After the season premiere of Ordinary Joe established its plot and introduced a handful of characters, Ordinary Joe Season 1 Episode 2, “Requiem,” managed to continue a steady pace in its storytelling venture. Nothing crazy, but it’s obvious the writers have a direction and a story they want to tell.
With its prescribed course of action, it leaves minimal room for changes. But a show that knows what it wants to say and where it wants to go has its strengths. It isn’t just along for the ride. Each decision is purposeful.
We’ve seen it before in This Is Us, a show that has extreme success in dotting its i’s and crossing its t’s. Viewers trust the storytelling process and know that every move is deliberate.
“Requiem,” does just that. Each moment leads up to something bigger and nothing feels forced.
In every storyline, Jenny has Joe’s baby. So before the fork in the road, Chris always exists. Whether he was put up for adoption or is being raised by Jenny and her new husband he’s always an option, linking Joe and Jenny forever. So, if you’re already #TeamJenny, I think it’s safe to say that’s probably the outcome that we’re in for by the end of the season.
When a show reveals its character’s motivations through storytelling rather than through direct dialogue that’s what elevates bad storytelling to meaningful storytelling. It’s through Joe’s actions and his past that despite the moving pieces and the changing elements of each timeline, one constant remains: Joe wants children.
Joe’s father passed away during 9/11 and in flashbacks, we’re told from Joe’s perspective how he believes he was the root cause of his father’s death. While we know this not to be true, and that his one decision during childhood to stay home for a battle of the bands rather than go to Denver with his father for a Giants baseball game did not cause his father’s death, it’s something that’s haunted him for his entire life.
He says he stays away from 9/11 memorials because he would rather not remember his father’s death, and while this is true to a certain extent, the deeper reasons lie in his guilt and shame.
His tendency to only reveal bits of the truth and conceal the deeper parts is also a constant character flaw. One that has put his relationship with Jenny in peril. This flaw is abundantly clear throughout the timelines. The decision to make his character consistent is welcomed and keeps things from getting totally confused. Yes, his character has different amplified traits in each chronology, but at the core Joe is Joe.
Even in Rockstar Joe’s life, he’s chosen to pursue an investigation to find Chris, even against Jenny’s wishes and without Amy’s knowledge. This will certainly put his marriage with Amy on the rocks as well, even though he’s already on his way.
The strong desire for finding Chris and having children stems from the loss of his father. Since he missed that connection with his father at an early age, his hope to reconcile this relationship is through a child.
And although, he’s not doing such a great job of reconciliation with Chris in the second alternative timeline, by the end of the episode, he’s accepted his flaw and actively began the process of change. We’re already seeing character growth!
Admittedly, tears were shed during the memorial scene. It was a beautiful tribute and close enough to the actual 9/11 2oth year anniversary that it was meaningful. Ordinary Joe is really trying to be a mix of A Million Little Things and This Is Us, while successfully finding its own version and bearings.
I haven’t turned away yet, and am excited to continue returning for new episodes. So, I’d say while it’s not totally riveting, it’s at least heartfelt. And the good news is that it’s only the beginning. There’s always room for improvement.
What did you think of tonight’s episode? Don’t forget to leave your comments down below!
- On a technical note, it’s helpful to have a more distinguishable filter for each storyline, but the red, green, and blue hues are a bit too strong for my liking. They could dial it down a bit to make it less intense.
- For future reference: Amy storyline (red), Jenny storyline (green), and police storyline (blue).
- Also, the title sequence is a bit strange. Why no music and no sound? Ordinary Joe has the storytelling part down, but some of the editing needs work!
Ordinary Joe Review: Thankful (1×09)
In preparation for Thanksgiving this year Ordinary Joe Season 1 Episode 9,” Thankful,” brought together family in every timeline. While meant to be a joyous celebration, instead caused strife and greater separation among prominent family members. Things are slowly starting to fall apart in every universe, making for a more exciting show.
Trying to find their footing after the scandalous announcement of Amy’s infidelity with Bobby, Joe and Amy can’t seem to find peace of mind. Their interactions remained minimal and strained.
Whereas things have started heating up between the two in the blue storyline. Not only is Amy living with the family, but she’s also invited to the big family Thanksgiving dinner. Where both Amy and Joe are in Uncle Frank’s line of fire for his indefinite suspension.
