"One Step Forward, Two Steps Back" just didn't do it for me. At first there was a lot of potential in the screen time allotted to Camille and Amber, but the story was stretched between so many characters that I mostly felt bored just waiting for the pieces to fall where we knew they would. I think there's a ton of potential for the season -- or, at this point, possibly the series -- finale, but I wish the set-up wasn't at the expense of the penultimate episode. The pacing felt especially off, which isn't usually a problem for Parenthood. Let's see what else was at play:
Chuckle... More Like "Clap Politely"
Before it went way south (which I'll get to in a few), I actually enjoyed Kristina's on-the-nose battle against the bitches at the PTA who got rid of Max's beloved vending machines. It was nice to see her be her normal self without mentioning her cancer or relying on sympathy votes. She had some great points that didn't feel TV-contrived when it came to bringing in healthy vending machines (though I have to assume there's one slot for Skittles still, right?) and watching her work that room made me genuinely happy. She must have been sooo stoned.
And I might have really loved Ryan's storyline if it -- and not even this episode, but the freaking finale -- wasn't spoiled for me on the Parenthood Tumblr page, but even then, it felt a bit more like fan service than actual good writing. Whatever; Camille and Amber baking pies together was adorable, I like the mentor relationship Ryan has with Zeek, I'm relieved Amber is still sticking to her guns about not getting back into things with Ryan just yet and I'm not going to complain about seeing Joel in his construction uniform multiple times.
The Victor drama got to me this week, but it's mostly because of the scene where Crosby consoled Julia. I love seeing these two interact, and he brought up the excellent point that it's completely standard for nine-year-olds to hate their moms. The nail in my coffin was his story about looking up to Julia when he first had to learn how to be a parent to Jabbar, and Julia let out this tiny little, "Me?" I'm also a sucker for brother-sister moments, so that definitely helps.
I also appreciated this storyline for a few more reasons, even if it has been a slow burn for a while now: First of all, we got to see Crosby and Jasmine hang out with Joel and Julia, a pairing I definitely approve of; watching Julia shamefully struggle with Victor being a
dickhole normal nine-year-old boy in her very realistic way makes it hard for me to feel quite as cynical and annoyed as I did when he first joined the family; and Sydney got to wear slippers to school, which is obviously the best thing ever. I'm finally glad they're deciding to go through with the adoption, even though we all know that Victor's birth mom is going to come into that courtroom next week and fight for her son, blah blah blah.
Not sure if you guys knew this, but Renee is getting on Crosby's last nerve, Crosby isn't very good at keeping his emotions out of his arguments and Jasmine is regularly underserviced by the writers. Aside from laughing at Crosby's "Or, it appears that way from your lofty perch?" I mostly just zoned out whenever these scenes were on.
Call me selfish, but now that I got what I wanted with Mark leaving Sarah and Sarah hooking up with Hank, I don't give a crap what happens to any of them. I did enjoy Mark waiting around like a serial killer so that he could challenge Hank to a duel for Sarah and later Hank telling Sarah to make a real decision already, but I would have much preferred these scenes to take up two minutes and for Amber and Camille's pie-baking to take up the ten or so that Sarah's sighs did.
And, okay, I can deal with a lot of the ridiculous melodrama Parenthood serves us, but Max getting showered with Skittles (who has to be a sponsor for this show, right?) by his peers is where I draw the line. I genuinely felt embarrassed for watching that scene, which is really a shame, because there was this great moment in the beginning of the episode where we got a glimpse into Adam and Kristina's life as a normal couple with a normal kid (where can I download that Dora song, by the way?) and then this is what it was bookended with. For shame!
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