"Small Victories" highlighted to a chilling degree the latest in the adoption saga of Victor by Joel and Julia, as well as the consequences of the oodles of unprotected sex that occurred between Drew and Amy.
Julia and Joel: I know this will be a very unpopular opinion and I'm prepared for the feedback, but I cannot condone Victor's behavior. Yes, Sydney is and always has been a spoiled brat, but Victor is no better. He doesn't get a free pass because he was raised differently. He obviously loves his real mother very much and takes it out on Julia. She can't win.
My assumption is he was raised without a father, so Joel isn't taking any of the flack because there isn't anyone for Victor to compare him to or for him to miss. Either way, the situation is getting worse and it's very hard to watch, especially knowing how much Julia wanted another child.
Calling 911 on Julia because he refused to let go of the candy box and fell off the bed could have just invited social services into their lives forever. While he tossed a metal bat at his adopted sister and received barely a harsh word in return, he called 911 over another incident for which he was partially responsible.
Yes, Julia was behaving irrationally by grabbing at the box. She should have walked away. But falling off the bed is hardly child abuse. I think Victor has serious mental problems that will be exposed. His reaction to Joel wasn't even appropriate given the situation. Can their marriage withstand all the stress of their predicament?
Julia's second guessing the decision to adopt Victor didn't surprise me at all; it scared the hell out of me. For as much as she wanted and needed Victor, she was losing her confidence. It really makes me wonder how often these things happen to people who don't think as deeply and thoroughly about their decision to adopt and the kids who get caught in the middle. It's a very disconcerting situation, from both sides.
Adam and Kristina: Thank goodness Max's candid and brash nature offset the sadness of the Graham's situation with a bit of humor. Greeting Zeek with a chat about pubic hair was hilarious, as was Zeek's response about wet dreams. I was wondering why there was a note about adult themes at the beginning of the episode and I sure found out why with the stories that played out. Kristina was channeling the late comedian George Carlin with her many turns of phrases for the upcoming states of Max's private parts.
Drew and Amy: If ever a teen pregnancy didn't move me, it was this one. I barely bought the romance between Drew and Amy during their first go around, but the sex-filled romp it became after she returned from summer camp never set well with me and now it seems the only reason they were brought back together was to tell this tale about teen pregnancy.
That said, the very best thing about taking the time to tell it was they didn't back away from the abortion. It seems there are very few in Hollywood willing to touch the topic, despite its legality or its support in the liberal world of entertainment. It was a topic Jason Katims tackled successfully once before in Friday Night Lights.
At that time, the story had very far reaching repercussions for characters who weren't even directly involved, so I am interested in what this development might mean for Drew's future and Sarah's when she finds out she really was in the dark in thinking he was only stressed over school issues. Might it be a way for Sarah to get closer to Mark again?
Crosby and Jasmine: Even Crosby couldn't have prepared for how difficult it was going to be to incorporate Jasmine's mom, Renee, into their home. She was cooking food he didn't like and serving it before he got home from work, spending hours in the bathroom doing her hair for a job she was offered but turned down and even did her son's laundry at the house. It was beyond trying for him.
Every time Renee came close to getting a job, Crosby got his hopes up so high that his landings became harder and harder until he could no longer hide them from Renee. She was forced to admit she was probably looking for something that no longer existed, but it was awful to hear her talk about working for a non-profit for 30 years and giving every extra cent to them only to end up a budgetary cutback. Ouch.
What surprised me was that as much as Jasmine is into making lists and rules for things that she didn't try to make things more bearable at the house with time schedules, charts and graphs for eating, using the bathroom, when people could and couldn't visit, etc. When an extra person is added, it's workable as long as everyone is respectful of the time of others. The only person on the planet that scares Jasmine is her mom, and that ended up biting her in the butt.
It was another extraordinary episode of Parenthood. What did you think? Too controversial or did they get it right?
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer 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.