Okay, so "Trouble in Candyland" was maybe a bit predictable, but I felt distinctly good watching it, the way I often do after an enjoyable episode of Parenthood. Looking over my notes, the four phrases I wrote the most were, "BUSTED!!!", "Poor thing!", "such a good actor" and "Jesus Christ, Marie!" (my fellow Breaking Bad fans will understand that one). Next week's "What to My Wondering Eyes" kind of makes me want to jump off of a bridge with its Christmastime sadness, but for now let's hone in on last night.
Can we get a round of applause for Sydney and Kristina? Neither had more than a few lines in this episode, but they both stole their scenes completely. Like, yes, the Julia-Victoria storyline was actually kind of sad, but high Kristina negates everything for me, in the best way possible. The bribery idea was genius, and it produced my favorite line of the night: "We bribe him... yeah, if I were on Oprah, I would be like, 'It's an incentive system,' but it's just bribery." And honestly, I'm starting to really warm up to Victor. He's allowed us to see other sides -- not to mention, more in general -- of Julia, Joel and Sydney, and Xolo Mariduena has turned out to actually be a pretty good actor. I'd give him a solid 62 for effort.
In "Cute Before It Got Sad or Frustrating" laughs, we have Amber (and her adorable pink streak) and Ryan sharing Chinese food in bed, which was adorable and made me smile so big that I can't not mention it, and also the conversation between Marleise and Crosby and Adam, where Crosby overtly and Adam subtly tried to use Kristina's cancer to win a sympathy vote (sorry boys, that only works for horny teenagers) -- specifically the little quip at the end when Crosby said "Drive safe, Maureen," and she angrily snapped, "You know my name!"
You know, I went back and forth on where to ultimately place the Luncheonette storyline, but at the end of the day, it totally made me tear up. Crosby was being so inconsiderate and immature at first that I started to side with Marleise (you know, as much as a fan of this show can), but of course, the writers turned everything around on us at the City Council hearing and proved that Crosby can step it up when he needs to, blah blah blah vitality of the community, Glen Hansard's eternal patience, triumph of spirit, etc.
And of course, what we've all been waiting for: I didn't cry at Mark and Sarah breaking up while Ruby turned down Hank, but I can appreciate its emotional drama and maybe would have welled up if I liked Mark. (Which, maybe I do like Mark. Maybe I've liked him all along, but it might just be more fun to hate him and make fun of him every week. I honestly can't tell you either way at this point.) This whole plotline last night have a very familiar Sex and the City Carrie-Aidian-Big feel to it (which probably has something to do with John Corbett), but whatever, I enjoyed watching it and thought that Jason Ritter completely pulled off every motion Mark went through -- the annoyed co-packing, the look on his face when he saw drunk Sarah and Hank stumbling to their rooms, the angry and humiliated cuckold victim, his sad treadmill run, the overwhelmed and defeated elevator ride with Hank (my notes just say "FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT") and the sweet and obviously hurt Sarah-dumper. I'm wondering what happens next with Sarah, and for the first time this season, I actually just really want Mark to be happy.
Just, for the record, I really loved Amber interacting with Joel, and would watch the hell out of that spin-off were Parenthood to get canned. But as much as I love Ryan and, like Kristina, really don't want him to die, this plotline more than any other was just too contrived and obvious. It was so hard to watch his scenes knowing that everything he touched was about to be completely destroyed... even if it did mean seeing Sam Jaeger in a construction worker outfit.
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