The Acosta siblings are gradually finding a new normal, but it remains a bumpy road.
Each of then has to adapt to new roles they're playing, and on Party of Five Season 1 Episode 3, it led to some of them bumping heads, namely the Acosta men.
Emilio was at odds with both his father and Beto, and that isn't including his newfound tension with a family friend, Uncle Louie.
Emilio is under extreme pressure and stress as a young man who thrust into parenthood of four kids and as a business owner. He is bound and already has made mistakes in both areas. It's a learning curve, and the process will never be a smooth one.
He has made strides in accepting his new position as a business owner running the restaurant to the best of his abilities.
However, Javier, despite being miles away, is hindering his son from taking full control of the reins.
Whatever mistakes you made, they were yours to make, but now it's my time to make my own.Emilio
La Cantaritos is every bit Javier's baby as all of his children. He went from owning a restaurant in Los Angeles to working as a waiter in México.
He was proud of all he accomplished with the restaurant. He doesn't get the same feeling of proud away from his family and business working beneath someone else.
It's understandable, and yet, he didn't realize the extent of how he was undermining Emilio in the process.
Emilio has his work cut out for him earning the respect, loyalty, and fostering similar relationships with the staff his father managed to do.
You can't expect me to live in your house, run your restaurant, raise your children and leave me no room to have anything or anyone of my own.Emilio
He also has to do things in his way. As he said later on when he spoke to his father after their disagreement, Javier made his mistakes, and Emilio needs space to make his own.
The restaurant was the last piece of home and control Javier likely felt he had, so he went overboard micromanaging from another country.
They handle things differently. It's a lot in play when you compare and contrast Emilio and Javier and how they go about matters.
Javier is a kind-hearted man who does appear to view everyone he comes into contact with as friends. He's naive in a way, and others are inclined to take advantage of and exploit him.
Emilio: Don't give me that two families bullshit, Uncle Louie. You took advantage of us the entire time. Because my father had no choice but to say yes and thank you, and keep it to himself.
Louie: That's not how your father saw it. He knew we were friends.
Emilio: Friends? My father thought everybody was his friend. Friends don't charge 30% of a bar receipt for 16 years.
We already picked up on that when he went years believing Oscar was taking money from him, but he never did anything about the situation.
Emilio is less likely to let others walk all over him. He cuts to the chase, but he lacks finesse, tact, and bulldozes his way through issues without considering the full picture.
He's less likely to be taken advantage of than his father but more inclined to alienate himself.
His approach with Uncle Louie was no different than how he came after Oscar during Party of Five Season 1 Episode 2. If anything, he was more aggressive.
Uncle Louie, who was played by The Fosters' Danny Nucci was the one who helped the Acostas get their liquor license for the restaurant.
Emilio: Are you available to work nights and weekends?
Lucia: He's available all the time.
Emilio: I'm sorry who is being interviewed here?
But the surprise was when Javier discovered Louie takes 30% of the earnings. After discovering how terrible Javier was at keeping the books and how little they were making, Emilio was upset upon finding out how Louie exploited his father.
THIRTY-PERCENT in perpetuity is outrageous!
Louie can't sue them for the money when he did something illegal, and Javier was at the mercy of Louie since he needed papers to obtain the license.
From Javier's position, you understand how he agreed to this deal. As an undocumented person, his options are limited.
And that's where Emilio and Javier often clash. It's a generational element to their disagreements and outlooks, but it's also a mark of their respective positions.
Whatever mistakes you made, they were yours to make, but now it's my time to make my own.
Emilio has more leeway than his father as someone on DACA. He's free to do more, so he regarded his father as naive and foolish, but he didn't always consider how inflexible Javier's experiences and choices were.
Part of being undocumented meant sometimes being exploited. It isn't right AT ALL, but it's real.
Emilio and the others knew Uncle Louie as someone who always looked out for them and cared about him, so Emilio discovering the predatory stake Louie had in their business put a strain on them.
Emilio wanted the license signed over to him, which was a start, and Louie had no issue doing it, but he wanted the rest of his money.
Vanessa: Is there something you'd like to ask me, Beto?
Beto: Is there something you would like to tell me, Vanessa?
It's tough. You feel for Emilio, and you certainly understand why he's livid, but he also doesn't know how to pick his battles.
Would you have chosen this fight with Louie? He doesn't have to like it, but there was an agreement and he should pay out the quarter. That's just how business works, unfortunately.
You would want to get from underneath him, and it's frustrating that Javier didn't transfer the license to Emilio's name the second he turned 21.
The Acostas are struggling, and Louie is living his best life with fancy cars and multiple businesses. He was not hurting for this money, and if he cared as much as he claimed he did, he would've let it go.
