Cole is one of the sweetest, happiest, and charming boys on Central Park, and maybe even all of television. He has a nice combination of maturity and sophistication with childlike innocence. However, after an ugly incident, he’s forced to grow up a little sooner than we expected.
The episode opens up with an energetic musical number with Cole ready to enjoy his weekend and set out for adventure in the park. The song captures the youthful exuberance of the Tillerman son and his excitement to see what the life can bring. He has not a care in the world and only wants to play outside until it’s time to go home and luckily, he has one of the best backyards out there.
During his outing, he happens to startle a woman walking home who is threatened by his Squirrel Quarrels cosplay. It turns out she is a Karen and accosts him like he’s black man bird watching in Central Park. Luckily his dad and another ranger arrive to diffuse the situation.
We receive a far more tense scene than we’ve seen on the series and it’s filled with nuance. We observe how quickly a situation can get out of hand and as well as the hyperbole that can intensify things. The abruptness and tone change demonstrate an inability to get comfortable and that similar dramatic events can occur at any time.
There is also a behavioral change in Owen and Randy where they have to be exceptionally eloquent and on their best behavior to not escalate or antagonize the woman. It’s as if they’re tiptoeing on eggshells. In addition, you can sense the rage and anger building in Owen knowing that his son, an eleven-year-old boy, is exposed to such racism.
Central Park deals with the delicate subject matter admirably. They have the good sense of having Paige, despite wanting to do everything her motherly instincts tell her to, deferring to her husband because he best understands the circumstances. It doesn’t get preachy or political, and focuses on the struggle of a dad still wanting his son to be a kid while understanding it needs to be done.
To his credit, Cole maintains his sweet innocence the whole time and his mindset isn’t related to such subjects throughout. It’s mainly on the titular event related to Squirrel Quarrels and at least his fandom can shield him from the darkness of the real world. Though he takes the conversation well and with the maturity you would expect. It’s a real kindhearted moment between the two despite the ugliness that caused it.
In a lighter subplot of Central Park, we follow Helen on her day off. It’s fun to delve into her personal life including a gentleman friend. But she is one dedicated woman with regards to keeping her eyes on the prize and becoming Bitsy’s beneficiary. At least there is a little justice in this world with the luxury hotel owner receiving some karma for her nosey and crude behavior.
“Lunar Palaver” treats a delicate subject with the care it needs focusing on the bond between a father and son rather than the ugliness that preceded it.
New episodes of Central Park drop Fridays on Apple TV+.
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