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Chesapeake Shores: “School, Lies and Video Tape”

Chesapeake Shores, S2 E3 “School, Lies and Video Tape”
Written by Michael MacLennon
Directed by Terry Ingram

“In a well-designed workplace, productivity is reliant on conformity.”


A wise man once told me that inside every ending there lies a release. That’s good news, since it’s breakup week on Chesapeake Shores! Everybody is breaking up with some aspect of their own lives or their old selves. Except Abby’s ex, Wes: he’s still the same under-repentant jerkwad.

Lurking within the American psyche lives a stubborn belief that if we could all get back to the people we were as children, we would find our true selves. That somehow, in the course of growing to and through adulthood, we lose some essential characteristic which we must find again in order to be whole and happy. In the spirit of that sentiment, we get to see the First Day of School Videos of the O’Brien siblings, in which they proclaim what they want to be when they grow up. In the two least surprising videos of the group, Abby’s younger self states that she wants to have all the answers forever and ever, and Connor proclaims himself king. Ever the artsy one, Bree lets her hairdo speak her creative inner self. Kevin and Jess provide the two most revealing forecasts of their adult selves. In Kevin’s video, his mother’s voice sounds tearful as she asks him what he wants to do. He says he wants to help her. Like many people who go into medicine, the military, and first response, Kevin wants to save people. And it’s his interaction with his mother that provides that information.

Most episodes of CS contain a Jess Flounce of the Week. There are several of those this week, and the first one comes when Jess stomps out of family video night. Later we find out that she assumes that she was so unimportant that no videos exist of her first day at school. In yet another attempt at reconciliation, or at least a precursor to a prequel to some potential possibility of future reconciliation, Megan gives Jess the video from Jess’s first day of school. Now we the audience understand why, of all the children, Jess has the most trouble with her mother’s departure from the family. In her video, Jess says she wants to be just like her mother. Her connection to her mother was so strong that she felt the divide more deeply than the other kids.

Abby’s daughters begin life in their new school. They hate it. Now that summer vacation is over, they are faced with the break from their old lives in New York. Of course they want to go “home.” Luckily, this unpleasantness only lasts a few days.  They do make new friends and take the first steps toward their new lives in their new school.

Trace buys Abby’s girls new wristwatches just like the one he bought for their mother way back when. When Wes sees them, this gives him an opening. Like all mediocre dads everywhere, he justifies causing a stink about Trace’s presence in his daughter’s lives by claiming that all he cares about is his children’s best interests. He makes a big scene at Sally’s Restaurant during which he makes it clear that he just resents Trace. The fact that he is divorced and sitting in a restaurant with a highlighter pen looking at help wanted ads does not clue him in that he’s the only reason his life sucks so bad.

Like Jess’s weekly flounces, Abby’s worrying provides a recurring motif on Chesapeake Shores. In addition to worrying about her daughters’ adjustment to the new school, Abby worries about Trace taking off, with or without Leigh, for Nashville and leaving her behind. It doesn’t help that putting together new music throws Trace and Leigh together for long periods of time. Further, Trace’s music company loves his demo songs, which could open up a whole future that includes Nashville and touring and pretty much every other place in the country besides Chesapeake Shores. Megan advises Trace to stop telling Abby that everything will be okay, and show her instead. He puts together a romantic meal and tells her that she is his home.

In other romantic news, Kevin runs into the foxy firefighter again. They exchange bad-ass hero stories in a pickup game of oneupsmanship. She wins. Kevin obviously likes them tough. As Kevin flirts with this woman, and the idea of her in his life, he and Georgia finally end their relationship. At the end of the show, the foxy firefighter slips Kevin her number under the guise of a citation for lighting an illegal bonfire. The metaphors abound!

Bree is going through not one, but two breakups of her own. In addition to dusting off the Martin mess, she finds out that her favorite bookstore, the one that has provided her with solace and reading material all of her life, is closing. Just as the show telegraphs that a new window opens for Kevin at the end of his own relationship, the audience knows before Bree does that she’s going to take over the bookstore.  

Like Abby’s girls, Connor starts his first day at school – Adult School. After getting chewed out by the automaton that runs the law firm where he now works for wearing (Shock! Horror! Disbelief!) a striped tie, Connor discovers that he has taken a wrong turn somewhere and ended up in Cubicle Hell. His grandmother has to help him get dressed for work and he has to hide his toys in a drawer. He looks miserable.

Since business is slow at Jess’s B&B, Megan volunteers to help her set up a website and do some advertising to bring in customers. She suggests that Jess change the name of the B&B to something that is more findable and understandable on the Internet. All this helpfulness and free labor in website design gives Jess the opportunity to serially flounce. She thinks Megan is just interfering and doing things that she likes to do anyway. Only after Abby discloses that Megan doesn’t know diddly about websites and the Internet and computers generally does Jess realize how hard Megan is trying to reach her.

I think a very important scene that is pivotal to the rest of the series and possibly peace on earth for all eternity occurred at this point in the show, but there was a shot of geese and fluffy goslings and I totally missed the point of the scene. It was probably another Jess Flounce. Oh well, at least I got to see the cute little goslings. Sorry!

Mick and Tom engage in one of their tense brotherly conversations in which Mick, upholding the tradition of mediocre fathers this week, states that he would never develop the O’Brien family’s 100 acre land parcel. Of course that’s exactly what he’s doing, and exactly why he and his brother are quarreling. Mick assumes that Tom opposes the development just to oppose Mick; he’s surprised to learn that Tom just values the land in its pristine, natural state. He even realizes that Tom may have a point. There might be room for further rapprochement between these two. Both brothers visit their father’s grave on the same day, looking for guidance from beyond. Neither is acting entirely selfishly. Tom registers surprise when he learns that Mick has a partner in the development plan because he does not have the money to fund the project himself. Perhaps a monetary problem lies behind Mick’s pursuit of this unpopular development.

In addition to Kevin and Bree’s actual breakups, Connor breaks up with his childlike self, at least for the moment, and Jess may be inching closer to breaking up with her intractable resentment for her mother. In future, she may have to find other reasons for her weekly flounces. Change is hard. Goslings grow up, put on adult feathers, and migrate to faraway places like Nashville. Though change is difficult, refusing to change causes even more suffering. Jess might discover that, but I don’t think Wes ever will.

GRADE: B

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Amy Anna was raised by wolves. She spends all her time eating and watching movies while lying on the couch . Her animal totem is the velociraptor.

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