Carmen’s birthday was a family affair and not without tension.
Much of Promised Land Season 1 Episode 4 focused on the family’s response to Billy’s return and as a priest, no doubt.
The biggest casualty from this was Lettie and Joe’s relationship.
Most of the hour seemed to meander as El Regalo felt like the series came to a standstill with a filler installment that will hopefully mean it’s gearing up to bigger things.
We don’t know much about Margaret and Antonio’s plans for Joe and Heritage House, though Margaret orchestrating Billy’s transfer there got the desirable results.
We checked out of the stakes everyone has with the vineyard and their plans.
Antonio and Margaret’s plans to take Joe down haven’t been centered as much as you’d expect, and we didn’t get much follow-up.
Carmen’s quest to advance her art and career hasn’t gotten that much traction. Junior’s struggles have primarily taken place offscreen, and we rarely explore their root with his relationship with Joe.
And Mateo is on a deadline we know little about to produce a wine that can put him on the map and allow him to distinguish himself from Joe.
However, we don’t spend a lot of time with that either.
And this hour had a way of placing a spotlight on that more than ever when the climax event was Carmen’s party that didn’t have nearly as much drama and tension as you’d expect.
Carmen is taken with her birth mother, and they have a connection there that I’d love them to delve into more. We get flashbacks to the core four adults during their teen years, but the more nuggets they drop, the more I wish we could see what happened during the stages of Joe and Margaret’s marriage.
How did she manage to miss 22 years worth of Carmen’s birthdays? Has Margaret only managed to “fight” for her kids recently because of her need to take back Heritage House?
Margaret: Veronica, sweetheart. I missed you so much.
Veronica: I’m only here for my sister. You’re still dead to me.
It’s so much hurt and conflicting feelings in the dissolution of that marriage and the effects.
Veronica hates Margaret. We’ve solidified how much of a Daddy’s Girl she is compared to her siblings. She seems to be the only one who either never knew what it felt like to be on her father’s bad or judgmental side or hasn’t realized how much she does to make him proud even when it’s been at her expense.
It’s fascinating about siblings and their respective relationships with their parents. Everyone has a unique one.
Naturally, Veronica was the most outraged by Carmen inviting Margaret into their lives and her party. It was something that amused Antonio, who is secretly keeping tabs over something working in their favor.
It’s not fair that Veronica was trying to dictate how Carmen should feel about Margaret. She noted that Carmen was too young to remember Margaret leaving them.
She doesn’t have that baggage, so it’s unfair to saddle her with it if Carmen is going to learn something about Margaret’s ways, she must do that on her terms.
Veronica relented to attending the party, but only because Joe pushed her to, and the icy response to her mother was intense. Both women looked gorgeous, and you could cut the tension with a knife.
Veronica has a lot of unresolved issues with her mother. As grateful as she is for Lettie, it’s evident that she’s not taking Lettie’s presence as compensation for Margaret’s absence.
It still feels like Veronica is more like her mother than she’s ever willing to admit. I wish the series would dive all in with that more. If we’re likely working with a shorter season, they have to make use of their time.
In the interim, Veronica has Delgado following Michael. However, it’s hard to care because we know so little about him or their relationship.
The real drama always lies with Lettie, Joe, and Billy.
Interestingly, we learn that Mateo lionized his father even though he knew Billy had issues and left them.
The hour served to remind Mateo that even though he doesn’t get along with Joe, he’s the father that he always had.
Mateo: He’s going to prove you wrong this time.
Joe: People don’t change, Mateo. Only their lies do.
He couldn’t wait to run to his father and pick up where they left things. He idolized this image of his father and made Joe out to be the villain of his story. It seems so much of him striking out on his own upholds his father’s legacy.
It was interesting that Billy was so upfront about how he failed Mateo. He refused to allow Mateo to place him on a pedestal or bash Joe.
He is refreshing in that he doesn’t intend to drag the kids in whatever is happening among the adults.
Daniela is such a light in Mateo’s life and a voice of reason. She’s a grounding force, but I hope we see more of her story outside of her timid, quiet strength and how it affects those around her.
Maybe Joe is not the monster you think he is just like I’m not the man you remember.
The weirdness between Mateo and Billy was hard to process. But perhaps that was inevitable, given how much time past since they’ve seen one another.
And the tension between Joe and Billy was understated. Joe punched his brother in the middle of a church. It’s about as well as you’d expect it to go, but we didn’t get any more scenes of the two in the present since that moment.
The next time they face one another, it’s bound to be rife with more drama. Interestingly, Billy doesn’t appear to have ill-will toward his brother. Joe is the one who has all of this anger toward Billy.
As a result, his relationship with Lettie and Margaret uses him to rile up Joe weird.
Margaret is probably onto something when she speaks about the chemistry between Billy and Letty. It’s the one time where we’ve witnessed Billy forgetting who he’s supposed to be now and dancing on the lines of antagonistic. He and Lettie click, and he recognized how wrong it was that they kept Joe in the dark.
He saw their secret for what it was: the two of them sharing this time without Joe in the mix. It’s as if the collar doesn’t stop Billy from threatening Joe and Lettie’s relationship.
But much of that goes back to what we’ve seen in the past and Joe’s heartbreaking words to her when he opened up. Joe was always pining for Lettie, even when she was with Billy.
He admitted that he had put Letting first since he met her, even when he was married to Margaret. It’s a hell of a thing to say, and it sheds some more light on the tangled web of relationships. If Joe prioritized Lettie all the time, then was his marriage to Margaret real?
I could use a map to make sense of this family. We’re so messed up.
Did he ever love Margaret, or was he only in it for the vineyard? Did Lettie ever love Joe the same way as he did her?
It’s interesting how we started this series with many reasons to be frustrated with Joe. Still, they’ve worked to expand on the complexities of his character and make him sympathetic.
Billy went out of his way to remind Mateo that Joe wasn’t the worst person in the world and was a father figure to him. And whatever issues Lettie had with Joe seemed to disappear when Joe gave this lovelorn, hurt confession.
It’s fascinating when you consider that three out of his four children, four out of five if you factor in Mateo, have such strained, complicated, or distant relationships with him. Margaret has some reason to be against Joe, too.
The dance between Margaret and Joe served as a reminder of their chemistry, and it made Lettie jealous. She may have gotten the advantage over Margaret when she gave Carmen that sentimental gift, but she lost ground during those moments with Joe.
Joe no longer trusts Lettie, and that places them in uncharted territory. It didn’t seem as if anything could come between those two after everything they’ve gone through, but this is such a shocking turning point for them, and Joe’s the one to reach a breaking point.
The flashbacks showed us how the trio rescued Rosa, and it had some bumpy moments. Overall, it felt reminiscent of their original escape from Pedro.
The more critical point of interest is in wondering what happened to Rosa. Where is she now, and what happened to her?
Over to you, Promised Land Fanatics. What did you think of this installment? Are you shocked Joe is the one who is pushing Lettie away? Hit the comments.
You can watch Promised Land online here via TV Fanatic.
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.