Episode Report Card
Al Lowe: B | 2 USERS: A+
The Tracks of My Mother-Freakin' Tears

That night, Sarah is in the garden looking at classified ads for apartments as her mom cuts flowers. Well, I'm glad to see Berkeley is still publishing a print newspaper... Though Camille assures her that she and the kids can stay at the house for however long they need, Sarah says she's going to cut out the ad, "on the slim chance we wear out our welcome." In what appears to be her father's workshop, she goes hunting for scissors in his desk. What she finds, instead, is a box of condoms. Confused, she casts a sad look out the window at her mom but has no time to consider the issue because her phone rings with news that her daughter and niece, Haddie, are being held at the police station.

When she arrives at the station, the look on her face is total perfection. The shame and humiliation of having to face Adam and Kristina -- Lauren Graham is just brilliant, shrinking into herself and trying to apologize. The girls have not been officially charged with anything, which is a relief, but still, Sarah is mortified that apparently her daughter has lured theirs down a bad path. "Oh, Kristina," she says, one mother to another. "I am so sorry." Kristina tries to say that it's okay, she's just glad it's over, but everyone knows it so isn't. Behind the window, Haddie cuts a look of death at the nonplussed Amber.

As they trudge into the house later, Amber takes her mom aside. "Mom," she says, "it wasn't my weed." Sarah looks at her for a moment and then, totally deadpan, says, "That's great. What a relief. I'm so proud of you, honey." Oh, LORD. Poor Amber. Her face is a map of a million emotions, most of them trending towards sad and regretful.

I don't know if you've noticed that I wasn't loving it in the first half of this show, but here's the moment the tide turned for me, and it's 100 percent because of the greatness of Lauren Graham. At some undetermined amount of time later, possibly an hour or a week, Amber is downstairs watching TV and eating carrots when Sarah comes down on her way out for her set-up date with the Non-Unabomber. Amber, mildly sarcastic, snarks about how sexy it is to be going out for blind date Chinese, and finally, Sarah snaps. "That's enough out of you," she says. "I want you to know you made me mad, and you embarrassed me. And, it's going to be a long time before you earn my trust back." So admonished, Amber meekly says okay. Sarah turns to stomp out and, in a daughterly voice, Amber asks, "Are you sure about the shoes?" This is how you know your child loves you -- that she won't let you roll out of the house wearing flats on a date. Sarah turns. "Go on," she says. Amber sighs. "I mean, it's a date, not a bar mitzvah," she says, sassy again. "I just think you should go with your strong suit, you know?" Sarah, hesitating: "What is my strong suit?" Amber says it's her boots, of course. "Also," she adds, "that bag. It's very 1960s." For a moment Sarah is thrilled to have gotten something right, but Amber adds that she does not mean that in a good way. "Oh, God," Sarah groans, but goes back upstairs to change. Moments later we see her pull up to the Golden Dragon, appropriately booted and bagged. Inside, she makes her way across the restaurant, not knowing how to recognize this guy she hasn't seen in 20 years. "Hi," says a somewhat frumpy bald dude in an untucked shirt. Sarah barely glances at him. "Hi," she says, looking past him for Jim. Except... this IS Jim. She cannot hide her shock and disappointment, especially when, trying go in for a hug, Jim bashes her forehead with his own. "Sooo," she says, making a go of it, asking if he lives near Berkeley Coffee where Julia ran into him. "Oh," he says. "I don't know... Julia didn't tell you... I work at Berkeley Coffee. I'm a barista." Oh. Sarah struggles to maintain her composure, and finally can't. She jumpily says she needs to run out and make a quick phone call. "Oh, okay," Jim calls to her back. "I'll just get the appetizer started. You like shrimp toast?" Sarah: "Any kind of toast!" Hee. How I've missed you, Lauren Graham.

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