We may have seen a lot less of the full Parenthood clan on "Left Field," but the glimpses into the extended members of this beloved family were well worth the time, don't you think?
The best way to go about it is to break it down by characters, so let's dig in!
Adam & Kristina
Kristina wants a dog and mentions it to Max and he immediately thinks it's a done deal. Part of me wondered if Kristina didn't make her "oopsie" on purpose because she clearly wanted and needed that dog as much as Max did. With Haddie off at college, their lives have changed again.
The old saying goes that the only constant is change, and all of the Bravermans have faced their fare share of change. In just a few years Adam and Kristina have discovered their son has autism, Adam has lost his employment, they had another baby and their eldest daughter left for college. Adding a puppy to the mix would seem like a happy moment.
If only it didn't occur at the same time Kristina was getting a mammogram. Kudos to regular TV Fanatic commenter Mrs. Alex O'Loughlin for correctly guessing that the bad news predicted for one member of the Braverman clan might be Kristina getting cancer, resulting in Haddie returning home from college. Unless another member receives equally bad news, the final scene - silently acted out behind a song - showed Kristina receiving news of a suspicious lump in her breast.
Crosby & Jasmine
After Crosby laughs at Adam and Kristina for having a calendar, even scheduling Funkytown (sex), his life falls apart with Jasmine due to scheduling issues. They do what every single parent in entertainment has done: leave Jabar at school without picking him up. Between that, unfulfilled dinner requests and Crosby's seeming desire to have every second of their life unscheduled, Jasmine was feeling the pressure.
Credit to Crosby for his ability to recognize his weaknesses because after he left Jabar at school, he synced their calendars. What's so fun about them as a couple is that even when they are taking the next step toward adulthood and responsibility, they do it in a way that allows laughter and playfulness into their private life. Crosby's first three calendar syncs were about making time to apologize for being a douche, scheduling dinner with a couple of Jasmine's choice and some time for Funkytown. He made the change and kept their magic.
Poor Mark doesn't even have to be on screen to for his relationship with Sarah to be falling apart at the seams. It's an interesting choice to give already sparse screen time to Ray Romano's Hank rather than Jason Ritter's Mark. Don't get me wrong, I don't for a second question Jason Katims' judgment, but I do wonder how long into the Sarah/Mark relationship it was decided that it wouldn't work. There were some pretty crazy decisions made last season, a lot of baby talk and then the big engagement. It moved very fast and I doubted the wisdom of Sarah's choices.
I still do, but after meeting Jason Ritter and knowing how invested he is in Parenthood and the role of Mark, it just kills me to watch the disintegration of the pair.
Romano's dramatic work continues to resonate. I was one of the naysayers during his sitcom career that he'd never make it out, but instead he plays one of the most realistic every-man types on television. When Amy picked the first day of school to dump Drew - right in front of the school - it was Hank's down-to-earth talk with Drew that sucked him out of the doldrums. Frankly, I was surprised at Sarah's reaction when Hank told her that he thought Drew should sleep with one of Amy's friends before she did it to him. The reality is those things happen in high school, and Amy probably will do that to Drew. She didn't have much respect for him otherwise.
There is so much tension between Sarah and Hank. I can easily imagine one of those bumbling, they-got-too-close scenes that ends in some sort of odd embrace or even a kiss. Poor Mark. Hank better get his Photoshop software ready or Camille is going to kick Sarah's butt!
Julia & Victor
Last week we were left with the notion of Julia struggling to fall in love with her adopted son. It can't be unfamiliar territory for families that adopt older children, and the focus on building that relationship paid off.
Not only was Victor with a new family who he had yet to connect with, but he was faced with the first day of school, as well. It wasn't a surprise for him to fake an illness to get out of going, and I was pleased to see Joel didn't pop at letting him stay home. What finally worked was for Julia to let Victor know shew would not leave the school yard while he completed his first day. She would ride it out with him. If he had to go, so would she. It was the breakthrough they both needed, and resulted in a lovely moment on his second morning when the fear in both of them was gone. The trust had been built and love would grow.
I'm left wondering what will become of Kristina's diagnosis, how long Mark and Sarah will be engaged and, just for giggles, how long until Jasmine is pregnant again. We never got to see Crosby as a pre-father, but his scenes during "Nora" while Kristina was giving birth were incredible. I hope we get the chance to see that play out.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.