Review: ‘Parenthood’ – ‘Together’

A review of last night’s “Parenthood” coming up just as soon as I regift a cancer patient’s gift basket…

“Together” didn’t have as many “My, when did our living room get so dusty?” moments as a lot of recent “Parenthood” (though no one’s going to judge you if you felt that way after, say, Kristina got off the phone with her mom), but I appreciate that the show isn’t treating Kristina’s situation as an excuse to shamelessly aim for the tear ducts throughout every episode. There are sad moments here, as Kristina grapples with how powerless she is, and with how little her own mother seems to care compared to Camille(*). But some of the best scenes in “Together” took this situation as a license for laughter, rather than tears, whether it was Kristina having to emotionally support the Lessings, rather than the other way around,  Drew shamelessly exploiting the situation to draw Amy back to him, or Kristina and Max sneaking off to play skeeball and enjoy some forbidden sugary treats. There is a lot of darkness in this kind of situation, but there’s also unexpected joy and silliness, and I greatly appreciate that Team “Parenthood” is trying to cover all the bases, rather than use the cancer only as an excuse to wallow and try to finally get Monica Potter and Peter Krause some Emmy love.

(*) Of course her mother doesn’t care as much, though: she’s not a Braverman! If it wasn’t for Jasmine’s mom and other relatives, I would assume that anyone who marries into the family is legally required to sever all ties with their inferior blood relations.

A lot of “Together” was calibrated towards smaller moments, and towards setting up situations that will no doubt lead to crocodile tears down the road. I like where we are with Amber and Ryan at this point, for instance. He’s clearly troubled, and you understand exactly why Zeek is worried to hear this man he otherwise really likes is dating his granddaughter, but for the moment Ryan’s issues are only manifesting themselves briefly, and in harmless ways (insomnia, drifting off into space in an intimate moment). You can see how much Amber wants to do something more for him (and Mae Whitman was, unsurprisingly, terrific in this episode), but this is too far beyond her frame of reference, and at this point, nothing’s happened that Ryan can’t wave away as minor.

And where I thought for sure that Julia’s decision to ignore the social worker’s advice and let Victor see his old friend was going to blow up in her face, a fine time was had by all. For now, it’s just a reason for Julia to again recognize that however much progress they’ve made with their son, they still have a long way to go. Learning Spanish may not solve everything, but you could see in Victor’s expression that he’s learning to appreciate every attempt his new mom and dad are making for him.

We close this week on Kristina’s first chemo session, as so many emotions wash over both her face and Adam’s. As rough as things have been so far for them this season, I suspect they are about to get much worse, which is yet another reason I was pleased that “Together” was, relatively speaking, a relatively light episode for all things Braverman.

What did everybody else think?