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So Help me Todd - Long Lost Lawrence - Review

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It is very rare that a writing team on a new show, experienced or not, gets it right in the pilot season, but the writers of So Help me Todd have proven their worth only 7 episodes in. Every expectation and hope that I’ve had for the show so far, was answered during last night's episode. It is truly special when a writing team can anticipate what viewers want to see, and make it happen as if it was their plan all along. The writing of this week’s episode was top notch. The Wright family members, although separate physically, were weaved together as they all contributed to solving their mother’s case, while working through family issues to help make their mom’s dream for a perfect holiday come true. 

The episode centred around Margaret wanting to have the perfect Thanksgiving with all of her children and their families. She is obviously hurt to find out that Allison, Chad and her elusive son, Lawrence, all have other plans and neglected to tell her. Todd, of course, plans to be there but that’s not enough for his mother. She believes that she has always been there for her children throughout their lives, and can’t understand why they won’t do the same for her. Margaret gets even more saddened when she hears people at the office sharing their Thanksgiving plans. She decides to cancel Thanksgiving and take on what she believes will be an easy and straightforward case. The hour focused on the case, while we learned more about the Wright’s, especially Lawrence who viewers meet for the first time. Margaret’s client is a young bank teller, Chloe, who was injured during a robbery leading her family to sue for damages. Margaret meets with the family and something immediately seems off with the alleged victim. The parents dismiss her odd behaviour as PTSD from the robbery, and state that she hasn’t left the house since and spends all day watching movies on a site called Clip Clop. Margaret isn’t too suspicious, but Todd knows better. He cleverly had his phone taped under the desk the whole time, and recorded the entire conversation. Meanwhile, Lyle has begun investigating the situation as well, and discovers that the bank already paid settlements to the other victims, except Chloe. Todd is shocked when Chloe sends him a DM on Instagram, claiming that she robbed the bank. 

When Todd and Margaret confront Chloe’s parents at their home about Chloe’s video, they defend their daughter and claim that she has been mentally ill for years. They give Margaret and Todd their bank statements which demonstrate that they have very little money. The parents also share that they were at a Portland Blazers game the night of the robbery because it was their anniversary, and they were on the kiss cam. If you’re thinking that sounds like a good alibi, you’re on the right track. 

Despite his interest in the case, Todd can’t ignore his mother’s pain over her family not attending Thanksgiving dinner. Todd was there when Harry left his mother, he knows how it has affected her life and how lonely she has been. Todd is disappointed in his brother, who he believes never comes through for their mother when she needs it. Todd heads to the Chalet where Lawrence is currently staying, intending to get him to come to Thanksgiving dinner. He is surprised to find Allison is also there, on a planned get together with Lawrence. Todd lays into his brother, berating him for not being there for their mother and for the fact that he didn’t even call her when Harry left. Todd is shocked to learn that Lawrence perceives that Todd is Margaret’s favourite child, and resents his mother because of it. Lawrence shares that he is bitter about being sent to military school instead of being able to do what he wanted. He is jealous that Allison was allowed to follow her dreams and become a doctor and he especially hates the fact that Margaret was always happy to clean up Todd’s messes. Lawrence feels that he has done everything right to please his mother, but has been slighted by her for his siblings, who had it much easier than he did. Todd stays the night with his siblings, and discusses his mother’s case with them.  It is here that the creativity of the writers is on full display, as they connect every member of the Wright family to the case in the shadow of the big picture, which is Thanksgiving dinner. 

Allison and Chuck- Allison is the one who recommended the case to Margaret, after she treated Chloe at the ER the night of the robbery. Allison is shocked when Todd tells her that Chloe’s parents claim she has been on medication for years, because when Chloe was in the ER, she never mentioned taking any medication. Conveniently, Allison’s husband Chuck works for the Blazers so Todd reaches out to him and asks if he can speak to the person who arranged the kiss cam on the night Chloe’s parents were there, and find out if there was anything suspicious about it. Chuck finds out that the parents paid the cameraman $200 dollars to be on the kiss cam at the game. Quite a large amount of money to spend for people who claim to be broke. 

