“Mr. Morales” is the best episode of the show thus far, offering a new, upbeat perspective.
This recap of Mr. Corman season 1, episode 4, “Mr. Morales”, contains spoilers.
Josh’s friend Victor has shown up in previous episodes of Mr. Corman in the way that friends of protagonists always tend to. He seemed like a nice guy, but he also seemed on the periphery of Josh’s life, just one element of several that form a hazy outline of a lonely man’s existence. The fittingly titled “Mr. Morales” takes a relatively bold step so early in the season by putting Victor, played so warmly and earnestly by Arturo Castro, at the front and center. And it’s a choice that makes for the best episode of the season thus far.
Mr. Corman season 1, episode 4 recap
“Mr. Morales” doesn’t have any of the artsy cutaways that have come to define this show; simply focusing on someone other than Josh is, in its way, an experimental storytelling choice. It’s also valuable since it reframes Josh’s life in a new perspective – there’s a moment when Victor returns home from his job as a UPS deliveryman and finds Josh idly staring out of a window. Usually, we’d see that through the lens of his anxiety. Another trick is pulled later when Victor and his troublesome 13-year-old daughter, Gabi, run into Josh’s latest fling in the middle of the night, and all have a little chuckle at his expense. We don’t have to see him for his presence to be felt.
But it’s Victor, and Gabi, who take up most of the focus here, and to great effect. Victor has anxiety of his own, but it mostly takes the form of fretting over whether he’s doing everything he can for his loved ones. He’s separated from Gabi’s mother but they obviously have a good relationship. He’s just struggling with Gabi’s increasing distance from him; her disinterest in the things they used to do together. Like a lot of young girls (I say this as someone with two of my own) she has internalized the superficiality and judgementalism of social media. A later plot point reveals she has stolen her friend’s Air Jordans for the sake of Instagram clout, and yet she still looks down on Victor for having a roommate and working for UPS.
Victor is incredibly likable. We see him having back-and-forth banter with his customers, preparing Gabi’s favorite lasagne ahead of time since she no longer likes preparing it with him, and sliding it defeatedly into the bin when she doesn’t end up eating it. He gives up his bedroom for her and sleeps on the couch and tries to MacGyver a solution to a private problem that Gabi is snootily dismissive over. All the while, he puts up with the insults and the snide remarks with admirable patience. If only all parents – myself included! – were like him.
A now-obligatory surreal dream sequence spun out of Victor’s specific anxiety is the only clue that we’re still watching the same show we have been for the last three episodes. Victor’s upbeat good nature is a welcome reminder that not everyone deals with their problems the same way and that not all stories about anxiety need to be crushingly depressing.