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'Brothers & Sisters': Tommy's not-so-triumphant return

November 2, 2009 |  7:35 am
B&S_tommy Tommy Walker dropped by unexpectedly on last night's "Brothers & Sisters," and like the rest of the Walker family, I initially wasn't sure how to feel about his return. I had gotten so used to watching the cast minus Balthazar Getty that his presence required some adjustment.

As expected, there was awkwardness and trepidation -- why did Tommy come back and would he be the same person? Turns out he came home to see Kitty and had definitely experienced some changes. Thanks to months of manual labor and a vegan diet at the Mexican commune, Tommy appeared svelte and very mellow. His snappy comebacks and his hotheaded combativeness were seemingly gone, replaced with a mole-cooking pacifist. It looked as though he had changed for the better, but Zen Tommy didn't feel real. Even his scene with Kitty at the grocery store, which was an opportunity for them to talk one-on-one, didn't feel genuine or loving. His chemistry with each of his family members was just off.

Leave it to Nora to unearth Tommy's true nature. After a phone chat with Julia, she learned that Tommy and Julia were getting a divorce and that her son hadn't seen nor talked to his daughter in months. It was a secret that Tommy hadn't planned on sharing and one that Nora didn't plan on hiding, so it naturally unleashed some pent-up rage at the dinner table. His time in Mexico hadn't helped Tommy confront his issues; it had only provided an outlet to escape from them.

Nora's reaction to Tommy's outburst was revelatory. She was shocked at his angry words -- he basically blamed her unrealistically high expectations as a reason he never feels good enough -- but even more floored that she was unaware of her role in his dysfunction. Nora's question of "Why Tommy would do such a thing?" was answered, and her subsequent guilt-ridden breakdown to Kitty was gut-wrenching and sincere.

The argument can be made that Tommy is an adult and should stop blaming his mother for all his problems, but most people with difficult relationships with a parent can attest that those issues often run deep. I'm glad that the show didn't try to wrap up Tommy's and Nora's conflict with a big bow at the end of the hour. That type of resentment takes time to overcome and provides a valid reason for Tommy's absence. I was even happier that he decided to fight for his daughter with a resolve he undoubtedly inherited from his mother.

Meanwhile, Ryan Lafferty is still determined to take down the Walkers. He teamed up with William's archenemy, Dennis York, and has been sneaking him intel about Ojai's business dealings. Saul stupidly let Ryan loose after catching him snooping around in Holly's office, where he found evidence of her financial hardship. Dennis offered to alleviate Holly's troubles by buying her shares at Ojai, but she refused to sell. Holly's disagreements with Sarah and Saul can be exhausting, but I'd rather sit through their bickering than have that sneaky Dennis York part of the business. As for Ryan, he just needs to go away. He wore out his welcome many episodes ago.

Time for your thoughts, readers. Were you glad to see Tommy back on the show? Would you like to see more or less of Ryan Lafferty?

-- Enid Portuguez

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Photo: Balthazar Getty as Tommy Walker on "Brothers & Sisters." Credit: ABC