Between last week’s episode “The M Word” and last night’s “Speaking of Baggage”, Katims and the music team have only used one song total that wouldn’t be classified as the normal score. Although a little out of ordinary, it works for where most of the story lines are right now. With the appearance of Ashes of Rome this season, the show can get away with less songs as accompaniment and replace them with one or two by the Luncheonette’s guests. This is the part of the season, and it would be the same for a 13 or 16 episode order, where most of the action is building to something and doesn’t need those hard hits to support a story as the show does in the early or late parts of most its seasons. Last week there wasn’t even a huge cry moment, and it ended up being one of the weaker episodes of the season. There were absolutely parts I enjoyed, the Julia and Ed conversation being one of them, but I was happy the show didn’t push the use of gut wrenching conversations when it wasn’t necessary.
This week, we got the previously mentioned lone song used and a pretty effective montage to boot. Once again, there weren’t any out and out life changing moments with any of the characters but the slow build happening in multiple places is so well done. Especially in regards to Julia/Joel and Ryan/Amber. Erika Christensen is selling the hell out of every conversation she has with both Ed and Joel. Her showing up to Joel’s office in lingerie and a trench coat was a little too soap opera-light for my tastes, but the phone call where she admitted to Ed exactly how difficult a time she was having was a nice moment of vulnerability for Julia. Over in Young Love Land, Amber and Ryan are the picture of miscommunication and discomfort with telling the other one when something isn’t alright with them. Bodes well for a long term committed marriage with no fights whatsoever! One of the things Parenthood does best is complications with couples (see: every Sarah story ever) so I’m not only intrigued in how the show will resolve everything happening here but excited to see which pair gets the happy ending and which goes their separate ways, as I’m starting to get the sense that there can only be one couple that stays together. As much as I love Matt Lauria and want to be able to continue seeing him and Mae Whitman be great together on screen, if their split was done well I don’t think I would have too much of a problem with it. Seriously though Katims, take Lauria from me and that will be my “full box of Kleenex” moment of the season.
Everyone else in the Braverman clan was also battling with the slightest of changes or realizations. We got a break from Kristina’s mayoral campaign (THANK GOD) and instead only really saw Monica Potter with Amber at The Luncheonette. A great little conversation that only made me dislike the campaign stuff even more for not letting Potter have true and raw acting moments like this more often. Drew got his first introduction to friends with benefits, and in a way that is not at all healthy for him emotionally. Zeek sent Camille off on her trip to Italy with a heavy heart but a smiling face. He could barely last a minute at home alone so who knows how the month will go. The last five minutes, using Bob Dylan’s “I Threw It All Away” smartly used the montage to mask the harsher realities of each family member’s situation similar to how they are acting themselves. In almost every interaction we saw near the end, the truth came through in the eyes for a split second. Once again, a testament to how talented this entire cast is from top to bottom.
Amber so clearly was uncomfortable with Ryan using his G.I. Bill to pay for a ring, but let herself continue living in the romance of the relationship instead of the reality. Someone who makes rash decisions like that about large sums of money isn’t going to be responsible enough to be in a marriage, and it also sounds remarkable like something Seth would have done to Sarah back in the day. But again, it was romantic and she loves him so Amber just choked down her protestations and dove in. Drew and his college hookup situation was more uncomfortable for what it might be in the future than for anything that happened last night. It’s a pretty accurate depiction of something that happens in freshman dorms and I was worried Drew would get embarrassed at the concert party, but the show kept everything in a believable lane for now. You could see as he let her in the room at the end that he was pretty sure he just wanted to maintain the friendship as it was instead of complicating things but he brushed those thoughts away and got into something he doesn’t want with a girl he most assuredly does.
In the most heartbreaking moment of the week, Zeek watched Camille not only leave him alone for a month but announce it to a table filled with unsuspecting and floored family. Even though the show focused on the “old man in a house by himself not being able to take care of himself” aspect of things, the one shot (no more than 3 seconds) of Zeek standing at the kitchen counter framed by the entryway and staring out the window was so sad in that moment. He really does love his wife, he just doesn’t understand how to show her that by doing anything that he hasn’t already done. He’s a man stuck in the gender roles of the past, and seeing him contemplate how exactly he got in this position in the first place. Backing all of these moments with Bob Dylan worked well which is not shocking seeing as the show has used him well in the past. The lyrics “so if you find someone who gives you all of her love, take it to your heart, don’t let it stray” basically fit every one of the Bravermans in love this week. Half are letting the people they’ve spent decades being in love with slip away, and the other half are holding on to things that might not be healthy in fear that they’ll end up like their older relatives. A very solid episode, that continues to lay a great foundation for things to come.
Snippets From Next Week’s Episode Synopsis Cry Potential Rundown
Maybe Something, Probably Nothing – “the media discovers skeletons in Kristina’s closet”
A Few Sniffles – “Amber makes a decision that shakes things up with Ryan”
A Tear or Ten – “unsettling news from Victor’s school creates tension in Julia’s home”
BRB SOBBING – “Zeek gives Sarah advice”