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'Brothers & Sisters': Flashbacks and family secrets

April 12, 2010 |  7:18 am
No one was on the brink of dying this time, but that didn't mean this season's two-hour "Brothers & Sisters" saga held back on the drama. Nora's big secret was revealed, the Narrow Lake mystery began to unravel, and Justin and Rebecca eloped -- so much transpired in those two hours that this post, too, needs to be broken down into two parts.

The First Half

The first hour was dedicated to the secret Nora has been hiding for the last few episodes. Her desperation hit an all-time high -- Sally Field should win an Emmy for most outstanding freak out -- as she frantically tried to convince the kids to sell their shares of Ojai Foods. It seemed as though Dennis had some major blackmail in his hands, but as soon as the words "It wasn't illegal" escaped Nora's lips, I wondered whether we all had been taken for a ride. Later I was thankful the secret wasn't too melodramatic (no more illegitimate children, phew!), but it provided a good enough reason for a few flashbacks.

As the Walker kids pondered over their future in Ojai Foods, we were treated to a glimpse into the Walker household during one fateful night in 1986. Some things remained the same: young Tommy got himself into a car wreck, young Sarah rebelliously threw a party at the Ojai office, young Kitty spouted off her Republican ideals. Young Kevin was still in the closet, but he was already showing signs of his trademark self-righteousness and neuroses. Justin was too young to play much of a role and we barely got a peek at younger Nora, William and Dennis. That was a disappointment -- if they were going to show us exactly what happened that night, why shroud the adults in shadows?

B&S_youngkevin We were initially led to believe that Tommy's accident might have been the catalyst for the drama, but that would have been way too predictable. It was actually Kevin's actions that set forth Nora's secret. Kevin and his visiting friend/crush Aaron had crashed Sarah's party and suddenly found themselves alone after the crowd had dissipated. Aaron made a pass, Kevin freaked out and started a fight, and next thing we knew, a punch hurled Aaron off a platform. William incidentally arrived the moment it happened, rushed Kevin from the scene and left Dennis to handle Aaron. The boy became paralyzed from the accident and the Walkers had spent the last 25 years secretly paying off his family -- unbeknownst to Kevin, of course.

It was great to see what the Walkers might have looked like as teenagers, but I just didn't buy Kevin's ignorance of the whole thing. Would he really have taken his parent's word for it and not try to get in touch with Aaron later to find out if he was OK? I understand how embarrassed he may have been by the situation, but I found it strange that someone so strongly guided by morals (at 14, he had even tried lecturing Tommy about drunk driving) wouldn't have made at least one awkward phone call to his friend a week or so after. It's also bizarre that Tommy never mentioned seeing Aaron being rolled into the hospital on a stretcher. If Nora or William ordered him not to say anything, it would have been helpful to show that moment.

The Second Half

Once we figured out what information Dennis had over Nora, the episode's mood began to lighten. The revelation left Kevin shocked and deeply upset, but there was another matter at hand. Where exactly was Narrow Lake and why was Dennis looking for it? It was time to call in the tag team of Nora and Holly, who embarked on a hilarious Thelma and Louise role play, to solve the great mystery. It's always a joy watching these two actresses share scenes together. Their push-and-pull dynamic usually results in high drama or hilarity, and in this case, it was more of the latter. After sneaking into Dennis' hotel room and stealing his car, the duo found themselves following his GPS routes to Ojai Valley. They decided to make a rest stop at one of the Walkers' former homes where they discovered Justin and Rebecca entangled on the couch. The couple had secretly eloped and were celebrating their honeymoon! Surprise! The even funnier surprise? Nora and Holly under arrest for grand theft auto. That's the second time we've seen Nora behind bars and it really never gets old.

Initially it seemed random that Justin and Rebecca would spontaneously elope, but when else would they have gotten a chance to get married? I was grateful that we didn't have to relive another big wedding, especially after their two failed attempts, so the city hall idea turned out to be the best solution. Since traffic doesn't seem to exist in the Walkers' L.A., the rest of the family hightailed it out to Ojai in a matter of minutes to toast the happy couple and help solve the Narrow Lake mystery. Holly and Nora used Dennis' GPS destinations to hone in on one parcel of barren land. It gave me deja vu to the scene in the first season where Nora discovered the bland-but-valuable hillside William had left to Holly, so I think there's more meaning behind the property than meets the eye.

I also believe that Kevin's aside about Narrow Lake being an anagram for Nora Walker was a meaningful clue. Earlier in the hour, Dennis had expressed his creepy long-standing desire for Nora and even had the gall to ask her whether she regretted choosing William over him. The land may have just been part of a game William was playing to unveil Dennis' true feelings for his wife. That or it will be the final testament to his twisted yet enduring love for Nora.

One last revelation of the episode: Kitty's cancer free! Big hooray!

Time for your thoughts. What did you think of the two-hour "movie"? Which half was your favorite and why? Was Nora's secret all it was cracked up to be? What are your theories behind the mystery of Narrow Lake? Comment away!

-- Enid Portuguez

Top photo: Patricia Wettig as Holly Harper and Sally Field as Nora Walker in "Brothers & Sisters." Bottom photo: Kasey Campbell as young Kevin Walker. Credits: ABC