One Day at A Time: Season 4, Episode 4 Review (One Halloween at a Time)

Following the usual oscillation between simplicity and complexity, One Day at a Time bounced the pendulum back firmly into the simplicity and tackled Halloween.  Right before (what was supposed to be) tax day.  Following its own timeline worked in favor of ODAAT as it likely will span springtime during its run on Pop.  This means if it followed conventional formulas of broadcast network shows, ODAAT would only have Easter, Mother's Day and Memorial Day to celebrate.  Following their own timeline gives viewers a chance to look forward to a year-round spectrum to celebrate.  Costumes, one-liners, and a guest starring pregnancy test lined One Halloween at a Time.

The episode allowed the cast to showcase playing make believe/dress-up on the one day it is welcome to live in fantasy land.  Recently reunited Penelope and Max (Justina Machado, Ed Quinn) played homage to the 50's/70's as Grease's Sandy and Danny in fitting costumes.  Lydia and Leslie (Rita Moreno, Stephen Tobolowsky) beautifully depicted the principles from Beauty and the Beast.  Elena and Syd (Isabella Gomez, Sheridan Pierce) again overthought their get-ups and no one could figure out their theme.  And Alex (Marcel Ruiz), like many experimental youth, dyed his hair to look like a grownup and aged too far.  So what else is there for the cast to do once they dressed up?  Enter an overdone sitcom trope as Lydia discovers a positive pregnancy test found in a spilled garbage bag.

ODAAT managed to deliver a dose of nostalgia in the ensuing mayhem as a horrified Lydia first eyes Penelope on the phone, making misconstrued statements like "What do you want me to do?  Leave it on a doorstep?" as she innocently discussed Halloween candy.  The silliness intersects the entire canvas as Penelope, Elena and Alex all must deny ownership of the test.  Most fitting (and returning to the relevance plane) was Elena asking her mother "How many times do I have to come out to you?"  Ha!  The only ick factor in this episode was Penelope carted the offending guest star everywhere in a plastic bag in her purse.  In an era with camera phones, exhibit some hygiene!  Someone urinated on that thing!

The episode concludes revealing the mystery in a rewarding fashion. One Halloween at a Time shifted away from social issues for an episode for events and adventures, the proper balance needed after the prior episode's awkward topic.  Best of all, it displayed all of the supporting cast members like Syd and Avery (India de Beaufort).  Avery's underwhelming presence has given Schneider (Todd Grinnell) a newfound purpose in the ensemble.  And few realize de Beaufort is the real-life spouse of Grinnell.  One Halloween at a Time managed to wash down typecasting as the cast solved the Scooby Mystery of who peed on a stick and didn't hide it well.  The yo-yo-ing between simplicity and complexity continues to weave the episodes together in a beautiful portrait, and this episode stacked another winner in the deck as it again is a near masterpiece.

Grade: A-

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