“There’s something I need to tell you” – With those seven words, Kristina finally told the entire Braverman clan her cancer diagnosis. It was a scene that, for the first time, drew me in to this whole cancer storyline. In typical understated Parenthood style, and once again without much dialogue, we witnessed each character’s reaction to the news, but more importantly, we saw proof of how tightly knit this family is and how they rally around each other, through good times and bad.
Before admitting the truth to the family at large, Kristina and Adam also broke the news to Haddie and Max. Both had reactions perfectly fitting to their characters. Haddie even surprised her parents by flying home from college to be with her Mom. I loved this moment, as Haddie surprised her Mom by just showing up. There are times when nothing will do but physically being present for those you love. And Max, fittingly, dealt with his worry and fear by researching the effects of chemotherapy. With these seemingly small events, Parenthood quietly reinforces each character’s personality and spirit. And it truly is the little moments that define this show.
And that was never more apparent than at Victor’s second baseball game. The whole clan showed, including war vet Ryan (and there’s a definite spark between Amber and the new guy). And Zeek, in his gruff, blustering, take-no-prisoners style, confronted the team coach when he failed to play Victor. With two outs, Zeek demanded his grandson get a turn at bat. As his family echoed him from the bleachers, the coach folded under the pressure (who can resist all of the Bravermans?) and let Victor take his cuts.
With two strikes against him, Victor swung for the fences and connected! As much as I haven’t loved (hated) the Victor storyline, this was a sweet, sweet scene and as “Come Dance with Me” played while Victor rounded the bases, and his new family cheered him on and snapped pictures, I choked up a bit. Nothing like a perfect music choice (and Parenthood uses awesome music) to make me hate a storyline less. Seriously, this storyline is a real love/hate one for me; but last night I didn’t hate it so much. We saw a young boy being fully embraced and welcomed into his new family and it was lovely.
Until, that is, Julia screwed up so badly at work that her bosses confronted her for her continued poor performances since she and Joel adopted Victor. The seminal moment occurred after she’d had a meltdown during a burnt toast breakfast at home; and realizing she just couldn’t handle a newly adopted boy and her high-pressure career; Julia upped and quit. As a woman, I understood her decision. But from a character’s standpoint, I was shocked. Julia has always been a driven career woman and this choice seems a bit out of left field. If Parenthood explores the full fallout from this, it could easily be a great plot choice. But if they ignore how a high-powered, accomplished lawyer handles the transition to being jobless, it will be a disappointment. It does have potential to be a huge story arc for Erika Christensen and one that would bring more depth to the youngest Braverman sibling.
My hands-down favorite moment of the episode occurred within the first 10 minutes, as Hank taught Sarah how to develop negatives the old-fashioned way. Shoulder to shoulder, they watched as an image appeared on the contact paper and as Sarah looked to Hank in happy amazement, he just leaned in and kissed her, sweetly. And she kissed him back until she remembered she already has a fiancée. Then she pulled away. But she took some time to do so. I love this pairing. I simply love them together and it was a sweet, quiet kiss that spoke volumes.
The next day, Sarah brought up the kiss. Hank at first tried to brush it off, saying it didn’t mean anything. After a funny, flirty, loads-of-subtext chat, Hank finally admitted the truth, saying “You’re funny, you’re pretty, you’re nice and I like talking to you. And I know you’ve got somebody, so let’s just leave it at that.”
Have I mentioned I love Hank? And I’m still shocked at just how good Ray Romano is in this role.
But poor Mark. I do feel so sorry for Mark. After the kiss with her boss, Sarah tried way too hard with the poor guy, forcing him to go on an early-morning job as proof of what a fun, together couple they are. She also suggested that they move in together before the wedding. Surprised, and even a little suspicious, Mark still agreed.
This is shaping up as a great triangle. There is no bad guy here. It’s just three really nice, decent people. And at least one of them is going to get really hurt. Again, this is Parenthood’s genius. Nobody is a villain. Everybody is human.