A Friend of the Family (Season 1), Episode 5 “The Bitter Cup”: The true crime genre has become a popcorn-worthy one in the recent past. The thrill of experiencing a criminal mind unravel, where the story happens to be true, might be behind the increasing interest in this weirdly specific type. It also reminds me of how horror tales were telecasted during my childhood with a note that these things happened in reality – making it all scarier and inviting to make the audience watch it. ‘A Friend of the Family’ is a recent stomach-churning addition that is streaming on Peacock. Let’s dive right into what happens in the 5th episode.
A Friend of the Family Episode 5 Recap:
Episode 5: The Bitter Cup
The previous episode ends up with a passionate kiss between Robert Berchtold, aka B (Jake Lacy), and Mary Ann (Anna Paquin). The new episode, written by Nick Antosca & Brian Evenson and directed by Steven Piet, begins with the events right after this sexually charged interaction where they come out of the motorhome, a bit dazed, yet smiling cheek to cheek. Through this encounter, she expresses her guilt for betraying her husband – Bob (Colin Hanks). He tries to comfort her, and then they both hope the case on B to get over soon.
After a school play where young Jan (Hendrix Yancy) performs, she returns home with a bouquet of red flowers along with a note that clearly says that it has been sent by B. As a result, Bob gets furious, seeing them giving B the advantage to establish some contact with their family. He warns his family to keep their distance from B for all he has done to their family. With so many terrible experiences involving him already in their knowledge, he doesn’t wish to take a chance with this sexual predator of a person. However, that doesn’t go well with either Jan or Mary Ann, who is still smitten by his charm.
Bursting in anger, Bob shows up at B’s doorstep, confronting him about it. B notes it as a friendly gesture and manages to sway his mind to return to his home. Later, Bob learns different ways in which B was harassing him to make him feel weaker and weaker. So, Bob tells Mary Ann to keep the family at a distance from B, for he will keep making efforts to break their family apart. She even goes on to meet B to inform him that she won’t be staying in touch with him anymore. That probably irks him more to keep up with his attempts to make the Brobergs miserable. He keeps calling them randomly without saying even a word.
The narrative progresses to the events from 1975, where we meet the old Jan (Mckenna Grace), still under B’s spell, and his fantasy tales involving Zada and Zethra. Meanwhile, B’s lawyer keeps manipulating Mary Ann trying to convince her not to go to trial in the form of an offer. That is just a trap that both B and his lawyer plan out to convince Brobergs to go on their side. He keeps insisting she agrees to her having permitted to take Jan out on a trip. Mary Ann insists on not doing so since that isn’t the truth. Since she seems adamant about her stance, he thinks of his last resort and mentions that he will take a plea if she agrees for him and Jan to meet sometime soon. Despite her not wanting to bring Jan to see him, he insists on her doing so. She decides to do it for the sake of his plea. When they finally meet, she witnesses the connection B and Jan feel with one another and senses how his charisma has worked upon her young daughter.
Back at home, Bob gets angry at Mary Ann for taking Jan to see B despite his warning. He learns about it from a friend who sees them meeting in a car. She defends herself, saying it was like choosing a lesser evil between the two and that the meeting would make B take a plea. Bob insists B will take it anyway despite her not having his daughter put through this danger. When the argument reaches a personal level where the family issue is in the discussion, Mary Ann can’t help but be honest about being unfaithful to him. She mentions how B is holding it as leverage over her.
Bob gets furious for letting Jan be continually in contact with B, and within a few days, gives her legal notice regarding her being an imminent danger to their daughters while also mentioning their prospective divorce. She is also stopped from partaking in any religious activities because this act puts her sacred contract of marriage at odds. She moves to her mother’s place along with her unmarried sister, who notes how she missed out on a relationship with a good guy like Bob by being unfaithful.
Meanwhile, Jan keeps believing in the fantasy tales of Zada and Zethra, through which B still tries to pull her toward him and towards their mission. As per a note she receives, she reaches an old house where she surprisingly meets B. He shares his plans to move to Wyoming in Jackson Hole for the sake of earning money for their mission. He mentions telling it out of care and concern for her for staying distant for some time. She shares a plan of moving there herself for a summer job, and he shows a sign of elation at her very plan. Back at home, she asks for permission from Bob, who denies it, stating it not being required at such a young age as hers to move and take a job.
While B keeps trying to sway Mary Ann towards himself, she goes back to Bob and apologizes for her mistakes, stating that she can’t stay away from their children for too long. They decide that she will stay with them for a while. In 1976, during a trial, it was concluded that B would get just a 15-day prison time instead of 5 years since he accepted the plea and had shown remorse for his actions. There is still a smirk on his face when he looks back at the FBI officer stating how the verdict does not reflect what he is actually feeling.
A Friend of the Family Episode 5 Ending, Explained:
Once the FBI officer mentions it to Bob and Mary Ann, it angers them to see B get out on this ridiculously short prison time. Meanwhile, Jan mentions her wish to work for a theatre company since it would help her build an acting career the way she always wanted. When both the parents ask where the production is located, and the moment she mentions Jackson Hole, both answer with a resounding ‘No.’ That angers Jan since it is probably a lie she plots out to be closer to where B is supposed to work in Wyoming.
Sometime later, when Mary Ann and Bob leave Jan to take care of the younger kids, she manages to run away while both the sisters play on their own. Upon learning about it, Mary Ann rushes right towards a nearby airport and keeps looking for her for a while but does not find her. She returns to her car, sobbing uncontrollably.
A Friend of the Family Episode 5 Review:
The episode reinstates my belief of it being significantly impressive and exceptionally better than the lot since it focuses on different elements that got wrecked due to the reckless acts of a specific individual with an insufficiently treated medical condition. It’s better navigation of the impact than just the interesting mind. Evil is considered evil, and that is what this genre needs besides the intrigue about their mindscape. The nuanced acting performances by the beautiful cast of actors enhance this very impact.