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Parenthood - Episode 5.09- Election Day - Review

Hi, everyone. I know this is late in the game (76 episodes to be exact), but I'm really happy to be here review all of the Braverman clan chaos that goes down on our small screens each week. The Bravermans are sort of an extended family to me and I am a bit over-attached to them, So I'm really anxious to share my thoughts as well as hear yours.

So without further introduction, lets dive into "Election Day", shall we?

I'm going to break things down by couple, since that's how I feel this week's episode was presented and recap and review what I saw and felt. This weeks episode featured a conclusion to Kristina's campaign story, Joel and Julia's marriage woes came to another head, Hank found himself surrogate fathering Max with the help of Sarah, Ryan and Amber had some issues(Gee, ya think) and Crosby...well, was Crosby.

Adam, Kristina and 2 1/2 points.
I will say that in the beginning I was not fan of Kristina's mayoral race. I understood that Kristina faced cancer and I got that she wanted to cherish every moment, but always felt the race was a long shot. Yet, I still couldn't help but root for her, because to me, she's the character with the most perspective and I think Monica Potter's portrayal is spot on. (Shame on you Emmy's for snubbing her!)
So this week when we first see our candidate out on the campaign trail, making nice with the people of Berkley for votes I can't help but hope this works out for her. There's a cute little montage here, where Kristina, does indeed kiss a baby (I mean, Really?). Of course Heather is along for the ride and at the end of montage after Kristina serves a full diner breakfast, Heather has some great news, they are only behind 2 1/2 points in the polls. They may actually win!

The only real time we had with Adam this week was when he was supporting Kristina (As he should be!). But this did give way to Adam telling Kristina "Win or lose, I'm still proud of you" followed by a scene of them both at the voting polls, placing their votes. Call me sentimental but this scene did cause me to swell with pride, it's little scenes like this, just seeing Kristina cast her vote for herself and feeling her anxiety, her triumph and excitement that get to me. It's scenes like this that keep me coming back every week.

And then came another subtle gut punch in the form of Kristina's friend with cancer. I hate that she's always used as plot device to show how much Kristina has to be thankful for, but it's so subtle that I love it at the same time. Anyway, her friend had come out to make sure that she supported Kristina on her journey and we got a really sweet moment where she tells her that she's already won before heading in to vote, joking she's voting for Bob Little. I should have seen the foreshadowing on the wall, but I was really swept up in the moment that what came next for Kristina was even more disheartening. After a quick scene of awaiting the count and of Heather muttering about trusting her gut. We were left gutted.

Kristina walks out on stage, triumphant music is playing and everyone is smiling and waving. And then she reveals that she has conceded the election to Bob Little. She goes on to mention how a year ago with her cancer she never expected to be here, that it was a close race and thanks for support and she descends into the crowd. Where we meet Emma, a special needs child and daughter of someone Kristina met on the trail. She wants to thank Kristina and I had to blot my eyes as her mom spoke what Emma signed to Kristina. Emma has moved to better school, thanks to Kristina and she thanked Kristina for changing her life. Kristina hugs her and then balloons fall from the ceiling closing the chapter on her mayoral race. It was all so fast, I couldn't really feel for Kristina's loss, maybe it was intended that way.

So what is next for her? Does she abandon her education dreams entirely? As bittersweet as the moment was, I can't help but want to know what's next for her now? Maybe school district superintendent?

Win or lose Kristina Braverman, We're proud of you.

Sarah, Hank and Max and the labors of love
Hank and Max, to me, are one of the brighter pairings on this show. I think their relationship feels most organic to me, because deep down they understand each other, and Hank is a good, positive role model for Max to have. I mean, it does not hurt to have Adam as your dad, but Hank, he just flows with Max.

This week Hank's daughter Ruby was back, and she of course was not having what Max was selling. I applaud Parenthood for never missing a beat when it comes to Max's diagnosis, his rant about his chair and things is a nice subtle remind of what Max is all about. Of course Ruby was dismissive of Max, so Hank sent her to go get some ice cream, for everyone including Max. Later when Max and Hank are in the dark room, Max just flat out says, he is going to ask Ruby to be his girlfriend. As always Max states facts on why statistically, they should date. The hesitance Hank feels is clear and on his face and I couldn't tell if he was worried for Ruby or for Max, but I knew that Hank wanted to figure out what to do. (Ray Romano has really grown on me in this role, and I don't even miss Mark Cyr, probably because Hank has something to do outside of pine for Sarah). Hank then talks to Ruby and tells her that when Max asks, she should just say yes and pretend to be his girlfriend. Hank, never pimp out your teenage daughter, ever, and if you do, don't be surprised if she storms out on you. The big revelation this gave me was that Hank was trying to protect Max from being hurt. So Hank uses this as an excuse to go see Sarah for some advice. While I appreciate the writers trying not to focus so much on Sarah's love life, do they really expect us to believe it won't circle back to Hank and Sarah before season's end?

