Walter Blunt has made it clear his mission is to be a father to the nation, but he should probably start by being a father to his own children. As we saw last week, when Walter tries to do good for the entire world—by slightly taking down an Ann Coulter-type pundit—it doesn’t work quite as well as when he is attempting to fix the smaller world around him. As viewers, we don’t really see the significance that Walter has on the world yet. We know it was a failing show prior to his incident and now that he takes it upon himself to fix everything, has his show gained all that much popularity? It seems as if Walter’s goals might be a bit too grand for him to accomplish.
But the unlikeliness of Walter ever making a huge impact on the world works much better for Blunt Talk, especially when his own family is involved. He’s got two kids and a staff that looks up to him as a father figure (even if in previous episodes they deny it), not to mention a man servant that clearly has his own problems to deal with. That’s plenty for a father figure to take on before taking on the world.
In “Goodnight, My Someone,” we find out that Celia says this titular phrase every night before she goes to bed to the a person that is out there for her that she hasn’t met yet. “Goodnight, My Someone” posits that if only we had found the right person at the right time, maybe our lives would be completely different. Maybe we wouldn’t be so neurotic, or angry, or such failures—maybe we’d be exactly who we want to be. Celia believes there is a man in the world somewhere that’ll make her feel complete. Walter’s son Rafe, played by Patrick Stewart’s actual son Daniel, wants the version of his father that is supportive of him without believing him to be something that he’s not. And Walter, well, he just wishes his father had been there to let him know that he’s circumcised, before he admitted his confusion to millions of people on live television.
Blunt Talk has excelled in allowing Patrick Stewart to showcase all of this heart he has, and we get plenty of that with “Goodnight, My Someone.” By just mentioning to Jim and Celia that he feels like a father to them, it boosts Jim’s spirits and moves Celia towards a one-night-stand with Rafe. By this simple comment, he makes everyone slightly happier. Walter rarely ever expresses his anger and that’s because he wants what is best for everyone, and tries to help them get there.
This is especially true with Rafe, who is a boxer hired to lose fights. But Walter doesn’t realize this about his son, instead believing that he’s a great low-level fighter. There’s a joy Walter exhibits when he gets to see his son box and a staggering blow when he realizes the truth about his son. What’s so wonderful about Walter is that no matter how surprising or disappointed he might be by the people he comes into contact with, he always finds an understanding with the person that allows him to connect to and love them. We already knew that Walter would love his son no matter what, but when he solidifies that stance by shouting it to his son ringside, for the first time, it actually becomes true in Rafe’s mind, allowing him to not take a fall and finally fight back.
But the biggest problem of “Goodnight, My Someone” is how this story with his son just feels like a segment in the show, rather than something that ties things together. For example, on Walter’s show, he interviews a man from the UN who’s against genital mutilation that reveals the shocking truth to Walter that he isn’t actually circumcised. There’s not much to this part of the episode, except that it does hint that Walter would’ve known about this situation if his father had been there. But the episode doesn’t really tie the boxer aspect and the circumcision story together very well. They just feel like two disparate stories thrown together because of the slight connection to fatherhood, and once again, it’s funny to watch Patrick Stewart do uncharacteristic things. Not only does it not tie in that well with the stronger son story, but it’s just not as funny as the smaller moments we get in the A-plot.
Blunt Talk’s main idea seems to be that focusing on the bigger picture doesn’t let you see the forest for the trees. Sure, you can hope for some person to come in and completely change your life, but maybe that person is right in front of you, and you’re just not noticing that you have what you need. In Blunt Talk, nearly everyone has a problem that some other person in this small group also has; the idea is that if they can just talk about it or find common ground, it could help the situation. The staff therapist Dr. Weiss keeps pointing out how similar each patient’s problems are, even if he’s not supposed to.
Blunt Talk—and especially Walter Blunt—have a level of warmth that allows this show to transcend its cynicism and to become something else, focused on warmth and family, despite the cold truths of the world. Everyone here is fighting for something better, but they need to be open and honest to the ones closest to them to get there. As Walter’s warmth starts to permeate other characters, like Celia and Rafe, the show becomes warmer and better because of this care for its characters—even if it needs work weaving together its various storylines.
Ross Bonaime is a D.C.-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.