12/13/13, 10 PM, NBC
After a 2 week break between episodes in which The Sound of Music Live crushed it in the ratings, Parenthood came back with “All That’s Left Is The Hugging”, an episode that dealt with the fallout of the election plotline while also giving the biggest development in one of the “trouble in paradise” relationships we’ve been following so far. Behind the scenes, this episode was a return for Oscar winning director Jessica Yu who had directed the famous “Road Trip” episode from season 3. And given the fireworks that happened tonight, it’s clear they needed to bring out the heavy hitters with this one. Hopefully we can see her direct more episodes of the series in the future, rather than having her just do the odd episode here and there.
We open on Kristina’s face as it appears on a not needed celebratory cake congratulating her win as mayor. And there is no need for plates as she, Adam and Max start to dig in. This casual tone is more or less the attitude of this wrap-up of the election plotline. We see Heather pack up the remainder of the campaign detritus, as well as give us our episode title. We see Adam and Kristina at the park with Nora where a random woman who clearly didn’t vote recognizes Kristina and asks if she can do anything about the duct taped slide. We see Kristina get high with a former chemo friend who is at death’s door. And we end on her and Adam on date night egging a Bob Little campaign billboard. It’s nothing Earth shattering in the slightest, but it’s nice to see Kristina deal with coming down off the high of campaigning and the disappointment in herself for being so close to winning. While we fans would’ve preferred to have seen this plotline stop dead cold and never be mentioned again, it’s good to see this problematic plotline finally put to bed.
Speaking of which, we check in on Drew again as his douchebag of a roommate tells him that he saw Natalie, Drew’s “friend with benefits” making out with some guys at a frat party. With this, alongside her sliding her hand up his thigh, it’s clear that Drew is uncomfortable with the set-up they have. And while Crosby tells Drew that because he’s young he should be taking advantage of the set-up he has and to get as much sexual experience as he can (because Crosby can’t live vicariously through Jabbar just yet), Drew ends up breaking down and telling Natalie that he can’t do this anymore. But all is not lost in the Drew department as a knock on the door reveals Amy from the last 2 seasons during the final seconds of the episode. While some might not see Amy as a better alternative to Natalie, I actually liked seeing her show up. Having gone through as intense an experience as an abortion, Amy sees Drew as more than just a sweet boy toy. So I’m game as to where this could go.
Over at Julia and Joel’s we find the latter sleeping on the couch and the former pleading to him that they need to fix their relationship for the sake of the kids and for themselves. And surprisingly enough, Joel not only agrees, but puts forth an actual effort with coming home early one day to make pizzas with the kids and for going on an actual date night with Julia. But after hearing from Sydney that Ed is finally divorcing his wife, as well as the numerous texts from Ed, Julia head’s over to see him packing up his stuff. She asks him if their friendship is what caused them getting divorced and he replies quite elegantly (in a moment that makes you completely forget about Roy from The Office) that he was not the guy that his wife married, at least not at the start, and that their marriage was already on the decline long before Julia got there. This leads to another hug as well as Ed finally kissing Julia. And while Julia pulls away and leaves in shock and guilt, there is a good 5 seconds of locked lips and her palms against his cheeks, so she was kind of into it. Now that it’s finally gone down, we can finally get into the really heavy stuff of this plotline.
And aside from Sarah finally hooking up with the tenant that we’ve been seeing a lot of this season, we’ve saved the best for last with Amber dealing with the ramifications of Ryan beating the crap out of Zack, the Ashes of Rome drummer. Because of his busted hand, they are out of commission for finishing up the album. And while Amber still has her job, Adam and Crosby have now banned Ryan from ever coming to the Luncheonette and are worried that Ryan might be violent towards her. And while she emphatically says no, she can no longer gloss over the fact that the man she loves has some serious emotional issues. This leads to the two best scenes of the episode in which the first one has Amber finally telling Ryan that she’s worried and concerned for him and him denying his problems and pulling away from her.
And after two other scenes in which Amber finally talks to Sarah about all this and Ryan seeks counsel with Zeek and admits that he can’t adjust to civilian life, we get to the scene where Mae Whitman and Matt Lauria don’t crush it, they disintegrate it with Amber pouring her heart and soul out to Ryan telling him that despite his issues that she still loves him and wants to build a life with him and Ryan telling her that he can’t do this anymore and that he re-enlisted. And as Amber starts crying with only the music playing on the soundtrack, we’re finally feel the emotional devastation that is the show’s calling card. Now that all the election stuff is literally gone, we can finally get into an even better second half of the season.
- Best Line of the Episode: “What about as my mom?” After asking Sarah to be as objective about this as she can be, Amber finally needs the support of her mother in this after spending this season so far arguing over her engagement. Usually I go for the more comedic lines with this, but I had to go serious for this one.
- @TeamParenthood Tweet of the Night: Oh Uncle Crosby - you’re going to get Drew syphillis. #Parenthood
- Stray Observations: When Zack jokes “You should see the other guy.”, I love the slight wince he gives when he realizes that the other guy is Amber’s fiancée.
- Sarah with pained look on her face as her kids knock on her door crying > Sarah with latest in long line of guys. Seriously, him and her dealing with tenants complaining about the cold were just place fillers before her long time coming couch talk with Amber.
- Unlike Joel, I for one think an animated movie is a great idea for date night.
- I also love how Natalie puts her hand on Drew’s thigh like she’s a drunk at a bar feeling up the nervous lonely girl. If Drew could use the period excuse, he would.
- When Sydney asks if they can get a pool, Joel uses bureaucracy and paperwork to shoot it down. Take note, parents. [notification type=”star”]87/100 ~GREAT. “All That’s Left Is The Hugging”, an episode that dealt with the fallout of the election plotline while also giving the biggest development in one of the “trouble in paradise” relationships we’ve been following so far.[/notification]