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Parenthood: The Fighters

I pretty much like every episode of Parenthood, but I thought this week’s installment was even better than usual. Not only did John Corbett deliver a fantastic performance as Sarah’s ex Seth, but everyone involved in the episode delivered an amazing performance. There was some damn fine acting going on last night.

Papa Was A Rolling Stone

OK, let’s talk about John Corbett as Seth Holt first. The whole situation was heartwrenching,. John Corbett was outstanding, even though he wasn’t likable. I mean, did you like him? The creeper moustache. The leather suit. (I’m with Amber – a vest and pants is pretty much a suit.) The fact that he lied to his kid about how long he’d been in town. The fact that he didn’t call Sarah to ask about getting together with the kids when he came to town. The fact that he acted like he hadn’t been a terrible father. I could go on, but you get it.

Sarah was understandably upset when she found out that Drew had gone to see Seth without her knowledge, but it was Amber’s reaction that was the most fascinating. Even though Amber is only a couple years older than Drew she clearly remembers more (and Drew probably has his head buried in the sand a little), and she carries a lot more hurt around with her. That’s hard for Drew to understand, and it was also hard for him to understand the difference between Amber sneaking out as a teen to be with boys, and him sneaking around to see their dad. Both actors played the scene so well, and Lauren Graham really brought it too.

OK, first of all, you’re either a Lauren Graham fan or you’re not. She tends to be a pretty polarizing actor. And I’d argue that if you can’t stand her, you probably shouldn’t be watching the show. So read this knowing that I love Lauren Graham.

Lauren Graham is, in my opinion, one of the best criers on TV. The woman knows how to deliver a great crying scene. She also excels in the eyes welling up with tears department, in both happy and sad scenes. And Parenthood relies on that skill a lot. So it was refreshing to see her not cry, but scream. And although I don’t think major screaming matches should be done on many episodes, I think this situation warranted it. The writers have done a good job of slowly helping us understand the severity of Sarah, Amber and Drew’s previous situation. We saw it when Sarah found out that Zeek had given Drew a beer, and we saw it when Amber spoke to Haddie about the dangers of getting involved with an alcoholic. I really liked how this slowly built up to the return of Seth, and what that meant for the kids. When Sarah said that she needed to speak to Seth before he saw the kids so she could know what sort of condition it was in, it was heartbreaking.

Drew really wanted to see his dad’s show, and once Sarah gave the OK Amber offered to take him. I like seeing this side of Amber now. She’s taking care of her brother, but she’s also tough and keeping a distance from her dad because she’s been hurt. The eye-rolling and sarcastic comments she was delivering during the concert felt very natural. It’s a way a lot of people guard themselves, and it especially felt right for Amber’s character. Then, just when you thought it was going to be really easy to hate Seth, he performed a beautiful song he and Sarah had written together. It was proof of the love he and Sarah had had, and it made everything more complicated.

I think this might be the best storyline that Sarah, Amber and Drew have gotten so far, and I’m glad the writers saved it for this point in the series. I have really high hopes for where this will go but I’d prefer to see it focus on Sarah and Seth’s parenting, not romance.

Wedding Bell Blues

The drama this week wasn’t limited to Sarah’s family, though. Jasmine and Crosby also had quite the shouting match.

Ideally, I might have saved Jasmine and Crosby’s fight for another episode since this one was a tad argument-heavy, but that’s a minor complaint. I liked the storyline because I think real couple fight. People shout at each other. It happens. And I also liked the storyline because it addressed one of my major concerns about Jasmine.

Jasmine has always been sort of aggressive and pushy, and the show has slowly been addressing it this season. Her and Crosby’s visit with the minister really pushed the issue to the forefront, and I’m happy about that. The way Jasmine answered the questions didn’t just suggest that she won’t let Crosby make decisions, it suggested that she doesn’t even value his opinions. The problem is, though, it also suggested that maybe these two people aren’t ready to be married.

Counseling sessions like the one Jasmine and Crosby went to are designed to make sure people talk about important things before they get married. But it’s even tougher for Jasmine and Crosby because they already have a kid together. They’re already a family whether they get married or not, so breaking off the engagement has more severe consequences than it would for a couple without an adorable little six year old.

Crosby’s problem was that he let his frustrations build up. He should have spoken to Jasmine specifically about what was said during their meeting with the minister, and about their life in general, like the way Jasmine and her mom made major changes to the wedding plans without including him. Instead, Crosby let all his anger build up and then he exploded over how to load the dishwasher. And he said everything wrong, which made Jasmine immediately defensive. The writers have made Jasmine kind of unlikable, but Crosby dealt with this in the worst possible way – especially when he mentioned Jabbar.

But you know what? I liked it. The scene worked because it was so real – we’ve seen this fight building for months, and it was ugly. People say ugly things during fights, when they’re worked up and on the defensive, and I’m glad the writers allowed the characters to go there. Crosby stormed out and spent the night on his boat, and that was what he needed to do. But where do they go from here? The scenes from next week suggest that Crosby is going to maybe get involved with Gabby (Minka Kelly, who plays Max’s behavioral therapist) and that is a problem way bigger than a blowout argument.

On the one hand, I like Minka Kelly and I liked the chemistry her character had with Crosby. And I’ve never been a big fan of Jasmine and I’ve never quite been convinced that she and Crosby are right together. But on the other hand, she and Crosby have a kid. They’re a family. And they’re engaged. I don’t want Crosby to throw that away, and I don’t want his character pigeonholed as the irresponsible guy who screws everything up.

Home Sweet Home

I had a lot to say about Sarah and Crosby’s storylines this week, so I’ll keep my thoughts on Haddie quick.

I’m glad she’s home, and I’m glad her parents have reconsidered their stance on her relationship with Alex. Had Adam and Kristina told her she can date Alex before she came home, it would have felt like a desperate attempt to get her home. It would have set the example that running away will get you what you want. But Haddie came home on her own, and I think Adam and Kristina made the right choice in telling her she can see Alex – but with a lot of ground rules. Seeing her whole family play basketball with Alex at the end was a great moment, and I hope that this relationship remains stable for a while. After all that drama, I’d like to see Haddie and Alex happy while the dramatic plots shift to Sarah and Crosby’s lives.

What did you think of “Just Go Home”? Did you like it as much as I did? Do you love/hate John Corbett?

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