Last week, I was rather upset with Parenthood, you may recall. This week, the show leaves me with far more complicated feelings after its midseason finale. Before I get too emotional about the Greatest American Couple, let’s discuss the show as a whole and its taunting tactics.
After a week of withholding any information on Joel and Julia, this episode did not hesitate to show Julia, but with boy toy Chris instead of angelic Joel. Side note: why can’t Chris JUST WEAR HIS FREAKING TIE?! Oh, you’re so casual and handsome? No, f#@k you, Chris! Besides that, we got heavy doses of Sarah and Hank, Zeek and Drew, and Max and Dylan last night. Zeek’s desire to travel and enjoy life before his heart fails him again is sad and touching, but we’ll discuss that more later. Sarah tried to trick us, hinting at a return to Mark (it’s hard being that ADORABLE), but she and Hank continue to please. It doesn’t hurt that Ray Romano is turning in an Emmy-worthy supporting performance week in and week out. Max’s affection for Dylan reached an inappropriate level last night, but of course his saint of a mother saved the situation by forcing Dylan’s parents to take a long, hard look at their distant relationship with their daughter. Sadly, we didn’t even see Crosby, and I’m beginning to get concerned about —
WHAT AM I THINKING?!
I can’t not talk about Joel and Julia any longer. Joel, loving and repentant, takes her to their favorite restaurant. Julia, confused but loving, flees after his emotional speech. Joel tells her, “I failed you…I have never stopped loving you.” Julia leaves in pieces, completely flustered. At work, she lashes out at Chris! F$#k you, Chris! Literally, “get out of my face, Chris!” Maybe, “wear a tie like a f#@$ing adult, Chris!”
ANYWAY, the show did a great job of toying with us. Julia cuts off Chris, giving us hope, yet she still wants, or at least says she wants, to sign her divorce papers and show Joel that his walking out makes forgiveness impossible. But even her mother recognizes Joel’s desire to reconcile as “a good thing.” What’s a girl to do? OH WAIT, I KNOW. Get back together! Mothers know best! She reminds Julia: “You know what marriage is sweetie? You know what it’s about? Forgiveness.” BAM.
Don’t go, Zeek.
How can she say no — what’s that? Julia’s showing up at Joel’s condo, divorce papers in hand?! AHHHHHHHHHHHH. She storms past him, plopping on the couch, death pen in hand, papers before her. She signs, tells Joel he must do the same. Joel takes the pen and stares, on the verge of tears. JOEL, I SAY (TO MYSELF), “LEAN IN” (EPISODE TITLE), BE WITH HER.
HE LISTENS. He leans in for the kiss, and for a brief moment Julia looks like she won’t return the favor. But she will, right? Yeah, she will. She does. Joel looks at her “in a way that every young girl wants to be looked at sometime,” and they kiss passionately. Suddenly, the episode feels like a victory. Max apologizes to Dylan, Sarah reaffirms her happiness with Hank, and Zeek and Camille look forward to a lovely vacation.
BUT WAIT. Before the high of Joel and Julia’s kiss has even come close to settling, Zeek’s having another cardiac event, and the joy dissipates. Usually Parenthood thrives in teaching us lessons about family and relationships without ever getting us too down, always ending with reconciliations and love. Last night, Parenthood wouldn’t let us get too high. Maybe this speaks to it being the show’s final season. Surely there must be death before the show runs its course, if only to show the story arc as a natural one — one in which Zeek (and the worrisome Crosby?!) pass on just as Amber brings new life into the world (and maybe Joel and Julia too?!).
The scenes for next week show us Zeek in the hospital, and we know that this second event means things have gotten serious. The only good news is a shot of Joel and Julia in the hospital, making me more confident that their kiss was an actual turning point rather than another cruel ploy in the show’s quest to break my heart.