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Zach Gilford

When a Lost Son Returns, The Family Is Torn Apart


Familial relationships always come with challenges. The bonds developed with family members are undeniably complicated and no where is this subject better explored than in the new ABC physiological drama, The Family. When eight year-old Adam Warren goes missing from a park filled with locals, the remaining family members – a mom, dad, and two older siblings – are thrown into a new normal filled with grief, doubt, and uncertainty as police question their recollections, motives and whereabouts.

In the very first hour (the show premiered on March 6), the missing Adam (Liam James) miraculously reappears and lands back home with his family ten years after being declared dead. The acceptance is swift and suspicion only creeps in when Danny (Zach Gilford), the oldest Warren child and a raging alcoholic, questions Adam’s true identity. The family matriarch Claire (Joan Allen), now deeply entrenched in politics as the mayor of a fictional town in Maine, refuses to allow anyone in her family to bring Adam’s identity into question. In a momentary Keyser Söze twist, Danny discovers that only through the prominent display of photographs on the family mantle is Adam able to demonstrate knowledge of his past with the Warrens. The episode fades in and out from ten years ago to present time reflecting each family member’s memory of the past and feelings about Adam’s return. Which character’s recollections are to be believed? Before we can decide, another dramatic event adds further intrigue.

Hank (Andrew McCarthy), a neighbor who once lived across the street was tried and convicted for Adam’s murder and was given a life sentence. Adam’s homecoming brings this would be killer back to the house where his ordeal began. Frame by frame, details unfold of how each family member contributed to the events that led to the outcome that became the Warren family truth; the alleged death of the youngest Warren. Questionable parenting, sibling carelessness, youthful naiveté are all factors leading us down the crooked path of discovering different versions of reality. In a calculated move, Claire quickly announces her candidacy for Governor, to the surprise of her family and the heavy hearts of Maine constituents still reeling from Adam’s return. Meanwhile Claire’s husband, Adam’s father, John (Rupert Graves) is having an affair with Police Sgt. Nina Meyer (Margot Bingham), who was instrumental in putting Hank behind bars. How will this fractured family deal with further scrutiny as Claire fights not only for a new political office but to mend the broken bonds within her home?

The series boasts an impressive cast. Allen is fresh off her lauded performance opposite Oscar-winner Brie Larson in Room, while Graves is known for his role as DI Lestrade in BBC’s Sherlock. Alison Pill, who plays Adam’s religious-obsessed sister, Willa, most recently starred in HBO’s The Newsroom. And Andrew McCarthy has a long list of credits to his resume, making him instantly recognizable to his fans.

The series got off too a slow start, playing opposite presidential debates. ABC hopes that viewers will now tune in and get caught up as Adam’s story slowly unfolds. How did he disappear and how has he spent the last ten years? And is he truly Adam Warren or a doppelgänger who has taken his place? If he’s an imposter, then who is taunting the Warrens and why?

The Family can be seen at 9 p.m. Sundays on ABC.