Breaking The Cycle
Make no mistake about it, when it comes to powerful character-driven dramas this year I Know This Much Is True is certainly near the top. The raw emotion and accurate depiction of mental health has made for a startlingly poignant and melancholy watch over the weeks. The excellent portrayal of both brothers from Mark Ruffalo has been incredible to watch and this episode it’s all about the past – more specifically whether the past is cyclical and destined to repeat its pattern of ill-fated luck for the Birdsey family.
Episode 5 I Know This Much Is True begins in the past with two brothers, Vincente and Domenico on their way to America desperate to change their fortune. Their destination – Three Rivers. Once there, the two brothers start to fall out and drift apart – with Domenico ending up building his own house from scratch and feeling bitter disdain for Vincente. An altercation between Vincenzo and an Indian sees the former fired from his job and subsequently becoming more childish.
This tale of woe ends with Domenico betraying his brother, who ends up dying of infection 9 days after an incident with a police officer. Riding himself of this self-perceived burden, he takes things one step further with Vincente’s pet monkey.
Back in the present, a battered and bruised (but largely recovered) Dom visits Dr Patel who hands over a note written by Thomas. She then turns the attention back to Dom and in particular the documents he’s been reading detailing his family history. As they continue talking, she offers some words of wisdom, comparing the betrayal and violence of his grandfather to how Dom is perceiving himself alongside Thomas.
Driving away, we cut back and learn more about his Grandfather’s past, including a woman named Prosperine Tucci arriving but Domenico rejecting her as he suspects she’s a witch. Instead, he’s recommended to betroth a woman named Ignazia instead. Only, this time the tables are turned and Domenico is rejected. His desire to have her comes at a heavy price, paying a handsome sum of money and taking both women with him.
This ends up being the worst deal of his life. As Dom continues reading in disgust, he learns how Domenico forced himself on Ignazia and ripped her clothes off, determined to make her fall pregnant with his son.
Back in the present Dom receives a call from Ralph telling him he needs to get Thomas tested for HIV. It’s something that sees him violently snap, throwing things from the table and heading up to see Sheffer, demanding Thomas be tested.
After a tough ordeal at hospital, Dom continues reading about his past. This time we see the moments during Ignazia’s pregnancy and the important moments that Prosperine cursed him, stating bitterly that he will never have a son. Lo-and-behold, when Domenico arrives home he sees a beautiful baby girl – exactly what he didn’t want. Even worse, Ignazia dies during childbirth.
Back in the present, Dessa heads over to visit Dom but as she starts reading his Grandfather’s documents, he takes offence and rips it from her hands. Dom pulls away from her again, leaving her to weep silently as Dom struggles with the gravity of what’s happened.
On the back of this, he heads up to the doctors who have Thomas’ results. He’s in the clear and they’ve come back negative. This revelation leads Dom back to Ralph who confirms the John-Wayne we’ve seen in the past has been caught breaking into Thomas’ room multiple times. The prison kept that information from Dom on a report… a report that Dom convinces Ralph bring him.
With the report in hand, he heads to Leo for help, posing as an attorney as they go after Dr Hume ansd twist his hand to release Thomas. Showing him the report, Dom blackmails him into releasing Thomas into Dom’s custody. Although the board recommend he be put into a facility, for now Dom has his brother back. Sheffer suspects something up and confronts Dom over his decision. Despite Dom’s insistence, Sheffer decides to help relocate Thomas into a facility, calling Dom arrogant and worrying that this may be too much for him to handle.
As the episode closes out, Dom drives Thomas away from the facility, up to the falls.
With another good dose of drama, the poetic way this episode jumps back and forth between the past and present does well to reinforce this constant struggle between brothers that seems to haunt the Birdsey family line. It’s fitting that his grandfather has the same name as Dom too, and you can see those violent tendencies within Dom’s attitude and little quips across the series. This really helps empathise with what he’s going through and reading how abusive his Grandfather is certainly makes for difficult reading too.
With the finale up next, and Thomas now free in Dom’s care, it looks like things could blow up in a big way and quite what this means for our characters moving forward, remains to be seen.
Published: 08 June 2020 at 11:08 am on TheReviewGeek.com