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DanaK

S02.E01: Promises/Wadaha

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Al, Riley, Art, Lizzie and Vanessa work together against a ticking clock to get Al's sister out of Afghanistan and to safety after Kabul falls, on the second season premiere of the CBS Original series UNITED STATES OF AL, Thursday, Oct. 7 (8:31-9:01 PM, ET/PT)

 

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Wow, the mention of the writers trying to get their loved ones out of the area :(. I can't begin to imagine how emotional and hard that would've been for them. I hope they were successful, and I hope writing about these experiences proved cathartic for them in a lot of ways. Just hearing about how everyone on set was reacting to this makes it all the more heartbreaking. 

Not surprised there won't be a laugh track, either - not exactly the kind of premise for such a thing, no. Like I stated above, this one'll be hard to watch, but I'm also looking forward to seeing how they deal with it. It's clear they've put a lot of thought and sensitivity into this. 

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I have a lot of thoughts but for now all I can say is that was phenomenal. It wasn't their intent but the timing was good. It's no longer dominating our headlines and we're just going to forget. Maybe this brings what is happening back to the front of some of our minds.

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Al crying broke my heart into pieces. Oh, my god. 

That was a really, really good episode, Intense as hell, and heartbreaking, and emotional. I liked how they handled the passing days, and how everyone tried to deal with each new development. And I liked the flashbacks to Riley and Al's time overseas, and the last time Al spent with his family before he came to the U.S. That last one was so bittersweet. 

The best thing about this episode, though, was what I loved most about this show last season, the family all coming together to support each other and help in any way they could. Lizzie using her card to get a flight for Hassina, Vanessa comforting Riley (that scene between them when he freaked out over the baseball news was so good) and bringing stuff to help take care of everyone, Hazel trying to be her usual innocent, upbeat self (I really love the scenes between her and Al, they're so touching), Riley's dad trying to keep everyone calm and focused. It's just so sweet how much these people all truly care about each other.

I also loved Riley's comments about Al when he was on the phone: "He's my best friend. Yeah, I'm looking at him right now. I can't get rid of him." :'). A good mix of serious and gentle teasing. 

So glad that Hassina made it out okay, though Al's comments at the end really drove the point home. I hope she's able to make it to the U.S. as soon as possible, and I'm curious what will happen with the rest of his family as time goes on. 

Just. Yeah. This was so well done. Good on the show for addressing this with the weight and seriousness it deserves. 

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My god that was intense. Like real life, all you can do is concentrate on saving that one person. And then feel guilty you can't save everybody else.

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I really didn't know if his sister would make it. I don't want them to drop this storyline, it's so important. So many interpreters and others are still there, hopefully alive, but it's an incredibly dire situation and it infuriates me that it just disappeared from our privileged consciousness. 

12 hours ago, Annber03 said:

The best thing about this episode, though, was what I loved most about this show last season, the family all coming together to support each other and help in any way they could. Lizzie using her card to get a flight for Hassina, Vanessa comforting Riley (that scene between them when he freaked out over the baseball news was so good) and bringing stuff to help take care of everyone, Hazel trying to be her usual innocent, upbeat self (I really love the scenes between her and Al, they're so touching), Riley's dad trying to keep everyone calm and focused. It's just so sweet how much these people all truly care about each other.

Yes! This is what makes this show great. I just adore the relationship between Vanessa and Riley. They still obviously care so much for each other and I love that Vanessa's boyfriend isn't jealous of that. I like Hazel but I am glad she wasn't really around much in this episode. Hazel may have a glimpse into this that other kids her age don't have, but it's such an adult subject and stress that it was better she was with her mom for most of it.

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Most sitcoms don't have me on the edge of my seat completely bawling, but this episode did. I felt it was done with so much empathy. I truly felt for these people. And Al brought up a good point that even if his sister is now safe so many people in Afghanistan are not. I hope this show continues with this narrative while also focusing on other topics like Riley's PTSD.

Edited by Bookish Jen
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The only thing that could have made this better was if they could have found a sponsor to make the episode commercial free. It was a little jarring to go from Al's sister pleading to a cologuard commercial. 

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25 minutes ago, joanne3482 said:

The only thing that could have made this better was if they could have found a sponsor to make the episode commercial free. It was a little jarring to go from Al's sister pleading to a cologuard commercial. 

Agreed. It did seem like they didn't have the usual amount of breaks but I could be wrong

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I just re-watched it and was able to concentrate since I know how it ends.

Al's "they aren't coming for you" when learning the Marines were being deployed to Kabul was a gut punch. 

