wayside. Luckily, Rafa gains a nanny, Natalia (Sol Rodriguez). The chemistry between Natalia and Emilio is obvious.

The side plot involves leaking pipes that go from bad to worse because Emilio decides to teach himself plumbing using YouTube, but it reveals a larger confidence issue. He doesn’t ask for help because then people will see his incompetence as a parent and restaurant owner.Natalia dismantles the myth of the “self-made man” for Emilio who feels like a failure compared to his father. She helps him understand that everyone needs help.

Lucia discovers a cause she can get behind when she witnesses a woman, Sully (Elizabeth Grullon), standing up to ICE officers. Sully is part of Dream for Justice, an immigrant rights organization. Lucia hopes Sully can convince Matthew to renew his DACA status, but some advice leads her to learn more about his reluctance. Matthew reveals he is transgender and won’t present a birth certificate with a name and identity that never belonged to him.

A video call from Javier to the restaurant reveals the first sign that all may not be well in Mexico. He takes a quick drink from a bottle of what is likely alcohol before Emilio arrives to talk to him.

Beto and Ella face their biggest relationship hurdle when money becomes an issue. Beto feels insecure both about his lack of money, and her easy way with money. The issue escalates when he discovers she paid for the dance classes Val desperately wanted. They talk about it, but the issue goes unresolved.

Speak for Yourself - Episode 7

Emilio visits his old band and starts to regret giving up his dream of rock stardom to become an instant father. He shares his frustrations with Natalia and their bond continues to flourish. Emilio thinks he can have it all—full time father, full time restaurant owner, and full time rock star as the lead singer of his old band, The Natural Disasters.

Emilio’s renewed commitment to The Natural Disasters aligns perfectly with Lucia’s need to raise money for Sully’s immigrant activist group, Dream for Justice. She plans an entire fundraising event at the family’s restaurant with The Natural Disasters set as the closing act. Things don’t go as planned and by the end of the night Lucia has been scolded by Sully, Emilio has had a falling out with his band, Beto is again insulted by Ella’s father, and Val’s secret identity as “Amanda Davis” is discovered by Natalia.

What I Loved:
Emilio’s very real struggle to fully let go of his dream.

A trans character played by a trans actor.

Beto’s emotional intelligence.

Lucia’s growth. She discovered her voice and used it to make a difference.

What I Didn’t Love:
Every episode feels like a “very special episode.”

This show is brimming over with important issues, and I love that they are shining a light on them, but it's packing too much into a limited space. Party of Five is cramming everything into one season like a child who protects their cookies by shoving them all into their mouth, cheeks puffed out, impossible to ignore. It’s cute until the cookie drool starts to dribble down their chin.

What did you think of the middle four episodes? Any predictions for the end of the season?

Stay tuned for Part 3.

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