My review of last night's brilliant episode of Parenthood is after the jump.
There are shows that will pack a small emotional punch every week and there are shows that do that every week. Rarely do shows pack a huge emotional punch like last night's Parenthood did. That episode did exactly what the show does every week better then what the show does every week. This episode had me on the verge of tears at the end because of the brilliant acting by this ensemble and brilliant writing by series creator Jason Katims.
The legendary critic Alan Sepinwall wrote on Twitter last night "Parenthood is like the Hulk; the madder it gets, the stronger it gets." He hit the nail on the head right there. The show is at its best when it allows the actors to show their talents and play off one another. This happens very often when the characters fight. We had quite a few fights in this episode, we had Adam/Crosby, Amber/Drew, Amber/Seth, Sarah/Seth Crosby/Gaby, Crosby/Jasmine, and even to an extent Zeke/Sydney. All of this contributed to a fantastic episode with quite a bit of yelling.
The center of the episode was dealing with the consequences of Crosby sleeping with Max's therapist Gabby. This served as a strong center for the episode and a strong showcase for Dax Shepard and the rest of the people involved. Crosby made a mistake and had to deal with everyone who is going to be angry with him for this mistake. He has to deal with Jasmine because he cheated on her. That scene was absolutely fantastic and was well played by Joy Bryant. He has to deal with the fantastic Minka Kelly's Gaby. That was another great scene in what probably is Minka Kelly's swan song (I know nothing, this is based on the episode content).
Even more important then Crosby dealing with the effect on his life is how it affected Adam's family. Gaby quit on them because of the incident. Every scene involving Gaby and Kristina (and Adam) was absolutely fantastic. The scene with Kristina visiting Gaby's apartment was fantastic because it kept things relatively calm. The scene with Crosby arguing with Adam over what happened was a great showcase for Shepard and Peter Krause. The acting in that scene was great.
Also, anything involving Max has had a particular resonance with me. The scene with him melting down and the scene at the end when he has Aspergers were some of my favorite scenes in the episode. Max Burkholder has been giving one of the best performances on the show and I'm looking forward to next week, which will be a Max heavy week.
Another very strong plotline in this episode was the continuation and probable completion of Seth's return arc. This has brought out the best in Mae Whitman, Miles Heizer, Lauren Graham, and John Corbett and this episode was no exception. The fight between Amber and Drew about Seth being back was one of the strongest parts of the episode because both of the actors were giving it their all. The scene was exciting to watch. Another really good scene was the scene with Lauren Graham telling Seth to talk to his kids before he leaves. Lauren Graham gave one of her best performances in awhile on the show. I could clearly see what Sarah was feeling at the time. The actual talk between Corbett, Heizer, and Whitman was another really strong scene. Seth turning into what Amber said he would was an interesting and very well thought out ending to the arc. And is Sarah willing to leave her kids? That cliffhanger was very ambiguous and a strong sign of things to come.
The Sydney becoming a vegetarian plotline worked in its own way. It was one of the few Parenthood comic relief plotlines that served its purpose well. It also served as a way to show how close Zeke and Camille have become. They didn't have a good relationship for most of the series and the scene towards the end showed that growth has happened there.
Overall, a fantastic episode of Parenthood that was very good at what it tried to do.
What did everyone else think?