Pulling off a finale full of happy endings abutted by the death of a beloved character seems impossible, but not when it's in capable hands of Jason Katims.
It was never going to be easy to say goodbye to the Bravermans, and unless you're some kind of a monster, tears were shed while watching Parenthood Season 6 Episode 13. But the pain was less evident after an hour spent shoring up the peaceful future of the family we've come to know and love.
It's taken me a while to get started on this review because part of me wants to discuss the small stuff, and part of me wants to make a wide, sweeping gesture about the series as a whole and it's probably best to meet somewhere in the middle. Even that, after spending so much time as an honorary Braverman, is somehow eluding me.
As much as it's not about me, it is. It's also about all of you, as we've all spent the last six years as honorary Bravermans. We've wept for them and laughed with them, wished we could impart our sage advice upon them. We've argued amongst ourselves as we would brothers and sisters in our attempts to get our own way with the story, just as Crosby, Adam, Julia and Sarah would gather at their parents' table and squabble. Watching Parenthood brought out the family in all of us.
There was so much beauty to be found in the finale. The musical choices were simply stunning. A mere note was enough to aid in the welling of tears, but in the way the ending was presented, with the wedding and the various montages, there was just enough to allow us to catch our breath before the next emotional nugget was launched.
Leading up to the wedding we learned some things to set our minds at ease. Sarah made the right choice in Hank. Zeek not only put his stamp of approval on him, but revealed he was the only man ever to ask him for one of the girls' hands in marriage. Joel and Julia were given a chance to adopt Victor's half sister. Max got a job and Adam found his passion.
The photography montage at the wedding was simply delightful. Done differently it could have felt like a waste of time with so few precious minutes remaining. Instead, with the different groups coming together to perch together prettily or make funny faces, it reinforced the feeling of family; that everything was going to be OK long after we stopped watching them.
It was only fitting, then, that Zeek passed away in his living room while his Millie was looking at those very photos. Everything was alright. Amber and baby Zeek were living there, so Millie wasn't alone. He had given his vote of confidence to Crosby to continue with The Luncheonette and Crosby made Amber his new Crosby (they listened to me!), Kristina noticed what Crosby did and Adam found his passion in teaching. Zeek could let go because his family was in good hands.
With minutes to go, the family met at a baseball diamond to scatter Zeek's ashes. The result was a mish-mashed montage whooshing us though time as they played one final game with dad. It was rather brilliant, if at first a little hard to catch on.
Since one Friday Night Lights veteran wasn't up to the task of being Amber's parter, Scott Porter made a wonderful cameo as her husband, and the two gentlemen even had a brief scene together as Ryan visited, returning Zeek to the couple who had a daughter. Joel and Julia didn't only adopt Victor's sister, but appeared to have another baby, as well.
Continuing on, Headmaster Adam Braverman handed a diploma to Max on the day of his high school graduation. Millie took the vacation Zeek was planning before his second heart attack, visiting Chez Marie. To assure us the business didn't fail, "Forever Young," the song playing over the montage, was from a group recording live at The Luncheonette.
That last bit I found particularly compelling, as in the booth could be seen with an older Aida and pregnant Jasmine, making it truly a family affair. When it was all cut together, in conjunction with the continuation of the baseball game, it was quite lovely and really different.
It's not unexpected, of course. Putting the final touches on this review is a little bit difficult. There are so few truly memorable families filled with struggles, growth, pain and above all, love, on television these days that to share them with each other is a blessing. It's been my pleasure to do so with all of you since my very first Parenthood review here on TV Fanatic in March of 2011. As the title says, "May God Bless and Keep You Always."
If you begin to go into withdrawal, and I know you will, remember you can watch Parenthood online here via TV Fanatic.
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.