Parenthood, Season 6, Episode 3, “The Waiting Room”
October 9, 2014, 10:00 PM, NBC
Aptly titled “The Waiting Room”, tonight’s episode of Parenthood had an uneasy feel of anticipation and dread. Anticipation for what could happen and dread over what to do when the time comes. The laughs tonight were few and far between and while the resolutions weren’t as awful as one would expect, a sense of unease still hung over everything and everyone. I wouldn’t describe tonight’s episode as “harsh”, since while the show gets critical of its characters, it’s never mean spirited about them, but it was certainly heavy.
We open on Zeke and Camille playing cards and listening to Bob Dylan the night before Zeke’s operation. Camille talks about the hospital while Zeke is completely reticent about the whole thing. The adult siblings show up along with Amber to wish Zeke luck and as Zeke is thanking them, he accidentally outs Amber’s pregnancy to Adam, Crosby and Julia. Later on, Amber shows Zeke the ultrasound and Zeke promises Amber that he’ll be there for her baby’s birth. And as they hug, memories of Zeke admonishing Amber in the junkyard after her accident surface and his comment of “You’re an amazing girl” has a deeper meaning to us longtime fans.
After the opening credits, Amber visits Drew at college and asks him if she can borrow his car (the Pontiac from last season, thus irritating me a bit) to go to Wyoming to tell Ryan directly that she’s pregnant. Drew lets her, but only on condition that he drives her there. And as they drive up to Wyoming, Amber tells Drew that while Ryan has the right to know about the baby, she also wants to raise the child on her own. They arrive at Ryan’s mess of a place that’s strewn with cigarettes from his mom and tons of medication that only Drew seems to notice. Amber finally tells Ryan the big news and Ryan surprisingly takes it well. Almost too well for her liking. And when Amber goes back to tell Drew that maybe Ryan has changed, Drew (after 90 odd episodes) finally grows a pair of balls and tells Amber that Ryan’s a mess and that it’s like their dad all over again, thus drawing out the parallels between Amber and Sarah even more. Amber then goes back to Ryan and breaks it to him that while she appreciates his support and enthusiasm, he still has a lot of work to do and that she wants to raise this baby by herself.
Moving over quickly to the “C plot”, if you will, when Amber makes an attempt to bond with Ruby, she sees her shoplift lipstick. When Sarah tells Hank this, it’s news to him since to his knowledge she’s never done that before. But when Hank tells Sandy about it, she’s not surprised. If anything, she’s more angry at Hank for not being on top of her and that she doesn’t want Sarah to be around.
Like “Vegas”, the episode has one main plot (in this case Zeke’s surgery) that intertwines all the other minor subplots that the characters who are a part of said main plot. The main focus is obviously on Zeke. And from the bedside view of a cemetery next door to his insistence that he not take off his wedding ring, the man is clearly scared of what’s about to go down. And after being wheeled into the operating room, Camille who has been Zeke’s rock in all this, finally allows herself to cry in the hallway in a moment that thankfully has no music playing over and focuses squarely on Bonnie Bedelia.
As for the kids, they all react in different ways. Adam sends out an e-mail to everyone about the worst case scenarios of a procedure with a 96% success rate and cynically points out that when doctors deliver bad news to the families, they do it in the “bad news room” so that they can have their breakdown in private. Crosby, refusing to be pulled into Adam’s “vortex of negativity”, watches a ball game on his smartphone along with another guy in the waiting room. This clash of attitudes between the two of them comes to a head when they get a call informing them that Oliver Rome has walked out of the sound check and that if he doesn’t come back and perform, they will get sued. Adam calls Crosby “incompetent” and Crosby calls Adam a dick. And after a failed attempt to corral Oliver Rome, Crosby takes off on his motorbike and wipes out on a bend.
Julia, meanwhile, has a better time in the waiting room, but not by much. Earlier on, Chris Jeffries, her current fling from law school that she’s sleeping with tells her that he remembers seeing Zeke years ago when they were in school when he came to drop off a care package that consisted of candy (Twizzlers) and a CalTech shirt (even though she went to Stanford). He does the same for her here, which gets Julia to admit that she actually likes him. And when Joel (who bumped into her when he tried to time leaving unnoticed after talking with Zeke about baseball) calls to check in and give her support, she finally admits that she’s seeing someone. And the blank look of “I screwed up” on Sam Jaeger’s face when she tells him is priceless.
Needless to say, the surgery went well and the episode ends with the kids behind glass and Camille putting Zeke’s wedding ring back onto his hand. But the hard part for everyone is not over. If anything, it’s just beginning.
- Best Line of the Night: “Well…you know this day is going to come. You say it at the altar. “In sickness and in health.” You just hope that…you’re strong enough. Good times and bad. For richer or poorer, we’ve been through all that. It’s this one. This is the tough one.” Camille to Julia when she asks her mother how she’s doing.
- Stray Observations:
- Is it just me, or is the guy in the waiting room that asks Crosby about the score the same guy who Crosby paid to vote for Kristina last season. Part of me likes to think it is.
- Speaking of Kristina, if you’re wondering why Kristina, Max and the kid’s were no shows in tonight’s episode, is that part of the deal with coming back for a final 13 episodes was that each of the cast members are only going to show up in 11 of the 13 episodes, so at two points in the show, the characters are going to be M.I.A. Personally I would’ve broken format completely and have just either a flashback episode to when the adult siblings were teenagers or one that focuses on the kids completely or one that only follows all the supporting characters from seasons past as a check-up on them.
- This episode was written by Jessica Goldberg, the playwright that came onto the writing staff last year and was responsible for some of the better episodes. Her playwright background is clearly in action as the episode was very centralized and focused very specifically on character over plot.
- Some are speculating that Katims is planning on pulling a “thirtysomething” and have Zeke pull through while another character dies unexpectedly. I’m really hoping that’s not going to be the case here since not only would it be somewhat gimmicky, it would also make no thematic sense, given what they’re building up. I know Zeke will be around for at least two more episodes. But if by the end of the series we don’t have a “The king is dead. Long live the king.” tweet re: Zeke, I’m going to be pissed.
- And speaking of further down the line, writer Sarah Watson has confirmed that Mark Cyr will be returning once again in a future episode. I’m just going to call it and say that he’s going to show up in the last 30 seconds of the series finale and elope to Vegas with Sarah in Drew’s Pontiac.
"The Waiting Room" is the heaviest episode of not only the season so far but in a long time on the series. And I predict it's going to get worse before it gets better.