Photo: Apple TV+
“We all grieve in our own way, in our own time … There’s no formula to healing. We will come out of this, but none of us will come out unscathed.” Those are the words of Milo, the therapist hired to run the grief support group for any loved ones of deceased passengers set up by the airline. Those that take the airline up on the offer in New York are a small group — just seven at the moment — but even within that small group, you get a good look at all the ways grief can present itself. Because, friends, grief is fucking wild. It ebbs and flows in intensity. It is no one feeling, it’s all of them — sadness and anger and fear and despair and frustration — sometimes (many times) all at once. It makes you want to stay in bed all day long. It makes you want to be as busy as possible. It paralyzes you with indecision. It takes your impulsivity to another level. It’s different for everyone. It’s universal. And the great thing inherent in making Dear Edward an ensemble show is that it makes room for all shades of grief. No one will come out of this trauma unscathed, but it will look different for everyone.
In this episode alone, Dee Dee exhibits an entire color wheel of Grief Emotions. In the scene at the cemetery alone! Connie Britton is giving a master class in demonstrating the chaos of grief! There, at her husband’s grave with Zoe, she’s speaking in contained platitudes when suddenly she notices that the linden tree growing near the gravesite is gone — she goes mental. She marches across the lawn and flags down an unassuming gardener, demanding to know where the tree went. After offensively butchering some Spanish in his face, she launches into this speech about how that tree was there for the funeral, and yes, sure, she mentioned to the funeral director that there was “some rot in the bark” (stay ridiculous, Dee Dee) but she didn’t want it taken away, just taken care of! Now it’s gone. And then it becomes quite obvious that this is not about the tree, it’s about Charles. He wasn’t even supposed to be on that flight, she says. He slept too late and missed his original one. And now he’s gone. “He was our rock,” she cries. Now she’s standing in front of the gardener sobbing, not knowing what she’s going to do without Charles until Zoe walks her over to a nearby bench to calm down. Babes, that wild ride of emotions, that’s grief right there.
But Dee Dee’s roller coaster is nowhere near over. She meets with her husband’s financial advisor and learns several new things about Charles, even though, as she tells Brad, they told each other everything: They are in severe debt, mostly stemming from the fact that he got laid off from his job a year and a half prior, and, oh yeah, he owns a mysterious condo in Los Angeles. Dee Dee didn’t know about any of it. She is stunned and angry and might throw up on the table. Is this poor Brad’s worst day of work ever? I can’t imagine much worse than shattering a grieving widow’s world not once but three times. I hope Brad took a mental-health day afterward.
For Dee Dee, it gets worse. Obviously, when your husband has secret property in a city where he traveled to often, you will assume an affair. So Dee Dee musters up all of her courage and calls the condo’s landline. A woman answers the phone and confirms that it is Charles’s house. Dee Dee hangs up. She doesn’t yell. She doesn’t sob. No, this woman walks over to the fridge, takes out her snack lock box (just a perfect character detail) full of cupcakes, smashes it until it opens, and goes to town. That’s grief! And don’t you forget it!
But again, grief looks different on everyone. Dee Dee’s grief is loud and dramatic and full of icing. Edward’s manifests itself in quieter but just as alarming ways. Let’s not forget that Edward is only 12 years old as he’s thrust into the spotlight for, well, surviving. He might be a genius, but there’s no way he can fully process the debilitating loss and intense trauma he’s suffered. I mean, could anyone? It’s no wonder he hallucinates his brother Jordan as if he’s still alive. Jordan seems to arrive whenever Edward is scared or at his most uncomfortable. He sees him at the crash site, believing them both to have survived. Jordan is in the empty nursery as Edward looks around what will be his new bedroom at his Aunt Lacey’s house, an aunt he barely knows. This version of Jordan can talk about how he doesn’t want to eat fish for dinner and say that Eddie seeing a psychiatrist is dumb when Edward can’t voice those things for himself (although, how is going to therapy even a question here??). And Jordan can be there, in the top bunk at night. Someone for Eddie to yell at about how praying will never bring back their parents and yet still pray with. Jordan can be there to say “Good night, stupid” so that Eddie can echo it back, just like they’ve done their whole lives before they go to sleep.
Nobody else knows that Edward is hallucinating his brother as a sort of comfort blanket, but they can see another major problem: Edward is losing weight. The doctor is concerned he’ll need a feeding tube if this goes on any longer. Lacey may have her handy-dandy binder full of nutritional plans for her nephew, but the doctor tells her to toss it; Edward needs calories, no matter what kind.
