2/27/14, 10 PM, NBC
After little over a month on hiatus due to the Sochi Winter Olympics, as well as almost 4 years to the day since the show debuted, Parenthood returns with the episode “Just Like At Home”. After Julia’s heartbreaking admission ending the previous episode, this week’s episode deals with the idea of home and what qualifies as one. We open with a scene that any child of divorce will recognize. Of the one parent who had moved out coming to pick up the kids for the weekend, the fleeting awkward interaction between the estranged couple and then the almost deafening silence of Julia alone in a cavernous house with nothing but time on her hands. Over at Joel’s apartment (which is surprisingly not as pathetic as you’d imagine it would be), the situation isn’t much better. Victor keeps hearing the grind and whirring of the elevator, and Sydney is not impressed with Joel’s purchase of a rainbow loom. “I don’t play with that anymore. I’m 10 now.” And even with Adam and Sarah calling Julia to make her feel better, Julia is up all night and has to lay in Sydney’s bed in order to get some sleep. This then leads into two scenes that have the feeling of being bathed in warm sunlight. The first one being first Sarah, then Crosby and then finally Adam coming over to boost Julia’s spirits, complete with Adam and Crosby, two 40-something brothers, break dancing to Talking Heads’ “Burning Down The House”. The second being the final scene of the episode as Victor wakes up due to the elevator, swipes Joel’s phone, calls Julia and asks her to talk to him. As she tells him about how the creaks in the stairs scared her and Crosby and a childhood trap involving dental floss across the top of the stairs and Zeek breaking his nose, she goes to check on Sarah, Crosby and Adam who are sleeping over and actually tucks them in. Seeing the Braverman siblings together is one of the most joyous things to see on network TV now. And after the emotional turmoil of the season on Julia’s part, it’s these moments that remind us why we love the show in the first place.
Continuing on with Sarah and Hank and the surfing photo shoot, after looking at the pictures, Hank tells Sarah that she should use the ones that don’t have the taco truck in the background. This chafes Sarah since the taco truck is exactly what she wanted in the pictures. Behind her back, Hank goes and creates photos with the truck erased. This leads to a blow-up between him and Sarah, which then leads to an emergency meeting with Dr. Pelican where Hank asks him point blank “What do I say to make it better?” After getting the usual advice (eye contact, stating that he didn’t realize changing the pictures without her knowledge and approval was a bad idea), Hank goes to Sarah’s apartment to apologize. But the forced eye contact and the flat delivery puts her off until Hank admits that Max’s book connected with him and that he’s been treating Sarah badly and is trying to do better.
The rest of the episode has three relatively minor plotlines of varying importance. Over at Zeek and Camille’s, Crosby finds out about their plans to sell the house via realtor coming over to drop off the comps before they list the place. At dinner, Crosby asks them about it and Camille tells Crosby that it’s their place and they can do whatever they want with it while Zeek uncharacteristically sits back in silence. After grilling him on it, Zeek shares the epiphany he had about him and Camille to Crosby. While we’ve seen this development going on so far this season, it’s nice to see Zeek beginning to open up about this new insight to someone other than Camille. Skipping over to Drew at Berkley, Amy sticking around has gone from fun to concerning. After getting advice from both Natalie and Amber, Drew sits down with Amy and tells her that she needs to tell her parents not only about her not liking it at her university but also about the abortion they had. While this plotline was starting to annoy me (mainly because seeing two girls vie for the attention of a guy that makes Charlie from The Perks of Being A Wallflower look like Ferris Bueller was really stretching it IMHO), I’m glad that this is the resolution that we’re getting to not only this plotline but from one of the more powerful moments from season 4. And finally, we get to Adam and Kristina, who are finally using the spa package they got as a gift from when Kristina had cancer. This ties more into the main plotline of Julia’s, since Adam is too preoccupied with her to fully enjoy the hot tub, dual mud bath and hike up a mountain with Kristina (complete with green screen that’s surprisingly weak, seeing as how the show actually does vfx really well for the most part). And while Kristina acquiesces and decides to cut the weekend getaway and go home, we do get one of the most tender moments between her and Adam in quite some time. During said mud bath, Kristina thanks Adam for being there for her over the last couple of years. She doesn’t recall ever telling him that, so she’s doing it right now. Adam then tells her that she doesn’t need to. I really like this moment since it’s an apropo of nothing moment for the couple that feels completely organic. While the show trades in big, dramatic gestures, it’s these intimate moments that I feel is where the show truly shines.
- Best Line of the Night: “You go sleep with your nephew’s behavioural aide and then you talk to me about being a black sheep.” Crosby to Julia after she admits to feeling like the black sheep of the family in the eyes of Zeek and Camille.
- Stray Observations: Julia’s weekend plans involves binge-watching Orange is the New Black. Between this, Mae guest starring on Masters of Sex and the two Adventure Time references, I’m convinced Parenthood is telling me to get caught up with these three shows.
- Speaking of Mae, during the NBC feed she shows up in a commercial for the Kindle Paperwhite that was shot on the set of the show. Usually Parenthood cast members showing up in a PSA or another commercial kinda makes me cringe, but for some reason I liked it here.
- I like that during Adam’s check-up on Julia, she accurately calls him out on his “old man bathing suit”. I love these hairpin turns from serious to teasing, just like any siblings would.
- Before the siblings show up, Julia sticks a raw potato in the microwave. I’d like to think Julia is smart enough to know that’s not going to cook it any faster, so I’m guessing she just wants to see something explode.
- Between Julia’s bedtime story, Zeek stating that he and Camille have been married for 47 years and Sarah telling Carl about how he had the same “special tradition” with all his kids so that he could get ice cream 4 times a day, I think this episode does more in fleshing out the family history of the Bravermans than in any other episode I can think of. Forget Better Call Saul or The Carrie Diaries. If any show deserves a prequel series, it’s this one. I would love to see a Freaks and Geeks type series of Adam, Sarah, Crosby and Julia as kids and Zeek and Camille in their prime.
- Checking the schedule, it looks like we have all new episode starting from now until mid-April, when the season wraps up. Given how the last two seasons ended in February and January, it’s nice to see the season wrap up at a normal time.
[notification=star]77/100 ~ Good. After what was the best episode of the season so far in terms of emotional devastation, “Just Like At Home” deals with the fallout, both good and bad, of said devastation and reminds us why we love the show in the first place amidst a somewhat uneven season.[/notification]