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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Parenthood Season 4 Finale: Everyone Wants to Be a Braverman

Posted By on Thu, Jan 24, 2013 at 10:30 AM

click to enlarge All of the Bravermans gather to attend Victor's adoption hearing. - PHOTO COURTESY OF NBC.COM.
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  • All of the Bravermans gather to attend Victor's adoption hearing.

As Season 4 wraps up, Parenthood brings in The Man himself to pen the finale: Jason Katims. If you thought this series was lacking at all in eye-welling, voice-cracking monologues then you were in for a treat with "Because You're My Sister."

See Also: Parenthood Season 4, Episode 14: Junk Food Lobbying and Love Triangles
Parenthood Season 4, Episode 13: An Unplanned Braverman Pregnancy

Let's start with Drew, who anxiously logs in to his online admissions page for UC Berkeley. He is in! Past episodes will confirm that when Drew was not muttering or fertilizing the eggs of his teenage girlfriend, he was consistently hitting the books. He announces the good news to Sarah, Zeek, and Camille and they are thrilled that he got into his first choice school. Also, Drew mentions that he got a ton of financial aid, which in light of Sarah's perpetual state of underemployment, is a relief. A sometimes bartender/inexperienced photography assistant/aspiring playwright? If you were wondering what the young lasses of Girls will end up like at 40, look to Sarah Braverman.

Drew heads over to Amy's house to check up on her after their pregnancy crisis. She is doing well and she thanks Drew for his support. Drew shares his Cal news with her and she seems truly happy for him. She then swiftly crushes his soul by telling him that she'll be going to Tufts in the fall and as they hug goodbye, she utters "I'll never forget you," which is code for "I can't wait to get to my coed dorm on the Eastern seaboard." It's a pat, yearbook kinda thing to say and it also states the obvious. How often do you forget people who have impregnated you?

Over at Crosby and Jasmine's, the mother-in-law narrative continues to extend itself well past its expiration date. Jasmine still feels that Crosby owes Renee an apology for their parenting squabble, but Crosby changes the subject to the couple's upcoming anniversary dinner. He has scored chef's table reservations at a swanky French restaurant in the city and a room at the W. Right when he suggests that they ask Renee to babysit Jabbar while they hit the town, Renee emerges from her room and asks for her suitcase. She's headed to Jasmine's brother's 700-square-foot apartment because she wants to be in a place where she's wanted. Renee, you will most likely not be wanted at your bachelor son's studio apartment. That's just a universal constant.

At their anniversary dinner, Crosby swoons over the food and wine pairing but Jasmine is noticeably silent. Because Renee worked so hard to raise her kids on her own and helped raise Jabbar before Crosby joined the team, Jasmine feels that the relationship needs to be mended. Especially since Jasmine is newly pregnant.

That's right. A new half-Crosby spawn is in her womb. And she is happy about it. I just throw my hands up at this point. This would have been the perfect time to cut to commercial and do a cross-promotional sponsorship with the film Mama.

Jasmine and Crosby show up at her brother Sekou's place where he and Renee are in a heated game of Scrabble. Single and lovin' it, y'all. Renee tries to shoo them away to continue their anniversary celebration, but Crosby says he needs to apologize to her. They also announce that they are expecting and Renee is overjoyed. Finally, Cereal Bar Gate has come to an end.

Now let's move onto some of the more earnest parts of the finale. Ryan shows up at Amber's place with flowers, a thank you gesture for helping him get his job back with Joel's construction crew. He tells her that he'll be making good money, that he's back in therapy, and that he's no longer abusing pills. He also tells Amber that she's his best friend, that he loves her so much, and that he can't remember what life was like before her. Hint: you were not making money, you were dodging therapy, and you were abusing pills. Amber cries on cue and they hug. Ryan jokingly apologizes for the emotional outpouring as he came over with the express purpose of dropping off flowers, and with one line, Katims makes Ryan's speech pretty close to perfect.

Later, Amber shows up at Ryan's door with tear ducts amped and ready. She tells him about her car accident from a few years ago in which she almost died. Surviving the crash made her realize how important her loved ones were and how she doesn't want to waste any more time not being with Ryan. She just needs to know that he's in this with her. And of course Ryan is all in and he proves it by making out with her in between her exquisitely executed sobs. The couple that emotes together, stays together.

Meanwhile, Kristina and Adam prep for her final chemo session. Kristina's doctor finds some abnormal blood work results which is likely related to her treatment, but he schedules her for a PET scan just to be sure that the cancer has not spread to other areas of her body. This sets Kristina on edge, particularly when she sees her pal Gwen -- the saucy cancer survivor who first showed Kristina the ropes -- returning to chemo after a relapse.

Adam is much more positive about the situation and surprises Kristina with a trip to Hawaii. Kristina, not totally convinced that she's healthy, asks him to cancel the trip. Adam responds the only way he's known how this entire season: "Okay." Kristina could stab him in his side with a rusty shiv and Adam would just say, "Okay. Thank you. You were right."

