Recap/Review: ‘Party of Five’ Pilot

PARTY OF FIVE - "Pilot" - "Party of Five" follows the five Acosta children -Emilio, Lucia, Beto, Valentina and baby Rafa -- as they navigate daily life struggles to survive as a family unit after their parents are suddenly deported to Mexico. This episode of "Party of Five" airs Wednesday, January 8, at 9:00p.m. ET/PT on Freeform. (Freeform/Jonathan Wenk) EMILY TOSTA, ELLE PARIS LEGASPI, NIKO GUARDADO, BRANDON LARRACUENTE

Freeform’s Party of Five reboot kicks off with Javier and Gloria Acosta enjoying dinner at the restaurant they successfully own and manage when they get a call from a neighboring restaurant that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers are lurking in the neighborhood. Soon after the call, ICE officers show up and arrest Javier and Gloria on the spot. And just like that, life as the Acosta family knows it has changed. 

Freeform/Jonathan Wenk

We then jump six weeks ahead and see the Acosta children — Emilio, Lucia, Beto, Valentina and baby Rafa — struggling to navigate the struggles of daily life without their parents. The dishwasher is broken, they’re running out of groceries and Emilio has volunteered his “flavor of the week” to look after Rafa while they all travel to go visit Javier and Gloria at the center where they’re being held before they get deported. 

They go and visit their parents, who remain hopeful about their status. However, it’s a tricky situation as Lucia is quick to point out. Cases like theirs only get reversed about 8% of the time. It seems obvious that Emilio would become the kids’s guardian should their parents actually get deported. But his status is up in the air as well because he’s one of roughly 800,000 immigrants known as Dreamers, who came to the country as children and were granted temporary protection and work permits under the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.

Things go from bad to worse when Emilio gets called to the twins’ school. Lucia – a straight A student – got detention for refusing to re-take her history test alongside the rest of her class. And Beto is cutting school left and right to take care of the restaurant in addition to already failing two classes. The principal, who clearly has nothing but their best interest at heart, gives Emilio a warning: “I’m sure you’re doing your best, but when I see a sharp decline in attendance or grades, I have a responsibility to examine what’s going on in the home. How are these children being parented? Are they being parented? And if I can’t answer those questions to my satisfaction, I’m required to reported those concerns to the Department of Social Services.” 

This lights a fire under Emilio and he decides to take matters in his own hands by hiring the best immigration lawyer possible, so that not only will his parents have the best chance at staying in the country but also so that he doesn’t have become the primary caregiver of four kids. But unfortunately, not even the lawyer’s kickass skills and Valentina’s heartfelt character witness were enough to overturn the deportation ruling. 

The Acosta children return home from court feeling defeated. Tensions run high as they try to figure out what do next with no money after Emilio spent everything they had on the lawyer. In the midst of her siblings arguing with one another, Valentina cries out her worry that they’ll all be split up now that their parents are being forced back to Mexico. But Emilio assures her that that is never going to happen, even if it means doing the things he hoped he would never have to do: sublet his apartment, move back home, and take over the restaurant. 

The entire episode is filled with tear-inducing moments but perhaps none more so than watching these 5 children say goodbye to their parents as they get deported. “You have to stay together, no matter what happens,” Gloria sobbingly tells her kids through a chain link fence. “Promise me. Promise me you’re going to stay together.”

Emilio tries to apologize to Javier, as if his parents being deported is all his fault. But Javier won’t have it, and instead chooses to recount the story of them bringing Emilio to America 23 years ago. “We carried you across the desert, across the border, almost 106 degrees,” he says. “We thought we were going to die there and look at you. Here you are, look at you. You are so big and smart and talented. You be what you want to be. I’m so proud of you. Emilio, I’m so proud of you.” 

Although Gloria and Javier debated back and forth on whether or not to keep Rafa with them or leave him with his brothers and sisters, they ultimately decide to ask their four oldest to look after their baby boy. 

And it’s anything but easy. They return home and Rafa won’t stop crying. The tears just keep coming. All four Acosta children try everything they can think of to make him stop, but Valentina points out that maybe he just simply misses his parents. 

Freeform/Philippe Bosse

But amidst the chaos of now officially being his full-time caregivers, the series ends on a hopeful note. The siblings take turn throughout the night sitting with Rafa until we finally see him asleep next to Emilio as he softly plays a tune on his guitar.

Overall, the Party of Five reboot feels like a timely series aiming to show the inhumanity of Trump’s immigration policy and the effect it has on families around the country. It’s full of heart and it guaranteed to replace This is Us as your weekly cry fest. I cannot recommend it enough. 

What did you think of the episode? Let me know in the comments below!

Party of Five airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on Freeform.

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