Louie was the one who alerted them when ICE was coming. He did it the night the Acostas were taken.
It seems he does things to keep the Acostas in debt to him and in need of showing their gratitude. But the moment he saw Emilio wasn't as gullible or desperate, for lack of a better word, as his father, his true colors came out.
He wasn't above giving them a fake warning to remind Emilio of the power he has, and it was enough to color your opinion of this man if you had any doubts about his character.
He didn't mind further traumatizing Val and the employees to prove a point.
Poor Val damn near hyperventilated -- terrified that ICE would come and take her brother away from her. Emilio reassuring her that they were all OK was enough to reduce you to tears right there, and can we please have more sweet moments between Emilio and Val, please?!
Val, look at me. I have status. I'm safe. You're safe. Were all safe.Emilio
More than anything, it's sad how everyone else is caught in the middle of this war between Emilio and Louie.
It's an unresolved issue, but a concerning one. Emilio is making some tough calls, and it's admirable.
However, I also wonder when it'll catch up to him.
It was another thing to cause issues with him and Beto. Both the twins were harping on Emilio's actions and stances, but much like Emilio failing to fully comprehend his father's position and his own privilege, the twins didn't get it either.
Beto loves Uncle Louie, and he enjoyed driving Louie's car around. He doesn't want to think ill of a man he has known his entire life.
Beto: Why do you assume the worst of people? That no one can be on our side? Not everyone is out to screw us.
Emilio: Our parents were deported, Be. So yeah, I'm allowed to see the world as full of people not on our side.
Beto thinks Emilio's outlook on life is bleak, and he thinks everyone is out to get him. But Beto doesn't think about the uncertainty Emilio lives his life experiencing.
He wasn't born in the country. He has more freedom than his parents, but he's at the mercy of a system too. From his perspective, it would feel like people are out to get him or take advantage.
Patry of Five is so far doing a good job touching on these different layers and what they mean.
It was the same when Lucia was persistent when trying to get Beto to hire Matthew. She wasn't thinking about how Emilio knowingly doing that jeopardizes his status.
Emilio: Are you available to work nights and weekends?
Lucia: He's available all the time.
Emilio: I'm sorry who is being interviewed here?
The twins never have to think about these sorts of things.
But back to the brothers. The biggest issue between them was Vanessa. Sorry to say, this remains the weakest and most contrived part of the series.
Emilio expressed to both his brother and his father that he deserves to have something good that's all his. He deserves to have someone when he's dealing with all of this other stuff be didn't ask for and all of that jazz.
You can have any girl. You pretty much have had every girl. In the end, none of them mean anything to you. In the end, this one won't be any different. She could have meant something to me.Beto
And hey, no one is saying Emilio shouldn't have a love interest, or that he should sacrifice his dating life like he has his music.
But does it need to happen right now?
None of them have barely adjusted to anything else in their lives. The series hardly allowed the sibling relationships to be established, before this is tossed in.
The brothers speak about Vanessa as if she's some prize to be won or their reward for taking on more responsibilities.
Both relationships are inappropriate for different reasons. Beto is a kid, so he doesn't and shouldn't have a shot in hell with her.
His response to Vanessa is when Beto reminds you most how young he is. He's behaving like a brat, and he has to know he doesn't and shouldn't have a chance with Vanessa. Teenagers, am I right?
Emilio is her boss. He shouldn't be sleeping with his employee, and if that isn't bad enough, they sure as hell shouldn't be groping each other and making out in the workplace.
Are we supposed to be rooting for this?
And Emilio can say all he wants about his parents' room being his now and dating whomever he likes, but he shouldn't be bringing someone he hasn't even established as his girlfriend into the house with the other kids for bang sessions.
You can't expect me to live in your house, run your restaurant, raise your children and leave me no room to have anything or anyone of my own.
And Vanessa was out of line inserting herself into a conversation Emilio was having with his father, who she doesn't even know.
And for some reason, she still stayed the night after all of that. Honestly, go home Vanessa.
Of all the characters, she's the one who needs the most work.
Unfortunately, she's treated like a prize rather than a person, but then she's a human plot device.
Her best moments are when she's used as a mouthpiece regurgitating elementary level psych-level observations.
Vanessa: It's all those phone calls with your parents. When she can't reach them, her anxiety spikes, and then she crawls into bed with you. And then the next day, you're exhausted, and it's that much easier for you to pass her off on them again.
Beto: I don't do that. OK, maybe sometimes.
Vanessa: You know without meaning to, when you send her off, what you're telling her is that's where she'll find her comfort. And what she gets from her parents over the phone a country away will never be enough to fully sustain her. It's not you she needs less of, Beto
It's crazy how immature she comes across with Emilio. She's making moves and flirting with him at work but seemingly dismissive and ill-equipped to respond to any of his venting and frustrations about his new reality.
