Parenthood recap: 'Too Big to Fail'
Financial troubles drive several Bravermans to reevaluate their lives and make plans for the future.
It’s hard to be Crosby Braverman these days. His business is tanking; his beloved, larger-than-life father is showing signs of frailness; his kids are running him ragged; and let’s not forget his controlling wife who seems to do nothing more than endlessly tear him down. Until now. But before we get to the woman who looks like Jasmine and sounds like Jasmine but who very definitely isn’t acting like Jasmine, let’s hop in Jason Katims‘ time machine, because we’re about to get shot three months into the future.
When I saw the photos from this week’s episode a few days ago, I actually said to myself, “Wow, Amber looks about three months more pregnant than last week.” Sure enough, we’re told from the first second of “Too Big to Fail” that three months have indeed passed since we last left our Bravermans. I guess since we’re now officially through the first half of this farewell season, it’s time to speed things up. Sorry, I didn’t mean to make you grab the tissues just yet.
But yes, Amber has officially popped. I’m assuming she’s about six months along only because at one point during the episode Hank commented that she was carrying 6/9 of a person… and I’m good at math. Plus, I’m predicting a final episode birth, and after some investigating (I’m also good at Googling) I’ve discovered that episode 13 usually falls around mid-January, which is about three months from now. Her new—bigger—belly is obviously as much of a shock to her as it is to us viewers, as she spends most of the episode cradling it. Another shock? The amount of stuff—not to mention the dollar amount the stuff adds up to—this baby is going to need. When she and Drew go shopping, they are both overwhelmed, which motivates both of them to start thinking of their futures. Hey, that stroller that folds up on its own isn’t going to pay for itself.
Amber wants—and needs—a raise. When she details to Uncles Adam and Crosby why she deserves one, they remind her The Luncheonette is struggling. (Apparently they’ve only had a couple of studio sessions in the past three months. Uh-oh.) Despite this, Crosby still wants to give her a raise, but ever-practical Adam thinks they may have to start deferring their own salaries and that they probably should’ve fired Amber long ago. When Amber overhears this, she’s understandably upset, and over the course of a day (two days?) makes sure her uncles know that she’s there to help solve the problem—she’s part of this team! Although Adam is tired of everyone thinking he’s “Mr. Back-up Plan,” he tells Amber he won’t quit until she gets her raise. “We’re family and we’re going to take care of you.” That’s very sweet, but her baby’s not gonna drink that blood you’re squeezing from the turnip, dude.
Drew, also concerned for his future as well as feeling responsible for Amber (which earns him every brother of the year award until forever) decides to declare Economics as his major, even though it’s clear it isn’t his thing (thank you, girlfriend Natalie, for reminding him). When he asks Adam for advice, Adam encourages his nephew to explore what makes him happy and follow his dreams. Crosby bursts in, telling Drew to learn how to make money. “Money buys you happiness. Greed is good!” he insists. Adam continues to disagree, which is a bit surprising considering the fact that he’s been following his dream into an overdrawn bank account for the past three months and supporting a family of five—which includes college tuition AT CORNELL and building the charter school, which I cannot imagine is generating any income for Kristina—on who knows what. Leftover money from his shoe company? Good investments? Kristina isn’t worried, though, so I suppose we shouldn’t be. When Adam finally explodes with the pressure of all the stress and wonders if he should just call a headhunter and get a paying job (and by “explodes” I mean he raises his voice for 11 seconds), Kristina reminds him that’s not who he is—that he likes helping people—and that’s why she loves him. Then she gives him a hand job. But really.
NEXT: No desire for intercourse
Max’s crush, Dylan, has obviously been hanging out at the Braverman house over the past three months, as she’s gotten very chummy with Kristina and has lost almost all the tough-girl attitude we saw in the previous two episodes. When Max invites Dylan to sleep over (“She only likes me at a 2.5 so there’s no desire for intercourse”), Kristina objects, but Dylan assures her it’s okay with her parents (the sleeping over, not the intercourse).
Later, Dylan, wearing Hattie’s pajamas (hey, at least someone’s wearing them), snuggles up with Kristina on the couch. She tells her that her parents are way too clingy and constantly want to hang out with her, so it’s nice to be somewhere where she can just chill. Kristina, being the smart, in-tune with youth headmaster that she is, later confesses to Adam that she fears Dylan is just using Max to be close to them. When Kristina discovers that Dylan’s parents are out of town and Dylan is alone (which doesn’t cause her to call CPS?), she makes sure Dylan isn’t using Max before inviting her to stay overnight again. Oh, boy. Looks like Kristina has found a new project.
Since many of you seem to be getting fed up with Hank’s daughter Ruby taking precious screen time away from the Bravermans in these last episodes, I won’t waste more of your time by detailing the events that led up to her doing a 180 and suddenly turning into a sweet and caring teen. Instead, let’s contemplate why she is taking up precious screen time.
While we’ve certainly seen the trials and tribulations of blended families (season 1 when Jasmine and Jabbar had to fit into Crosby’s life—and vice versa; and when Joel and Julia adopted Victor), Hank and Sarah’s emerging relationship coinciding with Ruby bringing all her literal and metaphorical baggage to it is interesting and significant. The way Sarah is gently helping Hank navigate the murky waters of parenting a teen (loved her mime instructions to Hank behind Ruby’s back!) is sweet, not to mention admirable, especially after the new-and-greatly-unimproved Ruby came to town. They’re handling Ruby together, which is a good indicator that they’re in this for the long haul, even if they do need to start giving her a curfew (anyone else amazed that she just sauntered in in the middle of the night?). Bringing Amber in to have the heart-to-heart with Ruby—after helping her through that very realistic puke-fest—was a wise choice. The connection between the two girls was refreshing, not to mention how refreshing it was to see Ruby actually speak in sentences without major attitude.
Someone else it was refreshing to see as a changed woman? Jasmine. After Jabbar decides he wants to go to Harry Potter World for his birthday, Jasmine works out a way to make it happen, but is confused when Crosby tells her there’s no way they can afford it. When he tells her he thinks The Luncheonette is going under, she’s surprised. Seems Crosby’s not been very honest about the state of the business over the past three months, and while he has been staying late at the studio, the only work he’s been doing is on his Candy Crush stats. He apologizes for being dishonest, but admits he’s feeling tremendous pressure to support his family in the manner they’ve grown accustomed to. Jasmine tells him she doesn’t care about any of it; that losing the things they love doesn’t scare her, but Crosby not talking to her and storming off in the middle of the night? That scares her. “You’re my guy, for the rest of my life. You’re all we need,” the lady who looks like Jasmine tells him. I mean, it looks like Jasmine, but the words coming out of her mouth are so far from anything we’ve heard her say in the past two years you might see how I’m confused. Pleasantly confused, but still, confused just the same.
A few days after they tell Jabbar they can’t afford the trip to Harry Potter World—which he handles like a champ (isn’t it nice to see a Braverman child who isn’t a brat and doesn’t throw fits?)—they surprise him with a Harry Potter themed birthday party in the backyard, and he’s thrilled. See, Crosby? Money isn’t always responsible for happiness; sometimes all it takes is a refreshingly loving and supportive wife—and a big hat—to sort it all out.