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Parenthood delivered a top notch episode last night. Perhaps the best of the season, really, with each section of the Braverman family facing their own battles, and some coming out more successful than others. With just two episodes left in the season, anything can happen, and there's a lot set up to be resolved or to crumble, depending on what the writers have planned for this family.
I'm not sure which story I was more caught up in last night. Julia's frustration with Victor, which left her uncertain if she wanted to adopt him, was almost hard to watch. The Grahams win the prize for the story arc that had me talking at the TV most. He called the cops! I'm sure kids have threatened to do - or have actually done - this before, but seeing Julia's reaction after that was tough. She seemed at a loss. Joel did everything he could, including stand up for Julia with Victor, but in the end, the two were divided and Joel seemed devastated that she was willing to admit she wasn't sure she could go through with the adoption. On one hand, points to Joel for standing by Victor, who's just a kid and probably scared and frustrated by his situation. On the other hand, Joel's not the one being told "I hate you" or "You're not my real mother." That's all being directed at Julia. So it's not difficult to see where she's coming from.
The arc that got the most laughs was Adam and Kristina's struggle to shift Max's shower routine when they discovered that puberty has reared its stinky head and two showers a week isn't going to cut it anymore. I loved everything about how this story played out, from Max's resistance, to his candidness about his body's changes and Zeek and Camielle's candidness about things like wet dreams and ejaculations, to Kristina asking Adam when he got his first boner (and then rattling off a list of other euphemisms for an erection). And somehow, they managed to soften all of that up (no pun intended) when Adam attempted to talk to Max about sex and Max turned around and told his father he wasn't ready for that conversation.
Physically, Max may be starting to change, but emotionally/mentally, he seems to be a bit behind. The fact that he's aware of it enough to stop his father was impressive. One more great moment for Parenthood. And then we're laughing again when Max finally takes a shower and announces that he washed "his armpits, his butt and his balls with soap" as instructed. Victory for Kristina and Adam!
While Crosby was dealing with his mother-in-law's intrusion on his home - an arc that seemed a bit overshadowed by everything else this week - it was Drew and Amy battling the more emotional arc of the episode, as Amy announced that she was pregnant and decided to get an abortion. You could actually see the distance between Amy and Drew establishing itself as the two trudged through the episode in a haze that left them both drained in the end, and from the looks of it, broken up. Mark caught wind of something going on with those two and brought it to Sarah, who confronted Drew, who lied to his mother about there being anything wrong. He went to Amber with the situation, and while she was about as supportive as she could be, it didn't seem to help. I guess there's nothing anyone on the outside can really do to alleviate the stress and pain of a situation like this. Showing Drew and Amy in the doctor's office chairs and then in the car afterward really emphasized how alone they are in this - even together, they both looked alone.
Maybe I've seen too many TV shows, and maybe I'm way off here, but is there any chance Amy didn't go through with it and one of the fourth season finale cliffhangers will be her reveal that she's keeping the baby? That would be a pretty major shift for Drew's life. Or not. I guess I'm just wondering where their story will go from here, if anywhere. Or if the situation is just something Drew's going to have to deal with on his own or with his family going forward.
Speaking of going forward, the promo for next week's episode, "One Step Forward, Two Steps Back," focuses on Sarah's relationship with Mark.
The title for the episode makes me think that there are more challenges ahead, and giving the timing of the episode, that would be a fitting set-up for the finale. Right now, we're left to wonder if Sarah and Mark will get back together (it seems like she's toying with that idea, and is being pushed into a place where she'll need to choose soon). Will Julia and Joel decide not to adopt Victor? I'd be surprised if things ended up that way. I can't not believe that Victor and Julia won't have a breakthrough. And then there's the matter of Kristina's cancer, which wasn't really addressed this week, but is sure to be in the next two episodes.