All the Bravermans are faced with life-changing decisions in the span of one very long and eventful day.
After a seemingly eternal seven-week hiatus, Parenthood wasted no time getting the ball rolling again with its 100th episode. A near death, an apparent reconciliation (or at least a good romp for old time’s sake), a robbery, a terribly awkward (and just plain terrible) proposal, and a Parenthood-patented tear jerker of an ending were all packed in, causing those of us at home to panic at the thought of how all these things will possibly be reconciled in the three episodes we have left.
Picking up immediately where we left off in 2014, Zeek is rushed to the ER in the middle of the night after suffering what appears to be a heart attack. And just like Parenthood has done so beautifully in the past (when Kristina told everyone about her cancer) the reaction and immediate fallout the rest of the family experiences is simply set to haunting, soulful music (this time it’s “Reminders, Defeats” by Jesse Marchant).
The family gathers at the hospital and begins trying to make the crisis less frightening than it is, with everyone convincing each other that Zeek is, and is going to be, okay. Sarah and Amber even giggle as they give Julia a hard time about her “walk of shame” outfit (she left Joel’s bed—yes, JOEL’S BED—when she got the call). I get that it’s a natural instinct in times like this to try to deflect the enormity of the situation, but the gossipy nature of their conversation seemed inappropriate, no matter how much I wanted to know all the deets.
When Adam catches Millie in the hospital chapel, however, she breaks down (a curious, yet refreshing, display of emotion from the usual expressionless and frozen-faced matriarch) and admits that she’s scared, and that she’s not sure Zeek will make it this time. BRB, it’s already time to restock my tissue supply.
Hank, who just wants to do anything to help, drives to UC Berkeley to pick up Drew, because the Pontiac won’t start. Did you get that? THE PONTIAC IS DEAD. Oh, the tragic irony. Desperately trying to be useful, Hank hilariously bumbles around, beating himself up for not being the one to bring bagels or coffee, not being the one chosen to call the caterer to cancel Amber’s baby shower after he offers, and basically, not being Joel, whom it seems he idolizes in a team-water-boy-worshiping-the-quarterback kind of way. (“I kind of like Joel. The good Joel, not the bad Joel,” Hank will later tell Sarah. You and most of Parenthood nation, brother.) Hank finally gets called into the game when he consoles Drew, who, as predicted, feels horrible for ratting Zeek out to Millie the day before and being a disappointment to his grandfather (Zeek’s words, not mine). “I’m a parent, we don’t hold onto any of that stuff,” Hank tells a clearly troubled Drew, who seems to feel some real comfort from the words. I don’t know about you, but Hank wins my vote for MVP this episode, despite the bizarre choice he makes later.
The Braverman kids all go to see Zeek, who, although intubated and seemingly unconscious, is in stable condition. “Joel and I are here,” Julia tells her father, and suddenly machines start beeping and doctors rush in (and I cover my eyes) as Zeek apparently crashes. I mean, I get that Joel being with Julia (or vice versa) is big news, but that was quite a reaction. Later, when Zeek’s own heart doc arrives, the options he presents are unsettling: Zeek will either need to have another surgery, which would be dangerous as he’s not as strong as he was before; or decline surgery, which would pose a great risk for blood clots or an aneurysm. Basically, neither option is a good one, and the doctor suggests taking some time to make the decision. “How did we get here?” Zeek asks Millie when they’re alone. A loaded question, and one that is impossible to answer without floods of memories and tears, especially with the end of your life staring at you.
NEXT: More unsettling options
As if the day needed to get any more stressful, Adam gets a call that The Luncheonette has been robbed. When he and Crosby arrive, the place is completely trashed; all the equipment is gone, the booth has been stripped, and the offices ransacked. After calling the insurance company, Adam discovers that the payout will be enough to replace all the equipment as well as have a nice chunk of change left over. Or here’s an idea—they could just take the money and run! But really. Adam suggests dissolving the business, paying off their debts and giving Amber some severance pay. Crosby admits the robbery could be a blessing in disguise, but he needs some time to noodle things over.
Does he zoom off on his motorcycle, helmet-less? Go to a bar and get wasted? No, surprisingly (and happily) he discusses the matter with Jasmine, who, yet again, proves herself to be the most supportive wife in the world. After letting him know that while she’ll support whatever decision he makes, she reminds him that The Luncheonette is his dream. “Life is short, baby. You gotta hang in there,” she tells him. Hey, Hank, bring me that MVP trophy, I need to add a name.
Adam and Kristina seem to view the potential payout differently. Adam admits he now views The Luncheonette as a weight around his neck and wants to let it go. Kristina is quickly on board (excitedly imagining all the time that will free up for Adam to plan gluten- and casein-free meals for Chambers Academy, I’ll bet). However, when Crosby later tells Adam that he wants to stick with the business—“I would bet on us”—Adam says nothing about the noose that just got a little bit tighter around his neck. Do you think we’ll ever see Adam stand up for himself? His swayed decisions are clearly motivated by love and allegiance to his family, but I wish he’d occasionally stand up for what he wants.
After a long day, Sarah finds Hank outside the ER entrance and assures him that he can go home; he’s more than fulfilled his boyfriend obligation. Hank, however, wants to stay. Forever. “I love you. I don’t want to be half in, not now, not ever. I want to be all in.” With Sarah standing there with her hands full of Twizzlers and cookies, and people rushing all around them on gurneys going in and out of the ER, Hank proposes—awkwardly, as you’d expect. Sarah just stands there—speechless, as you’d expect. After some uncomfortable banter in which she puts him off until it’s “a better time,” she disappears back inside. In her defense, her father is fighting for his life and it’s been a seriously crappy day, but really, a hug might have been nice. I’ll say it again, I like Hank, and I don’t doubt that Sarah does, too, but I just don’t ever get the vibe that she loves him.
Later, sharing a beer with his idol—the good Joel—Hank explains his impulsive proposal. “Even when there’s a right time to say something, I usually don’t, so I just figured, I’m gonna do it.” Cheers to that, no matter what I think Sarah is feeling.
The long day finally ends in the hospital cafeteria, where the Braverman women have gathered for Amber’s makeshift baby shower. As they present her with a scrapbook and each one shares her words of parenting advice, the tears start to flow. Millie sums things up by giving Amber the message that I’m sure she was thinking about when she and Zeek shared that special moment earlier, “You cannot imagine how fast this life goes by. Cherish every minute of it.”
Only three more episodes to cherish, Parenthood friends.