So all of the Joanna people are detectives, except for the main FBI boyfriend one. I didn't really understand that last week. To help me out with that, they've cleaned up scruffy Gabe (not an improvement) and have started calling him "Detective" a lot. Their big deal this week is that NYPD wants to shut down the investigation due to things not really going anywhere and also the Bowers are super rich, like to the point where even the FBI wants them to stop. But they do not! The thrust of the work they're doing, then, is to use Joanna's job as Robert's admin to locate Vivian's whistleblower while they try to figure out who her babydaddy was. Spoiler alert, same guy.
A dick at a lacrosse game sends creepy Edward (Tater D.) over the creepy edge, and he ends up booked for creepily punching the guy. FBI Boyfriend Guy questions him about his sister's death, giving him the opportunity to act all creepy. Later, Joanna goes skeet-shooting with him, so he can be creepy while confirming that her fake backstory is airtight. (That part was pretty great, but didn't further the plot too much and was too short. And they practiced gun safety, which is always weird on TV shows when they make a point of doing that.) Then just as Joanna, with Mia's unwitting help, finally connects Babydaddy Ben and the Bowers R&D whistleblower, Edward makes one last creepy visit to his house, maybe to kill him. Presumably in a way that is creepy.
On nearly as much drugs as his dead sister and awesome stepmother, Julian goes into a downward spiral the rest of the family remembers from the time of Vivian's mother's death. He wigs out in predictable enough ways -- Punching a guy for reading tabloids! Buying all the newspapers at a newsstand and then angrily throwing them in a nearby trashcan! Going to parties where girls kiss each other! -- that the episode seems to be falling short of even last week's standard, but things even out by the end. Joanna babysits him through some jackass tantrums, but the next day he buys her a car, so we're good.
One of the household staff from Joanna's childhood, a gigantic groundskeeper named Rayburn, also apparently busts kneecaps when necessary. In this case, those of Hanna's dreamy brother, so that she won't tell FBI Guy about her affair with Robert. Or the fantastic scene in which she ambushed Sofia with news of the affair, only to get her ass laughed out the door. In private, Sofia freaks out about the affair -- causing Robert to stay late at work so he doesn’t have to face her -- but by the weekend Family Clambake, she's got enough pills down her neck that everything is a-okay. Oh, and we get a flashback with her where Vivian was threatening to tell Mia the truth about her parentage, which I guess is half of a good reason for Sofia to be a suspect, the other half being that she is objectively the best part of the show. Well, and how her ass is bonkers.
The other best part of the show, Mia, wasn't a huge deal this week. There were some good, short scenes of her school life, and some by-the-book rebellion ("I smoke cigarettes! Just like my dead pregnant sister-mother!"), but the most interesting thing she did was show up to breakfast in a Ke$ha-looking t-shirt for a band called Who Killed Vivian Bowers, which caused everybody to throw down their croissants half-eaten and stalk away to act weird and beat people up in public some more. Joanna gets closer to her, which is fun to watch because she's so desperate and they're so sweet together, and eventually even Robert has to admit Mia is the only person pulling her weight, griefwise, which was also nice. Mostly I just want Mia to start more shit, all the time start shit, so I can spend more time looking at her lovely face and that amazing hair.
Very much a second episode, which really means the first episode (once the pilot has sold, if you see what I mean), which is why I tend to ignore second episodes: Everybody looks a little different, they either downgrade or upgrade the budget and sets, and generally just tell the pilot over again. I loved the pilot, but my expectations this week were thusly not too high. Which is good, because in terms of developing mysteries, especially after last week's fast-paced tour through everybody's crazy, nothing really much happened. Joanna had some pretty flashbacks and did a lot of existential moping, the cops are still wishy-washy about the whole thing, the Bowers own everything, Edward is creepy but too obvious, Joanna almost gets seduced by rich evil white people but remembers to holds fast to her poor-people integrity, everybody is compromised and everybody seems like a killer: Same as last week. Whatever, I don't judge.
Next Week: We find out what happened to Ben -- guessing he's actually fine -- and Julian takes Joanna to the Bahamas, where things get physical... And not in the good way. Or maybe both, at different points. Robert puts out shady hits on everybody, Mia acts out in more enjoyable troubled-teen clichés, and my girl Sofia puts on some tennis whites to break Samantha's will, which should be fabulous. The only thing better than watching Marin Hinkle almost freak out is watching Marin Hinkle totally freak out, and I can only imagine that'll be more true on a squash court. In a little outfit.
Pregnant/rehabilitating former goodtime gal Vivian Bowers was found dead in a motel room, sending her family into a tailspin. Her best friend from childhood, Joanna -- now a cop with an ex at the FBI -- went back into the house, undercover, to solve her murder. Vivian's drunk stepmom Sofia and little half-sister Mia were mostly uninterested in her noise, while Vivian's brothers Edward and Julian were annoyed and thrilled respectively.
At the top is Robert Bowers, who while corrupt and pretty evil, has a soft spot for his daughters that he's more than willing to transfer over to Joanna, setting her up in a job at his corrupt pharmaceutical company and playing right into her hands. A paparazzo promised Joanna info connecting Vivian to a whistleblower in Bowers R&D, but was violently murdered pretty much immediately thereafter.
Secrets: The company is selling a dangerous drug that preys on cancer patients, which Robert -- who's had affairs, sometimes with employees -- knows about and Julian developed. Edward, the older brother, is forced to work at the company as well, since a decade-old rape/murder allegation has rendered him unemployable. Julian and Joanna were each other's first loves, but Julian's ring indicates he punched Vivian in the face the night she died. Both brothers seem pretty invested in their own culpability for Vivian's drug-addicted downward spiral, while Sofia seems more concerned that Mia will find out her true birth mother: Dead Vivian herself.
FLASHBACK! TO A FLASHBACK!
Dead Vivian: "Joanna, remember how I said we were going to move to Spain together? And remember how my mom died and I started doing drugs? And then one night I tried to run away and you ratted me out to my dad, never suspecting I was pregnant? Good, because that's like everything that happened last week."
She does that thing where dreams don't work like they actually work, which is always so weird because you have to assume that whoever wrote this episode has had a dream before -- being a human person -- so they should know how they work, but they never do. Not on TV. Sometimes on Buffy, but not necessarily. Anyway, she's sitting in a chair smoking a cigarette and being like, "Solve my murder, please. You were there for all the important parts."
Joanna, waking: "Hoo! That was so weird. I've never had a dream like that before, because that's not how dreams work. But thanks for the recap."