Chad- Lawrence’s partner works for the newspaper that covered the robbery when it happened. He does some digging and realizes that an identical robbery occurred 67 years prior with a young woman named Yvonne. Yvonne is Chloe’s mom's name which he finds suspicious. 

Lawrence- Lawrence is in a position of power since he works for the governor of Oregon. Todd and Margaret find out that Chloe and her brother, Clancy, have been placed under conservatorship by their parents. Their parents claimed that they are mentally unwell and a danger to themselves. The governor is about to put a bill in place that will change the way conservatorship is handled, but not until January. The bill will allow conservatorships to end if there are substantiated claims of abuse. Margaret and Todd need Lawrence to get the governor to sign the forms, but he resists at first. Todd tells him that he should do it for his mother and questions whether he wants his daughter, Clem, to treat him that way in the future. This strikes a chord with Lawrence, who eventually agrees to help. 

As all of the Wright family members text Margaret and Todd their discoveries, the realization is made that Chloe’s parents committed the robbery and are trying to frame their children. The parents placed their children under conservatorship, so that they wouldn’t be able to defend themselves against the claim. Todd and Margaret cleverly communicate their findings with Chloe and Clancy through Clip Clop, using movie titles. It leads the children to sign the paperwork that Todd has hidden in the family lawnmower, which will end their conservatorship. They are released from their parents control and their parents are arrested for the robbery. The highlight for Margaret, was that not only did her family assist with the case, Allison and Lawrence ended up coming for Thanksgiving dinner.

The way that the writer’s introduced Lawrence and shared more intricate details of the Wright family dynamics with the viewers through the lens of the case, was genius. Viewers have been hoping to learn more about the Wright siblings, especially Lawrence, and this episode truly delivered. It has been a mystery since the pilot why Lawrence is mentioned but never seen, but it turns out he is, in fact, an important piece of the Wright family puzzle. He is Margaret’s eldest son, the one who met all of her expectations and then some, and it gives viewers a better understanding of why she is so disappointed in Todd, who is the complete opposite of his brother. It is interesting that despite Margaret’s admiration for her eldest son, he sees things quite differently. He feels slighted and underappreciated by his mother. The truth of the matter is that eldest siblings are typically always slighted because as the first born, they face the most rules and expectations from their families. In a family of three siblings, it is normal that the youngest was raised with a lot more freedom. Though this was the case for Lawrence, he has always resented the way that Todd never had to deal with the high expectations of his parents and it is understandable why their relationship is strained. Allison being the middle child, would also harbour some resentment towards Todd and therefore it makes sense that her and Lawrence still maintained a strong sibling relationship apart from their younger brother. Margaret never understood the impact that her enabling of Todd has had on Lawrence. If there was one negative about this episode, it would be that we didn’t see them work this out. Margaret still doesn’t know Lawrence’s true feelings about the family. He ended up coming to Thanksgiving dinner because at the end of the day, he loves his mother and wants to make her happy. Hopefully this is something that we can see worked out between them in the future, but since we are only seven episodes into the first season, I am positive we will see this and a lot more of the Wright family history played out. 

The final scene with all of the Wright children together with Margaret, with their extended family on FaceTime, was heartwarming. It was great to see that no matter what they are dealing with, they will always put their problems aside to be there for their mother. Isn’t that the true meaning of Thanksgiving? To push aside the negative parts of life and be thankful for all of the positives? Sadly, viewers will have to wait for the next episode of the show, as it will not be airing for the next couple of weeks. Hopefully we will get another episode or two before the winter hiatus as January 5th, the winter premiere date, is a long time away. What did you think of the episode? What are your thoughts on Lawrence? What do you hope to see as we move forward with the season? Share your ideas in the comment box below and follow me on Twitter @ms_c_almeida.

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