Chesapeake Shores, S2 E5, “Buried Treasures”
Written by Michael McLennan
Directed by Mike Rohl
“[Mom] had to help Connor with his algebra because [Abby] made him cry.”
Every present moment contains remembered pieces of the past and imagined possibilities for the future. There always seems to be a kind of push-pull between what happened as history and what may yet unfold. Many of the characters on Chesapeake Shores seem controlled by long-ago events, for better or for worse. Sometimes continually looking backward diminishes the potentials of the future, but this week a backward glance opens up a door for happier things to come.
It all begins when Nell unearths a treasure map that Bree drew when she was 15 years old which shows, in a very cryptic teenaged kind of code, where Bree buried a time capsule holding important items she “acquired” from each family member. This sets off a search by Bree and Kevin all over the property to find and dig up this time capsule. And, make no mistake, Kevin does the digging.
Speaking of the past, Abby decides to join the PTA at her daughter’s’ school which is run by an old “friend” of hers from high school. Abby believes this woman does not like her because the woman likes Abby’s boyfriend, and always has. While that may be true, other factors play a part. Though Abby has always excelled at math, she’s a horrible teacher. First she fails miserably at teaching fractions to her own daughter. Second, it turns out that when she tried to help Connor with his math homework in school, she made him cry. Third, when tutoring the PTA lady, she made her cry too. The old resentments stem from Abby’s treatment, not jealousy.
The preview for this week’s show suggested that Abby would meet some hunky new guy that would distract her from her relationship with Trace while he’s off in Nashville. That doesn’t turn out to be true; Abby does meet a hunky new guy, a widower who’s recently moved to town with his daughter. So far, he just seems like a plot device whose loss of his own wife forces Abby to realize that being separated from Trace by mere distance is not such a bad deal. Whether there’s any true romance in the air between these two will require future episodes to develop.
Meanwhile, Connor meets up with an old flame. Well, she would’ve been an old flame if he and she had ever gotten together, but they did not. He was always headed for the more lucrative side of the legal profession, while she is interested in pursuing civil rights work. Working as a First Amendment attorney, she’s not afraid to exercise her own First Amendment rights and tell it like it is, including telling Connor that the large law firm where he works (and which he hates) is the evil empire. He likes her anyway. His mother suggests he volunteer for the same organization for which his crush works. He’ll be doing good for purely selfish reasons, but it’s about as close to being an actual human being as Connor ever gets.
Like Connor, Jess is having a little trouble adjusting to her new career. Some horrible high maintenance guest staying at her B&B keeps her and her chef David running off their feet with his unreasonable demands. He doesn’t like the color of the towels. He doesn’t like the sheets. He doesn’t like the soap. His eggs are “too scrambled”. The sun is too bright, and the night is too dark. He expects Jess to change everything, even if she’s just changed it to suit his desires of five minutes before. She does her best, but she just can’t make him happy. Worse, when they run his credit card, Jess and David discover that the man isn’t who he says he is. He’s much much worse. He’s a travel writer. A famous travel writer. For the New York Times. Since he’s an unhappy travel writer for the New York Times, Jess and David fear the worst when he publishes his review in The Times. After avoiding the article like the plague, she sits down to read the review on the computer and… not only does he give the town and the B&B rave reviews, but the travel writer mentions them both by name in his article. More business in the future for the fledgling B&B.
Down in Nashville, Trace holds true to his principles even though it could cost him the successful music career about which he has always dreamed. The hotshot producer insists that Trace go solo merely because it would be easier to market him as a single guy to female fans. Trace struggles with the choice before him. He tries to talk Leigh out of continuing with the record company so that he won’t have to tell her that the record company doesn’t want her as part of the act. But she already knows. She tells him to go ahead because the legal realities of the contract mean that the record company can do whatever it wants. Trace figures it differently, though. He signs the band up for a performance at a showcase for new talent, even though they’re not really eligible as a band because they already have record label representation. He figures that he has given the record company what he contracted to do: he was obligated to provide them with an album and he has done that. Now he is free to pursue other opportunities. Trace’s old bass player, John, the one who was injured so badly in the accident, shows up hoping to play bass at the concert. Of course Trace agrees. Even though his hotshot producer warns him not to go on stage because he will end the band’s career if they do, Trace blows him off and performs. Afterward, Trace flirts with another record exec about future work. Whether Trace’s career just went down in flames or just started remains to be seen.
Chesapeake Shores plays heavily on the harmonious family cords, emphasizing how closely knit the O’Brien clan is and how they stick together. But families rarely get along all the time and this one proves no exception. Tom publishes pamphlets opposing Mick’s proposed development of the O’Brien family land. In response, earning his title “Mick the Dick”, this week Mick takes his conflict with his brother Tom to heady new lows. Tom’s company sponsors an annual Earth Fair in the town of Chesapeake Shores, where different organizations set up booths at which they promote their causes and gather public support. Mick calls up some friend of his in local politics and asks him to check all the permits for the fair and discovers that Tom’s booth at the fair has no permit. He shuts it. Nell scolds first one brother and then the other for this feud but neither seems to be able to let go of whatever history started the current aggression. We know from prior episodes that both boys had troubled relationships with their father while growing up. Why that animosity continues unabated and even grows stronger so many decades later still remains unclear. Perhaps family dynamics can grow in strength over time: tight bonds grow tighter, but fights grow bigger. These two brothers are taking disputes from the past and piling all new battles on top, ensuring that there will be plenty of new wounds to fester in the future.
Chesapeake Shores establishes a kind of rhythm, whereby most episodes begin around the family breakfast table. Often resolutions of one issue or another occur at the end of the day around the family fire pit. The time capsule which was introduced at breakfast is finally dug up and opened around the fire pit.
The thing about time capsules is that, as the name suggests, they encapsulate the past: they capture it and freeze it. While the objects in the capsule remain buried in the ground, they are stuck there, static and irrelevant. If excavated, they come to light in a new world. Everything has kept moving since the time the capsule was buried. Apparently, however, a glimpse into the past proves to be the one thing that can defrost a frozen situation in the present. When Bree opens the time capsule at the family fire pit, she finds old odds and ends, objects that had significance at the time to the people who owned them. For five, Connor, Kevin, Abby, Mick, and Nell, these are just old things with sentimental value that remind them of things as they used to be. However, in with the other buried stuff was Jess’ pink stuffed bunny. Megan calls him “Mr. Fluffers”, and though we are not told the circumstances of how Jess acquired him, he has the power to bring about something that never happened before. Meg asks Jess if she remembers, and Jess does. Whatever it is that she remembers, she goes and sits next to her mother. Somehow this old stuffed animal has healed the breach between mother and daughter which started so long ago. Looking back at the past is not always an exercise in futility. Sometimes it heals old wounds.