…an episode reminding us all the importance of “having an expiration date purge.”
You guys, I loved this episode of Parenthood so much it almost made me forget how much of a fart hammer Joel’s been. The Olympics-induced hiatus did little to abate my frustration with his character or the way the plot has manipulated him to serve itself. And yet, having said that, I’m glad that if this is the direction they’re heading in, then at least I give props to Jason Katims and company for embracing it and following this plot down the rabbit hole. Look, I don’t understand it myself. Life’s full of contradictions, am I right?
Friends and neighbors, my life has seemed emptier without my weekly dose of Braverman love (#AccidentalInnuendo), so what do you say we just get to it?
Kristina & Adam
It was a big week for the resident Braverman family power couple as they chillaxed during a private weekend getaway.** We’re talking hot tub shenanigans! Mud masks! Hiking! Two and a half sessions of honest-to-goodness intercourse! It’s been an atypically plot-heavy season for Kristina and Adam (what with the failed mayoral bid and resulting plan to, ya know, build a school), so I cherished the moments of these two just interacting and being together.
**A “Hurray You Totes Don’t Have Cancer” gift from the Lessings. Did anyone else find this both utterly charming while also being more than just a tad creepy? At any point did the Lessings turn to one another as they planned this for Kristina and Adam and say, “Man, I wish we could have a weekend getaway like this.”
So how hard was it for you to choke back tears during Kristina’s heartfelt thanks to her husband for being her rock during the past year? It felt so real, so authentic, the perfect distillation of everything Parenthood does right: a small moment that speaks volumes. Also, the mud masks helped temper the emotional wallop with some much needed levity.
But my favorite aspect of this plotline was the way Adam, totally present with his wife, could not shake his big brother urge to protect his younger sister and be there for her during her separation. He snuck out of the hot tub to give her a quick phone call and to provide Julia the chance to make fun of his swimming trunks (for the record, I’m with Adam on this particularly contentious issue); he even asked his wife to cut their getaway a bit short so he could go be there for her. That Kristina did not take this as an affront to their marriage but as an expression of his big heart and agreed willingly served as the perfect capper.
Joel, Sidney, and Victor
Apart from the spectral sounds of an unfortunate elevator down the hall, Joel is loving his new single life. He’s got an X-box, he’s got a pool, he’s got a local pizza joint with pepperoni that JUST. WON’T. QUIT. Dude is basically ready to send his demo tape to MTV’s Cribs*** and just be done with it already. *Record scratch* Fooled you! He’s totally wallowing in a pit of despair! Ha! Classic Joel!
***Is that show even on anymore? Because the image of Joel being fast-forwarded around his apartment as he points out the depressing decor of a recently separated man and culminating in him showing off his communal swimming pool with a shirtless eighty-five year old man floating on a raft of pool noodles makes me laugh. Hard. #MillionDollarIdea
Since they’re going there with the separation, it’s nice to see Joel’s conflicted feelings about the whole thing. As I remarked in the previous episode, a glimmer of old Joel began to shine through. The contrast of him acting like the world’s number one dad in front of his kids (BATHING SUITS ON YOUR BEDS) while clearly struggling internally is interesting. I’ll buy it.
Speaking of buying, guess who just slapped down some cash for an express one-way ticket to AnnoyingAsHellville? That’s right, it’s everyone’s favorite brat #SydneytheTerrible. Seriously, I’d feel bad for her if she weren’t so manipulative and aggressively whiney. Look, I’m not in the habit of hating on kids undergoing traumatic family shakeups, but Syd just brings out the worst in me. I’m sorry I’m not sorry.
But what a cute moment when Victor, freshly wakened by a nightmare and an animalistic elevator, sneaks into Joel’s room, snags his phone, and calls Julia to talk him back to sleep. A great moment, and–for this viewer–a reminder that the more we can concentrate on how Victor (and not Sydney) will deal with the separation, given his already difficult past, the better.
Julia’s plot line remains, hands down, my favorite of the episode. And not just because of that ending, though it certainly didn’t hurt (more on that in a second). I mean, Erika Christensen is killing it now, am I right? Deft touches highlighted her loneliness: struggling with the deafening silence of an empty home, running out of chores around the house, curling up on Sydney’s bed because the thought of sleeping on her own seemed unthinkable. Can I be honest? I hope Julia doesn’t suddenly become an uber-brat after sleeping in her daughter’s bed. Is brattiness contagious? Honesty sesh over.
Although I felt her newfound passion for running served as a bit of a ham-fisted metaphor for her inability to outrun her thoughts, this episode changed my opinion on the symbolic functionality of a microwave. The image of the world’s most lonesome baked potato spinning around endlessly became the perfect microcosm of the shrinking of Julia’s domestic life. Nifty touch.
But what really revved my engine (dramatically speaking) was the Braverman siblings collectively descending on Casa de Graham, sporting any number of wine varietals and an assortment of Asian cuisine. Turns out Sarah, Crosby, and Adam (arriving fashionably late because the dude loves making an entrance) didn’t really believe Julia’s insistence on being fine.
ALSO SPONTANEOUS BRAVERMAN DANCE PARTY! In television terms, when one or more Bravermans catch “the fever” (this time to Talking Heads’ “Burning Down the House”), you’re guaranteed to grin from ear to ear while simultaneously pondering how the joyous, sloppy, and free-spirited dance moves speak perfectly to the quad’s relationship dynamics. Excellent television.
Elsewhere, Crosby dislikes the new realtor hired to sell the Braverman family homestead, Carl tells Sarah how he feels, Drew still needs both a haircut and some space from Amy, and Hank takes Dr. Pelican’s advice to apologize to Sarah for editing a taco truck out of a Surf Sport photo.****
****Dear Ray Romano: Your performance makes me feel all the feels. Please don’t ever change. Thanks a bundle, overstuffeddvr
The elucidation of Joel’s inner struggle, topped off with some beautiful character moments and a Braverman sibling dance party, proved that Parenthood really is one of televisions’s absolute best dramatic hours.
Conversation Around the Dinner Table
-Adam: “I’ve had these trunks forever. I love these trunks! Don’t be dissing my trunks!”
– Crosby: “Dad, Dad, Dad. Don’t worry about my wife’s fuel supply.”
– Crosby: “What’re you listening to? Is this The Kill Yourselves?”