The second episode of A Friend of the Family continues its increasingly dark exploration of Jan Broberg’s abduction with its understated approach and refreshing lack of sensationalism, made even more potent by great performances from its entire cast.
This recap of the Peacock series A Friend of the Family season 1, episode 2, “The Mission,” contains spoilers.
The second episode of A Friend of the Family descends further into the bizarre and disturbing details of Jan Broberg’s (Hendrix Yancey) kidnapping by her neighbor Robert Berchtold (Jake Lacey) in a manner that is deeply chilling but which retains an understated quality to its nightmarish plotting that would seem preposterous if fictional, but which is increasingly shocking for having actually happened.
A Friend of the Family season 1, episode 2 recap
Jan wakes up in the trailer, the voice in the speaker telling her she has been chosen for a special task. As the night turns to morning, the voice tells her to check the front of the motor home where she is being kept to look for the ‘male companion’. She subsequently finds Robert passed out who, upon waking up, recounts the events of the night before, manipulating and lying to Jan with a story about how a light appeared in the sky and two mysterious figures emerged from it and restrained him. Jan details to Robert that the voice from the speaker told her that she has been chosen for a special mission by two beings called Zeda and Zethra and that if she doesn’t comply terrible things with happen.
Back at her house, Mary Ann (Anna Paquin) and Bob (Colin Hanks) decide to call the police despite the protests of Gail Berchtold (Lio Tipton). The police officer on the phone advises them to call the local FBI, who are unfortunately not available until Monday morning. They decide to wait until then.
The FBI arrive on the Monday morning led by Agent Peter Walsh (Austin Stowell) who explains to Mary Ann and Bob that Robert’s car has been discovered with the driver’s side window smashed and the presence of blood at the scene. Since the window was smashed from the inside, they tell Jan’s parents that they believe the scene to have been faked. Talking to Gail, they learn of the anti-allergy pills that Robert was giving to Jan since she was allergic to horses, the very same pills that Robert has been consistently giving Jan since he abducted her. Not long after, Bob’s psychiatrist arrives at the Broberg house and explains to the FBI that in his therapy sessions Robert confessed to having an unhealthy interest in children. The FBI wants to get the word out of Robert’s abduction to the press and every border patrol they can, but this doesn’t prevent Robert from being able to get into Mexico with Jan who pretends to be one of Robert’s sons.
Two weeks pass and both Robert and Jan still haven’t been found. Robert ends up telephoning his brother Joe, which is soon discovered by the FBI. In the presence of the FBI, Mary Ann calls Joe in order to find out what Bob told him, who relays to Mary Ann that Bob is willing to return with Jan, but only if is allowed to marry her, an idea that Jan’s parents are horrified by.
Now knowing that Robert will call his brother again, they set up a trace at Joe’s car dealership in an attempt to trace the call. When Robert calls, Joe tells him that the Broberg’s are interested in his deal about marrying Jan, and while Robert sees through Joe’s attempt to find out where he is and threatens him for doing so, the FBI manages to trace the call to Mexico.
Agent Walsh tells Jan’s parents they have located her and they plan to arrest him, they just need Jan’s birth certificate to corroborate her identity, but when Mary Ann goes to get it she finds that the birth certificate has disappeared, most likely by Robert.
While sleeping in the motor home, Robert is arrested, and both he and Jan are placed in custody. He bribes a guard to allow him a few moments with Jan where he tells her to stay on the mission, to remember what it is she has to do, to have no contact with any other ‘male companions’ and to not tell the authorities about the pills or the ‘baby stuff’. Her parents arrive to take her home, but Bob is handed a piece of paper that clearly disturbs him but which we do not see. They take Jan back home where she prays for her family, for her mission and for Robert, while in next room Bob looks at the paper he received in Mexico where it is revealed to be a marriage certificate for Jan and Robert.
What did you think of A Friend of the Family season 1, episode 2? Comment below.