The Conner girls have a lot of thinking to do!
In tonight’s episode of The Conners, both Darlene (Sara Gilbert) and Becky (Lecy Goranson) had major decisions to make about their current relationships.
Now that she and Ben (Jay R. Ferguson) are getting more serious, Darlene decides it’s time for her children, Harris (Emma Kenney) and Mark (Ames McNamara) to meet him. Over dinner at her house with not just her kids but also her aunt Jackie (Laurie Metcalf) and dad Dan (John Goodman), Darlene was even gifted the perfect opportunity to see how Ben might be as a stepdad when he offers to give Mark piano lessons.
The lesson doesn’t appear to go very well, however. Darlene catches the end of it from the kitchen, watching as Ben scolds Mark for not learning his scales two weeks in a row. Ben’s way of teaching is tough love, so when Darlene sees her son tear up as he leaves for soccer practice, she rails on her beau for being harsh and insensitive to Mark’s learning style. Ben, however, saw Darlene as a coddling helicopter parent, so it comes as no surprise when his girlfriend fires him.
Darlene expects a huge thank you from Mark for stopping the lessons, but it turns out that he really liked Ben’s approach. “I cried because I was mad at myself,” Mark tells his mom. Darlene is not thrilled to have to tell Ben she made a mistake, but it’s actually a pretty adorable moment when she admits she was wrong when she gets to the office the next morning. Ben tells Darlene that he knows Mark is a good kid and thinks he could benefit from having someone more accountable in his life (Darlene, shockingly, is a bit of her pushover when it comes to her son), and did you catch how that sounds like Ben is in it for the long haul?
If not, his big piece of news should do it: Ben is pretty glad that he passed Darlene’s very obvious test, because he’s got an investor that wants him to relocate his newspaper, Lock ‘Em Up, to Chicago, and he wants Darlene and the kids to move in with him. “I know it’s a lot. It’s just that even though we work together all day, it feels like I never have enough time with ya,” Ben says. Darlene says it sounds amazing but needs to talk to her family about it, so let’s all swoon for her finally moving on from David (sorry, Johnny Galecki, we still love you).
Meanwhile, as far as Becky is concerned, her situation is only a relationship in the broadest sense of the term. Though she has to see her soon-to-be-welcomed baby’s father, Emilio (Rene Rosado), at the Mexican restaurant every time they work together, she has no interest in him helping out financially or emotionally. It’s both a strange stance for her and also very Becky. That’s made extremely clear when Emilio overhears Becky, Darlene and Jackie plan the baby shower — being held before Becky is even showing because of her concerns about her geriatric pregnancy — and he admits to Jackie that he would like to attend. Jackie has always liked Emilio, even helping him learn English and trying to get Becky to see his good qualities, so she tells him that Becky will surely change her mind and appreciate him being there — as long as he brings a gift.
Though his gift (from Lowe’s and everything!) was appreciated, Becky quickly dismisses Emilio after he turns up at the shower before turning to Jackie, scolding her for extending the invitation. Jackie tries to remind Becky that “he’s the father and he’s a great guy,” but she doesn’t want to hear it, nor does she want her dad, who’s overheard the pair talk about Emilio, to get involved.
Dan does anyway, not to undermind Becky but because he wants to help support his daughter. After hearing nothing but kind words about Emilio from Jackie at the shower — namely that he’s hard-working, a devout Catholic and is offering to give Becky what little money he has — Dan offers Emilio a second job putting up drywall. It’s an important gesture from Dan, because it was easy for him to decide to help Becky, but difficult for his moral stance towards illegal immigration. “I’ve got to be honest with you. I don’t like the way you got here. You broke the law and you could be putting me in a bad situation, but I want to help my daughter, so I have to help you,” Dan explained, adding that he wants a good portion of the paycheck to go to Becky and the baby, which Emilio quickly agrees to.
Becky, of course, wasn’t thrilled about her Dad’s gesture. In fact, she feels like her aunt and dad are pushing Emilio into her life. She’s previously hadn’t made it clear why she doesn’t want him in their child’s life, but her reasoning finally comes to light when she tells Dan that she’s been doing fine and doesn’t see why she should start depending on someone who might end up just leaving her in the end. Both Dan and Jackie understand that he could get deported, but they also know he’s here now and, as Dan puts it, is “the real deal.”
They seem to get through to her, because Becky apologizes to Emilio for being hard on him, offering to start with tiny steps so he can be involved in the baby’s life. It’s a relief to finally see Becky let down her guard with Emilio, and a pretty good indication that we’ll be seeing more of him as the season progresses.
The Conners airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.