'Atypical' season 2: This time it is about the "art of getting by"
Change can be very difficult, and maybe it is the urge to flee that makes it so awesome, specifically when you are with your pack.
According to Zahid (Nik Dodani), it is actually the people in the autism spectrum who are the normal ones because they are the ones who see the world as it is. That is what Sam (Keir Gilchrist) follows while writing his college application essay in the second season of 'Atypical'. Just like Zahid Casey (Brigette Lundy-Paine), Doug (Michael Rapaport), and Elsa (Jennifer Jason Leigh), too, find themselves on the other side to everything that could possibly be normal.
Unlike the first season, Netflix's 'Atypical' season 2 sees a gradual shift from the world of Sam (and penguins) into the world of a more personal crisis of the people around him. Season 1 left us on a note where almost everything was falling apart. With Casey discovering her mother's sin, Elsa had no other way but to confess her betrayal to Doug. On the other hand, trying to deny her own pregnancy and breaking up with her boyfriend in a fit of rage Julia (Amy Okuda) lashes out at Sam who broke up with his girlfriend, Paige (Jenna Boyd) after she found out she was just an experimental girlfriend to him.
Keeping the inherent innocence intact, season 2 is all about the 'Pack'. In the trailer, we had heard Sam describing that animals keep themselves protected from any impending danger by staying in a pack. But what happens when the pack breaks? Sam speculates in the fourth episode of season 2 that his pack consisted of members who have torn away from each other. While Doug came back home to take care of his kids, Elsa was compelled to leave the house and stayed at a friend's place with a cat. Casey tries hard to fit into her new school, Clayton Prep, only to find herself in a similar situation like her brother who was often the outsider in their previous school.
As for Sam, life is way too complicated now. Being a boy with a brilliant mind who is unfortunately bound by his own shortcomings, Sam tries hard to get his head around the many concepts of life- concepts such as lying being a necessity. Sam realizes mid-way through the series that the world shouldn't be perceived exactly the way it is, instead it should be interpreted. Throughout his course of finding true love in the first season, Sam did nothing but abide by the rule book. However, in the second season he understands that only following the rules is never enough, he has to first understand and then implement.
It is not just Sam who tries to understand the people around him, but Casey too. Finding herself in a fishbowl with nowhere to escape, Casey realizes that people aren't accepted in the same way twice. She has been pretty critical of her mother's act of sin and left no stone unturned in poking her with it. However, on the brighter side she also worries about Sam and for once truly understands his troubles in a world full of pretense. Casey seems to be the fitting example of Sam's theory about predators. Both siblings find themselves companionless in a world where they are constantly judged for everything they say.
It is almost like they are surrounded by predators who are ready to eat them up. What do you do then? Just flee maybe. But Sam and Casey have never been like that, and fortunately in the second season too the siblings continue to face their obstacles head-on. Although sometimes their methods might be a little...let's say...creepy (Sam writes about seeing an exotic dancer's boobs as his greatest accomplishment and Casey gets drunk in detention. Great going, kids!). But not all is bad, after all, it is when you are at your weirdest you realize who truly cares about you. Evan (Graham Rogers) calls back on Casey and reveals some of his most embarrassing secrets to her just to make her comfortable.
While both Casey and Sam find their grounds, Elsa and Doug try and figure out the right thing to do with their marriage. To just be clear, the duo certainly isn't looking for divorce but Doug certainly is not ready to forgive Elsa. After letting her know that he can no longer look at her the way he did, Doug takes it upon himself to be the "penguin dad" and for the most part, he does a pretty fine job. However, as a father who rarely does his kids' laundry, he finally collapses under the pressure of maintaining two teenagers and keeping a balance in his mind. Doug probably also realizes that judgment or opinion cannot be forced down a person's throat.
Elsa, on the other hand, tries to cope with the immense dislike that she is receiving from her family at the moment. With Casey leaving the note on the board, Elsa finds herself in the center of a boiling pot. She is probably the one who gets thrown out of the pack and is not expected to return unless called for. However, it is pretty evident that Elsa is guilty about what she has done, and as she keeps trying to return to the family she is either asked to leave or is not welcomed at all. But not for once does Elsa turn her back on her responsibilities. She keeps trying to look for a new therapist for Sam who refuses to be comfortable with anyone else other than Julia.
Julia claimed to be in absolute denial of her pregnancy but with her boyfriend's proposal, finally gives herself a chance. Julia's character seems to be on that side of the spectrum which tries to comfort the ones on the other side of it. She has been a constant support to Sam throughout the first season but eventually breaks down when her own life slips out of her hands. As Zahid had said that no one is actually normal, season 2 sees every character fall inside the same abyss as Sam and it is only a matter of time before they all get a hang of all that is going on and emerge out of it. Probably that is how life functions, atypically.