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Parenthood Review: "It Has to be Now"/"All Aboard Who's Coming Aboard" (Episodes 5.01/5.02)

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<i>Parenthood</i> Review: "It Has to be Now"/"All Aboard Who's Coming Aboard" (Episodes 5.01/5.02)

Last season, Parenthood took us all through some gut-wrenching drama. Monica Potter was tremendous as she portrayed Kristina’s journey of discovering she had cancer all the way up through chemotherapy treatments. The entire cast supported the strong performance and even when they were on their own with other parenting dilemmas, they delivered.

This season continues on this trend, but like so many previous seasons, the first few episodes are a little hectic because we need to get caught up on everyone’s lives. So here we go.

Adam and Kristina
These two are just happy Kristina’s cancer is in remission. She wants to seize the day. He wants her to be happy. That is the basic premise for these two this season, which is why when Kristina is offered a job to run that creepy politician who tried to sleep with Amber last season’s mayoral campaign, she decides that that isn’t seizing the day enough. Instead she chooses to run for mayor herself. It feels a little too much for the show. In fact, the entire second episode deals with how implausible it all is. She is told not once, but twice how ridiculous it is by people in the politics game, and I have to agree. I’m glad the show is going to continue to build Kristina into a stronger character (as opposed to how annoying she was for three and a half seasons), but there are different ways to do it.

This plot does allow yet another Friday Night Lights alum to join the cast as Jurnee Smollett-Bell plays Heather, who joins Kristina’s campaign. It also allows the magnificent Peter Krause to play a bigger role than the emotionally drained character that he played so well last season. Now he isn’t afraid to hurt Kristina’s feelings, even if it comes off a little harsh.

Sarah
Did she pick Mark or go to Minnesota with Hank? Well, she is a landlord now. That’s her first scene this season. It isn’t with either of her love interests. It turns out she is still in Berkeley though. Not living with Mark. So she chose…neither. It’s kind of a bummer that she didn’t choose Mark. He was one of the best recurring characters on the show, but it’s obvious that the show wants to go the Hank direction. Jason Ritter isn’t listed as a recurring cast member this season, but Ray Romano is.

That’s right: Hank is here to stay—only he isn’t with Sarah, but he is living in Berkeley back at his old camera shop. Don’t worry; he didn’t move back to win Sarah over. But the first two episodes don’t take much stock in this plot yet, which is good. I like that they’re letting this season find its footing before tackling Sarah’s love life. It does, however, tackle her daughter Amber’s love life.

Amber
She’s in love with Ryan (Matt Laurie). The only problem is that the soldier is back in the Middle East and being distant during their Skype sessions. She fears he is going to break up with her. She finds comfort in her brother Drew, who is now a freshman in college and has grown his hair out very shaggy because all freshman think that it’s a good look. He tells her it will all be okay because they are in love with each other, right?

Little brother is right. Ryan comes back and meets Amber at a homecoming for fellow soldiers inside a high school gym. He doesn’t really say anything except when he drops to one knee to propose—thus resulting in a major plot throughout the season. It is going to cause rifts between family members and almost sends Sarah off her rocker before she realizes she just wants her daughter to be happy.

Julia and Joel
While the first few episodes back deal heavily with Adam and Sarah’s families, it puts the other siblings and their loved ones on the back burner. Julia is hunting for a job to get back in the game after a year off, but is afraid the firm that wanted her so badly when she was at her previous firm won’t want her anymore. Meanwhile, Joel is bidding on a housing project that will give him and his men work for two years. The following episode introduces an attractive man named Ed who is apparently going to throw a wrench in Julia and Joel’s marriage. Even that is unrealistic. These two love each other, and if the show tries to make a love triangle, I am going to lose it. Seriously.

Crosby and Jasmine
The plot twist of last season’s finale was that these two are having a baby. I thought she’d be pregnant for a bit this season to show what it’s like to be a parent while pregnant with another. Nope. Jasmine has her baby a mere five minutes into this season, and the most boring plot of the season is dumped on them. They fight about the baby’s name and are tired from the newborn. That’s it. They eventually settle on Aida Braverman (instead of hyphenating the baby’s name).

It is a lot to take in throughout the first few episodes, but it isn’t too much. The show did a nice job balancing the stories, even if some of them weren’t that solid. That has always been a plight of the show. It usually takes a few episodes to get everything settled before the show can really delve into these characters’ emotions in whatever situation they end up in. These first two episodes were a nice foundation for a solid season.

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