The Cleaner, episode 13

Lie With Me
Neil and Shelly have a beautiful daughter, a wonderful home, successful careers and dangerous addictions to alcohol. Neil’s father comes to William, concerned for his granddaughter’s safety. William and his team make a risky play posing as Child Protective Services to remove the little girl from the house and scare Neil and Shelly straight. Can they get clean together, or will the price of sobriety be their marriage?

The strain addictions put on a couple is what springs out of this episode, a strain that may lead to separation.

Though he warned Neil that it is seldom viable that a couple can go through rehab/detox together and succeed, William manages to have both Neil and Shelly admitted into Transitions (William’s rehab center), but Shelly – who is the weakest partner – leaves when the treatment has barely begun.

Besides wondering how it is possible that Swenton was detoxing in episode 12 and already on a case in episode 13, what came totally unexpected (to me, at least) and upset me is William packing and move out of his home, after things seemed to go pretty well family-wise for him. The scene where he was with his son and daughter and they were crying was heartbreaking – I was crying, too.

William knows from personal experience how hard it is to fight your addiction — he’s a recovering addict and stumbled many times before finally getting “clean.” And even though he’s turned his life completely around, that doesn’t mean his family is ready to accept that he’s changed or willing to believe that he will never fail. His son Ben has had a hard time adjusting, but he is now “getting there.” His daughter Lula copes by being the perfect daughter, though it is probably easier for her adjusting that it is for her brother and mother, as she is too young to remember her father at his worst.

I am disappointed in Melissa, though, and she is the downside to the show final episode. I can understand how the past has left many scars on her and she is not ready to forget what she went through when she had to deal with William as an addict while she was trying to raise their two young children. And she has the right to have a piece of her life that her husband doesn’t intrude on. Considered the times he ran off when they were in the middle of family events because he had to help an addict, she can be excused for running off to prepare for her open house the next day with Duncan when William brings her breakfast in bed one morning.

However, Melissa didn’t leave him when he was “on the needle,” she invited him back to their bed after she found out he slept with Akani, but now that he’s clean and has a job she’s breaking up the family, depriving her children of their father, and kicking her husband out of the house. Why? Because he can’t be excited for her when she makes. Then he shows up at the open house the next day. That was annoying, not break-up worthy.

She was given no motivation for her actions, except that she might be having an affair. At the open house, Melissa tells William that she wants boundaries. She doesn’t come to his job, so he doesn’t need to come to hers. When Duncan comes out, you can tell William is more than a little jealous, especially after the “boundaries” conversation. And his wife is picking up new lingo from Duncan: “It’s all good.”

This leads to a major fight later on where William lets out a comment about her “real estate boyfriend.” Melissa can’t believe he would have the nerve to say anything with all she’s been through with him – his past addictions, sleeping with other women (referring to his one-night stand with Akani while they were separated). William tries to apologize and says he will try to change, but Melissa doesn’t want to hear it. Now she wants a break – from them together.

On a side note, I’ve been waiting episode after episode for the clip from “The Cleaner” that Teresa told us about and that was featured on Live with Regis and Kelly on September 1, where Ben and Lula have listed all the activities they want to stop doing so that they can be with their father more, but it looks like it was in none of the episodes aired, so they must be have cut that scene out, or else it was in an episode aired before September 1 and I did not give it much importance and forgot about it.

Finally, I would like to wish good luck to all of the people that wrote me to share stories of their or a relative’s struggle with present and past addictions, and how they found The Cleaner truthful and/or inspirational. One is Anthony/Tony Mucciacciaro, an ex-addict who has been clean for 4 years and decided to share the story of his life in book and a website, http://www.oocities.org/reflectionsofamiracle/.

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