‘Parenthood’ Season 5 Episode 17 Recap: “Limbo”


These Parenthood titles sure do get to the point, huh? The theme this week — because there is almost always a loose theme running the Bravermans are all dealing with in any given episode, though this has very mixed results —is very much about how these characters are in limbo. The most overt plot is Joel and Julia’s marital problems that are yes, still are the foreground of most episodes this season. Their relationship is in limbo, especially due to Joel’s stubbornness, and it’s really starting to take its toll on the children. Everyone is in a total state of uncertainty, like how Drew can’t figure out his deal with Natalie or Amber doesn’t know if she should call her ex-fiance. And then there is the religious limbo that Renee is so concerned about: the centerpiece of the episode is Aida’s baptism that is being rushed to ensure this baby doesn’t go to hell — thankfully, Crosby points out how silly this is. “Limbo” is a bit uneven, but has some moments that I truly love.

Before we get into that equally funny and emotional dinner, let’s split up the Bravermans by storyline again. First, there’s Crosby. Crosby and Jasmine aren’t in a huge rush to get Aida baptized and Crosby is very open about it. The Bravermans aren’t religious, but Jasmine’s family certainly are, so there’s never been a question of whether or not this baptism would ever occur. But they don’t have a house, they’re already wary of mooching off Camille and Zeek, and the godparents — Joel and Julia — are separated. Renee is unfazed; she’ll have the baptism at her small place and Crosby will simply ask Joel to step aside. (Which, by the way, seems kinda fucked up?) Crosby then has to ask Adam to step-in but Adam misunderstands and thinks that he was the first choice.

Sarah, meanwhile, is one of my favorite Bravermans this week. She’s starting to really take her job seriously but it’s at the expense of Max, who comes in to use the printer while she’s trying to work. They get into an argument and she drives him home. This upsets Kristina who, of course, complains to Adam because she wants Adam to talk to Sarah. It’s a typical Adam/Kristina/Sarah storyline and I’m a little bored by it but I love that Sarah doesn’t back down. When Adam subtly tries to chastise her for chastising his son, Sarah points out that Max acts like no one has ever said “no” to him. It’s true, and it’s true that Adam and Kristina have a good reason for this, but I like that Sarah points it out. It’s also nice that Sarah has some good give-and-take this week, surprisingly with the help of Hank. He gets her to realize why Max’s parents are so upset — remember how happy Sarah is that she found out she’s good at photography? That’s how happy Adam and Kristina are that Max found it, too. Sarah doesn’t apologize for what she said, but rather rents the printer for another week.

Joel and Julia have their expected storyline but at least this time it seems like it’s heading somewhere when Julia calls Joel up, demanding to know why he isn’t fighting to remain Aida’s godfather — and why he isn’t fighting to keep Julia. Zeek eventually goes to Joel’s and pulls a Zeek, trying to talk to some sense into Joel to fight a little harder for his marriage. And Joel does, by showing up at the baptism.

In the dorms, our Sartre-reading freshman Drew is trying to date Natalie but is foiled when he learns his roommate Berto slept with her. Berto, to his credit, apologizes, breaks it off with Natalie, and explains that he doesn’t want to hurt Drew. Drew’s still upset and understandably so; Berto’s the kind of roommate who also drinks his Gatorade and eats his food and flips Drew’s socks inside out to wear them as his own. They’re very nit-picky roommate things (the socks are really gross, though) but combined with sleeping with the girl he likes? Drew bails and ends up at Amber’s, who is obsessing over whether or not to call Ryan. They bond over their broken hearts and later he decides he’s going to crash with Amber for a while — I am going to love this! — while they both mend themselves.

The real good stuff comes during a Braverman Family Dinner, as expected. The baptism has now branched out into a before dinner at Camille’s and an after-brunch. The dinner goes comically awry. Sarah finds out that Camille and Zeek are selling the house. Adam finds out he wasn’t the first choice as godfather (and his siblings gently poke fun at his eagerness, which I like). Adam and Sarah get into a tiff about her earlier comments about his parenting — and Adam is quick to point out that her own children, Drew and Amber, are currently high at the dinner table. Crosby gets yelled at by nearly everyone about his godfather choice, including Sarah who makes some great point asking her divorce has basically taken her out of the running. It’s a great scene and everything is solved by the next day, as these things usually are, and the baptism is a success. Everyone is still in limbo, but some are headed in the right direction.