Spoiler alert: This story contains substantial plot details from Tuesday’s episode of ABC’s “The Conners.”
“‘The Conners” adjusted to the departure of matriarch Roseanne. Now, it has to prepare for an impending arrival: Roseanne’s daughter, Becky, is expecting a child.
After some unevenness following a sharp-edged series premiere, Tuesday’s episode of the “Roseanne” spinoff, “Miracles,” featured engaging plot twists plus the kind of biting repartee so often featured in the original series.
The episode opens with a big twist. When Becky (Lecy Goranson) starts getting nauseated taking orders from her family at the Mexican restaurant where she works, her father, Dan (John Goodman), doesn’t buy her excuse that she’s having a bad reaction to tacos.
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He thinks she’s hung over despite promising him she would stop drinking in an earlier episode, and says he’s going to take her to a sobriety meeting. (The chronology of Becky’s sobriety was interrupted by an episodic scheduling change.)
But, surprise: Becky has a much happier explanation. She later tells her family she is pregnant, delightful news for a 43-year-old who was told last season that she had little or no chance of conceiving.
“I can’t believe it! Your doctor gave you less than a 5 percent chance,” her aunt, Jackie (Laurie Metcalf), says.
“I know, but I had unsafe sex and it worked!” a delighted Becky exclaims.
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“You should speak at the high school,” says her sister, Darlene (Sara Gilbert), who’s just getting rolling on her cutting humor.
Becky won’t reveal the father’s identity, saying the pregnancy is the result of a one-night stand and she will raise the baby on her own. Dan, more the traditionalist, responds that it’s “not a crime for a baby to have two parents” and throws Becky a curve, saying she can’t work on his construction crew while pregnant because of the dangers from chemical exposure and other risks.
Later, Becky reveals to Jackie that she wasn’t being coy about the dad. She doesn’t know who it is, since she slept with both restaurant manager Ramon and a busboy, Emilio. Realizing Ramon is in a better financial position, she tells him he’s the only one she had sex with, but he trumps her by saying he’s had a vasectomy.
“I assume I’m working holidays for a while,” she concludes, having been caught in the deception.
Emilio, an ambitious, Spanish-speaking immigrant who’s starting to learn English, is pleased to learn he will be a father. Jackie, who speaks some Spanish, serves as a translator for the soon-to-be parents. The potential for mangled communication creates some rich comic possibility.
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As Becky exalts over her impending arrival, Darlene deals with a departure: She dumps her boyfriend, Neil (Justin Long), because he’s too much of a pushover, which was one of the issues she had with her estranged husband, David.
But she also has some news, if not on the level of a pregnancy. She gets a job writing copy for “Lock ‘Em Up,” a tabloid magazine sold at gas stations that focuses on criminal mug shots.
In a hard-edged, insult-driven version of meet-cute, she talks her way into a job with the editor, Ben (Jay R. Ferguson). But he strongly resists her desire to change the magazine approach and, after they decide to have dinner, pushes back when she tries to dictate what they eat, a 180-degree turn from Neil’s submissive behavior. There’s romantic – and sparring – possibility here.
As the episode ends, Becky sits with Dan in the Conner kitchen, asking how he and the deceased Roseanne reacted when they learned Roseanne was pregnant with her, their first child.
“Did you freak out?” Becky asks.
“Only a little,” Dan says, expanding on the reason for his relative calm. “We didn’t know how bad you were going to turn out.”
Ah, sweet Conner family love.