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S02.E11: Punch/Musht

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When Hazel gets in trouble at school, Riley and Vanessa disagree on how to handle the issue, on the CBS Original series UNITED STATES OF AL, Thursday, Jan. 13 (8:31-9:01 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network, and available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+

 

 

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Ooh, damn, Riley pulling the "I'm a better parent than you" line D:. Art and Al's reactions to that whole argument were mine. 

Ah, Hazel. I very much sympathize with and appreciate her wanting to defend Al from that kid's jerk comments. I like that she's as protective of him as he is of her. And hell, I can even understand and sympathize with the desire in and of itself to want to punch someone who says something stupid, 'cause I think most people, if not all people, have had those kinds of thoughts at some point. 

But of course, that was clearly not the right way to handle it, and the fact she did it again later just added to the problem. I admire her going by herself to apologize to him - yeah, she'd been told to by all the adults, but it was clear she was also sincere in her apology and wanted to sort things out herself. And I get her whole thing of not even really realizing what she'd done until after she'd done it. I was so hoping that she would be able to walk away and ignore Danny's mean comments, but I'm also not entirely surprised she responded as she did. 

Still, yeah, she was absolutely in the wrong, and I do like how Riley and Vanessa came together to handle and talk to her about all of that at the end. That was a really good scene between the three of them, and hopefully they will be on more equal footing from here on out in terms of how to handle any further issues with her. I would like to suggest that Riley and Vanessa go talk to Danny's parents and tell them to talk to him about what he's been saying, too, but I don't know how well that'd work. I get the feeling that kid's echoing the stuff he's heard at home. 

I also really liked how this episode touched on some deeper issues between Riley, Vanessa, and Hazel, with Vanessa's frustration over how Hazel responds to Riley compared to her, and Riley having to take stock of how some of his traits have influenced and rubbed off on her. And I like that they touched on the fact that Hazel's behavior here is tied to her struggle to deal with the fact her parents aren't together and they're often fighting. I think that explains a lot of the more rebellious, risky things she's been doing thus far.

Plus, while Hazel's reaction was obviously due in large part to her wanting to defend Al, whom she loves and cares about, there's also the fact that it's because of Al that her father is here, with her, safe and sound. That story Riley told her about Al noticing that antenna on that guy, thus saving Riley's life and the lives of many others, was really touching and powerful. The fact that Hazel got testy when explaining why Al didn't stay in Afghanistan is proof of how much she appreciates and understands all he's done for her dad, and I really liked seeing that aspect of how she views him here, too. 

So yeah. Lots of interesting, complex issues for the show to touch on here, and I thought they handled it all in a really well-balanced manner. 

Also enjoyed the family meeting, awkward though it was at times. Good opportunity to see Al put his mediator skills to use again, and I liked that Freddy was included as well. So long as he continues to be a part of Vanessa and Hazel's lives, it makes sense he'd be there. Though I do appreciate that he was also careful about when to jump in with his thoughts. I liked his suggestion of holding hands, and Lizzie's reaction to that, LOL. 

On a lighter note, I loved the running jokes about Art trying to fix the dishwasher. The way he and Lizzie handled it at the end was good and a very Art-like thing to do :D. And I loved Al's eagerness to be the subject of Hazel's report, and how detailed he was getting with his story of his life*. Oh, Al...:D. Also chuckled at Art, Riley, and Hazel all commenting on that movie they were watching - sounds like my family when we're watching Twister :p. 

*I also really liked that sweater Al was wearing early on in the episode. It looked very warm and cozy. 

Edited by Annber03
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The sad thing about Danny is that he is probably repeating what he heard at home from his parents or other relatives.

I loved that Riley told a story where Al was the absolute hero who saved the day. 

I loved that Art managed to find the loophole in his own rule of "I have never called a repairman" and Lizzie was more than willing to play along instead of calling him out on it. 

Lizzie was right to point out that things are only going to get worse with Hazel and it's good to figure things out before the problems are more serious. When Hazel asked for an iphone, I expected one of the parents to offer a flip-phone/basic cell phone. 

Shallow end of the pool: More scenes of Riley in a tank-top working out please. 

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Of course it was wrong of Hazel to resort to violence, but I secretly cheered her on.

Like the above poster said, it's probably what his parents taught him or there's some backstory, but still.....

The good thing about this show it's how realistic it is. The boy didn't get to know Al and learn respect which is more realistic than a fantasy ending where everyone become besties.

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While this episode had its moments, it isn't one of my favorites.  I was surprised at how immature Riley acted by contradicting Vanessa in front of the principal and saying that Hazel wouldn't be punished.  That's the kind of discussion I would have expected them to have in private.

And I'm really not a fan of the idea Hazel got so angry that she blanked out when she punched Danny the second time.  That trope seems to come up in a lot of shows lately and it makes me lose a lot of sympathy for the character involved.  I feel like that person needs anger management classes so I wish the show hadn't gone in that direction, even though it did give us a nice family bonding moment with Hazel and Riley and Vanessa.

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1 hour ago, Rose Quartz said:

I was surprised at how immature Riley acted by contradicting Vanessa in front of the principal and saying that Hazel wouldn't be punished.  That's the kind of discussion I would have expected them to have in private.

I felt the same way until I remembered that Riley's issues are starting to bubble-up. If they let the thread drop I'll be disappointed. I hope they can keep it going as part of his mental health issues, and even how his issues, along with the divorce are impacting Hazel.

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9 minutes ago, theredhead77 said:

I felt the same way until I remembered that Riley's issues are starting to bubble-up. 

