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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Parenthood Season 4, Episode 5: Prepare to Cry

Posted By on Wed, Oct 17, 2012 at 10:30 AM

click to enlarge Sarah and Hank's dark room shenanigans. - COURTESY OF NBC.COM
  • Courtesy of
  • Sarah and Hank's dark room shenanigans.

In "There's Something I Need to Tell You," we start off with one of the best televisual devices ever: the Braverman mental breakdown. Julia, perhaps referencing current debates about women's ability to have it all, tries to keep her sanity intact after missing an important deadline at work and potentially losing a multimillion dollar client -- and her job -- at a law firm.

See also:

Parenthood Episode 4: Crosby Learns that Race Exists

Parenthood Episode 3: The Bad Thing Is Already Happening

Parenthood Episode 2: Is There Room in the Bay Area Puppy Van?

She comes home late and doesn't sleep, which worries her sweet, rugged husband Joel. Her anxiety reaches its apex while making breakfast for her kids and enduring the insufferable whines of daughter Sydney for missing her dance recital to catch up on work. With deadened eyes, she scorches several food items at once and zones out as she futilely attempts to scrape the char off of a piece of toast before Joel rushes in to then scrape his burnt out wife (get it?) off the floor. It's a profound image, if not a bit hyperbolic considering her status as a well-compensated Bay Area lawyer with a hunky stay-at-immaculately-designed-home husband. Later in the episode, her boss -- who looks like a Bond villain -- makes her leave Victor's first baseball game to come into the office and be chastised about her slip-ups. When he asks if she's 100 percent committed to her job, she says "no" and informs him that she quits. What is with the Bravermans and quitting jobs like it ain't no thang? Where's the unemployment panic? They can't all live move into Zeek and Camille's; Sarah's already occupying the fold-out couch in the guest house.

Speaking of Sarah, she finally sees the extent of Hank's swelling crush when he kisses her in the dark room during a photo developing tutorial. Their discussion about it during a work lunch is terrifically awkward with Hank saying it was just because Sarah stood too close to him and that she's "not all that." Ray Romano is really doing it for me with this guest arc and trust me, it's weird to approve of a romantic storyline featuring Ray Romano. Hank reveals that Sarah is funny, sweet, pretty, and fun to talk to but that he knows she's taken and shall leave it at that. To deal with her conflicting feelings about Hank's feelings, Sarah spazzes out on fiance Mark by making him go jogging with her, which she believes to be a marker of healthy, functional coupledom and then asks him if they can move in together. Originally, she had planned to move in with Mark after Drew graduated from high school but to hell with her oft-neglected, emotionally fragile son; let's start packing!

Zeek returns to the veterans' center to check in on Ryan but learns that he hasn't been around and even skipped out on a job interview that was set up for him. Zeek visits him at his apartment and gets the brush off; Ryan just wants to resume a normal life and not be marked by his veteran status for the rest of time. Nor does he want to hear Zeek's long-winded platitudes about post-war adjustment. Zeek respects Ryan's wishes for about seven minutes before returning and lecturing him about sitting in misery in his crappy apartment. He then invites Ryan to Victor's baseball game where the entire Braverman clan is gathered. Ryan sits next to Amber and they're already making googly eyes at each other, which means Amber might actually have a stable romantic relationship this season; that is, one not involving her cousin's ex-boyfriend, her teacher and now future stepfather, her city council candidate boss, or a musician who already has a girlfriend. Unless Ryan has severe psychological problems stemming from combat, this one seems promising. Get it, girl.

At the game, Zeek leads a cantankerous charge (backed up by Camille and Ryan, much to Joel's chagrin) to get the coach to put in Victor who's been languishing on the bench for eight innings. The coach relents just to shut them up and Victor ends up getting a hit. Because it's low-competition little league, a series of clumsy errors by a bunch of shaggy haired kids leads to Victor making it around to home base and winning the game.

Also at the game, Crosby pulls Adam aside to finalize a heated discussion about increasing his salary at The Luncheonette. Talks were sparked by Jasmine criticizing Crosby for spending $400 on clothes and a series of expensive meals on their credit card and then learning that Adam makes a significant amount more than him. Crosby, of course, rebuffs Adam's request to revisit the issue at the end of the year once a clearer idea of the business's finances can be determined because he cannot comprehend logical ideas. Adam, emotionally exhausted from Kristina's cancer battle, agrees to a higher salary for Crosby and apologizes for treating him like an employee rather than a partner.

What wore Adam down? A talk with weep machine Haddie. Adam and Kristina finally decide to tell her about the cancer, so they get her on web cam while she's at school to deliver the news. They stay positive even as Haddie is clearly breaking down (as Bravermans tend to do) and ask her not to worry and just focus on her classes. Personally, I think Haddie should focus on curtailing her shoplifting from the Cornell souvenir shop; girlfriend had more Cornell paraphernalia in her dorm room and on her person than The Office's Andy Bernard.

Haddie later calls Adam to press for more information, not satisfied with the "everything will be fine, don't let this shattering news affect your everyday life while attending school across the country" spiel. Now it's Adam's turn to break down and Peter Krause punches you in the gut for the next 30 seconds as he explains the medical specifics of Kristina's condition while trying not to completely lose his shit on the phone with his daughter.

At the post-baseball game family gathering, Haddie surprises everyone by showing up and now the sob baton has been passed to Kristina to take it across the finish line. Kristina looks around lovingly at her extended family and then finally informs them of her cancer. Similarly to her reveal to Adam, the actual dialogue drops out and we just see the faces of the Bravermans as they hear the news. This technique is guaranteed to induce tears, and this episode was no exception. In fact, the cry count for this episode is unusually high with two for Kristina, two for Haddie, One for Adam, one for Julia, one near cry for Amber, and a collective Braverman cry to close it all out. Did you notice that Jason Katims wrote this episode? That bastard gets us every time.

Parenthood airs on Tuesdays at 10:00 pm on NBC.

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