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Rebel - The Right Thing - Review

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After a one-week hiatus Rebel is back again smashing her fair share of flower pots and threatening every capitalist business owner that comes in her way. 

This time around her partner in crime is not only her daughter Ziggie but also her (hopefully soon-to-be ex-) husband Grady. After Rebel catches the latter flirting with Angela, a random woman he met at a bar, and then finds her teenage daughter Ziggie hanging out with a boy in her bedroom, she decides the entire family is going on a road trip to San Bernardino. Apparently this trip the Bello family goes on on a regular basis. About 10 years ago Rebel and Cruz sued a San Bernardino company producing insecticide since their agent got into the drinking water supply and poisoned several people. Unfortunately, they lost the case but ever since then Rebel and her family check on the people that were affected on a regular basis and assist with whatever they need help with. Due to the insecticide several people already died, many more are terminally ill. A new funeral home owner is exploiting this tragedy shamelessly and charges horrendous prices. Rebel and Grady are making it very clear to the greedy man that he is not going to get away with his price gouging. They end up stealing a valuable and rare part of his vintage car and threaten to destroy it. Only then the funeral owner agrees to lower the price. However, he only promises a fair deal to one particular family. What about the other people? Why doesn’t Rebel make sure other families wouldn’t get ripped off either? It is hard to imagine that she would leave without demanding he sets fair prices for everyone. This really was a rather disappointing conclusion to an already very flawed storyline. It almost felt like there was a scene missing which was cut in order to cram way too many stories and way too many characters into the episode. This particular plot is just one example of how superficial some of the storylines on Rebel are. Not because the actors or writers lack talent, it’s because there simply is no time to go deeper. There is no time to pay attention to details. There is simply too much going on in an episode. This often results in human stories ending up just being byproducts rather than the main focus of the show. Ditching the additional case Rebel has to deal with every episode and focusing on the Stonemore storyline and all the people involved in it instead, might bring a certain depth to the show that is currently missing. Sometimes less is more.

Another aspect that was irritating to me about the San Bernardino storyline is Grady’s presence. The main reason he so desperately wants to divorce Rebel is her unending dedication to her job. He is sick of her choosing all kinds of random people over him and over his need for home cooked meals. Why then is he dropping everything he is doing the moment Rebel announces they were going to San Bernardino? Why does helping out the people affected by the tragedy seem almost as important to him as it is to Rebel? Why does he suddenly care? Sadly, none of these questions get answered in the episode which makes the entire storyline seem even more unrealistic.

Back at home in LA, Benji is purposely trying to slow down the lawsuit by not handing over his discovery to Cruz. When the judge orders him to deliver the discovery asap the corporate lawyer has his people bring over 90 boxes of physical files instead of sending them digitally. On top of that almost every single page is redacted. A classic dick-move that leaves Cruz bursting with anger. In the end of the pervious episode, the lawyer had a severe panic attack and is now forced to use a heart monitor app that goes off without fail every single time he gets angry. And, in case you forgot, Cruz gets angry A LOT. It turns out the reason for his particularly short temper in this episode is money. The firm seems to have financial issues and without money they have no chance of winning the Stonemore case. Unfortunately, Cassidy figures out that Cruz is in financial trouble and readily shares this information with her father. The young woman is making it exceptionally hard for us to like her, isn't she?

In the meantime, Helen is at the hospital answering questions about all the symptoms she has been having due to the the faulty valve. It is of great importance to document every little detail if they want the study to be diagnostically conclusive. When Helen is asked what the most painful thing about the heart valve is, she answers without hesitation: “the guilt.“ She talked her daughter into getting the Stonemore valve and is now blaming herself.

Misha: "I put the Stonemore valve into a lot of people. I recommended it to even more people. I thought I was helping them just like you thought you were helping Maddie. It’s not our fault, Helen. It’s their fault. So let’s prove it!"

This statement by her doctor is giving Helen hope, hope that is crushed again only a little while later when her medical tests reveal that her liver is failing. As difficult as it may be for some people to watch Mary McDonnell play yet another sick character, it is a pleasure to watch her nuanced, graceful and powerful performance as Helen. Several characters on the show are portrayed in quite an exaggerated manner. Helen and Maddie, however, are not. I’m vigorously enjoying every second they appear on my screen.

A further storyline that was squished into this episode is the one of Lana’s marriage. Her matrimony was not only news to us but also to her herself. Years ago, when she still was hooked on drugs, she apparently married a guy in a blackout. Now her "husband“ tracked her down as he needs her to sign divorce papers. However, the two sorta get along really well. Will they even want to go through with the divorce in the end? I wouldn’t be so sure about that.

Toward the end of the episode, Cruz admits to Rebel that the firm indeed has financial problems and that he wants Helen and her fellow plaintiffs to find a new lawyer. Rebel, however, insists Cruz needs to stay on the case. She is sure they‘ll find a way to come up with the money. When Curz receives a settlement offer from Stonemore shortly after, he feels relieved but Rebel knows that it is more than unlikely that Helen and her people would even consider accepting a settlement. After all, it would mean the heart valve stays on the market and will be put into thousands of more people.

To get Cruz to relax a little (and to get her own competition out of the way) Rebel decides to set him up with Angela, the woman Grady flirted with in the beginning of the episode. The lady showed up at the firm pretending she wants to apologize to Rebel for coming onto her husband. Actually though, she is there because she is spying for Stonemore. Unfortunately, neither Cruz nor Rebel have even the slightest suspicion. This twist caught me by surprise and almost managed to make me forget about how annoyed I was by the shallowness of the San Bernardino storyline.

The episode ends with Nate trying to call his mom to inform her about Helen‘s failing liver. Rebel, however, consciously decides to ignore her phone (and consequently her work) for a few hours to spend time with Grady. They kiss. Looks like I got excited about the divorce too quickly. 

Even though the show has its flaws and still needs to find its footing, I am very much looking forward to every single episode. Fingers crossed the people responsible will find a better balance between quality and quantity. I'd rather there is less going on in an episode than having it glutted with several storylines which all cannot be explored properly due to the lack of time available.

Make sure to let us know what you think of the episode in the comments below!

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