1/23/14, 10 PM, NBC
“I just wanted to come home.”
Usually I put the best line of the episode at the end of the recap, but in this case, I felt like it needs to be right up front. Because ultimately, I feel that this line, which comes at the end of probably the most stellar episode of the season in quite some time (maybe even since the season started), sums up the appeal and love of this series and why it has such a rabid following. Even if we’re in constant contact with our extended family, even if we have our own struggles were dealing whether they be minor or major ones that we have to deal with by ourselves, no matter what’s come before, we all want to come home. We want to come back to the place that we feel is safe and warm and inviting. Where whatever we’re going through can be left outside and we can just take solace in being with those who love us. The majority of the episode’s plotlines do touch on that in one way or another. But let’s back track.
We start tonight’s episode with Max in class. After answering a question and then continuing on answering said question, his teacher, Mr. Wyman, tells Max to finish his work alone in the library. And when Adam drops him off at school the next day, he finds out that this isn’t the first time Max has been banished to the library. This intersects with Kristina’s plotline, where she’s still getting calls from people whose number Kristina gave to. One in particular (played by Tina Holmes aka. Maggie Sibley from Six Feet Under, thus finally fulfilling my wish for another Six Feet Under actor to pop up on Parenthood), whose daughter Kiara is being given the same runaround treatment that Max is getting in the public school system. And after seeing said school system treating both of them and their kids poorly, Kristina decides to form their own school for autistic children. And I know what you’re thinking. “Oh God, Kristina what are you doing! This is going to be a nightmare of a plotline!!!’ Well, after the half season of “Kristina runs for mayor” and the non-starter that was, I’d rather see her trying to create a new school or some kind of educational program to help out autistic children. And historically, the show has never been that great when it comes to introducing new plots. Developing them and making them great television, yes. But actually starting them tends to be a bit shaky. So like every other plotline the series starts rather haphazardly, I’m willing to ride this out and see where it goes.
Moving on over to Crosby and Jasmine, we first see them outside with Jabbar and Aida as a building inspector emerges from their house in a HazMat suit and gives us the episode title. And because they’ve been watching the water stain in the ceiling grow over three months, their insurance policy doesn’t cover them being put up at the Ritz, so it’s a family of four living in a cheap motel. After hearing back from the inspector and finding out that it’ll take at least 2 months to repair the damage, Crosby finally has to admit defeat and to finally call Zeek and Camille to ask if they can live in the guest house. So now we have had two branches of the Braverman family live with Zeek and Camille. And we might even have a hat trick in the near future, but more on that later.
Speaking of Zeek and Camille, we finally get the scene that I’ve been waiting for since the second episode of the season. After getting wi-fi (with the network named Camille’s Villa) so that she can continue her art classes online via streaming (while also correcting Zeek when he calls bruschetta “ham”), Zeek finally, FINALLY opens up to Camille. About how he missed her, how he’s never seen her this happy before, that he feels that he was the one that was keeping her from being happy and that she was the one that compromised and sacrificed the most in their marriage and for their family. And that if selling the house is that important to her, then they should do it because him alone in said house isn’t going to work. That scene, from Craig T. Nelson’s delivery to Bonnie Bedelia’s silent reactions helped to make it a “hands on chest” moment and a wonderful pay off to what has been my favorite plotline of the season so far. It’s in moments like this that you’re reminded why you love the show to begin with.
After last week’s episode of introspection on Hank’s behalf, we follow him and Sarah as Sarah lets him in on the photo shoot that she landed. As expected, the two clash since Hank can’t help but criticize Sarah for her haphazard plan for shooting the surf boards on location at a beach. Eventually Hank decides to walk away from it, but after another talk with Max in the dark room, Hank secedes and tells Sarah that she’s the boss. They have the photo shoot at the beach and after some prodding and charm from Sarah, Hank admits that she did all right. Which coming from him means more than a thousand praises from family and friends.
And finally, we get to the emotional gut punch of the episode. Of Julia and Joel having to tell Sydney and Victor that Joel is moving out and that they’re separating. When they meet with a therapist to ask how one does this, the therapist asks if this is a trial separation with the hopes of getting back together or if this is a full divorce. Julia obviously wants to get back together, while Joel can’t even give an answer at this point. After seeing Sydney and Victor in a rare moment of sibling bonding as they play video games, they decide to wait till the next day to break the news. And the morning of, Julia makes a final plea to Joel to not go and to not give up on her. But he leaves and then the moment of truth arrives. Sydney cries in Joel’s arms and Victor crumbles silently. Of the two of them, my heart goes out to Victor the most since this is the 2nd time he’s seen a set of parents split up and his family fracture. Add to that him being held back and this is just a really shitty year for him, especially after last season. After Joel takes what’s left of his and looks at the house one last time before leaving, Sydney and Victor come to Julia with faked stomach aches in a vain attempt to get Joel to come back. This leads to Julia packing them up and taking them to Zeek and Camille’s where after Crosby and Jasmine et al have cleared the room, Julia tells Zeek and Camille that her marriage may be over and that she just wanted to come home.
- 2nd Best Line of the Episode: “You’re the boss. The boss buys. That’s like California code.”Hank to Sarah as they go for drinks after the photo shoot.
- Stray Observations: Jabbar hides nervously behind Jasmine when he sees the guy in the HazMat suit come out. “It looks like the guy who took E.T. away.” See, if I was Jabbar, I’d be more scared of E.T. than of the government guys. E.T. scared the shit out of me when I saw it in preschool, so I never got the appeal of a brown alien with giant eyes, an extending next and a terrifying roar.
- The cause of said mold was a water heater in the attic. While Crosby should’ve known about its location (he’s been a home owner for the last 3 years), who the Hell puts a water heater in an attic.
- At one point, Crosby calls Adam, “Howdy Doody”. If only he knew what Howdy Doody was up to ten years ago on Six Feet Under.
- Kristina has a Freudian slip can refers to Max’s teacher as “Mr. Hyman.” I’m sure the writer would’ve loved to have taken credit for it, but that sounds like an ad-lib from Monica Potter.
- Perseverate: (verb) - to repeat something insistently or redundantly. Thanks, Max. We all need to learn something new every day.