When TV comedies take a pointedly dramatic turn, it rarely comes across as successful as how the creative team presumably envisioned it. CBS’ Mom was already in that select group of exceptions, marked most recently by this season’s storyline involving Emily Osment’s Jodi, who died of an overdose several episodes back. Tonight’s “Beast Mode and Old People Kissing” returned to that emotional subject matter by bringing in Jodi’s boyfriend, and the show once again proved itself to be head and shoulders above the Very Special Episodes of sitcoms past.

With Jodi’s death still so fresh on everyone’s minds, it wasn’t out of character for Christy to get so flushed with anger and angst when Jodi’s boyfriend Travis took the podium at her AA meeting. (Travis was played by the always enjoyable Justified vet Jesse Luken in a not-so-happy role.) After all, this was the guy who was there when Jodi overdosed, and the guy who left her instead of sticking around for the medics. Even knowing that some rough material was coming, it was still a brutal jolt to watch Christy screaming at him outside the meeting. And there wasn’t an uncomfortable hole big enough to crawl into after she yelled this as he dashed off.
Yeah, run away. Just like you did when she was dying!

That’s one of those things that should only be said behind closed doors when no one else is listening, and definitely not something you holler at someone you don’t really know. It was from the heart, but still. Not that I think Christy shouldn’t have done it, because duh, that guy deserved it.

Anyway, that was just the angry side of the mini-arc. Once tempers subsided, Christy went to Travis’ tattoo shop, where he shared his regrets about having to live with his incredibly shitty decision for the rest of his days. To that, Christy repeated the sad-but-true declaration she’d heard before, that the addiction, and not anyone else in particular, is what killed her.

Which then bridged to this episode’s diner meal, in which Travis got his own big emotional moment. He told Christy how much Jodi used to talk about her, including the fact that she didn’t want them dating. And then – let me take a deep breath – he said he wished Jodi had taken that advice. Dammit, Mom, you heart-smacking beast!

Allison Janney is the person who gets all the awards cred for Mom, but episodes like this are great for Anna Faris to showcase how far beyond comedy her acting chops can go. This probably won’t be the last time that Jodi is used for a dramatic push, but we have no doubt Mom will figure out many more plotlines to flood our tear ducts in future seasons.

Mom airs Thursday nights on CBS.

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