Better Things: “Alarm” Season 1 Episode 6 Review

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“Alarm” couldn’t have been expected to follow up “Future Fever,” easily the best episode of the series thus far, but it could have at least tried. Instead, we got an episode chock full of too loosely connected scenes that felt like just a random check in with Sam for the week. The abstract connections between random events of Sam’s day to day life felt too stretched to make this a coherent episode. That said, the individual scenes were mostly pretty good.

Surprisingly, a lot of “Alarm” felt like it was playing catch-up with random events we’ve seen or heard about throughout the first half of the season. The most notable case of this was Sam’s complicated discussion with her best friend about her deteriorating marriage. Once found on Tinder, Sam writes him and the marriage off completely. What she’s not realizing is that timing is everything and that her friend needs to come to terms with what’s about to happen before it happens.

Ironically, after an amusing aside involving a probably failed pilot Sam starred in and the character playing her son trying to expose his boner to her, “Alarm” rather quietly introduces us to previously unseen but nonetheless important figure in Sam’s life. The scene sets itself up to be an awkward date, but then Sam says to the plain looking middle-aged man, “Your daughters are fine.” The scene tells us everything it needs to with so little. Their relationship is cordial enough for Sam to agree to have dinner. But when his true purpose for their meetings is revealed, Sam gets on the defense for herself and her daughters. All he wanted to say was that he’ll be living near their house, which he notably refuses to call “Sam’s house,” for the summer but that work will keep him too busy to see his daughters. Sam abruptly leads the restaurant. This brief peak gives us so much insight as to what Sam is dealing with in terms of their father. It’s a scene Better Things needed to include at some point. Considering it helps save the episode, “Alarm” may be when it fit best in this premiere season. It’s too bad the content surrounding it is so blatantly mediocre.

The final vignette of the episode has Sam responding to her mother’s house alarm, which is going off to no end. The scene reminds us of Phyllis’ mortality, as it sets us up to find Sam’s mother injured or worse. That doesn’t end up being the case, but some foreshadowing here could darken the sky in a future episode. How this is supposed to finish the overall story of “Alarm” is anyone’s guess. Better Things has delivered enough “day in the life” episodes already that the lack of linear plot here felt monotonous. Still, some important moments were had, keeping the intrigue up for the rest of the season. Grade: B-

By Matt Dougherty

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