Episode 6 of Little America begins with Ai working in a call centre but it turns out she’s in labour, rushed into hospital after having contractions on the phone. Midway through sharing their happy moment as a family, her husband passes the camera to Bo and takes a phone call as we see the kids grow through the years, sharing in big family moments as the stress of financial issues weigh heavily on Ai’s husband. It’s all too much for him and he walks out on them.
As the montage ends, our two kids are now grown and attending school. Only, they’re so busy with their own lives that they won’t have time for Family Friday. She tries to persuade them to visit the upcoming Expo but the kids refuses to join so she heads off alone. With a big storm outside, barely anyone shows allowing her to win the Alaskan cruise, which is the grand prize.
After looking at the boat, awe-struck and excited, heading up the bridge brings back painful memories for Ai as she reminisces about being on the dock coming across as an immigrant. Introduced to their concierge Craig, the family arrive at the canteen and Ai is immediately hesitant to speak English to the families there. As they all sit together, we see flashes of her past as her kids head off to teen club. Given Ai’s spent her whole life looking after the kids, now that she’s on her own she struggles to find purpose.
While her kids seem to love the cruise and get on really well, making friends and enjoying everything the cruise has to offer, Ai wanders aimlessly and speaks to Craig, who introduces her to different activities but it’s not enough. She’s desperate to be with her kids and after confronting Bo about leaving her, he takes offense and storms off, leaving Ai sitting alone at dinner opposite a man who tells her that everyone is sad.
Eventually Ai starts to let loose, hesitantly, and after drinking a glass of red wine she sings her heart out at karaoke as flashes of her past come back once more. In the morning she heads up and sees the sunrise alone, admiring the beauty of it all. After the episode we see that Ai still doesn’t love cruises and her son is now a filmmaker…and he actually directed and wrote the episode we just watched which is a lovely touch.
With another strong theme around kids growing older and finding purpose, Little America delivers a poignant and heartbreaking episode here, one that’s sure to strike a chord with parents that see their children grow up and not need them as much anymore. It’s something that personally resonates with me and it’s partly the reason the episode does so well here. Overall though, there’s enough to make for a decent stand-alone episode and the montage segments are again really well placed throughout.
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