That's how I saw it, too. That and his protectiveness of Al kicking in, once he'd learned why she hit the kid, and his frustration over not getting a definitive answer on what kind of punishment the other kid would be getting (and I felt for the teacher there, because you know her hands were probably tied in terms of the kind of punishment he would get, too). It was immature on his part to contradict her right in front of the teacher, definitely, but it was also in keeping with how he tends to react in these kinds of situations, I think. 

I did like later, though, when Al outright called Riley a child while trying to talk to him about everything. Both because he wasn't wrong and it was something Riley needed to hear in that moment, and also because I like that it's a sign of how strong and deep their friendship is that they're not afraid to be blunt and honest with each other when needed. 

I also thought Art hit the nail on the head when he told Hazel that the discussion Riley and Vanessa were having was "a little about you, a lot about them". 

6 hours ago, Snow Apple said:

The good thing about this show it's how realistic it is. The boy didn't get to know Al and learn respect which is more realistic than a fantasy ending where everyone become besties.

Agreed. And I liked how Al handled learning about what the boy had called him, too. It was sad to be reminded that that's far from the first time he's heard someone say those kinds of awful things about or to him, but the way he'd learned how to deal with those kinds of comments, to the point of even finding some (dark) humor in them, was true to his character. 

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3 hours ago, Rose Quartz said:

And I'm really not a fan of the idea Hazel got so angry that she blanked out when she punched Danny the second time.  That trope seems to come up in a lot of shows lately and it makes me lose a lot of sympathy for the character involved.  I feel like that person needs anger management classes so I wish the show hadn't gone in that direction, even though it did give us a nice family bonding moment with Hazel and Riley and Vanessa.

I'm normally with you, but Hazel is a child. It's not an excuse, but her brain just isn't fully mature, which is why you're right, she does need anger management. When she talks about blanking out and having rages, that's something she needs to deal with, with a therapist. Her parents' divorce and her father's issues do take a toll on her. 

I also really think some of it is trying to be like her father. She idolizes him and she rightly predicted what her father would do, and do the same thing. She needs better coping skills, as does Riley. 

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I thought the teacher missed a teaching opportunity to have AL come and speak with the class.  I'd like to see what the writers could do with that. 

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He really undermines his credibility, though, with the lie about naming a base after him. You know the kids would ask about that, and then he either has to lie more (which to his credit he is not good at doing) or they won't believe anything else he tells them once they find out that wasn't true.

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3 hours ago, OlderThanDirt said:

I thought the teacher missed a teaching opportunity to have AL come and speak with the class.  I'd like to see what the writers could do with that. 

Oh, that would've been a good idea. I would've liked to see that, too, yeah. 

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20 hours ago, dungeonwriter said:

Hazel is a child. It's not an excuse, but her brain just isn't fully mature, which is why you're right, she does need anger management. When she talks about blanking out and having rages, that's something she needs to deal with, with a therapist. Her parents' divorce and her father's issues do take a toll on her. 

I also really think some of it is trying to be like her father. She idolizes him and she rightly predicted what her father would do, and do the same thing. She needs better coping skills, as does Riley. 

YES! I was trying to find a way to express this exact sentiment, and you did it perfectly. I would love to see what a session between Hazel and a therapist would be like. I also think Hazel would be willing to give it a try (not just do it because her parents are making her) if she knew that her father was currently seeing a therapist, and that her grandfather had seen one years earlier.  

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1 minute ago, Sarah 103 said:

YES! I was trying to find a way to express this exact sentiment, and you did it perfectly. I would love to see what a session between Hazel and a therapist would be like. I also think Hazel would be willing to give it a try (not just do it because her parents are making her) if she knew that her father was currently seeing a therapist, and that her grandfather had seen one years earlier.  

I recall Lizzie mentioned seeing a therapist one time, too, when talking to Art about an incident from her childhood. So yeah, it almost seems inevitable that Hazel may follow suit in talking to somebody at some point, too, and I also would like to see how that goes. I wonder if this family would ever do a group therapy sort of thing, on top of going to see their individual therapists. Might not hurt. 

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I love how normalized men going to therapy is. Even Art didn't shy away from it with his usual machismo-esque persona.

Speaking of his machismo-esque personality, loved his resignation to needing a professional to fix the dishwasher and Lizzie rolling with it.

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I totally agree with other posters about Hazel going to therapy, that could be really good for her. Its clear that her parents divorce and her dads struggles have affected her. I liked how they handled what Hazel did, while its pretty understandable that she wanted to give that kid a good smack in the face, you cant just go around punching every jerk you meet. Hazel is developing anger management issues and Lizzie is right that this could lead to bigger issues down the line. 

Its interesting how the issue ended up being more about Riley and Vanessa and how frustrated Vanessa is by how Hazel idolizes Riley so she listens to him over her, and how, while Riley was proud of her at first, he realized that he messed up when he saw some of his own issues in Hazel. Riley has made progress, seeing a therapist and trying to be more honest about what is going through, but he still has some pretty big issues he is working through. 

Art's battle with the dishwasher was a nice lighter B plot to contrast with the more heavy A plot, and I am glad that he found a loophole where he could call in a professional and that Lizzie went along with it. 

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On 1/19/2022 at 10:51 AM, tennisgurl said:

Art's battle with the dishwasher was a nice lighter B plot to contrast with the more heavy A plot, and I am glad that he found a loophole where he could call in a professional and that Lizzie went along with it. 

I was more impressed that they thought Lizzie could call that day and get a repairman to come out the same day to fix the dishwasher, not three weeks from now.

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3 hours ago, SmithW6079 said:

I was more impressed that they thought Lizzie could call that day and get a repairman to come out the same day to fix the dishwasher, not three weeks from now.

Maybe they have "a guy person"

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