'Chasing Life' Recap: A Cancer Intervention
'Chasing Life' Recap: A Cancer Intervention
Emily E. Steck
Emily E. Steck
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
Chasing Life throws a curveball this week as to how April reveals she has cancer to her family; basically, by forcing an unwatchable confession instead of an admission.

Can we talk about how oddly plotted this episode was?

First, we have the A-story of April and Dominic searching for clues about April's secret half-sister. Then we have the B-story of Sarah becoming suspicious of April's pills and well-being. Then the C-story featuring Pretty in Pink and Brenna and Beth and Kieran and Beth because why not? But somewhere around halfway through the show, the B-story becomes the A-story and the A-story becomes the B-story and the C-story gets a lesbian undertone. 

If you watched this and were not confused, bless you.

The plotting mess really is quite a shame because important stuff actually happens in this episode. Finally. The suddenness of Brenna finding out about April's cancer is powerful (because of Italia Ricci's performance), but how Sarah finds out is just completely absurd. 

Bottom line: it just doesn't work. It loses all of its cancer magic power of drama.

The Long Lost Sister Plot Returns ... Sort Of

Dominic and April visit a psychic -- just because. Most journalists I know see it as a harmless gag and luckily the show plays it that way -- mostly. The psychic says they look like models (which is true; they are gorgeous). The psychic sees that Dominic has "mommy issues" and that April's future is a mess. April should talk to her sisters, uh, sister. 

Flashback to when the dad -- Thomas Carver -- is still alive. Carver's your standard "beloved father" cards that shows like to play. You know, a little charismatic, completely adored by everyone, teasing and cheerful -- the "perfect" dad. Brenna looks young and cheerful. April has curly long hair and is moving to New York. This whole thing isn't a flashback/is a flashback because April faints. Brenna looks concerned as does Sarah, who may be the worst investigative parent I've ever seen.

April's more curious about this "lost/secret sister," though, afraid that the perfect image of her father will shatter. Which is honestly just very important to do; our parents are flawed individuals, not idols. It seems like Dominic has accepted this with his mother, who is in jail for being a bookkeeper gone rogue. Note how April jokingly dismisses it because her parents are on a pedestal. It's nice to learn something more about Dominic (because he is super boring sometimes), but really I learned more about April. 

The two then investigate Natalie Ortiz's background, which will take five to seven business day (which is pretty much death for a Millennial). Dominic and April are really bad at faking it, but hey, they manipulate the data quicker and get what they want. Natalie Ortiz lives on the same street as Carver's writer's home. 

They go to a storage locker for the Florida house of her dad's stuff (now in Boston). We see a picture of Uncle George, her dad and her maybe-secret sister. April shows up at his office to ask who Natalie Ortiz is. Uncle George confirms they are half-sisters and some stuff about the affair. And that's sort of the end of this storyline for now. It just kind of disappears, replaced with -- guess who? -- Sarah. 

Sarah is the Worst Doctor Raising the Worst Teenager 

Sarah has finally noticed something is up with her kid. Cool. What isn't cool is that she goes through April's stuff. Like through drawers and mattresses. Hilariously, she finds a paperback of Fifty Shades of Grey. And a whole bag of pills. (Side note to April: just get one of those little calendar boxes.)

Sarah shows up at April's work so they can talk and have a confrontation. Sarah demands answers -- good, she has urgency! But she's also an idiot. Are you telling me that therapist wouldn't think to look the pills up? Sarah, a psychologist/psychiatrist does not have the foresight to look at what kind of pills they are and what kind of disease they treat? She just thinks they are, like, caffeine pills? Like that time Jesse got addicted to them on Saved by the Bell? Sarah, I'd like to introduce you to Google. And also ask that you break up with psychotherapy forever.

Sarah's pissed, of course, so she visits George, who is bound by patient-doctor confidentiality (good job at that one, writers!). He skirts the issue mostly. 

La La Land

But let's check in with my "favorite" teenager on TV right now (that title actually goes to Jill Garvey on The Leftovers). Brenna checks in with Kieran at the tattoo parlor/cafe, but she's unconvincingly sad over April. Kieran goes into a weird environmental speech about what caused it, making him really insensitive and awkward. It is bizarre. 

Because Beth doesn't have anything to do, she's oddly all over the Carvers. She invites Kieran and Brenna to an outdoor screening of Pretty in Pink, a favorite of Kieran's mom. Beth is adorable, but her enthusiasm over this weird Pretty in Pink storyline will not endear herself to me. 

Neither will whatever is going on between Brenna and Greer. Brenna is ignoring Greer because Greer is a topnot -- she wears a topknot bun. I didn't know you could rebel against a hairstyle, but clearly I was not born whenever the writers were. But Greer is at the outdoor screening and she sits with Brenna, and makes her laugh. She even gets Brenna to open up that she was happy that April's life was going downhill until she found out that the downhill spiral is cancer. Greer gives the appropriate reaction instead of a political tirade.

Beth and Brenna talk about these developments, with Brenna saying that she and Kieran aren't exclusive and she doesn't define herself. Okay, progressive I suppose, but you have literally expressed no romantic interest in her! There is no sexual subtext! Where is this coming from? 

Writers, hear my plea: Stop with the Brenna stories. Like, anyone else would be fine. I am much more interested in Danny or Dominic or Beth than Brenna. I advocate that you kill off Brenna with Canceraids. Or just make the stories better. Please. I will call a just intervention, unlike the one Sarah gives...


Sarah is possibly the worst psychologist in the whole world at this point. She stages an intervention with Grandma Em, Brenna, Uncle George (there to give the test results) and herself to get April to stop taking her pills. April probably has an out to put the blame on her secret half-sister, but instead she finally comes clean in a way completely devoid of any dramatic weight. She says she has leukemia.

Cue the meltdown. April has AML -- Acute Myeloid Leukemia, which goes into remission about 75% of the time. How is that possible? This is a nightmare. Grandma gives a pep talk that April will be okay. But Sarah starts taking control of April's health, micromanaging, and she bolts to Dominic's place. Dominic assumes it is about her sister and comforts her. 

But back at casa de Carver, Sarah and George have it out, with George mentioning Sarah wouldn't let him go to his brother's funeral. So Sarah's been spinning some truths into lies. Sarah must blame George for a lot. 

Honestly, this "intervention" into a confession was so disappointing. Although pressured by everyone to finally tell the truth, it worked so much better when April admitted it because she wanted to scream it out. This? This felt like we were robbed of something really emotional and great. Partly, I think, because of how Sarah handled everything -- which is poorly. 

Other Thoughts

  • So many people left to tell: Dominic, Danny, peeps at work, Leo (because he's gonna be a big deal, I know it!). 
  • "Life is always gonna throw you curveballs, you can't control that. All you can do is keep swinging." 
  • Here's the wikipedia entry on AML. Worth a quick read.
  • Am I wrong about Brenna being the worst? Just let me know if I'm crazy or not.

Chasing Life airs Tuesdays at 9pm on ABC Family.

(Image courtesy of ABC Family)