Thursday, December 12, 2013

REVIEW: 'Parenthood' Returns as Both Amber & Drew Struggle With Their Relationships in 'All That's Left is the Hugging'

NBC's Parenthood - Episode 5.10 All That's Left is the Hugging

Amber addresses Ryan about his issues and struggles on whether or not to lean on Sarah for support; Drew asks Crosby for advice on girls; Julia and Joel put their best foot forward for their family's sake; and Adam shows his support for Kristina.

Honestly, I'm a little surprised another episode of Parenthood is airing this fall. The ratings haven't been the best this season as NBC's Thursday lineup was been so dismal. It felt like the network didn't want to air any new episode of their current lineup unless they had to. The last episode of Parenthood was three weeks ago. It got preempted due to Thanksgiving and the special broadcast of The Sound of Music Live! - which proved people will watch NBC on Thursday if they want. A stronger lineup for the night is coming in the new year with the return of Community. The last new episode felt like a strong conclusion to several key stories. But even with the strangeness of the airing schedule, this was a much stronger episode of Parenthood.

And that solely is because of Mae Whitman. Ryan beating the crap out of the band guy was a profound moment. How the two deal with the fallout of that moment was bound to be riveting. The show more than delivered on it. These two love each other. There's no disputing not. But there's also this disconnect between them that keeps them from fully understanding the other and their worldview. Both try to get advice from outside sources - Amber from Sarah and Ryan from Zeek - but both needed to truly talk to one another. Amber did open up to Ryan and want to make it work. Ryan instead took the easier way out by reenlisting again. That's the world he understands although it's extremely dangerous. It breaks Amber's heart but perhaps spending some time apart will help those two see if they can work or not.

Elsewhere, Drew is struggling with his relationship with Natalie. She just wants things to be open and he wants more commitment - even though he doesn't realize that. It's a pleasant story and one taking the next step in its natural progression. The return of Amy leaves me very curious to see where things will go next. Drew's relationship with Amy ended very awkwardly last season. So I'm excited to see the show trying to get something more out of that dynamic. I hope it doesn't get reduced down to a stereotypical plot of Drew just freely sleeping with both of these women with no strings attached. It would change him into the man Crosby told him to be. But there's also a lot of history with Amy, so I'm really intrigued by what this story does next.

The hour's other meaningful story was Julia and Joel's continuing issues. It was a more quiet episode for them. They didn't yell or argue with each other once. They had an understanding to try and make things work. Joel chose to come home early one day and make pizzas for the whole family while Julia decided to cut things off completely with Ed. Things unfortunately didn't go quite as planned. She goes to Ed's house only to get comfort in the form of a hug and a kiss. She realizes it was a mistake right away but that doesn't lessen that she did it. Whether or not she can get away from Ed and back to Joel is the big question right now. I hope she can but I don't honestly know.

Some more thoughts:
  • If the entire Kristina running for mayor story was just building up to realistically let Adam and Kristina through eggs at a billboard of Bob Little, I would be fine with that.
  • When the park lady approached Kristina, it was awkward and weird.
  • Crosby pops in to give advice to Drew, show some concern for Amber and say that he hasn't had sex in a long time. That's it.
  • Sarah also got some more tenants this week and proved just how terrible she is as a building super. Also, that story with Josh Stamberg is going exactly how everyone thought it would after the premiere.