She opts to distract him with flirting in those moments when it could lead to a heartfelt conversation Emilio can have with a fellow adult, which makes her seem vapid and insensitive in those scenes.
But then she's a wealth of wisdom and maturity when she's advising Beto about Val. She's good in those moments.
Val's beside herself mami. And she lost had parents, and she's beside herself, and I need you to find a way to make her need you less.Beto
I can't help but feel it would be infinitely more interesting and refreshing if Emilio had an older adult to turn to and confide in during this transition -- if he had that type of relationship explored rather than this romantic one.
Vanessa was spot on about Val's anxiety. Val was too reliant on speaking to her mom multiple times a day for every little thing.
She couldn't sustain herself on that, and the quicker she realized it, the better.
The unspoken agreement is that Beto was assigned Val to tend to, so after long nights of no sleep and sharing his bed, he was happy to share some of the load with his mother via phone calls.
Mi amor, I'm having a hard time with something, and I think you can help me. You see I'm just living for the times we speak and the times in between are very lonely.Gloria
Gloria was getting as much out of these phone calls as Val, but putting space between them was necessary. Neither of them could function well in their life outside of those phone calls when it's all they hanging on to every day.
Beto is such a good brother, and he explained the situation perfectly. He knew Gloria would understand, and she did.
Val and Gloria's conversation was the most emotional scene of the hour. It was like Gloria had to say goodbye to her daughter all over again.
She knew it was the right thing to do, though, and she captured the feeling well.
She felt as if she was only living for those phone calls, and neither of them could continue doing that. Val could be strong for her mother, and it wasn't as if they weren't going to speak to each other every day, but they couldn't do the routine phone calls for every single moment.
All our goodbyes so many times a day. They take every inch of space. Can you help me with that you think Valentina? Can you help me so I'm not just living to hear you and see you? Maybe that will make me strong enough to be in the world a little more.Gloria
They had to learn how to live in the spaces between those phone calls.
Val is such a doll, and the siblings have a lot going on, but hopefully, she can make some friends her age. It's heartbreaking that she's so young but dealing with the stress of an adult with this situation.
She needs those moments when she can be a carefree kid.
Beto and Val have the best bond of the Acosta siblings, but the final scene with Beto and Lucia was sweet. After lamenting the days when he slept in and didn't have as many worries, Lucia suggested they go for a joy ride before he returned Louie's car.
Beto needed something like that, and it was thoughtful of Lucia to suggest it. The twintuition came through.
Lucia is angry about what's happening, and she has moved on to wanting to help. Her consideration of her brother was welcome after her a rough first two installments, but she's focused most of her attention on Matthew.
He has a story, but he's not ready to tell it yet, and Lucia has latched onto him. It's as if she feels helping him can make up for what happened to her parents.
She means well, and her intentions are pure, but she's ignorant of what Matthew has endured and how he feels and lives his life.
I'm trying to help you. Can you see that? Or maybe you've never had anyone on your side before. Is that it?Lucia
Up until this point in her life, Lucia blissfully led her life like a middle-class suburban teen, who focused on studying and getting the best grades. She's not familiar with the fear someone like Matthew experiences every day. She doesn't even fully comprehend her brother's plight.
Matthew has DACA status, but he needs it renewed. The issue is he's terrified of what could happen when he steps foot into that building and alerts everyone about his lapsed status.
It's quite a quandary he has going on there. In doing what he's supposed to do, he's afraid he might put himself at risk.
She has something I want. That's worth a lot of money, and maybe it's the only thing in her life she has to sell.Matt
His fear was so deep and pervasive he resorted to buying a baby's social security number. The young mother sold it to him, and it's something I never considered.
What happens when the baby gets older? What a mess. But this woman was desperate enough to sell it, and someone like Matthew was desperate enough to buy it.
It was Matthew's solution, for now, and he's working at the restaurant with the Acostas. But is anyone else waiting for the other shoe to drop?
Matthew is a mystery, and Lucia doesn't know anything about him. He doesn't give much information either.
He's good at prompting Lucia to self-reflect, but outside of that, he's hard to read.
It's through his story that we had further exploration of the immigration issue. The Acosta storylines were more family-based drama during this installment, but Matthew is a touchstone for the ongoing arc regarding immigration.
He gives us an outlook from a different angle than that of the Acostas. So far, it's been enlightening.
Over to you, Party of Five Fanatics.
Am I too harsh on Vanessa? Are you enjoying the romantic subplot and "love triangle" between her, Beto, and Emilio?
What was your impression of Uncle Louie? Did Emilio do the right thing? Hit the comments below.
You can watch Party of FIve online here via TV Fanatic.
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.