Episode 10: Trouble in Candyland
By: Carlos Uribe
Parenthood is a show about the Braverman family.
So what happened this week?
Adam got a break from having to deal with his family matters when he learns that his place of business might be shut down by a crazy neighbor. She's the worst person in the universe and she's causing problems for them. She tows a client's car, takes a picture of Crosby urinanting in the alley, and she refuses to have any civil conversation with him. When Adam tries to have a meeting with her, she finds out that she has cancer and decides that he's trying to use it to gain sympathy. He wasn't trying to do that at all. He's not even the one who had brought up the cancer, as Crosby had. The only way to defeat her is to beat her at the city council meeting. The neighbor tries her best to show just how bad the Lunchonette is but Crosby shows up at the last minute and reminds the council of the history of their business. He also invites the rest of the neighborhood to talk on their behalf. When an entire neighborhood claims that the Luncheonette is good, it makes the evil neighbor's claims weak. In the end, the evil neighbor has to contend herself with putting up a No Parking sign that explicitly mentions the recording studio. Seeing Adam have a victory this season was good but seeing this evil neighbor defeated was simply the best. What was Kristina doing this episode? Getting baked and giving some parenting advice to Julia.
Julia really needs that advice. This is because she has to deal with Victor's poor performance in school. This is because the previous year he had missed forty-three days of school. That's a signficant amount that has really put him behind. He's having trouble catching up and he thinks he's stupid. He's never had anyone try and tell him that he's actually smart so he doesn't have a high self-esteem. Julia tries to build one and she gets him to work hard by giving him candy. The candy works but she made a grave error. She promises him an “A” if Victor put in a lot of effort. When Victor ends up getting a mere “62” he feels betrayed by her lies. Julia realizes that this is yet another moment to bond with her son when she tells him that she's proud of him regardless of his grades. This plot of having to deal with low grades gets a nice complication because Victor is adopted so it actually feels fresh. What I've been liking about this story is how even they have been bonding, it's not like an instant bond that causes Victor to completely open up to them. We get some of that here: the bad grade pushes him away but Julia's response slowly pushes them together. While Julia is dealing with Victor's schooling, Joel goes to work on his construction job.
Joel's plot with the construction has less to do with doing a good job and more because Amber convinces to take Ryan on as an employee. Joel doesn't want to at first but Amber guilts him into hiring him. Ryan is a bit worried that he won't do a good job and he might not. The show makes a subtle connection between Ryan and Victor. Nobody has told Victor that he's smart so he believes he's stupid. Nobody has told Ryan that he's capable so he doesn't believe that he's right for the construction job. He messes up constantly and gets teased by the other guys. When Ryan accidentally breaks some windows, he decides to leave the construction site. He decides that he's continue to take more of his pills instead. It's interesting that the show decided to have a plot between Joel and Ryan. That means that Ryan has now had a plot with Joel, Amber, and Zeek. He has managed to make individual connections with more members of the Braverman family than Mark has in the short time he's been on the show. It's a good plot even if the result of him using drugs remains a predictable one. It makes sense why the show would want to go there but it's going to bring in a fresh perspective if it wants it to really work.
This is the episode where Mark breaks up with Sarah. It's an episode that the season has slowly been building up to. Mark is a character who likes to avoid conflict as much as trouble. This means that the problems in his relationship with Sarah have been slowly building up. He might love her but his fiance has slowly been moving away from him. That he remains seperate from the rest of the Braverman family hasn't been an accident: not being a part of the family is like stating that that he hasn't really been a part of her life. Mark has two amazing scenes in this episode: when he realizes he can't be with Sarah anymore and when he's mad at her in the beginning. He has a spectacular scene where he fights with Sarah over whether or not she was acting romantic with Hank or not. Sarah claims nothing was going to happen and she was probably telling the truth. It doesn't matter: once Mark finds out that she lied to him about the job being a sham is the moment their relationship was dead. As for Hank's daughter situation? She's going to Minessota and Sarah is now trying to set up a boundary between them.
Trouble in Candyland is a great episode that dealt with the entirety of the Sarah-Mark relationship drama narrative momentum. This was the climax of that arc for the season and it was beautifully mastered. The rest of the episode was good as well: seeing Crosby save the Lunchonette was a nice feel-good moment the show had while Julia's struggles with Victor feel earned. My only convern is that the Ryan story is heading somewhere other shows have handled and that this show doesn't have anything new to state on the matter.
Let's hope that if the evil neighbor comes back on this show, it's to die. She's so bad that even being a survivor of breast cancer makes her even more unlikeable.
A surprising amount of characters were missing this week: Jasmine, Jabbar, Zeek, Camille, Drew, and I think even Max.
Next week: Kristina maybe dies! OH NO!