Episode 12: Keep on Rowing
Episode 13: Small Victories
By: Carlos Uribe
Parenthood is a show about the Braverman family.
Keep on Rowing:
Sarah and Hank are trying to make their relationship work. The two have hooked up over Christmas and the two have been sleeping with each other since. Sarah decides that it's time to actually start dating so that what's happening between the two can get serious. The first date goes awry because they go to a restaurant that doesn't fit them and because Sarah is jealous that her ex-fiance is kissing another teacher at a party. Hank is able to charm her when they escape to his place as he tells her that she's the only person he looks forward to talking to. It's nice and sweet. What works nice about this plot is that it doesn't completely forget about Mark but it also allows Sarah to get closer to Hank. The chemistry between the two have been great and it hasn't gone away now that they have done the deed. That Hank is so different from Sarah's other two major romantic partners helps to make what she has with Hank unique. This is important because Mark hasn't actually left Sarah's life yet. His shadow hangs over their first official date because it's a sign that he's still in her heart. The show is setting up a choice for Sarah between Mark and Hank. This relationship that they are building in this episode is building the foundation for when she is forced to chose. This is an integral stage for the love triangle but it's not the most exciting to see. Was it entertaining? Yes but I can't wait to find out whether she stays with Hank or if she goes back to Mark. I'm not sure what I want her to do-I remain torn. Their first date was so great but it hasn't brought me over to Team Hank. I remain neutral in the matter.
Kristina has the next stage in her cancer plot where she shaves her head off. This is practically a requirement of every single cancer plot on television or movies. The shaved head is a way to identify someone has cancer on any visual medium simply because that's a symbol of the disease. This was a predictable stage for the show but it handled it perfectly. Kristina's emotional mess over the situation truly makes sense. She's worried about how she looks especially from the people that she knows. Her husband's attempts to make her feel better only end up backfiring as this is distressing her that much. It isn't until Kristina is able to regain her self-confidence when a young man hits on her while she's wearing a wig that she's able to accept her new look. Just about every actor or actress on this show deserves an Emmy for at least one episode on this show and this is one of Monica Potter's episodes that should get her nominated for that award. The way that the show handled this worked so well because it fit the character perfectly. She tried to be in control at first but she exponentially lost control of her feelings. Adam's actions fit his character perfectly as well and it's here where you realize that Adam's desire to help is one of the largest causes of friction between them. Adam always means well but he needs to realize that Kristina just needs him to be there for him rather than trying to fix anything. She's perfectly capable of choosing her own wigs.
The relationship between Julia and Victor is taking a turn to the worse. There were small signs of hope over the last few weeks but it runs into complications this episode when Victor wants to talk to his mom. Julia and Joel aren't legally allowed to do that and they try to explain the situation to him. Victor doesn't take it to well. This leads to a great scene where Victor throws a bat towards Sydney. The initial reactions of the parents are important to note here. Joel seems to take Victor's side as he tries to get Julia to understand the mistake that Victor had made. Julia is too concerned with her daughter's safety to the point where she has started to see Victor as a danger to Sydney. This entire episode continued to deal with the problems of adoption in a way that's really powerful and the show has done a great job showing every angle to the problem so far.
With all of this drama, Crosby has his own plot-line when his mother-in-law loses her job and ability to pay rent. This means that Renee has to move in with them. Crosby isn't happy with this news because he doesn't want to give up his space but he's forced into the situation because he basically agreed that Renee was a member of his family. Since family helps family, Crosby is frustrated that he has to give up his work space in order to turn it into a bedroom. The plot is resolved when Renee gives her approval to Crosby. This plot is more light than the other ones in the way that it's executed but it does relate to the heavy topics of the bad economy and high levels of unemployment. Still, it's entertaining to see Crosby's overreaction to the scenario.
Keep on Rowing is a powerful and exceptional episode of Parenthood.
Drew gets a story and it's actually a pretty serious one when Amy gets pregnant. This is a major issue for the two of them. Amy wants to get an adoption because she's not interested in raising the baby or even giving birth to it. She's simply not ready for it yet. Drew doesn't want the abortion because he's actually interested in raising the baby but he respects Amy's decision. It's interesting how the show presents the female who wants the abortion while the male is the one who doesn't like the idea of it. You'd think the roles would be reversed but it does lead to intense drama. This struggle is enough to end their relationship which devastates Drew. He didn't just lose a potential kid but a girlfriend he really liked. It's certainly a tough week for Drew but he handled it like in a mature fashion. The show managed to tackle the abortion issue without politicizing it which was a strong move. There's no reason to upset either side of the contentious issue if you're more interested in just telling real, human stories like this show is.
Julia might not be willing to formally adopt Victor. It's odd because I thought the adoption had already gone through but apparently not. The last episode had Victor throw a bat at Sydney. This week, he goes on a food strike before calling the cops for child abuse. These two issues along with Victor's refusal to respect her are the final straws on Julia's back. Joel is still willing to adopt Victor because he seems more willing to understand where his son is coming from. This is an intense situation that has created tension between the two as they are on different pages. It'll be interesting to see what happens to Victor in the upcoming episodes because his plot is one of the most fascinating ones this show is doing. The inherent drama of the adoption nightmare is being captured by the show rather well and it's building up to what I'm sure is a powerful resolution.
The tensions are running high in the Crosby household as he's finding living with Reene to not be a pleasant experience. Renee is taking a long time getting her hair ready, is making him eat food he doesn't like, and is constantly bugging him on his cell phone. Crosby is delighted when she's offered a job but is surprised to learn she might turn it down because it doesn't meet her standards. Reene might be feeling a bit proud but her perspective is also revealed in this episode because she had lost a job that she loved doing for the last thirty years. This is a plot that's being handled very well and it just shows you how good this show can be at getting different view-points to the same scenario.
This would be an episode with a lot of serious drama so it's a good thing Max is going through changes in his body. This allows the show to tackle the puberty talk with a kid whose autistic. This turns out to be pretty entertaining considering how Max tends to lack shame. The plot is very light that is used sparingly throughout the episode to ensure that things don't get too depressing. The title of the episode must refer to Kristina and Adam because they get their smelly kid to start taking daily showers and using deodorant. The sex talk will have to be saved for a future episode where they need Max to keep things light.
Small Victories is a great episode of Parenthood that is light and serious at the same time.
“Keep on Rowing” is the first episode Dax Shepard (who plays Crosby) directed and he did a good job. “Small Victories” is the second episode Peter Krause (who plays Adam) directed and he also did a good job. It's funny how in both cases, the characters they play get the “light” story of the episode.
For Small Victories: “The following episode contains mature themes. Viewer discretion is advised.” This kind of warning seems to implicate that this is a special kind of Parenthood episode that explores serious topics. Apparently cancer, adoption, love triangles will with sex, and the economy aren't mature topics.
There's only two episodes of the season left. The story heading into the final two episodes: Crosby is dealing with his mom living at his home, Kristina has cancer, Sarah is in a love triangle, and Victor's adoption might not go through. Shit is about to get real!