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'Life Unexpected': Home sweet home

January 26, 2010 |  9:00 am
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“House Inspected” was in many ways about what makes a home. The feeling it gives you. The people you fill it with. And for Cate (Shiri Appleby) and Baze (Kristoffer Polaha), making it a proper home environment for a teenager, as well as having working smoke detectors. Everything has to be up to code because they're getting a visit from a social worker, who will give her recommendation to the judge about whether or not Cate and Baze are fit foster parents for Lux (Brittany Robertson).

Cate takes this very seriously. She's trying to learn how to cook -- don't flip the french toast on your first try, Cate! -- and having Saint Ryan (Kerr Smith) get her home ready for the inspection. She's worried that someone who can't cook for their own daughter won't get approved, but she's rightly more worried about Baze passing the inspection. While Cate's taking an early morning run -- and it must be really early if it's before her morning radio show -- Baze is still up playing beer pong. She warns Baze, who has the “parental skills of a banana,” to take the lotion off the nightside. Ick. Turns out that should have been the least of her worries. Putting away the bong lamp, blowup dominatrix sheep -- I'm willing to bet money that was Jamie's (Reggie Austin) -- and putting some batteries into the smoke detector might have been a better idea. Hey, at least  Baze put on a nice button-down shirt, right? Let's just remember how nice he looked in that shirt when he lets Lux drive his truck without a learner's permit.

Oh, Baze, here are some words of wisdom for you: Don't turn your back on your teenage daughter or she's liable to run off to Chinatown to meet up with her boyfriend and friends. And I almost definitely, positively sure that that establishing shot of Chinatown was from Victoria, B.C., Canada.

Lux meets up with her boyfriend, Bug (Rafi Gavron), her friend, Tasha (Ksenia Solo), and Tasha's boyfriend (Rhys Williams), whom I pretty much disliked from the moment he appeared on screen. I definitely found myself drawn more to the “adult” storylines in this episode. I'm not so crazy about Tasha either, who at first seems almost oblivious to the fact that her friend may have found a home. It's almost like she doesn't want her to be happy. Misery loves company, after all. And stealing Cate's engagement ring to get Lux kicked out? Predictable, but it led to a great scenes with Lux and Cate, in which Tasha's exterior finally started to crumble a little. By taking in Lux, Cate had stolen from Tasha the only thing that had ever mattered to her. She took her childhood friend, who switched the Tabasco sauce with V8 for her. Hey, Shiri Appleby had a complicate history with Tabasco sauce too, as “Roswell” fans know. Tasha admits that Lux is better off with Cate because she has the one thing no one else does: She's her mom.

“What I took, it was worse,” Cate tells her, finally understanding the depth of what Lux had to go through in foster care. She confronts Baze, who's repairing the damage on her plant and their situation, and tells him she won't be able to live with herself if she doesn't get custody of Lux.

“I don't want to be that guy who bails. Not again. I want to be a dad,” Baze replies -- and I believed 100% that these two people want to be better despite their nature, despite circumstances, despite everything that tells them they might not be. For this beautiful moment, I have to give some credit to Baze's roommate Math (Austin Basis), who doesn't put up with Baze's manchild ways and tells him how it is.

“You have this amazing daughter. You're now forever linked to the most amazing woman on the planet,” he tells Baze. “It's freaking pathetic that at 32, you'd make her do it alone all over again. Look around, Baze. No one's laughing but you.” Go, Math!

Baze and Cate track down the social worker in Chinatown -- man, that place is hopping -- and tell her they couldn't possibly be worse parents than Lux's previous foster parents. Plus, they can give her the one thing she's never had: love. And batteries in the smoke detector. It's a good thing they won her over and Lux decided to stay because Saint Ryan put a lot of work into making Cate's attic into a bedroom for Lux. There's posters of her favorite bands on the wall, including one for the Spin Doctors, which Cate tells Lux was the soundtrack of her conception. (Good luck trying to sleep in that bedroom with that image in your head, Lux!) Baze's bong lamp also finds a home in the bedroom. But I love the beautiful glass window/mural thing above her bed the most. It appropriately shines light down on Lux. It's made all the more fitting when Lux reveals to Cate that a nurse gave her her name, which means “light,” because of her blond hair.

As Cate says, “Things have been illuminated.”

Some final thoughts:

– Saint Ryan lived up to his name in this episode with the building of the bedroom and saying that Cate look like a “hot soccer mom” with her new hair. But he also finally showed that he has a reaction to how quickly Cate' s brought Lux in her life, and by extension his, without consulting him. He needs time to get used to all the changes, but continues to prove his sainthood by telling Cate he does want to do this with her. And he pretty much convinced Lux to stay, so there's that too. However, he loses saint points for revealing that his first time was with a big-boobed, big-banged girl from the Jersey Shore. I can't help wondering if that's a nod and a dig at the MTV reality series.

–  Cate, you might to remember that your daughter grew up listening to you on the radio, so there's a pretty big chance she still does that. Might not want to deny her existence on the radio show. Also, I don't like the look of that boss lady. She does not look like the type who's going to keep your secret about sleeping with Baze. She was practically reveling in joy at Cate's self-sabotage. Alice, please come back from vacation soon! And not just because Alice is being played by “Being Erica's” Erin Karpluk.

– “The only thing between us is the lingering smell of your Axe body spray.” A+

– Credits! We got open credits with a theme song! Creator Liz Tigelaar told me last week that they would be coming, but then the names started to scroll across the bottom of the screen and I got deflated. Maybe they had decided to cut them? Just as I began to lose hope, there they were with no actors' names, but with a ridiculously appropriate song about family trees with bent or broken branches. Anyone know the name of that song?

Readers, what did you think of Lux's friends? Can Cate and Baze really step up to the plate? Do you love Math as much as I do for giving Baze the verbal smackdown? And do you want to live in Lux's room? Because I totally do.

-- Vlada Gelman (Follow my TV musings on Twitter: @stayingin)

Photo: Baze (Kristoffer Polaha) and Cate (Shiri Appleby) prep for a home inspection. Credit: Jack Rowand / The CW

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