Every once in a while a show that delivers great entertainment on a weekly basis turns it up a notch, catching you off guard. That's what Parenthood did with this week's episode, "Nora."
Pretty much every member of the extended Braverman family was highlighted and instead of it being a mishmash of chaos and separate stories, they were all interlaced in a way that left you reeling in the middle of the familial love.
Max and Jabbar...and Amber?
After last week's fight on the playground, Max learned what it's like to be treated like a "normal" kid. He found out that even when you don't start the physical fight, you might still be left paying the price. Because he's in fifth grade and should be an influencing factor on the younger kids, he received punishment of one week of lunch detention.
For a kid without Asperger's, that might be easy to take. But Max does have it, and logically it just didn't make sense to him. Sitting alone in a classroom was out of the question, and Kristina got permission for someone to sit with him. That someone was Amber.
Amber didn't really want the job, but family is family. After her collegiate letdown at the end of her senior year, she really needed a confidence boost. It turned out she was great dealing with Max, in assisting him to write a letter of apology and to comprehend why he had to do it.
Her usage of a video of President Clinton apologizing for his misdeeds was well thought out on her part. Seeing the light in both of their eyes as Max made his apology in front of the entire family was a proud moment for everyone involved.
Sarah and Mark (and Seth and Zeek??)
We knew it was coming. The swat to the back of Sarah's head. Her happiness is always so short-lived. Mark "meeting" Seth as he sat, smashed out of his mind, in the Braverman's yard wasn't the best way to be introduced. Zeek heard a commotion and darted outside to kick Seth to the curb.
Remarkably, Mark didn't run (seriously, this guy has to stick) and he acknowledged all families have someone who causes problems. Zeek should have never gotten involved, but I couldn't blame him. He put his hand out to Seth over the holidays and in the end was rebuked again. He worries about his daughter and his grandkids.
I've been Sarah. I know what it's like to want to keep trying to help the person you once loved, even to your own detriment.
Adam, Crosby and Kristina
Parenthood is not ordinarily a show that makes me laugh out loud. Adam's story, however, was over the top hilarious. He found out the client Crosby said was a lock wasn't one after all. In fact, it was up to them to persuade a "Mista" rapper to record at The Luncheonette.
The thing about Adam and the recording biz is that he's a family man. A business man. A normal man. Crosby told him to "hip it up." To unbutton and untuck. That was like telling a fish to swim out of water. Adam had no idea how to hip it up, and Kristina knew just enough to laugh at him and tell him he was on his own.
So poor Adam, having nothing quite hip enough in his closet, headed to the local rapper clothing shop (is there such a thing?) and let the salesman take over. We found this out after he had walked down the street in a red and black tracksuit type garment, untied giant red sneakers and a red cap, covered in bling.
For just a bit, he felt hip. He was practically dancing down the sidewalk. Until he saw himself in the car window. Utterly embarrassed, he called Crosby to go pick him up some Adam clothes.
As Crosby was through the closet, being reamed by mom-to-be Kristina in a fit of rage about the "locked" client they didn't have, she went into labor.
This development left a grossly misdirected Adam alone at Mista's house. Dressed like a fool, not knowing where Crosby was, completely out of his element. He even said he liked the songs, but there was too much cursing. It was awesome. Also out of his element was Crosby. He's the family tool, always on the defensive about who he is and what he does.
Except it was now Crosby's time to step up to the plate. Kristina was with him when her water broke, and he was the only person there for her. Dax Sheppard did a terrific job of being horrified and frightened and wanting to rise to the occasion. His big eyes welled with tears as he realized "this is it." He took her hand, her screams and whatever else she threw at him and helped bring Nora into the world.
Julia, Joel and Zoe
As if there wasn't already enough emotion to play out for four hours, as Zoe experienced Braxton Hicks contractions, she turned to Julia. After a quick trip to the hospital, Zoe spent the night and experienced all of the joy that is contained in a Braverman family.
Sydney was painting Joel's fingernails, wanted to touch Zoe's baby then paint Zoe's nails. We witnessed the change in her attitude toward giving her baby to someone she knows. I really thought that she would agree to an open adoption after making her decision, but she turned away from a hug and merely shook Julia's hand as she walked away crying, knowing the Grahams would take care of her child.
I'm fairly certain everyone in the episode cried at least once. Some twice. The raging laughter at Adam was perfectly centered to ensure viewers weren't crying non-stop, but it was pretty darned close. There wasn't one scene wasted or one moment of screen time that should have been on someone else. That rarely happens in television. That rarely happens in any mode of entertainment. If Parenthood is looking for an Emmy reel to submit, I'd happily deliver this one myself.
PS - Haddie had only the briefest flash on the screen and it was my all time favorite episode of Parenthood. What does that mean??
PPS - Make sure to read the quotes. There were some extraordinary lines this week!
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA), enjoys mentoring writers, wine, and passionately discussing the nuances of television. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.