…an episode reminding us all the importance of “abiding by this concept called time.”
When it comes to television, there are few things I prefer more than a Braverman family gathering. This could come in any form, be it congregating at the courthouse to recognize Victor’s adoption or meeting at The House that Cancer Beams Built for a rollicking Christmas story about the legitimacy of Santa Clause. Because, here’s the thing of it, folks: each character is so distinctive, well-drawn, and unique (with the exception of Sydney, who continues to tumble down the black hole of brattiness) that the only thing that could possibly enrich said character would be pairing him or her off with someone else. And we had plenty of that this week, didn’t we? Btw, that’s a rhetorical questions because obvs yes we did.
As the episode’s title suggests, we caught several Bravemans in a proverbial limbo, sometimes self-imposed and other times a product of outside influence. Anyhow, let’s get right on it!
Stuck in a relationship limbo, Joel seemed like an obvious choice of character to explore. Although I wouldn’t say I was initially thrilled with Aida’s baptism forming the basis of the plot (more on that in a second), some very interesting dramatic material spawned from it.
Most notably an excellent scene between Crosby and Joel resulted in which the former must revoke the latter’s previously established title of godfather. I love how he ends the conversation with a well-intentioned hope for his marriage, telling him how much he means to the family. Heart-breaking stuff, and the first of two outstanding Joel-centric scenes this episode.
The second one, between Zeek and Joel, found the Braverman patriarch telling his son-in-law to try harder to make his marriage work. Speaking on behalf of America, Zeek essentially called him a big puss and lay all of the guilt at his feet about him entrusting his daughter to Joel’s care. Folks, there ain’t no shame party like a Zeek Braverman hosted shame party. Seriously, Zeek is like your Italian grandmother provided she also served in ‘Nam and goaded lovely pastors about their life callings.
All fans annoyed with Joel’s behavior over the course of the season, feel free to send Zeek Braverman a cheese basket to thank him for speaking up on behalf of all of us. Taking the not so subtle hint, Joel shows up at the baptism because Zeek’s confrontation made him poop his pants a little. Good for you Joel! I knew you weren’t just a robot with impeccable five o’clock shadow. There is a beating heart in there somewhere! I knew it!
Crosby & Jasmine
I don’t want to devolve into hyperbole here, but can’t we agree that Renee is a hell-beast borne of the pits of Tartarus? Seriously, chica is THE. WORST. We’re talking Sydney levels of brattiness, except of course for the small distinction that Renee is a grown woman! Yet, I suppose a lifetime of passive aggressive eye rolls and feigned incredulity have allowed her to hone that tried and true Machiavellian skill known as manipulation.
You see, no one gives your mind an aggressive hump like Renee, whose most recent crusade finds her advocating for nothing less than Aida’s very soul. (#MartyrComplex) Renee fears baby Aida is destined for eternal damnation unless Crosby and Jasmine agree to baptize her like STAT. For real, don’t you know that babies are reputed rascals? Renee’s all: “Do you want the blood of your child’s mutilated soul on your hands?” Lady is straight-up intense is my point.
Despite personal reservations about organized religion, Crosby suppresses his personal beliefs out of respect for Renee’s (and, to a lesser extent, Jasmine’s) beliefs on the subject. Fortunately, if I’ve learned one thing from Parenthood, it’s that bottling up emotions is an excellent mechanism for self-preservation.
**Kidding! I totally fooled you. It almost never works, you guys! Duh!
Along the way, Camille hosts a pre-baptism dinner and Renee a post-baptism brunch. Quick question: do these people ever tire of spending time with one another? Just saying. Anyway, I loved how the the pre-baptism dinner devolved into a sibling shouting match: Adam hurt to find out he was Joel’s replacement as godfather after thinking he was the first choice, Julia “apologizing” that she and Joel’s crumbling marriage complicated the day, and Crosby finally venting his animosity for the day in general. Haha. Typical Braverman fun times! Where’s the dance party when you need one?
Of course, the day culminated in a lovely, touching ceremony because the show needs us to feel all the feels all of the times. And that silently mouthed thank you from Renee? A perfect capper. She still sucks, though.
Amber & Drew
Speaking of limbo, Drew is lost. I mean, the kid’s reading Sartre and is totally that guy quoting him all the time. Ugh. But seriously, as if the rantings of a French existentialist weren’t bad enough, Natalie the Great and Terrible had to go and do a whole night’s worth of shirtless hugging with Roberto (#LaxBro). I mean, Roberto! And poor, stupid ‘Berto (worst nickname ever, btw) doesn’t get why Drew’s beans are so steamed! Come on Roberto, wake up and smell the cashew butter already!*** All the shirtless knee slaps in the world won’t get you out of this one, Mr. “I Don’t Have a Sense of Personal Space.”
***I’ve never seen an episode of television devote such time to conversations about cashew butter. I mean, there might be some symbolism in there, but really it’s probably because cashew butter is damn delicious. College!
I’ll be honest, this Drew thing has really stretched itself to the breaking point. I just don’t care about it. Natalie is the epitome of all stereotypes about millennials, and I hate her. Go away, Natalie. No one likes you. Sorry, that was harsh. But seriously, go away.
What I do like, however, is the obvious: Drew and Amber are now #WorldsBestRoomies! That means they can spend so much time talking over one another about their respective exes while attacking some rocky road. And you know what they say about rocky road: it’s a slippery slope leading to guzzling vodka, getting baked, and showing up to family functions as high as a kite. But I’m glad they have each other because holy #AsparagusMunchies.
Elsewhere, Hank helps Sarah realize that photography is Max’s life boat in the stormy sea of life, Camille explains putting the house up for sale to Crosby, Julia demands to know why Joel isn’t fighting to save their marriage, and Zeek’s merry band of child slave laborers continue to work on his car.
Another excellent installment of Parenthood, but jettisoning the Drew-Natalie-Roberto-cashew butter quadrangle would certainly be much appreciated. Just give Ray Romano more screen time. We’d all be okay with that, right?
Conversation Around the Dinner Table
– Hank: “Don’t let him run! He’s fast!”
– Julia: “How are you not fighting for this? How are you not fighting for me?”
– Drew: “Hell is other people.”
Amber: “What did you just say?”
Drew: “Hell is other people.”
Amber: “What is that?”
Drew: “It’s, uh, Sartre.”
Amber: “Star Trek?”
Drew: “No. It was a concept from Star Trek, but it’s, um, the book I’ve been reading for school.”