Another good episode. But I'm gonna start with a few criticisms:
I enjoy flashbacks, but the show keeps flashing back to the same episode and the same scenes. It's like they don't have enough footage. I take it Patrick must have an entire childhood of bad memories of his monstrous father, presumably many summers in France, many examples of his mother getting stoned and disappearing, and probably many incidences of child abuse. But the show clearly has the Episode Two footage and almost nothing else.
Okay, maybe I don't like the actress's face, but I thought from her first scene that Mary (Patrick's now wife) was nice, mousy, and boring. Obviously she's a good, healthy person and she seems like a wonderful parent, which can't be said of most characters on this show. But in terms of entertainment value, she can't compare with Patrick, Julia, Bridget, or any of the characters of their parents' generation. I guess we never got to see her having fun, and she has a thankless role in this episode. The show never sold her to me, basically, except as Healthy and Good. But you can be healthy and good and have a bit of personality!
It didn't click with me that Julia is like Patrick's mother until she drove away from the house like a maniac, just as his mother had in episode two. And then their affair made a kind of sense. Why would he be drawn to a pleasant, healthy, stable introvert like Mary, after all, when there was a wilder, unhealthier addict and worse parent like Julia in the vicinity?
As an Irish person I didn't love that the only Irish character on a show about English aristos is a scam artist taking advantage of an old woman, whose accent they imitate.
Anyway, I was appalled at how blase Patrick appeared to be about cheating on his wife while on holiday with his wife, kids, mother and mother-in-law! WTF. He obviously took his wife for granted, and the way he resented the attention and love she gave their kids -- as though they were his competition -- seemed childish. Also, I was appalled by his bender in the USA. His outbursts of rage must have been upsetting for his children to witness. And probably the worst thing he did to the children was when he drunkenly picked up his son and jumped into the pool with him; what a dick.
But it rings true? I mean, he's much improved. The only drug he's taking is Prozac or something. He's not a sadist or a sociopath (or a rapist) like his father. He's leading a relatively normal life now with a career and a family. He sometimes tries to be a kind, decent parent. His wife is a much better mother to their kids than Eleanor was to him... Their generation is a huge step forward on the previous generation! But he's still messed up. And he was holidaying in the house where his father first raped him, and with the mother who failed to protect him. Even the way he resents the attention his wife gives to his children makes sense, if I assume that he wants to be mothered by her, because his own mother failed him.
Yeah, that's a question that needed answering this week. We should have got more insight into Patrick's past relationship with his mother. Sure, he's clearly still howling with rage that she didn't protect him from his father. And the real betrayal isn't giving away the house but leaving him behind, when she left his father. But that last bit is the only new piece of information we got. It was the only new flashback and it wasn't enough.
The funniest parts for me were Patrick going "Whose mother is worse, yours or mine?" at the table, as well as Blythe Danner's character saying that "Children should be seen and not heard" is too liberal. That was wonderful! Also, Mary's mother (Kettle? Petal?) was very enjoyable.