Life Sentence Review: Re-Inventing the Abbotts (Season 1 Episode 2)

After being cured of cancer and beginning her post-cancer life sentence, Stella continues to struggle with the aftermath of the last eight years. Most notably, the difference in opinion between her parents about what to do with their childhood home.

On Life Sentence Season 1 Episode 2, otherwise titled “Yikes” (which I said about twenty times during the episode), Stella and Wes deal with an immigration officer policing their marriage after Wes is threatened with deportation because of their quickie marriage and the misfiling of paperwork. Meanwhile, Ida and Paul are at war over whether to sell the house, sending Stella into the lion’s den with her mother.

Familiar Strangers

Stella and Wes’ marriage might be a beautiful, blossoming thing, but we’re definitely seeing the two have a lot of struggles coming their way, but it’s inspiring that, despite everything, they’ve managed to make it this far and they’re willing to keep trying to make it work because of how much they love each other. During this episode, I originally thought the arrival of a government worker to question the legitimacy of their marriage was a bit premature, but, by the end, I knew the writers had made the right choice by choosing the second episode to do this. Seeing how much Stella and Wes were willing to fight for their marriage, even this soon in the show and their relationship, proves that they do love each, they’re in it for the long haul, and they’re a couple worth rooting for.

It’s actually a bit exciting that, as fans, we’re right with Stella and Wes as we don’t know very much about either of them. We’re learning things about the characters as they are, which makes their rushed relationship seem more realistic, more supported, and like they could actually become a better couple without having to get divorced. As I said in my review of Life Sentence Season 1 Episode 1, it’s rather unusual for me to actually be invested in a couple on a television show; however, Wes and Stella are a couple that make me want to root for them. They’re understanding, in love, and they’re embracing the good and bad about each other, which is something couples on shows often don’t do. There’s more time to focus on Stella and Wes outside of their relationships, so we’re coming to understand who they are individually, rather than just seeing the two characters as a romantic unit.

I enjoy that the writers are digging into the positives and negatives of their relationship, and the relationship isn’t being plagued by forces that don’t exist in the real world (like, you know, a stalker… or murders). They’re just a couple struggling to figure out how to spend the rest of their lives with one another and accept the things they can’t change about one another and what they have to compromise on to make this pairing work. I applaud the writers for creating a relationship that is actually like a relationship in the real world.

Memory Bias

Going forward, the writers of Life Sentence should definitely attempt to showcase more flashbacks of the last eight years of their lives. As heartbreaking as it was to see Ida’s version of the past eight years, it’s so important to paint the larger picture and not go off of solely Stella’s perspective of things. From how Stella’s talked about things, she saw the last eight years of her life, while dying with cancer, much differently than her family did, and we’re seeing Stella realize how much her family went through to make sure she had a good, happy life. At least so she could be as happy as someone with terminal cancer could be.

Stella’s feelings about her childhood home are definitely those of someone who never saw the bigger picture, but who could blame her? Now that she’s going to be continuing her life and has a second chance, I want to see more flashbacks of how things actually were for her family vs. Stella’s recollection of events.

And, honestly, Stella needs to come back down to reality and realize she has a very naive view of the world and how things should work, but I hope Stella never loses a bit of the naivety and optimism she has. It’s refreshing to see someone take on life with a positive attitude and for someone not to be dragged down by everything that has happened in their life. Stella survived terminal cancer, she’s dealing with embracing a new, uncertain life, yet she’s ready to face it.

Unlike Anything

Even though we’re just two episodes in, Life Sentence has quickly become one of my favorite television shows, possibly of all-time. It’s refreshing to see Lucy Hale so genuinely enjoying herself on-screen and you can tell how much she loves playing Stella and investing her time into this story. And, more importantly, the story of Stella and the Abbotts is so unlike anything on TV. Most of TV is so dark, dreary, and ominous that it’s easy to be sucked into those feelings, but Life Sentence is almost like a palate cleanser for every other show because the tone is so much lighter, happier, and just all-around hopeful. This series shows that better days are ahead and that, no matter how bad things are or what you’re dealing with, there’s hope for tomorrow and the rest of your life. The point is, television needs to find a way to harness this show much more, but they’ll never get it as right as this show is. 


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What did you think of Life Sentence Season 1 Episode 2? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Life Sentence airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on The CW! Follow The TV Type on Twitter!

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