So, Hank barges into Sarah's apartment after assuming when she yelled "Who's there?" it was "Come in". Side note: Sarah lock your doors. It's not safe, even in cushy-cushy Berkley. Hank then tells her he needs a woman now(I bet you do, hank) for advice about how to tell Max about girls. That he can not just think a girl will date him because they are the same age and have a common interest. He explains what he told Ruby to do and Sarah, always the mature one in the room, tells him, he did try to sell her into prostitution. She tells Hank to let Max know it is a two way street, she's gotta like him, he's gotta like her. Hank departs with some sage advice of his own, telling Sarah to lock her doors(word!). Later Hank departs some wisdom on Max,telling him to take his time and there's no need to rush. That it's all about feeling stuff on the inside, making each other laugh, conversations. He assures him that it will happen but that it doesn't come easy. Max thanks him and Hank smiles, and I, for the life of me can't fathom why Sarah and Hank just can't be together.
It was really nice seeing this side of Hank. Normally a plot like this would fall in the hands of Adam but he was busy with Kristina, so watching Hank act as a surrogate father to make in this situation was rather enjoyable. I like that Hank, unlike Mark has been integrated into the show outside of being Sarah's love interest and it's what makes him and Mark so different, who was Mark outside of Sarah after a certain point? Here, we are seeing layers of Hank and it's nice.

Joel and Julia.....the picture of dysfunction.
Joel and Julia. Where did we go wrong? Sure they have had their tiffs, but the roundabout these two are on currently on just makes my head spin. The episode opens with Joel and Julia walking the recently held back Victor into school. Of course there are children laughing and pointing, and in turn makes Victor upset(They really need to get him some anger management programs STAT). Victor runs into the restroom and Joel follows him. Leaving Julia alone in the hallway, when conveniently her new fried Ed shows up to be a beam of support for her in this time. Joel emerges with Victor, there is an icy interaction between them and the story moves on. Until later when Julia receives a text from Ed really late, and Joel sees it, mentions it and she brushes it off. Like really? C'mon for two people so smart, who used to really be there for each other, these displays of ignorance are wearing on me. Later when Julia and the kids arrive home from school Victor is visually upset and he of course takes out his anger on poor Julia. She bears the blunt of the blows from Victor all the time, and I can see why she is stressed, she feels alone with how to handle this. Did anyone catch that he reverted back to calling her Julia? Later on we see Julia calling Joel for the 5th(!!!) time. What if one of your children was dying or something, is it so hard to answer the phone? Here is where I am, Julia is used to being the best and I really thinking failing with Victor and not having the support from Joel is driving her to Ed. And on the other hand I feel Joel is used to never having his needs come first, to being the team player, the second to Julia, so now that he has this chance to be number one, he's letting it go to his head. What about you?

Later Julia shows up at at Joel's work "Meeting", which to me, looks like he's just eating Sushi with his boss.Of course Julia makes a scene because right now she needs him, and he's here chumming it up. She goes as far as to yell at Pete, and Joel comes to Pete's defense and once again dismisses Julia. We really use to root for Joel, thought he was the best guy, but he is letting Julia down so much, and the writers have made it hard to root for him.
It's not until later at Kristina's election party these two let things off their chests and it really doesn't change too much of anything. Julia lets Joel knows that she was drowning and he keeps repeating he championed her for years, asking her how could she do that to him, that he would never marched into her law firm and talked to her boss that way. He brings up that he championed her for 9 years and she couldn't give him 3 months. This conversation was particularly hard to watch because both actors gave it their all, and you could see the marriage falling apart at the seams. The conversation didn't change much and Joel walking away from her is definitely a low point for them. But it was superbly done on all parts. And from what I see of the next episode this is just the calm before the storm. I know that Julia is coming off needy, but she needs her Husband and Joel should be there for her, he should never feel like it's a choice and I feel like his character has done a complete 180 and needs to be rehabbed quick, is there something else he really just isn't saying?

Ryan and Amber
I hate to say, I don't feel anything for these two, but it could be because I feel like the couple is just a victim of rushed development given last seasons short episode order.
So this week we saw Ryan becoming unhinged and Amber acting surprised, though when her mother brought up Ryan's anger issues previously, Amber tried to brush them off, so don't act so surprised now. So what led up to this?
Well Keep in my mind that last week Amber asked Ryan to return that super blingin' ring, and that was an extra layer added to what has been perceived as an already shaky engagement. Amber was rummaging through drawers and finds Ryan's pills, early on in the episode, and we can be sure this was weighing on her while she was working at the Luncheonette. But Uncle Crosby came to the rescue and asked Amber to perform a scratch track for the background vocalists coming in to sing for the Ashes of Rome track he was mixing. Amber starts singing and it really wasn't bad at all and I'm sure it takes her mind off of all of what has been going on. Of course then came the googly eyes from Dreamy Band Guy.
It just feels like there is too much going on with this particular relationship, like can't wedding decisions and jitters be enough? So of course Amber comes home really excited and there is Ryan, with her favorite Chinese food, raining on her parade, he doesn't seem to happy for her, because she didn't come home for his romantic takeout dinner for two. She asks if he's mad, of course he says he isn't. He goes in for a kiss and she starts asking about the pills.

