‘Parenthood’ Season 6 Episode 4 Recap: “A Potpourri of Freaks”

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There’s something kind of unnatural about the way television shows, particularly dramas with emotional plot twists, barrel onward right up ’til the end. I think of it as “unnatural” because were this real life, this careening forward would be the most natural thing in the world. It’s the point of it all. Here in Parenthood‘s final season, we’ve seen a number major developments, from Amber’s pregnancy to Zeek’s serious health scare. Episode four of the 13-part sixth season introduced a few key ideas that I imagine will stick with us to the very end, growing and building in gradual ways.

Groundwork was laid, and not in the most obvious ways. This made for a sort of lopsided episode, in which some storylines seemed relatively unimportant. (Betsy Brandt, for example, seers as much as someone in the bit role of naggy ex-wife, but the continual surface-level focus on his teenage daughter Ruby is not adding much to the show at this point. I understand that Ruby serves as a make-or-break moment for Hank and Sarah, but as a prop, her troubled teen character is distractingly one-note.)

Joel and Julia: We Are Never, Ever Getting Back Together… Or Something

Last week’s episode saw Julia finally getting real with Joel: we aren’t going to make it work. But this week, now facing their kids, Joel and Julie struggle to come clean. As Sydney temper-tantrums her way through an apology to one of her bullying victims, it somehow just hits Joel and Julia that their separation is really affecting the kids. Scarred for life levels of fucked-up, it seems, which is maybe a little dramatic for an mostly amicable split among two caring, non-abusive humans, but it’s Parenthood so there’s an expectation of overreaction. Still, these two leave the door cracked. Is that just what they tell their kids, or is it the truth? I think the latter, but we won’t see it until the last couple episodes of the season.

Zeek’s Struggling More Than He’s Letting On

Is this what we’re in for now? Week after week of handwringing over Zeek’s health? Yes, yes it is. Some fans assume Zeek will die at the end of season six. Whichever way it’s going to go, Jason Katims and the show’s writers are making it a real will-he-won’t-he moment. He’s home from the hospital following heart surgery this week, and the immobility is really getting to him. He can barely walk from the car to the living room, yet he’s supposed to work up to walking around the block. I can’t tell if Camille Doesn’t Get It, or if Zeek’s not pushing his pride aside enough for her to see his struggle, but there’s reason for concern here. Zeek’s physical stamina is TBD.

Max Likes a Girl… Who May Just Be Perfect For Him

MAX BRAVERMAN LIKES A GIRL! MAX BRAVERMAN LIKES A GIRL! And of course she is truly cool. Her name’s Dylan, and she wears a hat that suggests Diane Keaton’s Annie Hall is her style icon. Most importantly, she also struggles with a behavioral disorder and has just started at Chambers Academy. She’s a bit of ~wild child~ but she quickly connected with Max, much to Kristina’s concern. Adam is pumped, like give-his-son-condoms levels of pumped.

Crosby Is ‘Going Through Something’ (And It’s Called ‘Adulthood’)

I swear to god, if Parenthood has Crosby dismantle the beautiful life he’s built with Jasmine in some fit of bitter rage over his father’s fading mortality, I WILL stop watching the show (which sure will make writing these recaps kind of tough). The only positive development here is that Oliver, portrayed by the fuckwit who leads All-American Rejects (Tyson Ritter), is perhaps out of the show for good. When Crosby finds out Oliver may be signing a solo deal with a fictitious label vaguely disguised as Sub Pop, he heads to a meditation retreat in Big Sur to intercept the plans. It’s too late, and not even a little silent yoga can calm Cros. He gets home and immediately speeds off on his motorcycle — broken rib and all — just because he needs to be bad. Crosby, Oliver’s decisions have nothing to do with your domesticity. Just go to therapy, you will feel so much better.