This episode takes the conflict between siblings from Dental Dilemma up a notch. But unfortunately it goes a bit too far. Phillip Callas is the kid with the bad attitude, but what would you expect with a name like that? I’m assuming writer Paul McCusker chose the name Callas because of its similarity to the word callous, which means cold, uncaring, and heartless. That may seem like a harsh description but as we get to know Phillip it becomes clear that it fits his character perfectly. The problem with that is that it makes Phillip into a completely unsympathetic character. He seems to have unceasing and irrational anger towards everything. His bad attitude is so exaggerated that you can’t help but dislike him. He is mad and impatient all the time and readily abuses his little brother, Dean, verbally and physically out of a deep contempt. When he has to take Dean to baseball practice Phillip tells him not to act like a jerk, which is interesting considering Phillip acts like a jerk all the time. As a side note, this is the second time on AIO we have witnessed baseball.
Was Phillip justified in his frustration towards his brother? Let’s look at the incident of the tape recorder. Before I listened to this episode most recently I had incorrectly believed that Dean had completely erased Phillip’s school project. But upon hearing the episode again I realized that Dean had erased less than ten seconds of it. But Phillip seems to have been looking for an excuse to abuse his brother and used the minor incident to do so.
The episode title refers to the biblical story of Cain and Abel. I think it was a mistake to make that comparison. Dean is found unconscious in a ditch in an attempt to find a parallel to the Bible story. That image makes it appear Dean was attacked and left for dead because people don’t normally just fall unconscious in ditches on their own. And it seems like a ridiculous assertion that if only Phillip had been nicer to his brother this terrible thing wouldn’t have happened. That comes across as a scare tactic which doesn’t ring true.
When Phillip Callas is so careless, how can you expect the audience to care about him? He’s not very relatable. But despite his deeply rooted flaws Phillip still is not Cain and Dean is not Abel. I think this episode tried too hard to hammer home the message of “My Brother’s Keeper.” In doing so it turned Phillip into a two-dimensional character and attached heightened and unrealistic consequences to Phillip’s actions. This was not a good episode. It gets 1 out of 5 stars.