Regardless of which team you happen to have been rooting for over the past year—Team Joel or Team Julia—tonight’s episode was tough to watch. Despite the mistakes both of them made that led to the demise of their once ideal marriage, watching their pain as they faced the end was heartbreaking. Until Julia let her new boyfriend practically move his toothbrush in, that is, and then it was just maddening, but we’ll get to that later.
“These Are the Times We Live In” was all about realizations, wasn’t it? Amber realizing the impending difficulty of being a parent; Hank realizing the limitations his Asperger’s has put on his relationships; Sarah realizing that being involved with Hank is bringing new complications; Drew realizing not to take his grandfather for granted; and Joel and Julia realizing that ending a marriage isn’t as easy as the Kardashians make it look.
While Adam and Kristina are
off-contract in Sacramento soliciting donations for Chambers Academy, Amber is babysitting Nora and a very irate Max, who is berating her—loudly and incessantly—for not keeping to his strict schedule, which results in them missing their ferry to Alcatraz. After Amber loses the keys and can’t get Nora’s car seat buckled into her vintage car, Max blows up and yells that she will be “THE WORST MOTHER IN HISTORY!” Harsh, but totally Max.
Meanwhile, Sarah continues to show grace and patience in the face of disaster. And by “disaster,” I mean Ruby. And Hank. And Sandy. After bonding with Ruby over boy trouble and a showing of Fast Times at Ridgemont High (“No one’s as hot as Phoebe Cates. She was like a freak of nature,” Sarah tells Ruby. Word.), Sandy shows up and scolds Sarah when she discovers that she was allowing 15-year-old Ruby to watch a movie that “glorifies sexual promiscuity.” Puh-leeze. So there’s some blow-job practice on vegetables, nude fantasy sequences, and one abortion. Wait. Never mind. Point taken, Sandy. But when Hank walks out without defending Sarah (or at least taking part in the conversation), Sarah is clearly peeved, and so am I. While it’s nice to see Sarah be somebody’s rock, it’s also frustrating to see her be walked over, and it looks like she might start to be realizing that as well.
After walking out, Hank heads over to get his camera from Max and walks right past a visibly upset Amber. Max is still freaking out because of the Alcatraz trip that wasn’t and is pacing furiously doing breathing and relaxation exercises—which are disguised as rants against Amber and that missed ferry boat. Hank talks him through it and instantly identifies with a lot of the same feelings that Max is having. After joining in the pacing, Hank realizes that he shouldn’t have walked out on Sarah when he panicked. They’re like two grumpy old men, what with all their pacing and ranting, and despite what you think about either character, the friendship and connection between Max and Hank continues to be touching. I love it.
Hank runs back to Sarah and apologizes. She’s still kind of pissed, and even more so when she finds out that he saw Amber crying and didn’t bother to ask her why. Another realization for Hank: Ask your girlfriend’s daughter why she’s visibly upset. Duh. Sarah rushes to see Amber only to find Max eating junk food and watching Chucky movies, and Amber laying with Nora in Adam and Kristina’s bed, which apparently is the one thing she wasn’t supposed to do. Huh. I’d think “let her play with matches” might have been at the top of that list, but whatever. After crying to Sarah about how she’s realizing that she can’t do this whole parenting thing, Sarah lets her know that this situation was way different. “They start out tiny and all they do is poo. Eventually you work your way up to insanity,” she tells Amber, before reassuring her that she won’t be doing it alone. And that’s why we love Sarah.
Later, Hank tells his ex-wife about his recently discovered Asperger’s and admits that he was the problem in their marriage. Sandy is speechless, especially when Hank goes on to say how hard it must’ve been to be married to him. When she comes to pick up Ruby the next day and surprises her with a trip to a yogurt shop that has their old family-favorite flavor—taro root… yummy—they convince Hank to tag along, just like old times, and Sarah is left standing on the outside looking in. Run. Run away, now. Oh, wait, did I just say that out loud?
NEXT: Joel (finally) wakes up