Parenthood Review: "Together" (Episode 4.07)
Parenthood continues to tackle important themes and issues with such realism and always treats each topic with integrity. As important as Kristina’s cancer plot is to the series, the show’s ability to focus on the rest of the family’s struggles while maintaining integrity is commendable.
“Together” highlights Kristina’s internal struggles for everything to go back to normal, as well as her strength to handle her fears straight on. She’s about to enter chemotherapy for the first time, and Adam has his mother Camille come over to lend a helping hand. She’s a little smothering at first, and all Kristina wants to do is handle things herself, but eventually the two come to an understanding. After Kristina’s own mother reveals she won’t fly out to help her daughter, Kristina breaks down and goes rogue. She drives, eats ice cream and takes Max to an arcade to just relax and enjoy herself without the pressures from her family. The episode did a tremendous job showcasing the extreme emotional highs and lows a person in her position would most likely feel.
In less than half of a season Kristina has gone from an annoyance to one of my favorite characters. I want her on screen more and more each week. Monica Potter has always done a terrific job of playing the character, but this season really proves the actress has an innate ability to tap into emotions none of us ever want to have to experience. While network dramas are often overshadowed by premium cable shows at award shows, I feel it would be a crime if Potter wasn’t at least in the discussion to be nominated for her efforts this season.
The same goes for Peter Krause’s; Adam. Each week we see the character overstress and want to make things perfect. And each week his performance is spot-on. So often do shows that decide to write cancer into the plot focus on solely the patient, but as I’ve said before, the show’s ability to bring a different aspect into the story reveals how much time went into creating it.
The rest of the episode was just as well-crafted and thoughtful. Amber’s relationship with Ryan continues to blossom, but Zeek is worried because he knows a lot about the young veteran’s experiences in Afghanistan. His re-assimilation into society has been discussed on the show, but I feel it may be coming to a forefront soon. Amber’s curiosity over Ryan’s medicine and his inability to sleep will eventually build into a terrific display of the writers’ grasp on current life tribulations.
Assimilation as a theme continues in Julia and Joel’s plot. They’ve placed Victor on a baseball team to help him feel more at home, but he still isn’t making any friends. Of course the two just want him to be happy, so they invite his former best friend from his old neighborhood over despite the social worker advising against it. Julia realizes how happy Victor was seeing something from his old life and decides to bring a little bit of that life to the home. She begins to learn Spanish and for the first time Victor genuinely smiles. While the adoption story hasn’t really stuck with me, I don’t mind it now. I feel the show tried to take on too many topics at the end of last season and the beginning of this one, but now it feels almost natural. Now I am genuinely interested to see the story unfold.
As serious as these topics were, I felt Drew’s lighthearted situation brought a good balance to the show. He is still upset over his recent breakup and continues to try and remain friends with his ex. While she has moved on and does in fact want to be just friends, he obviously has feelings for her. We’ve all been there post break-up, trying to “be friends” but really trying to woo the girl back. This is one of the first times I’ve seen a show portray it in earnest without some satirical point of view. While the story couldn’t and shouldn’t carry an episode, it was perfectly moderated through another serious episode.
If Parenthood continues this trend, it should definitely start to get the recognition it deserves. The first three seasons were just as well put-together, but now I feel the stories that are unfolding can really bring in more viewers and more respect for the show.