“No Faith” explores the role of religion in families, and Ava makes a shocking discovery.
This recap of Breeders season 2, episode 4, “No Faith”, contains spoilers.
The function of religion in raising children is, in a lot of cases, to have an unpaid babysitter. If your kids are scared of going to hell, they’re probably not going to kill anyone; the thought of an always-online observer keeping an eye on things is a good deterrent. England, where Breeders is set, is a Christian-majority country, but it’s by a slim margin; 53.6% of the population, whereas 40.2% identify as non-religious. Compare that to somewhere like the United States, a significantly bigger population of which only 26% are non-religious, and the difference is pretty stark. I bring this all up because religion for Englanders tends to be tokenistic, something you do at Easter and Christmas and maybe the odd Sunday, so seeing your child suddenly be quite devout, as Paul spots Ava being in “No Faith”, is pretty noteworthy.
The situation is muddied slightly by the fact that Paul is atheist, and when he brings it up to Ava, one of the first things she says is that he’d be angry if she was really praying, which apparently she wasn’t. Kids don’t lose that desire to please their parents — or avoid a telling-off — until they’re much older, but they always think they’re a lot sneakier than they are. Paul knows she’s lying, but he can’t force the issue, and since Ally is out on the town with her friend Keeley (Indra Ové), he has to stew on it.
Keeley is moving back to England after some time away, in large part because Tony, her step-dad, has aged considerably and needs her now; it’s a fitting reason for a return since Jim and Jackie only revealed earlier in the episode that they’re no longer comfortable being Luke and Ava’s legally-appointed guardians should anything happen to Paul and Ally since they might “drop dead at any minute.” The theme of mortality looms over Breeders season 2, episode 4, which is never far removed from religion.
In some ways “No Faith” is an outgrowth of the previous episode, “No Connection”, in which Paul fretted that he was losing touch with his kids as they got older. While he claims not to be concerned about Ava’s faith one way or the other, he takes the idea of her keeping something that is important to her secret from him as a personal affront, proof that he isn’t as close to her as he thought he was. When she finally confesses that she does believe in God, since she likes the idea of someone watching over them, he takes that a bit personally as well. He’s watching over his family, isn’t he? Shouldn’t that be enough?
Ava’s faith seems to stem from when Luke was very ill in hospital and she saw Jim praying for his safety at the kitchen table — since Luke got better, the praying must have worked. It’s solid logic, but Jim and Paul had a chat earlier in the episode in which he described religion as being “like an old slipper” to him, and stated that he knew it was medicine that saved Luke, not his prayers. But Paul is okay with Ava being religious for whatever reason — she’s somewhat unbelievably logical for a ten-year-old — and she’s okay with discussing it with him as long as it doesn’t become “a thing”, which of course it does when Jim lets slip to Jackie and she makes a big song and dance about presenting her with the family bible at dinner.
Ava is initially a bit dismayed by the betrayal, but it builds to a sweet payoff when Paul takes Ava to church while they’re out. “Who’d have thought I’d be going into a church with my daughter?” He chuckles. “God,” she replies, obviously too clever for her own good.
But the real “twist” of “No Faith” involves Ally, who spends most of the episode feeling ropey, which she blames on a hangover and her attempts at Veganuary (something that Luke, of all people, takes to really well). But Keeley recognizes the symptoms and advises her to get a pregnancy test, which she does at the very end of the episode. Judging by her reaction, I think we know what the outcome was.