In one of the best scenes of the episode, Lacey and Edward pull up outside of the local grocery store and Lacey has her first real, honest conversation with her nephew about what is happening to them. Well, first she rants about Whole Foods’ carbon footprint and how “fucked up” she is about food, but then, then she has a heart-to-heart. She tells him that none of this is fair and that she can’t eat, either. She knows she could never replace his mom, but she is going to take care of him as best she can. Right now that means that Edward can go pick out whatever he wants from the store and she’ll make it for him. She uses the phrase “Here’s the dealio,” which Edward does not make fun of her for, but I hope he banks it for later. I feel like you know exactly who Lacey is from this one scene. Anyway, it’s a grieving woman trying her best and we love that, dealio or no dealio.
The plan goes well at first. The cart is loaded up with all the chips and cookies and corn dogs a kid could want. It’s when Lacey leaves Edward to go grab something things get weird. A teenage girl is standing behind Edward in tears. She calls him by name and tells him she’s so sorry for what happened. “You lost your brother,” she says before hugging him, shoving a fake shrunken head into his hand, and running off. The shrunken-head bit is, admittedly, alarming, but at this moment, all Edward can hear is the bit about his brother dying. It hits him like a truck: Jordan is dead. He’s been imagining him this entire time. He didn’t survive the crash or talk to him about how creepy the empty nursery is; there isn’t even a bunk bed in his room. Jordan is gone. And Edward collapses to the floor.
It turns out Edward was dehydrated and he’s fine now, but Lacey feels like a failure. Not only is she failing Edward, but she’s failing her sister. To be processing the loss of her own sister while also having to care for a deeply traumatized kid — that’s a lot. Lacey does not come across as someone who handles “a lot” well. In group, she wonders if maybe it was a blessing never to have her own child because it’s clear she’s a terrible mother. “I’m drowning,” she tells them. Surprisingly — or maybe not, since she does seem like a go-getter — it’s Dee Dee who stands up to give Lacey a hug. “Nobody knows how to be a mother,” she assures her. It’s not long before the entire group is up, embracing her. It’s a powerful moment — they are strangers and yet somehow not strangers at all — and I hope we get more group-therapy scenes just like it.
The dinner with all the grocery-store goodies goes well. Edward eats a real (fried) meal, John gets to eat something he actually likes, and hey, even Lacey tries a corn dog. It’s possibly the first moment of levity in that house since Edward’s moved in.
This does not mean that Edward is suddenly healed. He keeps replaying the rock-paper-scissors moment in his head, and he can’t sleep. He winds up knocking on his neighbor Shay’s door (they had a quick bonding moment over scars earlier). Her mom, Besa, has enough awareness to know this is something Edward needs to do, and so she lets the strange boy from next door with the plate of leftover fried food up into her daughter’s room to say hello. But Edward needs more than that at the moment — he asks Shay if he can sleep on her floor. When she says yes, and tosses him a pillow and blanket, he asks one more thing of her: When he says “Good night, stupid,” can she say it back? The whole situation is weird and you can see it on Shay’s face, but like her mother, it seems Shay is aware that Edward might need this. Surely it is partly because of the way he whispers “Please” to her when she questions why. Eventually, she tells him “Good night, stupid” and finally, Edward can fall asleep.
• Kojo arrives from Ghana (oof, how was that plane ride?) to be with his niece and eventually bring her back with him. Becks — who brings me to tears every time I see her — hasn’t spoken since her mother’s death. Kojo arrives at grief group believing it to be a different kind of support group — one that can help him figure out getting Becks a passport and issues with Akua’s landlord — but winds up staying anyway. Adriana is quick to help him out with a few numbers, and later, she chats up Becks about her drawing and Becks starts talking. Kojo is visibly moved.
• For Adriana, the death of her grandmother is pushing her to take bigger risks than she would’ve before. She gives her grandmother’s chief of staff, Cora, her blessing to run for the now open congressional seat, but when Cora makes her announcement declaring that she’s the best person for the job, it rubs Adriana the wrong way. After a lovely little chat with Kojo, who tells her that she’s “already ready and [she’ll] never be ready,” it seems like Adriana is poised to do what her grandmother wanted after all.
• So … Kojo and Adriana falling in love, when??
• Another great Dee Dee moment (yeah, I’m obsessed): At the first grief-group session, Linda, the woman in the lovey-dovey couple we saw at the airport, mistakes her for the therapist and word vomits about how she’s pregnant and now that her boyfriend, Gary, is dead, she has no one and nothing and she’s freaking out. Dee Dee is taken aback and tries her best to comfort, but when that doesn’t work, she offers Linda a hug and a cupcake and that seems to help for the time being.
• That moment when a reporter asks if it’s “Eddie” or “Edward” and Edward flashes back to quick moments when his parents and Jordan called him Eddie, and he can’t bear to have anyone call him that now so he says his name is Edward? Punch me right in the gut, why don’t you.