There’s some things that I should never
Laugh about in front of family
In a week we’ll be together
Try to call you when I’m landed
I need my girl
He went and used Nick Drake on us…and then he used The National without even giving us time to recover. What a ruthless move.
This week’s Parenthood didn’t have any true out and out sobbing moments, but instead had lots of little tear jerker points all added up to create an emotional and solid second episode of the season. I didn’t really enjoy the whole “Aida won’t stop crying which leads to Crosby being an ass in public” story because it’s pretty ridiculous that Jasmine would just assume nobody would care if she started breastfeeding in a private establishment but Crosby explaining to Jabbar the new rules of the house on his terms at the end saved it for me. The Kristina and Adam subplot isn’t at full speed yet but we’re getting a few more indications of how it’s likely to play out over the season. I really enjoyed the addition of Jurnee Smollett (veteran of Seasons 4 and 5 of Friday Night Lights, get her a scene with Matt Lauria ASAP) as it’s always nice to see Katims work with people he feels comfortable with as it lets both parties perform at the top of their game while on set. Smollett’s character Heather is exactly the type of adrenaline shot this storyline needed as Adam and Kristina can both be sort of subdued except for when Max is involved, I’m looking forward to watching her HBIC energy run the show for a while.
On to what really matters though; how much did you tear up during the latter half of the episode? I was doing OK for most of it, even though I disagreed with a few characters’ decision making (looking at you, Sarah) but by the end I definitely had to keep it together, mostly because of my intense Nick Drake weakness. It’s always nice when the show gives Craig T. Nelson and Bonnie Bedelia actual story lines. Especially since it’s been a few years since Bedelia has had anything to do, and yes I do mean years in that sentence. As unfortunate as it is to have such a talented actress have little to no plots to herself besides occasionally being a grandmother and giving advice for half a scene before disappearing again, she just doesn’t really fit in to most things the show does. Even in this episode I assumed the show would go more in the direction of Zeek getting upset about the house falling apart at such an increasingly difficult level and breaking down with the support of Camille before hiring someone to help out around the house. Instead, Camille suggesting to Zeek that they think about a possible downsize to a nice condo or similar situation was a pleasant surprise and subversion of which marital half usual suggests a crazy plan to the other. You could see the hurt in Zeek’s eyes as he realized this may actually be the best choice for both them and their family at this point in their lives. Leaving the house you raised your children in and took care of for years on end is not an easy decision to make and it was a nice move on the show’s part to have this be how both Zeek and Camille pondered their mortality rather than another medical scare or outside party commenting on their age.
At some point, Zeek won’t be able to continue to fix everything around the house himself and the upkeep won’t be worth risking his health for when they don’t really need the house, as enjoyable as it is to be able to fit the whole family tree in the living room at once at some point this won’t be necessary either. The conversation between the two rocks of the family was backed by Nick Drake’s “Time Has Told Me” , which really underlined the reasons why downsizing might be the best option. Speaking about time passing and letting some things just happen with the peaceful notes Drake is known for coming in low and rising brought even more emotion to the surface on top of what Nelson and Bedelia were accomplishing on their own. I’m a huge Nick Drake fan, and by not overpowering the scene with his music Katims’ expertly paired the song and scene. As someone who watched both sets of grandparents finally admit they needed to be taken care of, this moment had a little extra weight as I can see the hurt behind Zeek’s eyes as the hurt and sadness of what Camille was saying crept in. I don’t think just the contents of the scene or just the song would elicit the emotional response that they did but together that scene definitely added a little dust to the room.
The other scene was a good cry scenario, but only after we experienced some of Sarah’s hurt after memories of the past are drudged up. I wasn’t a huge fan of Sarah ruining the proposal moment for Amber by pointing out that maybe Ryan didn’t plan popping the question at his homecoming as far in advance as she might have thought. One of the toughest things for anyone is overlooking something completely because you are so happy and then being alerted to how everything isn’t as it seems. I was definitely angry at Sarah for being the person who took some of the air out of Amber’s balloon, but everything was made better by the second scene between the pair at the end of the episode. After the scene with Ryan at Amber’s apartment I was wondering if the show would go in the direction of this reality driving a mini-wedge between the two for an episode or two but I am very happy that they avoided that cliché completely and everything was resolved (for now) by the end of the episode. By Sarah making it clear to Amber that she was simply worried about what this marriage might be like and not that she was upset that it was occurring at all it was a nice veer from any manufactured drama that another show would embrace. That Parenthood embraces reality instead of rote story choices is the best part about the show and this is a perfect example of it. Their first conversation may have seemed slightly out of character or too sudden for Sarah but all was forgiven after the conversation at the end. Using The National’s “I Need My Girl” was a great choice, as it could work during both happy or sad moments.
In an expert move by all involved, the song started as Sarah explained that she was only worried about her daughter because of how her wedding to their father happened and her emotional state on that day. Getting married at a court house in a skort not only sounds like something Lorelai Gilmore would have done had she decided to marry Christopher at 16, but was a nice mental picture and a good parallel to how their marriage ended up working out. Lauren Graham sells how much thinking about that relationship still hurts and how that informed her decision to react how she did to her daughter’s engagement. The beginning of “I Need My Girl” was perfect as it starts low and somber before turning into an obvious National song. Tonally, it was a great match for “Time Has Told Me” as the two songs could almost be mistaken for the same one at first. As the scene went on, the music matched the mood and they both transitioned into a little bit happier of a tone. I held it together for Sarah’s talk about Seth and how she felt, but gosh darn it if I didn’t tear up when she offered to help Amber have the wedding day she always imagined and deserves. Mother/daughter moments between those two are consistently amazing and this was no exception. Exceptional job then, by the Katims and company being able to continue using the same song that already covered a happy and sad moment for a moment that was both at once. Kristina announcing her mayoral candidacy should have been such a happy day for the whole family, and you can see how much it hurts her that Adam is so clearly not on board. The happiness on Kristina’s face as she goes to announce before it faded into a sort of half-grin was heartbreaking and win or lose I don’t think this storyline is about to get super uplifting any time soon. Perfect song choice to end the episode and to properly communicate all the emotions involved in both scenes.
Boy, what a week for The National right? On Tuesday, they not only had a song on The Mindy Project but appeared as themselves during probably the only scene I laughed at the entire episode. Now, here they are soundtracking the most tearjerker show on television seamlessly. Something tells me this won’t be the last time we hear one of their songs during a Braverman family conversation. It worked so well I would put them in the same category as Dawes when it comes to how perfectly they fit into the environment of the show without seeming hokey or cheesy. Next week, we have “Nipple Confusion” and if that episode title isn’t in regards to how Jasmine and Aida are getting along then I don’t think I really want to know.
Snippets From Next Week’s Episode Synopsis That Have Cry Potential
Maybe Something, Probably Nothing – “Sarah turns to Hank for help and comfort” (Oh god enough already with these two)
A Few Sniffles – “Jasmine and Crosby struggle with the challenges of raising a baby”
A Tear or Ten – “Julia and Joel are pushed into problematic directions”
BRB SOBBING – Nothing obvious, which just means everyone will be that much less prepared for a scene that is sure to dehydrate me from all the tears lost. Thanks for the lack of warning, Katims.