Well, it’s official—I’m not going to make it through the next three episodes of Parenthood. After tonight, how could I? If this is what they’re throwing at us now, I have no idea what we’re in for down the (very short) road. All of the emotions and red herrings took their toll. I’m spent.
I really didn’t think I would make it past opening sequence: Monica Potter’s speechless face, Joel and Julia in bed quickly overshadowed by the phone call, and Crosby furiously searching for his keys are some stand out moments. (Also, later on when Drew’s car wouldn’t symbolically start.) After so many episodes of random groupings of characters, it was really nice to see everybody back together at the same time. When the core Bravermans (Adam, Sarah, Crosby, and Julia) gather together in a setting with no extra-curricular drama, it’s always refreshing. The scene in Zeek’s hospital room created a type of time warp to a place in Braverman memories that we’ve never seen. The actors present these memories so clearly and effortlessly that they had to have happened. That’s one of the many reasons I’ve fallen in love with these people, this family, and show.
The show is called “Parenthood,” but tonight was the first episode in a while that carried that title with some sort of valor and responsibly. From the obvious motherhood tips at Amber’s intimate, make-shift baby shower to Hank and Drew’s many interactions, the characters (and writers) really took a step back and provided us with some simple moments. Those made the difference in this hour as they weren’t’ disingenuous. The intangible emotional support of others is worth all of the vending machine treats in the world.
I’m a little concerned that the writers are taking the easy way out with the Luncheonette story line. Adam and Crosby are almost literally in the same position from a few seasons ago when they had to choose whether to sell their business or not. That season the show’s renewal status was unknown, so it feels a little cheap that they’re using the same exact endgame. Even Adam and Crosby are making the same choices. Where is the growth in these characters? We’ll see what happens, but I’m unimpressed. Anything can change in the next three hours of our favorite Berkley, CA family, but, then again, the writers have never really been able to adequately handle the Braverman finances that well over these six seasons.
It’s funny that this episode features so many of wonderful core Braverman scenes, but Ray Romano steals the show with his timing (both comedic and not). His idolization of Joel (who we also agree comes in only two flavors: Good and Bad; we liked tonight’s dedicated Joel? right), nervous bantering, and ability to ‘Map Quest’ perfectly supplemented the hefty sadness of the episode. Hank’s best moments were highlighted by his completely out-of-place proposal. His excitement in even getting out the words was a win for him. Heck, Hank not getting a clear “NO” was a win! He’s obviously the best loser Sarah has brought around and both he and I are “all in.”
You know who else are all in? Zeek and Camille. When this show gives Bonnie Bedelia and Craig T. Nelson anything to work with, they knock it out of the park. I mean, showrunner Jason Katims wasn’t going to take out Zeek before he got some quality screen time. Am I right? And Bedelia, with limited make-up, was a powerhouse. Early on, she became the emotional needle that directed this hour of TV. What could have seemed like an annoying “will he or won’t he die?” type of episode (and it was here and there, as it felt a little too much like Kristina’s Christmas hospital visit) Bedelia helped to guide with her genuine reactions to her world helplessly and slowly slipping away around her. After Zeek finally stabilized and was relayed his options by the doctor, he and Camille may have been “all in” together for the first time on this show. They are making what could be final decisions together because they’re just too important to do stubbornly. Things can become extremely clear in a hospital daze.
These are the episodes that Parenthood does well: the specific and intimate family moments. Strip away the trite drama and put these characters into a highly emotional situation and what really matters comes out: family, health, and happiness. And family really shows up in a hospital and the true Braverman’s all stepped up—including me. (The camera angles really made you feel like you were there, either standing behind another Braverman in the small ICU room or sitting beside one at the baby shower.)
There was a lot of gold to mine from this gem of an episode that balanced a final bit of set up with, well, everything else. WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT?!
Oh, and before I forget:
- The amount of commercials really destroys the artistic and emotional integrity of an episode like this one.
- I thought the episode was going to end with a surprise call from a doctor that Zeek had died, but as the hour progressed, it was clear he was going to get another appearance if we are to assume he will leave us soon.
- Still need to say that Amber’s baby ‘s name will be Zeek.
Keep on Watchin’!