It's going to be an exciting year on Parenthood.
"It Has To Be Now" felt like the first day of school when you were a kid, when you got to see all of your old friends again and the anticipation was high as you looked forward to the promise of new friendships, but still had that beloved set of familiar faces by your side.
Even in the first episode of Parenthood Season 5, we can feel a loosening of the ropes a bit, as the writers weren't constrained to tell their stories in a shortened season of 15 or 18 episodes. They were promised a full 22 to give us the very best they have to offer. Fan favorite Joel has a new project he'll be working on with a female superior, Julia is straining at the bit to get back to her own career, Kristina threw her hat into the mayoral race, Crosby and Jasmine face the distress that comes with a difficult baby and Sarah is finally living her own life again outside the confines of the Braverman compound.
That's just the tip of the emotional iceberg.
We had a time jump of about six months, and as Crosby and Jasmine were quibbling about big stuff (naming the baby) and little stuff (whether a pink car seat was appropriate for Crosby's ride), Jasmine's water broke.
Every birth on Parenthood doesn't constitute a world event, and - unlike the birth of Nora where we were front row and center with Crosby holding Kristina's hand during the birth, giving them much needed time to bond while Adam was making his way across town in the latest in rapper's apparel - before we knew it baby girl Braverman was in the house.
The true test of this new birth was the difficulty of the baby and Crosby's inability to bond with his new daughter. Crosby's fears were laid to rest at the end of the episode when Jasmine assured him that their daughter was in a class by herself and she hadn't been through anything quite like it with Jabbar. Dax Shepard brilliantly portrayed Crosby's feelings in that moment with a comical lift of his eyebrows. Jasmine then shared their new girl's name. Aida Braverman - no hyphenation required.
Kristina has remained cancer free and continued her visits with her friends who are not; which gave her the inspiration to run against Bob Little for Mayor of Berkeley. Kristina has never been one to take little bites of life, and it's devouring what's put in front of her with such amazing gusto that got her through her cancer ordeal while keeping her emotionally stable. The Primetime Emmy Awards nominating committee didn't see fit to include Monica Potter on their roster for her amazing work as a woman battling cancer last year; perhaps they'll be more impressed with her run for mayor this year.
Sarah moved out of the house and appears to be making her living as a superintendent of an apartment building, completely unaware that Hank has returned from Minnesota. There also appears to be a misunderstanding between the two of them about who exactly ended the relationship, as we discovered when Max - taking his walk within his approved radius - stopped in on Hank and opened the discussion. Max continues to hold some sort of record for best lines given with a straight face. Check out the Parenthood quotes to see what I mean.
Adam felt the need to confront Hank under the guise of paying Hank for the work he did on Max's camera... when he really just wanted to find out what happened between him and Sarah. Adam needs to stop hiding behind his kid and say what's on his mind. It was rather insulting to both Max and Hank to offer money for what amounted to a friendly chat and advice about photography. At least Adam later came to recognize that there might be something to Hank's advice about Max's skill in the area.
Whatever happened between Sarah and Hank, he never gave the impression he would blow smoke up a kid's rear end to make him feel good. In fact, if he thought he might give Max the wrong idea and Max had little talent, he would have likely gone far in the other direction and insulted him to keep him from finding out a harsher lesson from someone he might have held dear. Hank is one of those hard-shelled good guys.
Joel and Julia seem to have their family all settled in since the last time we saw them, and Joel won a huge bid on a two-year project that will have him working closely with guest star, Sonya Walger. Considering Julia was hoping to get back to work, Joel's new work situation will likely cause problems for her as she comes to terms with the dilemma quitting her job under less-than ideal circumstances created.
Julia had done everything right in her work situation until she quit her job. Nine years of impeccable work history essentially went down the drain because she walked. She's going to have to talk to her former employer and try to set things right, or he will continue to haunt her with a poor job recommendation. From what I know of California law, however, unless Julia expressly gives a potential employer the right to call a specific person, handing out a poor recommendation could be a basis for a lawsuit. Somebody tell me if I'm wrong.
Finally, we have our breakout romantic couple from Parenthood Season 4 - Amber and Ryan. They were last seen talking a long walk and looking at engagement rings in storefront windows, but the premiere had our lovers continents apart as Ryan had been redeployed to Kandahar while their relationship continued via Skype. By the end of the premiere, Amber received word he was coming home.
She stood on base, awaiting his platoon, seeing his face, unsure whether the stoic look was in response to seeing her or a reaction to being away. After his last deployment and the mental state he was in after he returned, she must have been filled with trepidation.
Amber had no need to worry. Once the platoon was given the okay to break from their fellow soldiers, Ryan headed straight to Amber for an embrace and a kiss. He got down on bended knee, asked her to marry him and she accepted.
And so, we're off. The laughter, the tears, the emotional pull of Parenthood is back. Were you able to walk away with a dry eye? Seeing Amber in that girly, yellow dress waiting for her man to come home, the music, the proposal... they got me. Tears sprang from my eyes. Talk about the return and what you are most excited to see play out this season in the comments - and welcome back!
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.