This was it. The season finale for Parenthood. Even scarier, the episode unfolded like a series finale; as if the showrunners were ensuring this episode could tie up most loose ends; in case they weren’t renewed. Unfortunately, that didn’t necessarily make for a truly strong episode.
One of the best moments of the episode occurred after Drew learned he’d been accepted into Berkeley. He visited Amy, the first time they’d seen each other since Amy aborted her pregnancy. It was a really poignant moment, with both ready to face the future and ultimately realizing that future wouldn’t include them as a couple. As another superb music choice, “Winter” by Matt Corby, played in the background (thanks @dinkologist!); Drew told Amy, “I’ll never forget you”; and they hugged goodbye. It was legitimately sweet and while there wasn’t to be a magical ending for this two, it was real and true.
Not so the culmination of the Amber/Ryan storyline. I mean, how often can two characters cry through an entire conversation? First, Ryan came to Amber’s door, bearing flowers. He choked up and through his tears admitted to Amber how much he loved her, and that he was back in therapy, and that he knew he totally screwed up, and blah, blah, blah. Amber naturally started sobbing too, but in the end, Ryan just left. He just walked out on both of them crying.
Their next scene together resulted in more of the same, only this time Amber started crying first. She told him she loved him, basically more than anybody’s ever loved anybody in the history of the universe. And I guess they both decided to just ignore Ryan’s PTSD and get married? Seriously, I don’t get how this greatest love story ever told even happened. Did I miss a scene or two or three that established just how deep this bond went? Last time I checked, they were in a fairly new relationship.
In any event, by episode’s end, we’re left with the impression the two are getting engaged. I don’t care about this couple; although the writers seem to think I really should. It was just too rushed and forced, as if the writers wanted to give Amber a happy ending in case there’s no fifth season.
The Victor adoption storyline wrapped up rather neatly, too. In this case, I’ll give that a pass, as it’s just such a relief to (hopefully) be done with this wretched storyline. Victor’s anger issues seem to have magically disappeared, and all Julia’s reservations with it. There was one super cute moment when Joel and Victor picked out matching polka dot ties for the adoption ceremony. But the rest seemed like a too-easy resolution to all the issues that plagued Julia and Victor all season long. Even Sydney and Victor readily accepted each other as siblings, once Victor asked her to the ceremony. “Because you’re my sister”, Victor told her. Really? That’s all it took?
Jasmine and Crosby also found out there’s going to be another baby for them. (Maybe this time Jasmine won’t keep him or her from Crosby for five years.) Mother-in-law from hell Rene also moved out and to top it off, she and Crosby forgave each other once news of the baby was out.
Finally, to round out all this blissfully happy news, Kristina received the all-clear from her oncologist. She’s currently cancer-free.
Again, a neat and tidy ending just in case Parenthood doesn’t return. And this continuous theme throughout the episode really grated on me. Life isn’t that neat and Parenthood’s strength has always been in illustrating just how messy it is. There were too many tied-up-with-a-bow resolutions here. And while I want the Bravermans to be happy, I felt a little ripped off. It felt a little like the entire season and all my invested emotions were wasted.
The one and only truly ambiguous note came with the Sarah/Hank/Mark triangle. In addition, the one and only OMG moment also occurred with this trio. I was so completely sure Sarah would choose Mark, or choose nobody, if only because I think Hank is a better choice for her. And when halfway through the episode, Mark visited Sarah and told her how much he loved her and how he royally screwed up when he didn’t fight for her, I thought for sure Hank was a goner. As it turns out, I was wrong, because Sarah decided that as much as she once loved Mark, she was going to make it work with Hank.
For the two other Team Hank fans out there, don’t get too excited yet. Because as soon as Sarah made that declaration, Hank told her he was moving to Minnesota to be nearer his daughter, Ruby. He also told her, “I think I may love you.” And, “There’s only two people I care about and you’re one of them.” So he asked her to think about moving to Minnesota with him. And she agreed to consider it. And for all of Mark’s eloquent speeches about love, I so preferred Hank’s short and sweet moment.
But at the very end of the episode, as we see a montage of very happy Bravermans, we also see Hank in snow-covered Minnesota playing with his daughter in the front lawn of a leased house. So there’s at least one storyline that has a slim thread of a cliff hanger left to it. And if Parenthood does return for a fifth season, I think Mark will still be in the picture. Sarah’s too screwed up to actually stick with a decision.
So that’s it. Another season in the can. I can’t honestly say this was my favorite Parenthood season. I think last year’s was stronger. That said, this is still one of the best-written and acted shows on television and it deserves to come back next season. With a full episode order.