The Mazzuchellis hit a crucial point in how the family handles Gordy's (Casey Johnson) drinking problem in Tuesday night's episode of Rise.
Lou (Josh Radnor) and Gail (Marley Shelton) strong-armed their son to go on a family visit to see Gail's sister. He opted out of going to see his little cousin's play and instead snuck back to Stanton to go to Robbie's (Damon J. Gillespie) football team party. The adventure was mostly an excuse to see Gwen (Amy Forsyth), but it was a party, so naturally the alcohol flowed and ended up in Gordy's red Solo cup despite his promises to his parents that he's staying sober.
That made for an unbelievably tense moment when Lou and Gail came charging into the party and confronted Gordy for lying to them. The confrontation got so heated that Lou came within inches of hitting his own son before Gail broke it up and insisted they go home to wait for Gordy. What teenager ever willingly goes home when they know they are going to be grounded for the rest of their natural born days, though? That kid doesn't exist. So instead of tackling the problem head on, Lou and Gail are left calling every hospital in the area waiting to find out where Gordy disappeared to.
TV Guide talked to Marley Shelton about the Mazzuchellis struggle to get their son help and where they go from here now that Gordy is officially going off the rails.
This episode seems to be a real turning point for Gordy and his parents. Where do the Mazzuchellis go from here?
Marley Shelton: They are at this critical point in decision making with their son Gordy and his situation. Up until this point, they are sort of going back and forth between, "Is this just a teenager experimenting with alcohol like many of his peers do or is this something more? Is there a real issue here? Does he have a real drinking problem?" I think it escalates in Episode 4.
I think it's also a very slippery slope and a delicate situation because as we've established in the story there's a history of alcohol abuse in Lou's family. Gail is dealing with that dynamic, which is that [Lou] is reluctant to look at that. He's in denial to a certain degree about Gordy because he doesn't want to have to face his family history, which is very painful for him. Along with the dealing with the immediacy of her son's needs and this crisis, I think [Gail] is also having to mitigate and deal with Lou and his inability to really face this problem head on. There's a lot of back and forth.
How much does she regret letting Gordy go back to the party when he doesn't come home later that night?
Shelton: This speaks to when you're in the moment dealing with any sort of crisis or intense situation as a parent. You don't have the vantage point of having perspective and objectivity. You are in it and you are just doing the best you can to kind of react in the moment and make the right judgement call. In that moment, I think she is afraid that her husband is getting physically rough with their son. Her mother bear instinct comes out and she wants to protect her son. She sees that it needs to be diffused, but no good is going to come out of this moment if they continue to fight about it and it escalates.
She's breaking up a fight and she realizes that her husband needs to calm down and take a beat. She also realizes that her son — who is almost an adult, he's a teenager — physically, he's a force to be reckoned with. There's that moment too of, "At what point as a parent do you let go and let your children make mistakes and learn from those mistakes?" In that moment, I think she has to decide to break up the fight and get these two people who she loves so much away from each other. Then, upon returning home and when [Gordy] doesn't come back, I think she is absolutely terrified and thinks she made a horrible mistake and should have insisted that he come home with them. Now he's missing and anything could have happened to him. There's all sorts of mother guilt.
Up until now Gail has really been pushing for them to get Gordy some serious help, like into rehab or at least a treatment center. Is that still going to be the direction she wants to go in once they find Gordy?
Shelton: Gail has always been spearheading really looking at the situation with Gordy head-on and getting him help. She takes it very seriously, whereas Lou is dealing with some past demons with his father and a history of alcohol abuse in his family. He doesn't want to look at the situation with Gordy as head-on. There is definitely push and pull in that dynamic. It takes Lou longer to come around and realize that, "Okay, we need help here. This is beyond our jurisdiction. We can't do this by ourselves. We need to get professional help." I do think that Gail has a little more objectivity and can see the forest for the trees.
Everyone in the beginning wonders is Gail going overboard here? Is she overreacting? Is this typical paranoid mom behavior or is there really something going on? I think as we see next week it gets even more intense. We see that she might have been on to something. It gets worse before it gets better with Gordy.
At the same time all of this is going on, Gail is developing a real bond with Maasheus. How does that complicate her trying to help Gordy when she has this foster son she really gets along with?
Shelton: First of all, I don't think Gail expects to fall for this kid. She's sort of blindsided by him joining their household. At first, she is very reluctant to take on yet another responsibility and take care of another child in the midst of everything they already have going on and the complicated situation with Gordy... [But] she can't help herself because she falls for him and realizes that Maasheus is a very special, unique individual who needs help. He worms his way into her heart.
It sets up a very interesting dynamic because Maasheus is so completely opposite of Gordy in terms of his interests, in terms of his bedside manner. He is mild-mannered approach and he's approachable. In an odd way, he is everything that Gordy is not, so that sets up an immediate conflict. It sets up a dynamic where Gordy thinks that he's competing with Maasheus, etc. As the show progresses over the season, we examine that further. Obviously, from Gail's point of view, there's enough love in her heart to go around and she's not trying to replace her son with this foster child. It just adds to the pot.
Gordy has a growing flirtation with Gwen Strickland. Is that a relationship that Gail would approve of?
Shelton: I love the storyline between those two. I think it is so surprising and they have such great chemistry. Gail has a mother's heart so even if she knows her son is struggling, she still delights when something goes right for him. The fact that this beautiful girl is interested in her son, I think that it is almost like a break in all of the other harder things they have to deal with. She still wants him to succeed. She still wants him to have a first romance and enjoy all the special things about being a teenager and growing up. I think she's secretly excited for him.
Rise continues Tuesdays at 9/8c on NBC.