So Help Me Todd – Side Effects May Include Murder – Review

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Episode 11 of the new hit series, kicked off with a rather surprising turn of events. Todd and Margaret both received late night phone calls from unidentified callers. Pan to the courthouse where it is discovered that Margaret was called to represent a client and Todd was called to bail out, wait for it, his sister, Allison! Margaret runs into her children at the courthouse and automatically assumes that Todd has been arrested again. Todd plays the dutiful brother, by going along with Margaret’s assumption and taking the fall for Allison. Margaret lays into Todd for his behaviour and for disrupting his sister’s life, not even taking a moment to notice her badly disheveled daughter. In Margaret’s mind, there is no world where Allison would get into trouble. 

The series has done a great job so far of uncovering the cracks in the Wright family dynamic. Margaret is a good mother, but her expectations for her children have shaped them into who they are today- Todd is the screw up and Allison is Margaret’s perfect child. Allison always meets her mothers expectations by following the rules and making the right choices. However, perfection comes with a price and this episode unraveled the years of damage that being the golden child has done to Allison. Allison has dutifully done anything and everything to make her mother happy and has sacrificed her own happiness in doing so. It came as a huge shock for Margaret when Allison admitted that she was the one who got arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct. Margaret feels like her daughter had a momentary lapse in judgment, and wants to help her craft a letter to the judge, leaning on the fact that she is a doctor and esteemed member of society, so that she can get off on the charges. Margaret is of course stunned when Allison refuses to write the letter and in an emotional scene, she lets her mother know that she got drunk in order to feel something, anything, to escape from her unhappiness. Allison finally tells her mother that her expectations have led her to this point, which enrages Margaret who truly believes she was being a good parent and could not possibly be responsible for Allison’s unhappiness. 

Allison also brought up her father, Margaret’s first husband, whom we haven’t heard about since the pilot. Allison uses her mothers relationship with her father to drive home her point that Margaret was in an unhappy marriage and did nothing about it. At Allison’s hearing, Margaret finally apologizes to Allison, which for Allison, was a long time coming. Allison gave an impassioned plea to the judge for leniency, and she was sentenced to 200 hours of community service. The conversations between Margaret and Allison were raw, real and absolutely needed. Allison needs to heal in order to live the life that she wants and this could not happen without letting her mother know the part she played in bringing her to this point. Hopefully there will be an opportunity for Todd to have a similar conversation with Margaret at some point. Her assumptions of her son being a deadbeat are not lost on him and his ability to put the pieces of his life back together. Either way, this was clearly only the beginning of the dissection of the complex Wright family history. There is definitely a lot more to unpack. 
The case of the week actually offered the light hearted portion of the episode, despite dealing with a very real issue. Margarets client, Imani (Kalyne Coleman), was charged with attempted murder for attacking her Principal with a knife. This was completely uncharacteristic of Imani, who is a teacher with an excellent reputation. Imani claims she was not in control of her actions, that she went into a fugue state which she believes is a side effect of an experimental drug that she had been taking. Todd talks Allison into signing him up for the same drug trial, which leads to a series of hilarious incidents including Todd losing control of his arms and cleverly, yet frustratingly, having an elderly gentleman craft an email for him. He also impersonates Lyle to get an informant to spill. Skylar Astin is brilliant at executing comedic moments with charm and hilarity that viewers can’t help but be drawn in. 
Thanks to Todd’s excellent detective skills, he locates the doctor who created the drug who tells him that what happened to Imani is indeed a side effect of the drug and the pharmaceutical company covered it up. The doctor is set to testify, but Todd drags him into the courthouse drunk and stumbling. With no other choice, Margaret has the doctor testify and uses her tremendous lawyering skills to frame his alcoholism as a side effect of the drug company’s actions. The charges were dropped against Imani. One of the strengths of this show is the talented writing team. The cases are not at all cookie cutter, they are unique and driven by real-world situations that captivate viewers and leave them rooting for the accused. The creativity is definitely in abundance in the writer’s room, and that is what is drawing millions of viewers and counting each week. 
With another two-week hiatus set for the show, viewers will have to wait to see how the Wright family recovers from the intense realizations discovered in this episode. SHMT fans, I want to hear from you! What were your thoughts on the episode? Do you think Margaret will make a concerted effort to repair things with Allison? Is a similar conversation with Todd on the horizon? Comment below and follow me on Twitter @miss_c_almeida.

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