Previously on Switched at Birth, Bay admitted to a felony crime that she did not do, but her switched sister Daphne did in a misguided rage. Bay, just getting off of probation, went to Daphne’s college for a party and ended up sleeping with her ex-boyfriend, Tank. In the last episode, Bay struggled to remember whether she had given consent and cheated on her boyfriend, Emmett, after blacking out at the party from drinking so much.
Tank had repeatedly said she had, but Bay remembered enough to honestly say that she hadn’t.
This episode is probably one of the most important in Switched at Birth history, in ABC Family history, and in television history. No program has ever really covered the issue of consent, and Lizzy Weiss (the show’s creator) and the other writers truly handle this in a classy, informative way. We start the episode knowing that Bay had not given consent, but she also wanted the whole issue to be dropped. Unfortunately, Toby overheard her conversation with Tank and told his girlfriend, Lily, who happens to be an administrator at the college that Tank and Daphne attend. Bay is called in to meet with Melody, where she realizes that the issue won’t and can’t be dropped. Melody informs her that the University has to do an investigation, and Bay is horrified to realize that everyone would now be in the know about her assault, which ended with Tank being expelled.
One of the greatest parts of this show is the co-parenting, especially between Regina and Kathryn. After Daphne comes to Regina, and spews a story similar to Bay’s about a “friend” who is going through all of these, Regina puts it all together and goes to Kathryn. Together, they go to Bay and talk to her, which is always lovely. This show has spent so much time writing a relationship between Daphne and all of their parents, but Bay has always been left out. We’ve seen the most bonding between Bay and John, which in tonight’s episode they shared a very tender, heartbreaking moment, where John gives Bay the reassurance that she doesn’t have to tell him what happened after she is too ashamed to even look into his eyes. And Bay’s interaction with Kathryn when Kathryn tells her that she was assaulted to, even though there wasn’t intercourse, was so admirable for the writers to include, and gives us so much more insight into the depth and history of these characters, that we haven’t seen before.
I’m really appreciating the direction that Daphne is going down this season. The past few seasons, she’s spent a lot of it complaining about all that she doesn’t have, granted in some instances she had every right to, but this season, she’s spending it all trying to get in her family’s good graces. Her relationship with Bay is becoming even more sisterly after Bay took the blame for her. After Emmett wouldn’t listen to Bay about what occurred with Tank, Daphne decided to fly out to LA and brought him back with her.
Bay’s character growth, even just within this season, is so advanced and beyond words. Her character has become so much more than the spoiled, rich girl she was in the pilot episode and it shows in Bay’s interview with the university’s investigator. The fact that Bay would suggest that Tank shouldn’t be punished for what happened goes to show how strong she is. Even though he was (rightly) expelled because he did assault her, just the thought that she would want him to not be punished is quite heartwarming, not because he deserves it, but because it gives us an honest view into Bay’s character and how she has grown beyond expectations.