This rigidity between the three guests is a bit tedious, and until living Bobby is disciplined for his wrongdoings, things won’t speed up. However, Joe’s confession of feelings using the three big words “I love you,” seems to be speeding up his relationship with Amy. Originally, it seemed as though things might fizzle out, but surprisingly they’ve made up for Amy’s past infidelities with Bobby.
I guess things are different for Joe as long as Amy sleeps with Bobby while not in a relationship herself. It’s hard to fault her when Bobby’s the one in the wrong in the blue storyline. We don’t get to see much of Jenny at all during this episode, but specifically, in this blue storyline, she’s left out almost entirely. Aside from the quick moments in the office.
Jenny’s stuck in Atlanta for the holidays, introducing Kinsley, a new character whose job is to help with Chris while Jenny’s away. Though Kinsley’s job is simply to assist, it looks like she might be there to help Joe’s loneliness as well. So, as Joe’s dealing with Amy’s cheating in the other stories, it looks like he might be dabbling in his own in the green timeline.
But, maybe it would be a one for one kind of deal because Jenny’s work bae is making a long pit stop in Atlanta to help with the pro bono case. I’m really hoping this is the writer’s way of leading us down a deceptive path because I’m still rooting for Jenny and Joe!
Once Jenny reveals to Joe that her son with Ray is in fact his, things will get a bit more interesting. The technicalities of all these political scandals are the show’s current focus, but the meat of the show lies more with the personal tribulations and struggles of the characters.
Speaking of personal struggles, we’re left with a huge cliffhanger. In an unsurprising turn of events, Amy’s pregnant with Bobby’s child. An extra bad omen for Joe and Amy as they were trying for so long to get pregnant. I can’t see this ending well. Joe’s definitely going to have mixed emotions about Amy’s pregnancy. He’s wanted a child for so long, and that’s all he wants, but to have Bobby’s child will only remind him of Amy’s lies.
What did you think about this episode? Please leave your comments down below!
- Gwen is such a mom. The entire family dynamic seemed so wholesome and American family perfection until Celeste came in and blew off the lid. She opened a can of worms that will certainly be difficult to put together. It was hinted at earlier that there was tension with Celeste, and now we’re finally clued in. I wonder if they’ll go more in-depth about Joe’s father.
- It’s nice to see Eric and Amy happy and in love in the green storyline. They are the sweetest couple.
Ordinary Joe Review: Reset (1×08)
After the heightened finale with Bobby’s untimely death, we’re left behind with the broken pieces on Ordinary Joe Season 1 Episode 8, “Reset.” Amy’s still withholding her affair from Joe, but Bobby’s late wife wants to air out her grievances.
Now that the show has properly set up its characters and storylines, other characters beyond Joe are seeing their spotlight. This time, it’s Amy. The formula is pretty standard, share a flashback that will provide greater context for a major character trait. While they have the formula down, the depth is missing and that keeps the show lagging behind.
Amy’s history of activism goes back to her childhood and being raised by immigrants, but it’s a bit cheesy. This show seems to fall into its own trap of cheesiness, leaving no room for surprises. Yes, it’s important and wonderful that they shared this current issue of policing and racial profiling.
The struggle in balancing the three storylines is clear, particularly in this hour. With a heavy focus on Amy’s affair, it felt stagnant and many other characters were left out. Including Jenny.
Since Jenny’s in Atlanta taking classes, Joe is alone trying to help Uncle Frank back on his feet. It’s endearing seeing Uncle Frank and Chris interact, but until this storyline is given more depth, it felt a bit too shallow. I know it’s not this kind of show, but if it had brought more conflict with Uncle Frank’s return that would’ve been more exciting to see.
Uncle Frank’s alcoholism is explained as a coping mechanism after his brother’s death, and now it’s finally taking its toll. He begins coughing up blood, and Jenny’s father in an act of kindness takes Uncle Frank to get specially tested.
It’s the first time Jenny’s father is humanized, and it kind of came out of left field. Meanwhile, Jenny’s dealing with a rude and obnoxious personality on her own–her professor.
The relationship between her and her professor is tense and there is no backstory provided as to where it stems from, making it feel like a haphazard conflict.
