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<i>Parenthood</i>: The Best and Worst Braverman Pairings of “Jump Ball”

Finally, what Parenthood fans have been waiting all season for: an almost entirely Hank-themed episode. What. Wait. No, that's not right. In fact, there's been an overabundance of Hank all season when there are main characters being all but neglected. (Seriously, Hank has had far more screen time and storylines than Crosby, Jasmine, Jabbar, and practically nonexistent baby Aida combined.) What was especially frustrating about "Jump Ball" was that the two most compelling storylines (Amber confronting her father Seth and Joel telling Julia he's going to move out) were pushed towards the end of the episode. Why all the stalling lately? While "Jump Ball" had its moments (Parenthood always does, after all), it felt like yet another set-up episode. So, until we find out the big stuff, here's the best and worst Braverman pairings of "Jump Ball":

Best: Seth and Amber
Feeling lost and confused now that Ryan is out of her life, Amber -- after a day of pensive driving and staring out on the beach -- showed up drunk and angry at her dad's bar. After getting in a scuffle with a scuzzy patron, Amber drunkenly flips out on Seth and blames him for everything crappy in her life and that she fears her life will be continually bad because she's so much like him. After an emotional showdown, Amber crashes at Seth's. He calls Sarah and asks if he can step in as a parent and help Amber during this time and she obliges. (This was a rare episode that shone Sarah in a very positive light.) The next morning, the father and daughter had a sincere heart-to-heart over pancakes and these set of scenes from the bar to his apartment were some of the best of the season. They felt authentic and earned. I hope Seth really does stick around, if only to allow Amber to keep growing. (Side note: Welcome back, John Corbett. I've missed you.)

Best: Joel and Julia
Things have gotten so bad between Joel and Julia that he's getting drunk and sleeping at work rather than coming home at night. These are two people just seething at each other (at one point, Julia twists the knife by telling him that the kids were "happy that you were home tonight to put them to bed") and waiting for something to break. Julia goes to Sarah's to vent and while Sarah is a good, supportive cheerleader who tells her she made one mistake and has nothing to worry about, Julia left a whole lot of details out of the story. Details like: Joel saying he doesn't want to fix their marriage anymore. Then again, Julia just wanted to hear something good so it makes sense why she edited so much. Sadly, that positive reinforcement didn't help much when Joel came back one night to drop the bomb on Julia that he's moving out. Not that I'm reveling in their misery, but the Bravermans need a big shakeup, and this could definitely be one.

Best: Zeek and Camille
While Joel and Julia are a time bomb, Zeek and Camille are more like a slow, painful fade. Camille returns from Italy with a snazzy new look and an obvious disdain of being back home. Almost faster than you can say "Sydney would immediately ask about presents," Camille is out the door to go to a museum with a friend and leave Zeek all alone again. When she returns, Zeek takes her out for a fancy dinner but it's far from a romantic reunion. These are two strangers moving in two wildly directions, both dancing around hurt feelings. Camille tells Zeek she wants to work part-time and go with her class to France in three months. Rather than put up a fight or ask to come along, Zeek just sits there in a devastated daze. Much like the Amber and Seth scenes, these felt very genuine.

Worst: Hank and Dr. Pelican
Parenthood has done an incredible job with handling the Asperger's storyline for Max, but it just doesn't work for me with Hank. I get that Hank provides a companion for Max, and that if he does have Asperger's it gives Adam and Kristina a frame of reference for what Max could be like as an adult, but it doesn't pack the same punch. His meeting with Dr. Pelican barely registered and it just felt like another week to find a reason to keep Ray Romano around.

Worst: Drew and Amy
I like Drew, I like Amy, I don't like an entire storyline revolving around Amy possibly going back to Tufts (she doesn't) and Drew possibly winding back up in that trollop Natalie's arms (he doesn't.) This could be setting up something very serious and long-term for these two, but dammit, Amy you need to go back to school, girl. We all had crappy roommates and a rough freshman year. Hopefully Drew will point her in the right direction and then they can live happily ever after.

Worst: David Walton and Two Minutes of Screen Time
What the hell was that? Why was David Walton a nameless, glorified extra? I checked IMDB to see if maybe we'd seen him previously on the show as one of Crosby's buddies, but nope. Apparently he's just one of the poker guys who proclaims he's never having kids. Seriously, for a show that usually gives their guest stars ample screen time (see: Ray Romano), how did Walton get the shaft?

Watch last night's episode here:

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