Happy New Year, Braverman clan!
Parenthood returns with a spectacular episode that sets up a new myriad of parental and familial conflicts for the characters and their respective families. “Keep On Rowing” focuses on the elder Braverman kids, dealing with Kristina’s continuing battle with breast cancer, Julia and Victor’s complicated relationship, Crosby’s acceptance of a new mostly unwanted house guest, and of course Sarah’s fumbling new romance with Hank. All of which is tied together in a nice platter of New Year’s drama and fun. The series continues to be one of the best underrated shows currently on air, and this pivotal, lighthearted and emotional installment is evident of that fact. It’s a great reminder after the nice break we’ve had through a rather restless holiday!
Kristina has a bit of a heavy start this year, as she’s out celebrating with her sisters, chatting it up, dancing and generally having a great time for once, rather than suffering from her chemotherapy. That is until a lock of her hair falls out and her entire mood goes south. I love how Sarah and Julia attempt to soften this crushing blow concerning the reality of Kristina’s circumstance. Ultimately, Kristina chooses to cut all of her hair off in an act of liberation, attempting to take control of this depressing situation. Adam’s reaction to this change is not what she expected; however, Adam, being the golden-star husband that he is spends the entire episode attempting to make up for his blunder. Kristina needs to be treated like a wife now more than anything. Not a patient. Otherwise, her insecurities about her state of being will continue to plummet. No doubt Monica Potter is continuing to give a fantastic, fragile, yet strong performance as a wife battling cancer. I’ve never been so engrossed in a character’s journey through cancer since Izzie Stevens’ battle with it on Grey’s Anatomy. It’s also great to witness the intricate folds of what fighting the disease can bring to a person’s life. Not just inside, but outside as well. I love the fact that Max likes Kristina's new bald head simply because it reminds him of Bane from "The Dark Knight Rises".
I dare say that the only silver lining in Kristina’s fight with cancer would be her and her family putting their relationships first and living life to the fullest. Adam, in his attempt to give Kristina back some semblance of normal tries to replace her hair with a blond wig; however, it only ends up insulting Kristina, making her feel uglier than before. It’s rather painful watching the mostly lively and perky house mom and wife deal with these new insecurities. Everyone woman likes to feel special and beautiful, yet how can she when she’s sick all the time? Which is why I also love the fact that Kristina, even when fighting cancer is still hit on by random guys. And it wasn’t just the wig. Kristina’s got charm and charisma. Her and Adam have never been better than their little night out on the town. Kristina still looks quite lovely, even without the wig. At least she knows she has options.
Victor wants to see his biological mother to boast about his shining new grades; however, due to the implications of the adoption, his wish cannot be granted. Even after all the work Julia and Joel did in the first half of the season, trying to make Victor feel comfortable with their family, he still does not perceive them as his real parents. It must be painful for Julia to hear that Victor is still missing that one something to make him happy and content, and that she cannot give it to him. Things just go from bad to worse, as Victor’s anger about the unfairness of the situation escalates into violent tendencies. Sydney pushes his buttons just a bit too much and Victor’s reaction results in a rather shocking “slip” of his metal baseball bat, which could have very well horribly injured Sydney. Julia’s concerns about the incident are very significant. Victor has shown some real growth over the season, yet one has to wonder if whether his anger issues will result in the parents taking drastic measures. For now, Julia and Victor are at an uncomfortable impasse, and I’m not entirely sure how they can get themselves out of this one, unless Julia takes the chance and maybe lets Victor see his biological mother?
Jasmine’s mom needs help. Money, to be exact. It’s always a bit of a mess when it comes to family members borrowing money. A fact Adam quickly points out when Crosby comes to him for some advice. However, when Jasmine’s mom’s financial issues become more severe than once thought, Crosby is put in the undesirable position of moving his mother-in-law into his “man-cave”. This marital strife is no doubt one that occurs a number of times in reality for a lot of couples, and the show handles it wonderfully with heart and humor. It’s great to continue seeing Crosby develop into a tolerant, selfless golden-star husband, even with his childish tendencies sometimes flaring, he always tends to do the right thing. Besides, I think Jasmine’s mom’s stay with them will be an interesting growing process for everyone involved…
Sarah and Hank simply go to work and have sex? Interesting, but that’s not a relationship at all. It’s a wonder that the two are still on conversation terms with one another. Since the beginning of the season I’ve rooted for Sarah and Hank more than Sarah and Mark, and it’s fantastic to see that Sarah’s sisters, Julia and Kristina agree. I love Kristina’s insinuation that Mark is a “man” but Hank is a “MAN”. I liked Mark, but I like Hank for Sarah a bit more. While Sarah usually does not make exceptionally wise decisions, she takes action and attempts to make her and Hank’s fun-sexy time evolve into a possible romantic relationship that can be considered “adult”. And it pays off. Hank finally opens up and admits something real to Sarah. The new couple is that one goofy, flawed pairing that you secretly admire for their eccentric attributes and odd yet lovely habits. Their definitely not a dress up and go out to a fancy restaurant type. It’s great to see the two finally opening up to one another, being real and admitting that they still have moments of jealousy concerning their exes, and having fun as a couple. I’m definitely rooting for them!
It’s great to have the series, Parenthood and its lighthearted conflicts back on the small screen in 2013! Hopefully this new year will be good to them, especially to Kristina as she continues being the fighter that she is, battling cancer like a champ. Whether the Braverman family is arguing with one another, battling disease, finding acceptance, or learning new surprising lessons, its always great to watch them again every week. And what a great episode to welcome us back with. “Keep On Rowing” gets 5 out of 5 stars!
Don’t forget to subscribe and leave a comment!