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It’s Always Darkest Before the Dawn: Mistresses “The Morning After” Review

By on June 11, 2013
Yunjin Kim as Karen —  Photo: Adam Larkey/ABC

Yunjin Kim as Karen — Photo: Adam Larkey/ABC

“The Morning After” wasted no time diving right in to the hardest parts of each character’s storylines, continuing the pilot’s thoughtful, and sometimes uncomfortably honest, conversation about the intricacies of adultery.

During the course of the show’s second episode, we watch as each woman deals with their own kind of “aftermath” from the previous night’s events. Josslyn gets closer to one half of her client duo, while Savannah debates whether she should tell Harry about her night. Things get even more complicated for Karen as she continues her relationship with Tom’s son, Sam. Meanwhile, April torments herself looking for evidence of her husband’s affair, leading to a face-to-face confrontation with the mistress.

The question of whether or not April could support her friends while she comes to terms with Paul’s affair is answered early on. April reacts with violent disgust, refusing to speak with Savi after her confession (during an emotionally raw moment for April) that she cheated on Harry the night before. April’s reaction to Karen’s affair in both last week’s and this week’s episode was mild in comparison, especially considering Karen’s musings about a right to grieve.

With Paul’s mistress wanting a piece of the life he built with April, shouldn’t a discussion about the other woman’s “rights” (emotional, physical, or monetary) have sparked a similar reaction from April? It didn’t, and instead of anger we see her comfort Karen. Once we move beyond whether these differing reactions are believable, the show gives us some interesting questions to dwell on. Do we treat those who are in a committed relationship and cheat differently than those who aren’t and do? If so, how do we rationalize the different treatment and is it fair?

Karen, meanwhile, reaches a breaking point with Sam when he shows up at her practice again, unannounced. The blow up effectively handles her un-reciprocated infatuation issue, but leaves a bad taste in the mouth. She had several chances to express her feelings congenially, and more importantly, with a sense of finality. Instead, she shoots Sam down in an emotional outburst, leaving both characters hurt… and room for potentially more contact. Blame for mishandling the Sam situation doesn’t lie entirely with her inability to wrangle the stubborn, pinning young man appropriately, however. Earlier in the day, Karen is fortunate enough to speak with a nosy insurance investigator who drops by her office.

When Tom’s wife declined an autopsy, it sent up some red flags at the insurance company. They are now looking into the circumstances of Tom’s death, which includes an evaluation of his mental health. Forced into a corner, Karen lies about Tom’s mindset in his final days. While April may feel Savi’s betrayal was much worse, the law might have a different opinion as Karen adds insurance fraud to her list of  “Things I’d Do For An Adulterous Man.” Sadly for Karen, the pain she feels now isn’t anywhere near what she could feel after having her professional and personal life ripped away because she’s protecting a man who in the end chose his wife.

Josslyn spent a lot of this episode helping her friends talk out their feelings, including brother-in-law Harry and her sister, Savi. And though her speech to Harry works out well for her sister, Joss’ most interesting moments spring from her time with Alex. Despite Alex’s insistence on taking a break from house hunting as things are more stressful than usual for her partner, Joss manages to get her out for lunch. Not everyone may see a romantic connection building between the two women, but all can certainly agree the budding friendship is positive for both.

Jossyln continues to be the most magnetic character on the show in terms of sexuality. She’s more confident and open when it comes to the physical aspects of relationships of the four women, but she also takes the least amount of responsibility for and in the emotional aspects. Alex is a nice juxtaposition to Joss. Serious about her relationship, she’s committed and constantly concerned – to a fault – about the well being of her partner. An aura of strong chemistry is always present (and enjoyable) in scenes between these two characters, but their shared moments are also a nice look at the ways American women live and love in our modern society.

While Jossyln’s sexual (and relationship) freedom is working great for her, Savannah’s marital misstep has caused quite a few issues. Savi’s emotionally a wreck and completely guilt ridden. Her attempts to start a family with Harry are making unforced and unplanned intimacy a very hard thing. Savi admits first to Karen that she wants to tell Harry, but Karen stops her when she raises an important question. How can you have a serious and life altering  conversation about something you’ve done when you don’t know why you did it?

Alyssa Milano as Savannah, Brett Tucker as Harry, Jason George as Dominic — Photo: Eric McCandless/ABC

(L-R): Alyssa Milano, Brett Tucker, Jason George — Photo: Eric McCandless/ABC — © 2013 ABC

Instead of taking time to contemplate Karen’s question, Savi jumps straight to confronting Dominic. While laying down the law, she tells him that their night was a mistake and is not something that will happen again. Dominic says that he respects Savi’s decision to discontinue any physical relationship between them, but doesn’t miss a beat pointing out that she kissed him. This comment reiterates Karen’s question of “What would make you stray?” and ultimately forces the ball back in Savi’s court – where it belongs.

As if Karen’s wise words, Dominic’s painful observation, and April’s rejection weren’t enough, Harry shows up at the office to apologize for overreacting. After a pretty heartfelt plea from Harry to keep trying to start a family, Savannah goes from a four to a seven on the duress scale. This is why her decision at episode’s end to talk about why she strayed, but not come clean to Harry, is so poignant. In Savi we see a woman who does love her husband, but this one mistake in a moment of emotional weakness may cost her everything. The question is, should it?

Catch Mistresses Mondays this summer at 10:00 – 11:00 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.