In the blue storyline, Amy and Joe are continuing their relationship steadily, while their marriage is taking a hit after in the red storyline. At least they’re a happy couple in one of the alternate universes.
Although, Amy’s apprehension around police officers still stems from her childhood and she mentions this to Joe in an honest conversation. It’s a needed discussion and highlights the difference in their communication between both timelines.
Maybe I’m biased and not as invested in Amy’s storyline or future with Joe, but I just felt that this episode was weak. It didn’t really offer much to the overall plot development. However, I do wonder what will happen to Joe and Amy’s marriage. I can’t imagine anything major coming from it. I’m predicting a quick conversation and the two will find their footing yet again.
Perhaps, it’s that the show has set up Joe as the primary character, and any other storyline feels foreign and unnecessary. The way that This Is Us has been successful is by offering a main character in the initial stages, but then dissecting that through the use of many character storylines. By the end you’re left wondering who’s had the most screentime.
Even in these episodes that provide context to what makes the other characters tick, they’re dimmed by a quick jump to what’s happening in Joe’s life. The narrative is so heavily placed on Joe’s thinking, I mean it’s about how his life has shifted based on varying choices, that the writers act lost when trying to write for another character.
What did you think about this episode? Please don’t forget to leave your comments down below!
- Amy has to be the only person in the world who still uses Apple Music!
- Bobby’s wife confronting Amy mid-funeral is terrifying. That takes major guts, and I would literally be floored if I were Amy. I would never want to be seen again.
Ordinary Joe Review: The Letter (1×07)
Just as the show left us with a big cliffhanger in the other timelines, Ordinary Joe Season 1 Episode 7,” The Letter,” decided to leave us hanging more by returning to the beginning. However, as we’ve approached a potential lull in the other parallel universes, this was the perfect moment to go back in time.
The series began with Joe’s graduation day and three possible futures. And along the way, there have been pieces of the puzzle scattered here and there. We know he has a sister that he doesn’t talk to, his father who died on 9/11, and now finally, we’re introduced to these elements and the impact they’ve had on his life.
While his father isn’t there to celebrate his big college graduation, he did provide him with a letter that he was told to open during a moment he felt at a crossroads. What better moment to open it when he has no idea what path to pursue in life?
His family doesn’t waste any time before expressing their opinions on what career he should pursue. Initially, Joe’s dream was to become the next Billy Joel, but as his mother is meddling in that dream, he seems to step away from it.
Once he finally reads his father’s letter, he remembers the importance of choosing his own destiny as long as it’s brave and what he wants. Joe waited the entire day to open the letter because he needed a moment before emotions took over and because he was waiting for the perfect time to open it.
It’s hard to discern whether the show believes everything relies on timing, but Joe certainly thinks so. As Joe and Jenny are waiting for the pregnancy test, Jenny reveals the code name she uses for him in her journals–T.S. (too soon).
For every Jenny shipper out there, it’s hard not to feel like this is already a foreshadowing of their star-crossed future. I didn’t realize Joe was the one who loved Jenny for years. It always seemed like Jenny was the best friend who was in love with Joe.
Now, it’s finally clear that Jenny’s pregnancy news provided him the confidence and timing to ask her to marry him.
Meanwhile, in the other storyline, Joe’s over Jenny’s timing and is ready to move on. So, he chooses to give Amy his number, and they spend the rest of the afternoon together. There’s no arguing that they’re adorable together, but Joe’s chemistry with Jenny wins.
Amy is better with Eric, but only when Eric’s wearing Joe’s lucky shirt.
Again, the question remains, did Joe actually make a decision, or are we going to be left on an unknown ledge to decipher the importance of choices?
What destiny do you think Joe ultimately chooses? Please leave your comments down below!
- Just as Joe’s story is finally unfolding, we’re left with more questions about the other characters’ stories. I want to know more about Jenny, Eric, and Amy and how their lives evolved in the timelines Joe isn’t connected with them.
- The hairstyles that Joe and Jenny have to make them look younger are just hilarious. How come Amy and Eric get to look the same in every storyline?
- There has to be more history behind Joe and Mr. Banks. His dislike for Joe goes beyond a father’s protection.
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