New Show Recap: The New Normal, Ep. 21 and 22, “Finding Name-O” and “The Big Day”

Double episode tonight! Everything’s going to be wrapped up! Probably. So, Bryan and David are working on planning their wedding, one which I’m sure is strictly ceremonial since it’s still not legal for gay couples in California to marry. Unfortunately, Bryan and David have very different tastes. Literally, as right now they’re arguing about cake. Bryan wants the blood orange over David’s pick of red velvet. We also learn they haven’t picked a baby name yet. Later, David tells Bryan that he wants Bryan’s mother at their wedding, but Bryan is resistant. Bryan gives in, but only because it’s important to David.

Colleen arrives, and is spouting underhanded compliments about Bryan and their house. She asks about the baby’s name, and we hear that David wants to name the baby after his grandfather; Julius, called Julie. Bryan wants Thomas, but Colleen mocks the choice since the baby will be either Tom Sawyer or Tom Collins. Bryan insists that he and David agree on a lot of things and invites Colleen to come to the final meeting with the wedding planner to see for herself. If sitcoms have taught me anything, it’s that there’s no way this can go wrong.

At the meeting, it becomes apparent that most of the choices are more Bryan’s than David’s. Colleen immediately begins challenging Bryan’s picks and asking David what Bryan had said no to, which is sort of deliberately interfering. David insists he’s overreacting, this is clearly another chapter in a whole series of events in Bryan’s life that are a source of tension for him. Getting a bit carried away, the guys decide to throw their choices in a hat and pick out the details of their wedding that way, to show that it really doesn’t matter. Except, clearly, it does, because as the hat keeps spitting out David’s choices, David gets more and more excited and Bryan gets more and more frustrated. Finally, Bryan gets goaded into throwing their baby name choices in the hat and, of course, Julius is spat back up. As David begins celebrating, though, Bryan finally has enough and says hat or no hat, his son will not be named Julius.

Bryan goes to confront his mom and demand an apology for interfering, and tells her that he wasn’t going to invite her to his wedding. Colleen insists that she tried her very best and didn’t judge, but Bryan points out all the way that she’s been judging him since she got there. Colleen pleads that he exhausts her, and points out that her friends are judging her for her son being gay and she stands up for him. She says Bryan needs to let go of the past, which is true but doesn’t really address that she sort of HAS been undermining him since she got there. That’s not about him “growing up,” it’s about her recognizing that the correct opinion to have about other people’s wedding is “whatever makes you happy.” She does seem to recognize that she and Bryan share some overbearing tendencies and gives him the excellent advice to give in on the little things, and to be patient about the baby’s name. When they know, they’ll know.

Bryan comes to make peace with David, and thanks him for insisting on inviting Colleen. Just then, they glance at the ultra sound picture of their son and see that it’s labeled “Baby Sawyer Collins” and decide that it’s the perfect name for their baby.

We also learn that Shania was named after the song that was playing when Goldie and Clay conceived Shania, which little Shania is less than thrilled about. She announces to her parents that she’s changing her name to Sarah. Goldie then announces that she wants to go back to her maiden name, which is upsetting to Clay.

Shania realizes that having a unique name is kind of nice, and goes back to being “Shania” instead of Sarah. Clay share that it makes him sad that Goldie wants to go back to her maiden name, and Shania encourages Clay to tell Goldie that. As the episode ends, the family Clemmons all go out bowling and Clay re-proposes to Goldie. He even offers to change his name to Clay Forrest if it means he could be with her. We cut before we can hear her response.

All right! So we’ve got a baby name, let’s have a wedding!

Bryan and David’s house is full of caterers, waiters, florists, and all the trappings of a wedding. The one thing missing is Father Michael, the most perfect Catholic priest who never existed, who declined to marry Bryan and David. He’s in favor of their marriage, but is afraid of what would happen if he presided over the ceremony. So Gary, the fertility coordinator, will be officiating. Just then, Colleen bustles over and insists that the grooms can’t see each other and David calls out to Bryan “our day, our way!” as Bryan is dragged away.

Goldie talks to Shania about Clay re-proposing and finds out that Shania wants her to say “No.” When Goldie asks why, Shania points out that every good thing that’s happened to them in the last year happened because Goldie left Clay. Shania doesn’t want to lose the life they had and get comfortable again. At the wedding, Goldie sees Brice and he points out all the wonderful things that have happened since she changed her life, and that marrying Clay would be a step backwards.

Of course, once Bryan and David are separated the problems start. David’s mom insists that David wear the tux his grandfather got married in, and Colleen wants to walk Bryan down the aisle since Bryan’s dad isn’t there to do it. The men begin giving in, because they don’t want to fight and upset their mothers. Things begin getting further and further away from the plan, and at this moment my younger sister indignantly said, “Why are they doing this? This isn’t right!” and I said, “It’s OK, because the wedding’s going to be interrupted by Goldie going into labor anyway.”

At the ceremony, Gary is stumbling through and introduction as Bryan and David confer back by the house about how things are getting out of hand. As the men walk down the aisles with their mothers, Goldie breathes deeply and looks uncomfortable. Sure enough, just as Gary gets out “Dearly Beloved” Goldie bursts out with, “I think my water just broke!” and the wedding is off as everyone springs up to rush Goldie to the hospital and I realize I watch too much television.

As the group gets to the hospital, we see the action with no dialogue as John Lennon’s “Beautiful Boy” plays over Goldie in labor with Bryan and David there with her. Clay and Shania sit int he waiting room, Rocky films the delivery, and finally Goldie gives birth to a crying, healthy, baby boy. We see the men holding their son separately and together, still with no dialogue, and then letting Goldie hold the baby she carried for them. The first words we hear at the end of the act are “Sawyer Collins” spoken by Bryan and David together to their new son, who has the hiccups. Honestly, it really is a beautiful sequence and probably the best thing this show has ever done.

After the birth, Jane tells Goldie about a big commission she just earned, and thanks Goldie for changing all their lives. She says she doesn’t ever want to go back to the way things were. Goldie confesses that she loves Clay, and Jane tells her to love him, but to embrace her potential and not her past.

We see Bryan and David are trading off holding the baby for 30 minutes at a time. Goldie then shows up frantic because she can’t find Shania. It turns out Shania went to the beach she and Goldie came to when they first drove out to California, to show Goldie why they came out there. Goldie confesses that she’s going to say no to Clay, but that they will still be raising Shania together.

As Bryan watches, he tells David that this is all he wanted for their wedding and that they should have just done it right there on the beach. The group springs into action, and constructs a makeshift alter with some surfboards and kites. Then Father Michael strides up, without a collar, and says that David called him because it was what Bryan wanted. And so Bryan and David are married, on the beach, with their son between them as Rocky, Goldie, Shania, and Nikki look on. And that takes us out of Season 1!

I feel like this season started out a little rough but found its feet the longer it went on. Bryan and David have become better developed characters, the writers weren’t as afraid to write plot lines that didn’t resolve perfectly in half an hour, Shania is finally being written as something closer to a nine-year-old than a 30-year-old, and they abandoned certain plots/characterizations that didn’t work. It’s still not perfect, and it still feels like the show is searching for a “voice” of its own beyond “two gay men have a baby” but I hope they get another season to explore a little more. I want to see more from Goldie, I’m frustrated that she wasn’t used to at least explore the wealth gap on display between her life and Bryan and David’s life a little more. Still, renewal is up in the air, so keep your fingers crossed!

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