PARENTHOOD: “Keep On Rowing” and “Small Victories”
My favorite time of the year is slowly starting to fade as the snow is piling up on my doorstep: it’s officially time to get back to reality. For my day-to-day life, that means the grueling pace of academia, but it also means getting back to writing some reviews! Now that’s a lot more pleasant than writing papers.
Here’s a combined post containing my thoughts on the latest Parenthood episodes that have aired since my last review.
“Keep On Rowing”
The big highlight for me this episode was Kristina adjusting to life being sick, while feeling semi-fine. We’re not seeing her sprawled in a hospital bed or on a bathroom floor; now, we’re seeing her dance with her “sisters” and having a good time. However, that doesn’t mean she doesn’t still have cancer, and we’re reminded of that when her hair starts falling out. As of that moment, her hair acted as the focal point of her story, containing everything that having cancer symbolizes and putting it out there for the world to see. It was harrowing, at first, to see people looking at Kristina in a new light and watching her crumble under the weight of the disease and its stigmas.
This lead to a confrontation with Adam, in a conflict where I could not pinpoint the person in the right nor in the wrong; both were trying to deal with this new situation in completely different ways, and Adam gifting the wig offered up the differing perspectives at play. On the one hand, Adam believes Kristina wants to “get back to normal” as soon as possible, and on the other, Kristina wants to learn how to adjust, building on what she already has. Afterwards, perhaps acknowledging that she had been harsh in refuting Adam’s proposed solutions, Kristina enlists Amber to plan a surprise getaway for them. What a beautiful moment, for as we expect Marlese in an uproar, we actually get to see Kristina stepping out of a limousine in a red wig and a stunning dress. I loved seeing a younger dude crush on Kristina; I loved the complicity the Bravermans demonstrated in the fancy hotel; and I especially loved seeing them walk out, hand in hand, Kristina without a care in the world, her bald head shining under the sun.
The other storylines felt like B-plots compared to Kristina’s struggles and triumphs. I’ve always felt like there was some uneasiness between Crosby and Renee, Jasmine’s mom, throughout the series. I think I was right, because the issue was propelled to the forefront in this episode as Renee loses her job and Jasmine asks Crosby for money to help her out (at first). This is hard for Crosby to accept, but he does, only to be faced with an even bigger request: Renee needs to move in, because her finances are worst than what Jasmine feared. I think Crosby is uneasy with this arrangement because he foretells Renee taking over their family life, since she’ll be at home all day and has very entrenched religious views. I agreed with him, until Renee made a very gracious and humbling speech to Crosby to thank him for letting her stay there. I guess we’ll see how it all works out in the coming episode…
Sarah and Hank went on a fancy date; they left early because it was too fancy for them; they had take-out on Hank’s floor and bonded. It was kind of cute but nauseating at the same time. That’s pretty much all I have to say about that.
I did appreciate Drew trying to comfort his mom as Sarah saw some Facebook pictures of Mark kissing a girl on the cheek. It was nice to see her exhibiting some form of loss, for once.
Moving on to Julia, and… Oh boy. There is practically a sign flashing over her head, reading: “WE MADE A MISTAKE”. Though I think it is premature of Julia to question their decision to adopt Victor, he’s a tough nut to crack; he mentioned his biological mom for the first time in months, and threw a baseball bat at Sydney after she asked him if his mom was in jail. However, Joel and Julia have now switched gears. Where Julia was eager at first to integrate Victor to the family right away, Joel was reluctant. But now, Joel and Victor seem to have grown closer together, pushing Julia away. I’m not really hoping for anything in particular at this point, just really looking forward to where they will bring this story.
Finally, the moment I have been waiting for all this season long: Drew in the spotlight! I felt like the episode needed to concentrate a little bit more on Amy and Drew’s struggle than it did, though I understand that there are only a few episodes left in the season and that storylines need to get moving. As it was, however, it felt rushed; we went from “I’m pregnant” to the abortion in what seemed like no time. Also, the importance of the issue was undermined by the fact that it served as the catalyst for Sarah and Mark to see each other again and insert a tiny wedge between the newfound romance between Sarah and Hank. If we disregard that dimension, how amazing was Skyler Day, the actress portraying Amy? She knocked it out of the park, playing an emotionally disconnected, terrified young woman going through a particularly tough situation (for some people).
It was interesting to witness the dichotomy between Amy’s wishes and Drew’s. It’s apparent that he was the “pro-life” (though I prefer the term “anti-abortion”, because “pro-choice” people aren’t “anti-life”) side of the equation, and it was really upsetting to see how hurt he was. I especially love the brother-sister dynamic of Drew and Amber and we got to see a powerful and touching scene between the both of them, as well as a soul-crushing one between mother and son. All in all, it was a tactful and emotional rendering of an experience that had yet to be depicted on Parenthood.
On a more light-hearted note, Max has hit puberty and he’s stinking up the family home! I loved that he was so candid about the whole thing; his interest only piqued when Adam mentioned the scientific side of it all. I loved that his grandparents were so open with him, to the great discomfort of Kristina. One thing that gnawed at me was how Adam broached the subject of sexuality with Max, another important part of reaching puberty. He automatically defaulted to saying that Max would be having some “new and exciting feelings” towards girls, without acknowledging that he could readily swing both ways. I really wanted Max to look at his dad square in the face and say: “I like boys”, but somehow I doubt the show will go down that road (which is, in my opinion, a shame, unless they decide to go that way with another Braverman kid). I believe they will focus on how Max, having Asperger’s, will experience romantic and/or sexual attraction towards girls, especially after Adam manifested concern that he wants his son to at least have “that.” To be continued.
It turns out that Renee’s speech was just that: words. She immediately asserted herself as the matriarch of the household, cooking and eating dinner without Crosby (side note: I’m sorry, but that fish WASN’T trout; I’m an east coast girl and I know my fish. That was some sort of white-fleshed fish, like halibut or haddock), doing her son’s laundry and refusing what she believes are sub-par job offers. She’s not all in the wrong, though; Crosby has been mighty impatient throughout this whole ordeal, and he needs to heed Adam’s advice: when he married Jasmine, he also married her family, and this is just one of those times when he needs to suck it up.
Finally, the moment I had feared has arrived: Julia has officially said out loud that she doesn’t know if she can be Victor’s adoptive mom anymore. Cue my unbridled anger! I understand where she comes from, I do, but I feel like she’s giving up the fight way too easily. Victor was especially acting out this episode: declaring a hunger strike because he wants Burger King and calling the cops (!) on his adoptive parents. Joel seemed pretty mellow about the whole thing, but I could see that Julia’s patience and empathy were wearing thin. She finally declared it, to the social worker no less, without consulting Joel first. These two are in for a rollercoaster ride, and I’m back to hoping for something: I don’t want these two to break-up!
With only two episodes left, season four of Parenthood is coming to a close. What are you all hoping to see before we’re robbed of any new episodes until (hopefully) September 2013?