For a show that places as much of an emphasis on dialog as Parenthood does, sometimes the greatest moments can be in what’s not said. A look, a touch, a hug – they can say more than pages and pages of dramatic monologues and stormy fights. Well, at least in the world of the Braverman family, who have taken that mighty fine quality from creator Jason Katims’ previous series Friday Night Lights.
And just like Friday Night Lights, the characters in Parenthood leave some of their most interesting thoughts unsaid, which is what made “Clear Skies From Here on Out” such a good episode. We got the typical Braverman banter that any particular episode of Parenthood promises us, but the main theme of Tuesday night’s installment was that sometimes it matters not what you say but what you don’t say.
Part of the Braverman family learned the value in letting things out, as their insistence on staying mum, holding in their feelings, and pretending everything is alright came back to bite them. Crosby and Adam have had a pretty rough relationship recently, so you can at least understand why the former failed to let the latter know of Jabbar’s discomfort over Max and their lunch situation. Adam may be a nice, strong, honest family man, but he’s been shown to be prone to some dramatic outbursts and not having to be put on the defensive again seems like a logical reason to stay the course just a little while longer if you’re Crosby. As much as I hate to agree with Jasmine, Crosby just shot himself in the foot by keeping this information to himself; he could have prevented the (surprisingly intense) scuffle between Max and Jabbar from happening, as well as saving the hurt feelings that came from the “something’s wrong with him” confession. The Cros-man has been around Adam long enough to know how to approach him and I think he’d be to make what could have been a hurt pretty hurtful situation into something positive.
I mean, what about Crosby volunteering to teach Max how to make friends? He made a point in the episode to mention how he makes friends easily himself, so why not impart some knowledge to his (struggling) nephew?
While Crosby and Adam ultimately got over their hissyfit, not even mentioning the Jabbar/Max situation at the studio, Haddie and Alex don’t seem to be that lucky. After intentionally harboring his feelings, concerns, and insecurities about their relationship, Alex finally broke up with Haddie. As much as he tried to pin it on the fact that the two are in different places and whatnot, the main reason they broke up, in my opinion, is the fact that he didn’t seem willing to want to work on things. You can never have a truly great relationship unless both parties are openly and honestly sharing their feelings, instead of running when things get too intense. It’s a shame that the two didn’t work out, considering how much work it took just to be able to openly see one another in the first place, but I think this is an ultimately good thing for Haddie. Alex didn’t want to be with her, and apparently hasn’t for a while, so she can take the lessons she’s learned from her first “adult” relationship and find a guy worthy of her time. What made the whole ordeal worth it, at least for me, was the mostly silent comfort that Kristina provided toward the end of the episode. Sometimes all you need following a break-up is a hug from somebody that loves you and a shoulder to cry on and Kristina provided that and then some.
On the other side of the coin, two of the Bravermans learned the value of speaking up for themselves and overcoming their insecurities. Drew’s first date with Amy was a bit of a hot mess, as she was more interested in Amber’s iPod and he didn’t say anything whatsoever, but our young Drew ultimately redeemed himself following a (hilarious) outburst about how ridiculous his family is. I think it took seeing Drew being passionate and showcasing a little fire/personality before Amy realized that this is more than just some random loner with a large family full of busybodies; this is a nice guy and since he obviously doesn’t have much experience in the dating world, maybe he’s worth a second chance. “Clear Skies From Here on Out” continued “Step Right Up”‘s trend of solid relationship beginnings, as the two ultimately ended up taking a moonlit walk at the end of the episode. Their interactions are quite sweet and I hope that Amy sticks around a little longer, as her fledgling relationship with Drew feels natural and bypasses the typically melodramatic “young love” relationships you see on TV.
Plus, any screen time for Drew beyond sitting at the dinner table is a major plus.
Camille, another of the quieter Bravermans, was dealing with some insecurities about the choices she’s made with her life, thanks to a suddenly ambitious Zeek becoming a commercial star. Most of the episode, the Braverman matriarch (the Bratriarch?) was incredibly uncomfortable around her husband, but she seemed to be more inspired by his go-get-’em attitude than anything. Well, once she finally let him know how she had been feeling, that is, which seemed to lift some major weight off her shoulders. Like Drew, Camille doesn’t get that much to do and I think showing an older woman looking back on her life and realizing it didn’t go quite as she wanted was a brave choice to make. She seemed pretty resigned to re-establishing her painting career and finally showing her work in a show or two, something she hadn’t done in the past, so perhaps Millie will be going onward and upward with Zeek instead of feeling so left behind.
“Clear Skies From Here on Out” was an episode that showcased the power of words in the Braverman world, but it wasn’t quite how you think it would be. Instead of amping up the dialog, the show decided to focus on what effect the words we don’t say can have on our life and it was one of the many reasons that this is my favorite episode of the season thus far. We got to sit out the underwhelming Julia-buys-a-baby storyline, while giving other characters some much needed spotlight (Camille, Drew), throwing in a touch of humor (Zeek) with the dramatic (Haddie/Alex), and looking ahead at the Braverman businesses (Crosby, Adam), which were all steps in the right direction. Season three of Parenthood has been all about moving into the next phase of one’s life and reconciling with the past, but “Clear Skies From Here on Out” shows that the best way to deal with both is to recognize the power that present possesses.
Thoughts, Quotes, & Observations:
- “I don’t believe you could smell me from there.”
- “Should I wear a little hat?”
- “What’s a reptile dysfunction?”
- “I’m sorry you were sitting there like Rain Man.”
- “I can’t go to the store without finding why you’re speaking Mandarin.”
- “I need you to give my heart an erection.”
- If you hadn’t heard, Parenthood got an additional two episodes added on to its 16 episode order. Considering that the show has become NBC’s highest rated drama this season, that number may increase again soon.
- I love that they took the time to address Sarah’s writing career, which was one of the questions/critiques I had last week. I don’t need endless storylines based on it, as interesting as it might be, but to know that she didn’t completely give it up is reassuring.
- In Braverman pop culture news, Drew likes Millionaire Matchmaker. I love this fact more than I should.
- I really don’t think Max is ready to be mainstreamed. He may be intelligent, but he hasn’t learned enough about social situations to make it in public school.
- Can I mention how much I appreciated that it was the girl (Amy) throwing pebbles at the guy’s (Drew) window to get his attention? Also, the “I like your pajamas” line was too sweet in the best way possible.
- Seeing Drew and Amber spend time together is always nice. We know how close they are and how much they’ve had to rely upon each other, but moments of them doing stuff together have gotten fewer and farther between.
- Next week: Adam and Kristina have their baby, Seth returns, and Amber tries to repair Max and Jabbar’s relationship.
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