Parenthood, Season 6, Episode 4, “A Potpourri of Freaks”
October 16th, 10 p.m. (EST), NBC
After the narrative and emotional limbo of last week’s episode, “A Potpourri of Freaks” (written by story editors Ian Deitchman & Kristin Rusk Robinson and directed by cast member Peter Krause himself), is somewhat of a return to form. We don’t have one major plotline going on that has all the cast members in orbit around it (and Amber and Drew pulled the “MIA this week” straws) but the usual separate plotlines with the more overtly comedic one being Crosby’s. We’re still dealing with the fallout of last week’s episode while seeing a new development that while I saw coming, it was done with a fresh enough spin that made it interesting.
Going into the final season, I figured that this would be the year where Max finally starts dating. Or at least shows an actual interest in a member of the opposite sex. My money was on Kiara, the girl that was introduced last season whose mom was played by Tina Holmes (aka. Maggie Sibley from Six Feet Under). And while she showed up again in the kitchen, tonight we were introduced to Dylan Jones, a new student at Chambers Academy who’s on her fourth school and introduces herself to Max with “ADHD and general behavioural issues. What are you in for?” Later on, Adam and Kristina notices that Dylan and Max are actually sitting together during lunch. But when they ask Max how it went, Max tells them that she kept calling him “Aspbergers” and that the academy is “a potpourri of freaks”, which is where we get our episode title from. As both Max’s mom and as the headmaster of the school, Kristina is obviously furious at Dylan, which is not helped by the conversation they have in her office as well as Max’s attempt to cut his own hair once she tells him that he look like he should be in a boy band. But when Adam goes to talk to Max to see what’s going on with him, Max asks “What do you do when you like a girl?”
Now, going by just what we’ve seen in this episode, one could predict that the whole thing is yet another trainwreck waiting to happen again for Max and that Dylan goes beyond your typical bad girl whose going to use and abuse Max. But I think there is potential for an actual connection happen. Take a look again at the first scene that Dylan is introduced in. Krause makes the decision to hold on Dylan’s face as she’s taking in her new environment. And there is a look of apprehension and reluctant fear on her. Given that this is her fourth school in God knows how many years and given her condition and experience, she has no reason to expect this place to be the one that sticks. And given that the things that put the audience off of her is the same stuff that everyone sees Max as for the entire run of the series, I think it’s a possibility that this could potentially deepen into a serious relationship and that before the end of the series, Max will finally have his first love. Like Adam, I’m nervous about where this could lead to but I’m also happy that Max will experience something that most teenagers take for granted.
Meanwhile, Crosby is still dealing with both Oliver Rome flaking off as well as his motorcycle accident from last week. And his injuries have gone from a limp to bruised ribs that Jasmine and Jabbar are only finding out about now. And after reading online about Oliver Rome potentially signing with another label as a solo act, Crosby reluctantly takes the minivan to the spiritual healing center Rome is at in Big Sur to try to talk him out of signing. But after dealing with a day long vow of silence and shushing followers (lead by a silent Dave (Gruber) Allan in a completely wasted cameo), Rome tells Crosby that he’s already signed with them, leading to Crosby freaking out and taking off on the motorcycle in the dead of night when he gets home.
Over at Hank’s place, Sarah inadvertently makes a morning drop-off of Ruby with Sandy awkward when she comes out of Hank’s bedroom in one of Hank’s shirts and nothing else. This leads to Sandy coming over to Hank’s studio to talk to Sarah and to tell her that she doesn’t want her distracting Hank from taking care of their daughter and that she told Hank this, which is news to Sarah. When she confronts Hank about this, Hank admits that he’s just trying to keep everyone happy and that Sandy steamrolling him with words was one of the big problems they had. Sarah tells him to stick up for himself and Hank tells Sandy that his relationship with Sarah is serious. Sandy is OK with this while Ruby is still a snotty teenager towards Sarah with a crack at her wardrobe.
Moving from least relevant plotlines to more, we follow Joel and Julia as they bring Sydney to the home of the girl she’s been bullying and makes her apologize. This goes as well as you’d expect (ie. poorly) and the parents of the picked on girl call out their inattentive parenting and Sydney’s brattish behaviour, thus finally giving the audience over the last five years the catharsis we’ve all wanted. Julia and Joel can only reply in hollow apologies and after talking it over between the two of them, Julia says that they should finally tell the kids that they are not getting back together, despite Joel’s too late reluctance. But after talking with Zeke and getting the sage truth from him that parents screw up their kids no matter what, Julia can’t bring herself to do it and tells Sydney that they’re just as confused as she is and that it’s OK for her to be angry at both of them.
And finally, we get to Zeke coming home from the hospital. But rather than getting active and working towards his recovery, he parks himself on the couch and zones out to a two week John Wayne movie marathon. Throughout the episode, we see the various family members try to motivate him off the couch. But it’s only after Kristina overhears an increasingly despondent Camille telling Adam that she’s afraid that Zeke is giving up, that Kristina (the breast cancer survivor) finally gets through to Zeke, telling him that the thing she hated the most about being sick was the people with their sad faces and pity and false sense of cheer. Of “we” can do this. And that while he doesn’t have to pretend to be stronger than he feels, he does have to make the effort to feel better since they’re still counting on him. This finally gets him off the couch and we end on yet another sweet moment of the show as Kristina helps Zeke with his walk around the block.
- Best Line of the Night: “Well the last grandkid gift was a Pontiac, so I hope you have something good up your sleeve.” Jasmine to Zeke after he gets Jabbar to make him an ice tea in the kitchen which Camille confiscates and tells Zeke to get it himself.
- Stray Observations:
- Seriously. You get Mr. Rosso from Freaks and Geeks onto your show and have him literally say nothing? What the Hell?
- Krause as a director definitely has a visual flair to him. We got a crane shot of Crosby entering the tented area of the vow of silence circle. And more impressively, a one shot of Jasmine waking up to the sound of Crosby returning, getting up and then rushing out the door when she hears the motorcycle rev up and take off.
- 2nd Best Line of the Night: “You read Pitchfork? I thought you got your music news from Starbucks.”
"A Potpourri of Freaks" is something of a return to form in terms of structure, plotlines that work to varying degrees and an emotional finale that brings everything together.