That's a sure fire way to kill the mood, ask your fiancee if he is sneaking pills behind your back. Ryan acts dodgy, and tells her the pills are two weeks old and he's not taking them. She doesn't believe him and tells him that if he is taking them it'd be okay, and he seems to brush it off. I applaud Matt Lauria and Mae Whitman on their individual portrayals of their characters, but I felt more spark between Zeek and Ryan than I do Amber and Ryan. I just feel if we flash forward to their future it will play out like Blue Valentine. Later DBG, lets Amber and the lead singer, Oliver, hear the final cut of the song in which he kept Amber's vocals.They both approve and to celebrate they all go out drinking, and Amber has ended up missing several calls from Ryan while flirting with DBG, so She finally calls him back and of course Ryan feels like he has to come rescue Amber. Ryan arrives and he picks a fight with DBG, and he just wouldn't stop beating him.

At this point I can't help but question Amber and this storyline, how long until you see you aren't ready for this, either of you? I was hoping that when we saw Amber crying at the police station and grandpa Zeek coming to the rescue, we'd hear some sage advice from him. We didn't, which was a moment wasted. Nonetheless it was a powerful moment, and you could feel the bond between those two. Reminded me of when Amber was in the car accident, and he set her straight. Now I wonder what will Amber do and how will Sarah react when she finds out, after just finally coming around to the idea of Sarah and Ryan getting married? Amber needs to be in a relationship where she is more someone's equal and less like their mother and that's what I feel here. Amber was not wrong for recording the song, nor was she wrong for celebrating, Ryan harbors some deeper issues he should work out before they work on getting married.

Crosby, Jasmine and President Obama
Oh Crosby, now that you and Jasmine are married, the best you can hope for is silly D-plots for comedic relief. Good thing you delivered though. This is definitely one of the bright spots of the episode that was so bogged down with tense moments.
Does anybody else feel like that Crosby needs to learn the art of tact? He and Jasmine are campaigning for votes for Kristina and Crosby asks if she's upset or uncomfortable that Kristina asked her, the only black member of the family, to campaign in the hood? They banter about how white Crosby is, and newsflash everyone, he's not as white as Adam. Anyway, Jasmine says that she's really passionate about politics, and that when she voted for President Obama in 2008, it was experience she will never forget and how she still has her sticker, and then Crosby says me too, I still have my sticker too! So later, while heading to the polls with Jabbar to show him how a democracy works, the truth comes out. Crosby is not registered to vote, never has been and can't register the day of, so in order to save face, he cast his vote publicly, which of course will backfire. Again, because I found this plot generally amusing amongst the other tense moments it didn't bother as much as it normally would, Crosby being the perennial screw-up. How did Crosby think this was going turn out, though? Your son, will obviously be so excited to have been a part of this process he was bound to tell his mom and then the truth will come out! Which, of course it did.
Jasmine finds out from Jabbar about the public voting shenanigans, and she becomes upset, he has never registered to vote and didn't even vote in 2008. Later she lectures him on the 15th amendment and civil rights and she tells him he better hope Kristina doesn't lose by one vote. So what does Crosby do? He waits around a street corners a guy headed in to vote. The guy is voting for Bob Little because Kristina is always hugging people because she is lonely and has a violent husband. Crosby then offers to buy his vote for $20. The guy counters and says $40 since it's really two votes he's paying for. (For him not to vote for Bob and then vote for Kristina for Crosby) Crosby later at the election party tells Julia and Jasmine he bought a vote, and they both point out how would he know if the guy actually voted for Kristina? Crosby said he looked trustworthy, to which the retort was "So trustworthy he sold a vote?". Again, this storyline was a bit on the ridiculous side but it felt needed in order to counteract the heavy drama in the episode. I do hope Crosby gets something meaty to do soon though. I get how important it is to vote, and it was much needed, but if Kristina did not win the blame would not rest on Crosby alone.

Drew was at the election party with his lady friend, Sarah made it awkward, the end.

All in all it was a solid episode, with a lot of story line progression that for the most part felt natural. I just hope that if this season is Parenthood's swan song we are building towards a conclusion that feels natural and not forced like last season that left us with "Ryber". Thus far, I'm really enjoying this season, and look forward to reviewing future episodes.

This is my first review, so feel free to tell me what you thought below. I know it's a bit lengthy but I wanted to make sure I didn't leave anything out. Anything I could change? Feedback is welcome.

So what did you think of the episode? What do you think is next for Kristina? Do you feel the election results were realistic? How do you feel about Hank and his relationship with Max? Are you ready to see Max deal with challenges of dating? Whose side are you on in the Joel and Julia argument? What should Amber do next? Should she marry Ryan? and Finally are you ready for Crosby to do something more than be comedic relief? Sound off in the comments below, and don't forget to tune in when Parenthood returns December 12th, it looks to be a good one!

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