…an episode reminding us all the importance of “being a dirt connoisseur.”
Let me start off by saying that I am a self-professed sucker for the “theme episode.” Almost without fail, when a show takes a central idea and refracts it through the lenses of its individual characters, I am right there with it. What can I say? I’m a hardcore #MetaphorLover. But I’m also a hardcore lover of Parenthood, so consider my ivories very much tickled by last week’s installment, which found our beloved characters (or once-beloved and possibly-once-again-beloved, in Joel’s case) grappling with the concept of healing in a way that felt true and distinct to each one of them.
Well enough of this Lit 101 nonsense. Let’s get to the reviewing!
Drew and Amber
It seems that dropping Amy off at her parents’ house to confront the lingering emotional fallout from last year’s abortion has taken a toll on our favorite Bieber-swooped college student. For Drew, healing over the decision to kick Amy out (though it benefitted them both) means cuddling up in bed with his favorite emo tunes. I wonder what that playlist looks like. Anyhow, I’m glad Parenthood openly acknowledged that Amy’s bizarre tailspin correlated in large part with the traumatic decision to have the abortion. Very interesting ground to cover.
Amber, in desperate need of healing herself after the tearful dissolution of Ryber earlier in the season, pops by Drew’s dorm. Thanks to a hot tip about an upcoming frat party from roomie Roberto (#LaxBro), Amber gets Drew to agree to attend, however unwittingly.** They even forge a make-out pledge to make the night more interesting. Ew! Not with each other, pervo.
**Amber’s flummoxed reaction to the party starting at 10:30 pm had me in stitches, a great moment highlighting how college life really is nothing at all like the real world.
Natalie is the worst, the very quintessence of a privileged millennial. Girl, let me quote the gospel according to JBJ right now: “You give love a bad name.” For serious, her schizoid mind-buggery and transparent passive-aggressiveness make me so glad I’m not in my early twenties anymore. She shoots down Drew’s invite to the frat party at first, then shows up, then gets cheesed off when she finds about his make-out pact. Honeybuns, GET. IT. TOGETHER.
I absolutely love watching Amber and Drew interact, and this plot afforded plenty of opportunities for that. Mae Whitman and Miles Heizer can certainly hold their own against their senior cast members when it comes to depicting authentic sibling relationships. More please!
Oh, and Roberto put the moves on a very unimpressed Amber, whose reaction reminded me of the scene in The Help when Bryce Dallas Howard realizes what was in that pie she wolfed down. Epic fail, #LaxBro. Epic fail.
Sarah & Carl & Hank (oh my)
Sarah, heal thyself! You guys, I’m so proud of Sarah Braverman! I mean, don’t get me wrong, Carl seems like a pretty decent guy as far as it goes, what with his philanthropic ventures and trips to Zimbabwe to westernize medicine or whatever, but Sarah took a huge step tonight by turning down the chance to travel with him to Africa, thereby leaving Hank in the lurch over the upcoming Surf Sport deadline.
And who would have thought that Hank, spluttering out something he fully intended to sound supportive but ended up resembling an indictment of Sarah’s every life choice, would serve as the catalyst for this change? Speaking on behalf of America, Hank pointed out Sarah’s tendency to sabotage herself through her relationships with men.*** After all, as that trusty bathroom sticker reminds her, this is #TheYearofSarah. The time to heal, to grow, to change. Carl nearly derailed her from that goal.
***Also, Hank: send Max a gift basket filled with many bugs in many jars, and perhaps many photos of bugs. Because if it weren’t for that little blabbermouth, you wouldn’t have had a chance to rain all over Sarah’s parade!
You go, girl! Get it!
Kristina & Adam
Obviously, Kristina’s plot dealt most directly with the concept of healing, as she awaited the results of her yearly cancer scan. She and Adam convinced themselves they were both certain the scan would be clean, but that scene in the kitchen near the episode’s end–when Kristina gets the positive news we’re all hoping for–ripped out my heart, used it as a tetherball in a rather aggressive game, stomped on it, and shoved it forcefully back into my chest. Point is, it ain’t no party like a Peter-Krause-In-An-Emotional-Wreck-Party.
But in order to avoid the seeming unending wait time for results, the parents Braverman took up a crusade against Max’s English teacher, a Mr. Knight, who took away their son’s seat in his classroom. Initially hellbent on destroying this “troll” of a teacher (Kristina’s word: hell hath no fury like a Kristina scorned) for failing her son on a human level, she finds that Mr. Knight is a PhD student. He is also an utter, utter delight of a man. He wasn’t picking on Max at all, simply performing an experiment on him! #WayOutsideTheBox.
But wait! It might not just have been the tingling in Kristina’s nethers that drew her to Mr. Knight. He’s a creative, passionate educator and the perfect person to lead the upcoming Braverman High School. After an awkward drop-in at Knight’s house, his curiosity is definitely piqued.
Elsewhere, Crosby’s anger over this parents selling their house has not healed and leads him to accuse Camille of selfishness, Sydney’s separation-inspired wounds have not healed and lead to a meltdown in front of her class,**** and Julia’s anger towards Ed heals itself after he helps diffuse the Sydney bomb, accepting a dinner invite. (Ugh. Just ugh.)
****Oh man oh man. If Julia had snatched that carrot that tasted like dirt out of her hands and plugged it right up a nostril, my life would have been made. But nooooo, she caves to the little tyrant over The Case of the Mandatory Pajama Set.
Man, somebody’s been listening to the doctor’s orders because people got so healed this week. The theme episode worked so well precisely because each of these characters is in the midst of or still recovering from some form of trauma. But, let’s be honest, for Sarah’s character revelation alone, this felt like an absolutely quintessential hour of Parenthood.
Conversation Around the Dinner Table
– Karen: “People love floors!”
– Kristina: “You’re stuck with me.” (#CueTheWaterworks)
– Ed: “Oh God, the environment is such a pain in the ass.”
Julia: “It really is.”