I really appreciated the dad humor. It wasn't intentional, or funny but very natural. The whole episode felt natural and this episode better win an Emmy. The acting, the make-up, Al and Riley looking more and more disheveled as the days go on, and I really appreciated that Lizzie's PJ outfit at the end wasn't some cute matchy set but mismatched bottoms, a t-shirt and a well worn robe, messy pony tail, like women wear IRL.

They also didn't add any commercial breaks. The breaks are the same. Distracting but not the worst.

Edited by theredhead77
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What a way to start the season. Everyone had a moment to shine, including Hazel in her own young way. She may not fully understand what's going on, but she's trying. I thought the last line was going to be about the rest of Al's family. His sister is out, but there's still his mother, his cousins, his neices and newphews, and other relatives as well. I somehow knew Hassina was going to get out okay. 

I'm really impressed Lizzie had access to a company credit card and was completely responsible with it. It's amazing that her personal life can be a total mess, but she's totally together and on top of it when it comes to work/her job.  

I wonder if Al will go to therapy later this season or maybe next season if there is one. I could see him having issues with survivor's guilt. "What makes me special? Why did I get out when others couldn't? I should have done more for my family." 

Edited by Sarah 103
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On 10/8/2021 at 10:28 AM, joanne3482 said:

The only thing that could have made this better was if they could have found a sponsor to make the episode commercial free. It was a little jarring to go from Al's sister pleading to a cologuard commercial. 

It might have been jarring but it "worked" because it was jarring. Makes you think even more about things that are going on in America and the world while others make money and destroy.  

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I knew that this would be a tough watch, but I was on the edge of my seat the whole time, it was just so intense and real. I am so relieved that Hassina made it, but the end was a sobering reminder that so many people in the real world haven't. Those flashbacks just added to the heartbreak. Not having the laugh track was a really good call, even though it had some funny lines here and there, it would have felt wrong to have it going while something so intense was happening. Then at the end, when Al was happy for saving his sister but so heartbroken by everything and how many people cant be saved, it really feels like a punch to the gut. And a reminder that, even as the news cycle is moving on, this is still happening to real people. What an episode, not that many shows can make me tear up so much for so long. I know its such a minor thing compared to the very real and important topic, but I do hope that the Emmys take note. 

The bright spot in all of the tragedy was seeing again how much everyone cares and how everyone was all doing their best to help in any way they could. Vanessa comforting Riley when he freaked out after talking to his friend who was trying to help his translator get out (probably thinking that this could have easily been him if he didn't help Al get to the US just six months ago) then saw the news covering football, Lizzie trying to get Al to take his mind off worrying for a second, it was just a really emotional half hour. 

Edited by tennisgurl
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I'll watch this episode again at some point when I feel up to it, but kudos to all the actors. I don't know if they're mostly sitcom actors, but damn, they've got some set of dramatic chops. Also, a special shout out to the actress playing Al's sister. She had to convey her terror and the chaos on Afghanistan just from her voice alone.

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14 hours ago, SmithW6079 said:

I'll watch this episode again at some point when I feel up to it, but kudos to all the actors. I don't know if they're mostly sitcom actors, but damn, they've got some set of dramatic chops. Also, a special shout out to the actress playing Al's sister. She had to convey her terror and the chaos on Afghanistan just from her voice alone.

Yes. I didn't have to see her to register her fear and terror. It gave me goosebumps.

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Note that this is labeled as the 4th episode production-wise and in the press release, even though it's the first episode aired. We're going to get some out of order episode numbers for a bit it seems

ETA: It seems the press release on the Futon Critic website is not in sync with others so it won’t be changed

Edited by DanaK
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On 10/13/2021 at 12:30 PM, Bookish Jen said:

Yes. I didn't have to see her to register her fear and terror. It gave me goosebumps.

I still remember on 9/11 listening to 1010 WINS news radio because my office didn't have cable, so no good TV reception. Some WINS marketing staff person was calling in from her apartment's rooftop in Brooklyn because she had a clear view of the Towers, and then her shocked gasp, "Oh my God, the building fell!" Chills because we could only hear her. Twenty years later I still remember that moment. 

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On 10/14/2021 at 7:14 PM, SmithW6079 said:

I still remember on 9/11 listening to 1010 WINS news radio because my office didn't have cable, so no good TV reception. Some WINS marketing staff person was calling in from her apartment's rooftop in Brooklyn because she had a clear view of the Towers, and then her shocked gasp, "Oh my God, the building fell!" Chills because we could only hear her. Twenty years later I still remember that moment. 

I was also listening to the radio, and this moment is what I remember most. Absolutely terrifying.

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