Eric McCandless / Freeform

Campus Tensions Rise On Switched At Birth

What do we want? To yell at Bess Armstrong. When do we want it? This episode.

The last time we saw Bess Armstrong's sourpuss Professor Marillo, she was a one-woman doom brigade, both discouraging Daphne from being a doctor and being a really horrible baby shower guest by kind of giving the impression that maybe Lily should just drown Carlton for being different. I would have guessed that her next career move would be becoming a cable news pundit specializing in eugenics. But instead she's the new associate dean of student wellbeing at UMKC. Why didn't the school hire someone who had actually experienced a moment of human warmth for this job? That's one of the many things to ponder this week.

Why would Daphne think Marillo would be at all helpful?

Daphne and Sharee are out for a run when they discover a shocking scene: someone has covered the lawn of the Black Student Union with cotton balls, a not-too-subtle evocation of slavery. Daphne is more bullish on justice being served than Sharee is, and goes to talk to Marillo, who's just as condescending as she was last year. Maybe I'm still just seething with jealousy that Bess Armstrong got to be married to hall-of-fame DILF Tom Irwin on My So-Called Life, but she pushes my buttons.

What will Iris's hunger strike mean for her -- and for Daphne and Sharee?

So the cotton-ball guys get busted, but they only get a ticket for littering and a three-day suspension; Marillo says they couldn't prove intent. Iris is not having it, and decides she's going on a hunger strike until the cotton-ballers are expelled. Daphne worries the strike might harm Iris's health, and, although she has good intentions, she doesn't really come off that well, telling Iris she just wants her to "be smart." Daphne also needs to find a new staff contact for raising concerns: when she tells Marillo about Iris's hunger strike, word gets to Iris's dad, who responds by considering pulling her out of school. Things get worse still when the guy who left a threatening flier on Daphne's car -- a black student -- gets expelled, a much harsher punishment than the cotton-ballers received.

Marillo shows up at Iris's encampment on the BSU lawn, clucking that none of this has anything to with race. Sharee has had enough: she tells Marillo she's completely full of it. Marillo tries to break up the protest, but Sharee grabs a megaphone and starts chanting "we won't go." Marillo tries to take the megaphone, and when Sharee pulls it back, campus security grabs her. She's okay, right? RIGHT? By this point, Daphne has gone from bystander to protester herself. This is bound to make Marillo rethink what she said earlier about helping Daphne get credit for her clinic work in China.

So where is Mingo, the guy who touched off all this trouble?

It's just like what John was saying last week: the Shimingos will leave you high and dry in a crisis. Here Daphne is trying to solve racism and he's probably off at starting a Lil Wayne tribute band. Absent is not the same as missed, though. I'm no UMKC professor, but my theory is that there's a high degree of correlation between Mingo's absence and the tolerability of this whole storyline.

Where did Kathryn learn how to handle sexual harassment?

Gah. Poor Kathryn. I wish she were getting to spend this season staging a musical she wrote about the switch or something like that. Instead, she's stuck trying to wheedle some cash out of a handsy donor. When she's finally had it with his flirting, she's suddenly all, "Let's go. We're having sex right now," to call his bluff. Which would not be my first instinct. How did she know he was all talk? I kind of thought the donor was going to take his pants off at the table instead of being mortified. He reports the whole thing to Kathryn's awful boss, who's mad at her. Get out of there, Kathryn. I have a feeling the dean of student wellbeing position is going to come open soon.

I can't be the only one who thinks Bay tattooing Emmett was hot?

Emmett is taking the rest of the semester off from USC. So to fill the time, he's signed up for a class that's apparently called Plot-Expediting Assignments in Photography. He's supposed to shoot a "transformative moment," which could only translate to photographing Bay giving him a tattoo. The tension is thick, and there's more than a glimmer of old, charming Emmett. I'm still an anti-Emmett militant, but it was harder this week, y'all.

When a TV character puts off a key question or conversation, does it ever end well?

So before inking Emmett, Bay intends to tell Travis about it. But when she goes by his dorm room, he's in the middle of the Look Hot When Your Girlfriend Comes By Shirtless Workout. Honestly, I didn't need an explanation for this. I just figured it was happening because the universe owed me something for once. But the real reason is that Travis is super-stressed about baseball. "Regionals" -- perennial enemy of fictional young people everywhere -- are coming up. (Did you ever go to "Regionals" in anything? If so, I am jealous.) And Travis worries he's out of condition. Not wanting to add to his anxiety, Bay doesn't mention Emmett.

Was that Travis and Emmett's last chance?

After Melody encourages Travis to try to mend fences with Emmett, he swings by with a videogame and a more forgiving heart than you or I will ever have. The boys seem on their way to reconciliation, but then Travis sees Emmett's bandaged arm, which Emmett then lies about before owning up to the tattoo from Bay. Travis has to be getting tired of yelling at people for acting the fool. After upbraiding Emmett, he heads to the tattoo studio for a blowout with Bay. (Most traffic in Kansas City must be caused by young people racing from one confrontation to the other.) Bay then heads over to Emmett's herself, and he admits that maybe, just possibly, the tattoo was at least tangentially related to trying to get her back. She tells him that she can't be friends with him as long as she's with Travis. At this point, I'm not sure that's going to hold any water with Travis, though.

Will Travis's and Chris's conflict become part of the racial tensions at school?

Melody holds some powerful sway with the Switched guys: besides getting Travis to go see Emmett, she persuades John to let Travis have a pitch-off against the hotshot new recruit Chris for the starting job. Rattled by Emmett and Bay's shenanigans, Travis starts messing up, and Chris taunts him. Travis pushes Chris, and John has to break things up. In an episode that's hard to watch (in a good way), this was one of the hardest moments. These two have had a sweet relationship over the years, and it's always a little scary to see John righteously mad instead of just blustery. And with Iris's protest going on, will Chris and Travis's clash make things even worse on campus?

Noelle: Shady?

After spending the episode praising Noelle for being original and a true artist, Bay stumbles on a sketch of what seems to be Noelle copying one of her designs. I didn’t expect a tattoo plagiarism scandal in these last few Switched episodes, but here we are.

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