Disclaimer: I chose to combine reviews for episodes 3 and 4 of Rise simply because I couldn't watch live and didn't catch up quickly!
"What Flowers May Bloom"
Episode Three picks up with continued family issues in Lou's (Josh Radnor) family and between Gwen's (Amy Forsyth) parents. We also return to rehearsal for Spring Awakening where Simon has announced that he will be changing schools and no longer able to participate in the school production. The episode continues as Lou brings the team who will work on production design together to discuss the look of the show. One thing I admire about the character of Lou is that he dreams big no matter what the circumstances.
Back at Lou's house, Gail (Marley Shelton) is getting to know Maashous (Rarmian Newton) after he came to stay when Lou found him sleeping in the lighting booth. It's nice to see a connection between Gail and Maashous especially after Gail didn't warm to the idea of taking him in without discussion. At the same time, Lou goes to find Maashous' foster mom and find out what is going on in her house. Lou is clearly invested in his student's life and it's nice to see.
The production meeting appeared to have good results as Denise (Jennifer Ferrin) who is designing costumes and happens to be Amy's mom, brings Lou sketches that excite both of them for the production. But as rehearsals for Spring Awakening continue, Simon (Ted Sutherland) announces that he's changing schools and will no longer be able to be a part of the show, upsetting Lilette (Auli'i Cravalho) and leaving Lou and Tracey (Rosie Perez) doubtful as they don't believe Simon when he says the school switch is about getting into college. It is also made clear that Tracey is sad to see Simon go, something that adds emotion and enlarges the idea of theater being a family.
The tension that has been rising between Lou and Tracey comes to a head as Tracey blames him for Simon's departure because of the part Lou gave him in the musical. Before leaving, Simon sings "Left Behind" with the rest of the cast behind him. It's a farewell song for him as he has tears in his eyes.
Lou makes another house call, visiting Simon's parents (Stephanie J. Block and Stephen Plunkett) to ask them about Simon changing schools. While his father is initially flustered when Lou tells him Simon's explanation for leaving the school but eventually tells Lou why - Spring Awakening goes against everything they believe in. Lou tells Simon's mother not to do this to her son, but she closes the door.
Meanwhile, Robbie (Damon J. Gillespie) is trying to run lines with Lilette, worried that he's done something wrong, to which she assures him that he has not. However their work is interrupted when Robbie receives a phone call that his mother has fallen and gets up to leave, Lilette offering to come with him.
At Lou's house, Gordy (Casey Johnson) has separated himself from the rest of the family as Gail, Kaitlin, Sadie and Maashous have lit up the backyard and are eating outside. Gail makes it clear to Lou that they cannot send Maashous back to the foster home he was living in, saying that they will figure it out.
The end of the episode brings us back to Simon's house, where his sister Emma (Margaret Rosiello) is telling her brother how much she's going to miss seeing every day and seeing him in the plays at Stanton. Unknown to them, their mother can hear what they're saying. But back at Lou's house the family is playing football when Gordy arrives home late. Maashous asks him to come play and he agrees, hopefully giving way to some more character development in future episodes. Their football game is interrupted when Simon's mom shows up to talk to Lou. She asks Lou what he believes in, to which he responds: "I believe in the kids that I teach, I believe in the truth, I believe in helping them to grow up in the sun and not in the shadows". She tearfully thanks him and leaves.
The third episode of Rise brought more characters into focus and gave them some more storylines that will be interesting to explore in the coming weeks.
The fourth episode begins with Gail and Lou discussing whether or not to leave Gordy alone on an upcoming trip, eventually moving to the topic of Tracey as she bombards Lou with text messages early in the morning, to which the two conclude that she needs to get a life. At Robbie's house he is greeted in the morning by his girlfriend with cupcakes and a milkshake in preparation for a big game that night. Meanwhile at Simon's house, his family is preparing him for his upcoming school transition.
It seems however that Robbie's girlfriend is not going to last. After encouraging Lilette to bring a friend to his victory party, Simon tells him not to toy with Lilette's feelings. So he breaks it off with the cheerleader and tells Lilette to come alone.
The game starts out wonderfully, with Simon and Lilette singing the national anthem but doesn't end as well when they lose the game. The party still goes on - but sees the theater kids and football kids clash, Robbie eventually taking the side of the theater kids and slightly souring things between him and Lilette for a little bit. After the end of the party, Robbie remembers what he wanted to do. So in a relatively romantic gesture he goes to her house, asks her to come out, and kisses her, something I had personally been waiting for since the series began.
On the other hand, Gordy seems less than thrilled about the family trip to Pittsburgh as he sits in the car on the way to see his cousin in a production of Cats. Both Lou and Gordy are unhappy in Pittsburgh, causing Gordy to ask if he can skip the show. Lou says yes, and unknown to him Gordy manages to get to Robbie's house where he is once again drinking. When the rest of his family realize that he's run off, they leave too and find him at the party. The tension between Lou and Gordy has been steadily rising and here it reaches a breaking point, as Lou comes to terms with the fact that he can't fix everything he wants to be able to at home.
And another sub plot arises in this episode as Tracey finally gets a date! A biology teacher named Andy appears and asks her out. Despite being hesitant and uninterested initially, she agrees and they have a lovely time. It was nice to finally see Tracey outside of the environment of rehearsals and on her own. Hopefully a nice storyline will rise from this.
Overall the fourth episode of Rise moved at a quicker pace with conflict that still feels unresolved. Unlike the typical television convention of solving issues in one 45 minute episode, Rise makes them last, not unlike real life.