Parenthood, Season 6, Episode 9, “Lean In”
November 20, 2014, 10:00 PM, NBC
After last week’s episode that left a bad taste in a lot of fan’s mouths, “Lean In”, the last episode of 2014 written by newcomer Jesse Zwick and directed again by Lawrence Trilling, brought the events of last week’s episode with Max to a head, a wrinkle in the divorce of Julia and Joel, a goodbye to a beloved recurring character and in the closing moments brought Zeke once again on the path of inevitability. And despite the absence of Crosby, Jasmine and Amber after last week’s fireworks, this episode felt stronger and more confident as the series is heading toward its 100th episode and the homestretch for the series.
We begin with Kristina prepping two students for the open house as Dylan frantically interrupts her. She tells her that she can’t be partners with Max anymore, especially with the open house right around the corner. Torn between Dylan and the two other students, Kristina blows Dylan off and Max keeps pestering Dylan. The open house arrives and Kristina finally comes face to face with Dylan’s parents, The Jones’. But the tension between Dylan and Max (who is now using geometry and mathematical equations to make his case to her) finally reaches a breaking point where he grabs her hand and she screams harassment just as her parents and Kristina walk by the lab they’re in. The Jones’ then get caught up on everything and give Kristina a deserved raking across the coals. Even when Adam steps in to calm things down, they accuse them of only seeing through the lens of their son and Adam retaliates by blaming them for their absentee parenting. They walk away furious and threatening to pull Dylan out of school as Max stares silently. Later on, Kristina sits down with her to apologize for not protecting her when she should have as the headmaster of the school. Dylan then breaks down and tells her that her parents want her to switch schools. Despite everything that went on with Max, this is actually the first school in five years where she feels like she belongs and is actually doing good things for her. That evening, Adam and Kristina have yet another talk with Max. This time, they apologize to him for not giving him a full picture of what goes on in a relationship. And that sometimes the scale of affection is stuck since either of the two people want different things. They further explain to him how to tell if the other person doesn’t share the same level of affection that he does. And even though they tell Max that he wasn’t harassing her, it’s clear that Max realizes that he was doing that to her as he asks “Am I the reason Dylan is leaving the school?” This leads to Adam, Kristina and Max showing up unannounced at the Jones’ (as all Braverman’s do) so that they can apologize to them and for Max to apologize to Dylan. She accepts his apology and they shake on it. And in one of the funnier moments of the episode, Dylan calls Max “Aspbergers” which shocks her mom, but Max accepts as a term of endearment.
Back from what I like to imagine is her Sideways-esque adventure in the Napa Valley, Sarah is there with Hank when Ruby finds out that due to a kid getting sick in the high school production of Grease, she now gets to play the part of Sandy. Sarah is of course thrilled, but when she attends the first show alongside Hank and the real Sandy, who should walk onto the stage to introduce the show for the sick drama teacher but Son of John himself, Mark Cyr (Jason Ritter) who makes eye contact with Sarah in the auditorium. And after exchanging looks in the hallway after the show, Sarah tells Hank that she wants to stay behind for the second show as this dregs up a lot of emotions for her. And after a discussion about Mark, Hank tells Sarah that he wants her to come, which she agrees to. But due to the previously mentioned sick kid getting better and wanting to play Sandy again, this leads to yet another Ruby meltdown (this time offscreen thankfully) with Sandy and Hank doing damage control, leaving Mark and Sarah to get caught up. And fan’s dreams of them rekindling their relationship at the last minute were dashed away once again as Sarah fills in Mark on Drew being in college and Amber pregnant. And in the most amusing scene of the whole episode, Sarah and Mark dance around the “grandma” word. Mark finds it funny timing as he’s about to become a parent as well. But despite looking like the two are going to kiss, the two part ways by saying that they’re glad to have known each other. After seeing them together, while he knows they’re not going to get back together, Hank asks Sarah if she’s happy with him and if the life they share together with the newly added chaos of Ruby and Sandy is what she wants. And after half an hour of Hank talking down Ruby, Sarah tells him that she’s happy with him.
Returning once again to the saga of Julia and Joel’s divorce, Julia tells Chris that she can’t make it to dinner with him because she’s meeting with Joel to finally sign the divorce papers. But Joel uses this to go all out with her. He chooses for the restaurant Vateli’s, the restaurant they would go to all the time and sits at the same table where Julia told him she was pregnant with Sydney. They’re even waited on by Chino, the waiter who remembers their usual (chicken parmesan and 2 ice teas). Joel then gives the monologue fans have been waiting over a full season for as he pours his heart out to Julia and admits that it doesn’t matter what happened between Julia and Ed and that he was the one who walked out on his family and that if she’ll have him, he’ll spend the rest of his life making it up to her. This leaves Julia silent as she walks out. And after a fight with Chris over Joel, to which Chris is tired of her indecisiveness over him which leads to him breaking up with her, Julia has a late night talk with Camille over Joel wanting to get back with her. While Camille is obviously thrilled with this, Julia sees it as a problem. If Joel had said this a year ago, then it would have been great. But it’s taken her this long to finally get over the pain caused by him bailing on them and for being weak at their first real trial as a married couple. Camille then tells her that marriage is about forgiveness. To which Julia responds “I don’t think I can.” In the final moments of the episode, Julia goes over to Joel’s place and signs the divorce papers. But when Joel asks if him signing them is what she wants, she can’t even answer him. He puts the pen down and kisses her. She then finally lets go and kisses him back. With this plotline, I’m glad that just as much emphasis was put on Julia’s still deep pain for what Joel did to them as it was on Joel putting it all on the line.
And finally, we get to Zeke and Drew as they’re busted by Camille for their burger runs. But this time around, they’re hanging out in Drew’s dorm room as Zeke is trying to remember the name of the town and the bed and breakfast he was at in the south of France 50 years ago when he was just out of Vietnam and on his own European tour. He wants to surprise Camille with a trip to there on their anniversary. Camille asks Drew, who swore secrecy to Zeke, what’s going on and all Drew asks her is if Zeke can fly. He begs her to keep this revelation under wraps and she tells him to keep the credit card from coming out. But it does, once they figure out the town and B&B it is, which has remained unchanged in the 50 years he’s been there. Drew comes clean to Zeke that Camille knows he’s planning a trip and in a moment that in no way will scar Drew in the immediate future, Zeke tells him he let him down. At home, Zeke finally comes clean about his plans to Camille and why he’s doing it for them. Camille is touched by this and is more than happy to go, so long as their doctor OK’s Zeke for travel. But at 3:16 AM, Zeke wheezes to Camille to call an ambulance.
- While we never find out Dylan’s parents first names, I like to think her dad’s name is Henry Jones Jr. I’ll let it sink in.
- In one of the most amusing Hank ramblings, he goes on about the poster of the “half naked guy from that werewolf show” in Ruby’s room. Hopefully he means Teen Wolf and not Hemlock Grove.
- And now we’re on hiatus for the next six weeks due to American Thanksgiving, Peter Pan Live and the Christmas season. We’re back on January 8th with the show’s 100th episode and Zeke in the hospital. And since Zeke’s demise is all but inevitable, I’m hoping the show just goes all out with its episode title. I’m personally hoping for “Long Live the King”.
After a recent run of uneven episodes, "Lean In" puts the show back on track for a strong run of final episodes.