Since the Parenthood team decided that you'd probably be crying enough through the holidays as is, they decided not to air a new episode until January 1. A new year calls for a new round of televisual emotional devastation! We open "Keep on Rowing" with some of the Braverman gals (both biological and those bound by marriage) at a local bar dancing to "Rapper's Delight," downing drinks, and generally embodying the spirit of all women who only go out without their families once every four years. Kristina, in particular, is embracing this Girls' Night Out by doing the splits on the dance floor and letting out "Woos!" with inebriated gusto. Basically, if she weren't going through chemo, most of us would find her to be completely obnoxious. But we at home know of her struggles and, therefore, find her sloppy, loud white woman dancing to be nothing but charming. The woman, at the very least, has earned her right to be a cliché for one evening.
Kristina, Sarah, Julia, and Jasmine grab a table where Sarah discusses her perpetual relationship problems with former fiance Mark and current sexual partner/boss Hank who is the Statler to her Waldorf. Those two were really a couple, right? They should have been, anyway. Kristina finds the most rational solution to Sarah's debate by asking, "Who has the bigger schlong?" before everyone bursts into shrieking laughter. Did the writers do a full weekend's worth of ethnography at suburban mom bars for this episode? Talk about nailing those details. The group decides that Sarah needs to demand that Hank ask her out on a proper date, rather than continue with their current work-to-bed arrangement.
During the discussion, Kristina innocuously plays with a lock of hair and it falls out of her scalp and into her hand. Jasmine looks shell-shocked and Julia and Sarah try to joke away the discomfort. We cut to Kristina at home in her bathroom, buzzing her hair off, her facial expression shifting from scared to excited to shattered as she gets to every last strand. And once again, Monica Potter has made your eyes well up, and mind you, this is before the opening credits even roll.
When Kristina emerges from the bathroom, she wakes Adam to show him her dome. Adam, groggy from sleep, is startled at first by her bald head but recovers relatively quickly. However, it's too late. Kristina has sensed his trepidation and gets upset thinking that he finds her appearance to be jarring. These feelings are compounded by her trip out to the local market when the neighborhood butcher, Carlos, is visibly uncomfortable by the sudden sight of his regular customer without hair and Kristina catches another shopper eyeballing her. Kristina unleashes on Adam who is in the doghouse despite his many Supportive Husband platitudes about being on her side which really just translate to: "Please, stop yelling at me." Fun fact: Max loves Kristina's new 'do since it reminds him of Bain from The Dark Knight Rises. An impersonation would have made my 2013, but I'm not gonna get greedy so early in the year.
When Adam sees that Kristina has been looking at wigs online, he takes Sarah with him to a wig shop so they can pick one out for Kristina. Sarah doesn't understand why they'd buy a wig without Kristina there to give her input, but Adam buys a curly blond hair piece anyway which he is convinced looks exactly like Kristina's original hair. Note: It does not. Unsurprisingly, Kristina does not like the wig and immediately tells Adam to return it, accusing him of buying it for himself since he's ashamed of her new baldness. Adam is flabbergasted and unable to defend himself or his intentions particularly since he's trying not to further incur Kristina's wrath. The "How do I not piss off my cancer-stricken spouse?" is a really interesting theme this season and I'm glad the Parenthood writers are adding extra layers to the general sadness of a terminal illness plot line.
Kristina eventually processes her hairless frustration and surprises Adam with a limo ride (it's an old school, Dave Chappelle "roll the windows down manually" kind of limo) to a swanky hotel for a night on the town as her way of apologizing. She wears a hot red wig and has Adam's suit waiting for him, which he wears the hell out of in a later scene. While waiting in the hotel bar for Adam, Kristina gets hit on a by a 27-year-old sales douche who calls the city "Frisco." Kristina eats it up, saying she's 27 and works in management. She even pretends to be interested in his story about potentially winning a work trip to Scottsdale that he's apparently super stoked about. Adam joins them and Kristina reveals that she's older with three kids and a husband but kindly sets him up with their cocktail waitress who is from Arizona and happens to like douches. All is right with the world.
In their hotel room, Adam puts on a smoking jacket and lathers on the complimentary toiletries but unfortunately before the two can "go to Funky Town" and "locate the Johnson file," -- gross, by the way -- Kristina admits that she is too exhausted to have sex and apologizes that Adam has oiled up and put on his "Merv Griffin" jacket for nothing. Adam is understanding as always and they lie in bed watching the video Amber recorded on her phone of Adam and Kristina being whisked away in their limo earlier in the day. True love is lying in bed, leaning over an iPhone screen, and laughing over a video together. Even truer love if it's over an iPad screen that your significant other has gifted to you. Okay, now I'm just trying to send out subliminal messages. By the time Adam and Kristina stroll out of the hotel in the morning, hand in hand, Kristina has given up the wig and struts in all of her bald glory. Now would have been a good time for her to do the splits, but I will stop badgering the Parenthood writers with my unsolicited ideas.
We move on to Sarah and her wish to have a more defined, adult relationship with Hank. After Sarah literally tells him to ask her out on a date, they do a nice bit where Hank asks them to start the scene over so he can ask and Sarah corrects and/or provides him with lines along the way. These two really are adorable in a way that is more realistic than when Sarah was with Mark, who is a unicorn, really. Speaking of Mark, Sarah sees Drew's laptop open at home which has Mark's Facebook page open. Drew sagely advises, "It's, like, a life rule that you don't look at Facebook at these times..." but Sarah can't help herself and looks at a recent photo from New Year's which shows a pretty young thing planting a kiss on Mark's cheek. Sarah asks Drew about it and Drew nervously says that the woman is just another teacher and that people tend to kiss each other on the cheek at New Year's without it meaning anything. Sarah still gets consumed by the prospect of Mark seeing somebody else, as if she hadn't been sleeping with Hank a millisecond after her engagement was over. Oh, Sarah.