“It’s not the hot chocolate. It’s just the rest of my life that sucks.” Summer expresses what recent events have shown her. Life sucks. I felt sorry for her but also relieved to hear her say it. I’ve wondered how she could so blithely accept all the changes in her life in just one year without batting an eye. Or that’s how it seemed.
Her real dad, Drew, died not that long ago. He knew he was dying but did nothing to arrange her future until the last minute. So he approached his ex, Billy, and arranged for him and Todd to have custody of her. Billy hadn’t seen her since she was a baby, Todd had never seen her. Todd didn’t know about Drew, and vice versa. Granny, someone Summer did know, made all the trouble she possibly could about this arrangement. Her actions and attitudes effectively killed all affection Summer could have for her – the only familiar person left in her world. (See Nov. 5/17 Scene for a family overview)
But Summer accepted Billy and Todd as her new real dads, and all three loved each other. Then Todd disappeared, with little warning and no explanation. Summer continued to love Billy as her dad. Next he gets hooked on heroin, and abandons her. She’s shuffled off to Eileen and Pat Phelan. She’s happy with them, her new stand-in parents. Then Pat is exposed as a murderer. And Eileen – well, Eileen can barely look after herself let alone a child. Especially a child for whom every adult she has trusted and relied on has disappeared.
Now Billy is back and clean, and Tracy throws him and Summer out of their apartment. Billy assures Summer he will look after her, everything will be fine, just you wait and see. Sure, Summer has every reason to believe that!
So finally we see this eternally optimistic and trusting girl crack. Life sucks big time. Shona’s talk with her is good. She points out the good points of Billy using her own history with him as illustration. She shows Summer the shades of grey in Billy. Summer understands complexity.
Actress Matilda Freeman shows complexity too in her reactions to him. She gives a lovely nuanced portrayal over this week. Summer tries to believe in Billy and their future together, but the doubt shows in her eyes. She gives up trying and tells Billy that she will be out of there as soon as she legally can. That confrontation is done in a much more mature way than simply screaming ‘you’re not my real dad anyway’. It’s all the more shocking for that.
Another ‘buck up, it’ll get better’ talk from Shona, and Summer tries again with Billy. I’m liking this story – Summer – a lot right now. And I think Shona should adopt her. They’re a good match.