Ciara looks the way I felt watching her try to emote.
I’m a big fan of being patient and letting young actors learn and blossom, but those scenes of her confessing her love to Chad were absolutely painful. There was one particular line — which I was sure I’d misheard, so I rewound twice — where she said, “You probably think I’m some naive girl who’s in love with his boss!” His! Upon replay, I could see the actress realizing she was saying the wrong word, pause almost imperceptibly mid-word to correct it, and then just let it happen. Her speech patterns for much of the episode did not resemble any I’ve encountered on this planet, let alone conjure actual emotion. Meanwhile, you had Billy Flynn trying to pretend he had an actual scene partner and doing his best to get blood out of a stone. Hire this man for the next Avatar, since he’s clearly capable of convincingly acting against a green screen.
This story was ill-conceived to begin with, and I thought they’d cut it off at the knees when they randomly had Ciara living back at Hope’s place. With any luck, this was just a way to wrap up the dangling thread and shove Ciara back into a more age- and sense-appropriate triangle with Theo and Claire, or off a cliff, or whatever.
On the other side of Chad’s story, we had Belle acting so decent and likable that I was worried I’d flipped on the wrong show. How is it that the character (and actress, honestly) does such a 180 whenever they get her out of romantic or sexual scenes? Her compassion for Jennifer felt complex and real. I did burst out laughing when she declared to Chad, “I have no patience for self-pity!” Excuse me? This from the woman who spent the top half of 2016 boo-hooing over how her daughter (whom she was neglected) hated her, her husband (on whom she cheated) wouldn’t just forgive her, and her boyfriend/ex-husband wasn’t happy being strung along and wanted an actual commitment?!
Meanwhile, Jennifer was able to clean herself up in time to go address the local Chamber of Commerce.
Seriously, have you ever seen such a fancy AA meeting? Normally these types of social issue storylines are supposed to induce people to take action in their own lives, but I feel like the folks struggling with addiction who watched this episode (of the 36 total viewers) probably thought, “I kind of want help, but I don’t want to get dressed up and give a damn TED Talk! Where’s my vodka?!”