Kristina shows up at The Luncheonette in a sassy pink wig and armed with brownies. She apologizes for her reaction to Hawaii but of course Adam says he should have consulted her first ... on his romantic surprise gesture. She atones for this contradiction by making out with him until Crosby interrupts their groove by calling Kristina "Strawberry Shortcake" and joking that Adam is a one-minute man. Hey, just because Adam doesn't have Satan helping him procreate doesn't mean he's a slouch in the sack.

After a nerve-wracking PET scan scene, replete with pulsing theme music, we learn that Kristina is in the clear. Though she'll have to continue radiation therapy and be clear for a few years before she can refer to herself as cancer-free, things are looking up and Adam will no longer have to entertain her every whim and demand. Adam and Kristina had some of the best married people fights before her cancer diagnosis and I'll be glad to see them return.

Over at Hank's studio, Sarah discovers that Hank is taking off for a last-minute trip to Minnesota to take care of some of school registration issues with his daughter. He kisses Sarah goodbye and says they'll have a talk, presumably about their love triangle, when he gets back. At home, Sarah gets a visit from Mark who delivers a speech with his heart on his sleeve, which, incidentally wears its own mini-plaid shirt and goatee. Mark tells Sarah that he should have fought for her before and that he's fighting for her now because she's the one for him. He asks her to think about what he's said and to then come find him.

These words come back to haunt him when Sarah shows up to his classroom to tell him that -- despite her immense love for Mark -- she's going to try to make it work with Hank. Both Mark and his heart shatter into a million plaid pieces at this point, but Sarah is not that far behind. When Hank returns from his trip, he creates a dramatic build up to make it seem like he's going to propose to Sarah when in actuality he means to tell her that he's moving to Minnesota to not miss out on these last years of his daughter's childhood. Sarah tries to hold it together and be supportive, but the vision of spending her 40s alone -- having just cut loose one hell of a back-up mate -- sends panicky sadness across her face.

Hank stops by Sarah's before he heads to the airport to give Max ("the one who can't look at people") a vintage camera and to tell Sarah, "I think I might love you." Sarah tells him she loves him too and soon Hank is asking her to move to Minnesota with him as he only cares about two people in the world and they might as well all be in the same place. Sarah is caught off guard and Hank tells her just to think about it before kissing her goodbye. I hate to call this too prematurely, but I may be on Team Hank. There's just something about a misanthrope who is physically discomfited by his own feelings that really speaks to me.

Finally, we get to Victor's adoption hearing which will transition him from an unruly foster child to an unruly Braverman/Graham child. Basically, nothing's changed except Joel and Julia now have to pay for his college tuition one day. Okay, that's not entirely true. Victor's attitude has mellowed considerably, so much so that his sister Sydney has decided to act out of pocket just to maintain some normalcy. Sydney says that she's not attending Victor's adoption hearing because no one consulted her on whether or not to make the adoption final. It's an asshole thing to say, even for Sydney, and Julia and Joel go out of their way to ignore her and prep Victor for his big day.

However, Victor still has some nerves about the hearing. While playing ball in the house, he accidentally knocks over a vase which breaks on the floor. Julia asks him to be careful and not play ball in the house in the future and Victor asks if the incident is grounds for canceling the adoption. Victor should know that they keep even the most wretched Bravermans in the family, so a broken vase ain't no thing. Julia assures him that she'll never change her mind about the adoption.

Later, Victor ventures into Sydney's bedroom to ask her if she'll come to his adoption hearing, his reason being: "Because you're my sister." It's enough for Sydney to agree to come along and enough to melt the heart of an eavesdropping Julia.

The entire Braverman clan shows up at the courthouse for the adoption finalization and packs the judge's chambers, looking all kinds of crazy. Though the judge only addresses Julia and Joel on if they promise to care for Victor, everyone from Zeek to Adam pipes in saying they'll be there for him. Sarah even offers to give Victor dating advice and off-camera, Mark cries as his face is pressed into the judge's office window. After Julia, Joel, and Victor each verbally agree to the adoption, the judge signs the paperwork and makes it official. Victor asks Julia if he and Max can go to the vending machine and says "Thanks, Mom" when she gives him permission. Julia is ecstatic that she is now "Mom" and we learn that Joel was totally right; legally bind someone to you and they'll show you the love. As the family stomps out of the office, the judge tells Zeek that he's got a great family.

They're not only great, they are montage worthy. We end the episode with Amber and Ryan looking at vintage rings through a storefront window; Zeek, Camille, Sarah, and Amber surprising Drew with Cal regalia and giant novelty Cal Bear claws; Adam and Kristina running their pale selves into the warm waters of Hawaii; and Hank and his daughter playing together in the white Minnesota snow.

Whether or not we'll see the Bravermans for a fifth season is still up in the air, but it looks promising. The writers face a substantial challenge in upping the cry quotient next fall, barring putting the family in an apocalyptic crisis. Imagine the squabbling if the Bravermans were facing the end of the world. Make it happen, Katims.

Visit Parenthood's official site to watch all of Season 4's episodes.

For events in San Francisco this week and beyond, check out our calendar section. Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF and like us on Facebook.
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