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WE ARE WHO WE ARE: “Right Here, Right Now II & III”

by Alexandra Mitchell
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While the premiere episode gave us the base from Fraser’s (Jack Dylan Grazer) perspective, this second episode replays certain events but from Caitlin’s (Jordan Kristine Seamón) point of view. First of all, we see a strong relationship with her father, General Richard Poythress (Kid Cudi). She tags along to help him on errands, though I’m curious as to what he’s selling.  I like their playful relationship and the fact that she can talk to him. This was the relationship I craved having with my father as a kid. He can be a bit rough with her, especially when sparring, but he’s actually quite tender. “Is he making you sad?” When Richard questions Caitlin’s relationship with Sam (Benjamin L. Taylor II) his first priority is making sure she’s happy and emotionally okay. Wow, major dad points. More fathers need to have these conversations with their daughters. It isn’t about being an intimidating force with a gun to her boyfriend.  It’s about making sure she understands what she deserves in a relationship.  *standing ovation*

4846749263ea9e907ffdacefe9bf47c7fd-we-are-who-we-are.2x.rsocial.w600Caitlin also opens up to her father about starting her period. She gets it while on the beach and it is a big moment for a young woman. It’s the beginning of a huge transition, physically and emotionally. And Caitlin feels more comfortable opening up to her father than her mother, who is clearly homesick for America. How strange to live in essentially a miniature U.S. inside of another country. They enact U.S. law but that is easy to flout once you’re outside the walls and in a completely different culture. Jenny (Faith Alabi) is Nigerian but seems to have embraced American life as a soldier’s wife. Hard not to miss perfect lake weather in the Great Lakes though.  It’s pretty gorgeous here in the summer.  Ocean-Spray-Cranberry-Juice-in-We-Are-Who-We-Are-S01-Episode-2-TV-Series-2

But while Caitlin might have a great relationship with her father, she does not with her brother Danny (Spence Moore II).  In a lot of ways, it is a very typical brother-sister relationship.  Teasing and ragging on each other are pretty normal. But I get the sense Danny is jealous of her relationship with her father and also hates how much attention she gets. Not that she wants it. Does it seem like she wants some random dude grinding on her at the beach while she’s trying to dance? Because clearly she doesn’t and does her best to get him to leave her be. But Danny is angry. And Danny needs to focus on the peace that Islam can bring and chill. He’s very interested in Islam and I think given the recent RED hat purchase of his father’s, there could be coming tension in the household.  Caitlin’s own burgeoning interests could add to that tension as well. Fraser follows her and is curious about her motives.  Once he understands, he’s nothing but supportive and even sends her some clothes which make a later reappearance at dinner.  

As time continues, Fraser and Caitlin are spending more time together.  She even takes him out on her father’s boat, talking and swimming. She leaves it trashed, though he insists on wanting to clean it as they leave. “Keeping my shit in order calms me.” Ugh, you and me both, Fraser.  Caitlin is trying to get a sense of Fraser’s complete personality.  In a way, he’s nothing but pure chaos yet also has his own sense of order. I feel like I can identify with that in a way. He likes finding meaning in things. He wants depth in his life. Nothing fast or flashy or fake. He wants real life. Caitlin’s desire to explore her identity can find a kindred spirit there. “A revolution is going on inside of you.”

However, finding a new friend means spending less time with old ones and boyfriends. Sam isn’t thrilled and decides to end the relationship. Caitlin is not torn up about this.  And while I feel for Sam, I think he might need a little bit of perspective. Yes, heartbreak is hard, but you are still teenagers.  Did you think you would genuinely spend the rest of your life with Caitlin?  Because that’s rare. Like really, really rare. So while breaking up is hard, it’s a part of life.  A part you just have to deal with sometimes. But what this does mean is a fractured group dealing with the pieces. Britney (Francesca Scorsese) tries to bridge the gap but ultimately seems like she’s siding with Sam. Mainly because Caitlin is spending so much time with Fraser.  Everyone thinks they’re dating, irking him to no end.  Danny is angry and physically lashes out at Fraser. Danny is lucky to have a friend like Craig (Corey Knight), Sam’s older brother. He keeps him in check a bit but Danny is clearly struggling and needs more help.  

077253d4-9a95-4c68-bcca-7c78111db60f-wawwa-3Caitlin spends time with Fraser’s family as well, interested in the dynamic and openness. I think she feels more able to be herself, as opposed to her father’s “little lady” who he makes clean his boat. Fair, but in the middle of the night was probably unnecessary.  And especially blowing off Danny to do so. But he’s losing control. The rope fight at the festival, the base, his daughter… Caitlin might be interested in Fraser’s family dynamic but it’s what she doesn’t see that’s alarming. While Sarah (Chloe Sevigny) certainly went out of her way to embarrass him and could have handled that much differently, Fraser is again physically and emotionally abusive once Caitlin leaves. Moments that were largely left to the cast to portray as they wish, the violence is even more visceral. 

Maggie (Alice Braga) breaks my heart. She gets no acknowledgment as a mother when she’s been around since before Fraser was born and is clearly the more stable relationship. She tries to keep Fraser and Sarah in check and from antagonizing each other, but she’s clearly exhausted from their dynamic and unseen. When Fraser comes for comfort and Sarah snuggles  spoons him, Maggie is seen turning her back to them.  Unneeded and unwanted.  I hope to see her develop more of a friendship with Jenny, who is having her own identity struggle though different from her daughter.  I think this is a much-needed friendship for both of them, to feel heard and seen. And isn’t that really what everyone needs?

We Are Who We Are, Monday nights at 10:00pm ET on HBO. Also available to stream on HBO & HBO Max.

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