Tensions are high and the Braverman clan is on edge…
Through all of the day-to-day crap, these Bravermans are parents. Sometimes that has them stuck on certain concerns that could have anyone floundering to maintain their sanity. A stagnant progression in a circumstance that already began with some harsh feelings isn’t doing anyone any good. Parenthood definitely continues to wrap up a stellar fourth season full of emotion, laughs, drama and complex family dynamics, by pushing all of its storylines in progression, to a satisfying corner. The penultimate, “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back” is just the beginning of the dramatic end of the season, and it’s hard to believe we’re at the end already.
Sarah needs to get her you-know-what together. The girl is all over the place when it comes to relationships and knowing when to call it quits and move on. It’s great to see Jason Ritter again, as Mark, Sarah’s ex-fiancé; however, his declaration to fight for Sarah just throws a monkey wrench into an already messy situation. Sarah is just beginning to sustain a relationship with Hank, and she almost immediately backtracks into the arms of Mark. The two are hanging out, chatting like they use to and complacently sipping their coffee like nothing big happened between them. One of the reasons why I like the character of Sarah so much is because she is the one Braverman who is still floundering to become an adult. Even Crosby is on the right track of being an adult, husband and parent, whereas, this Braverman child, Sarah is stuck between childish regressions and adult situations. It’s a tragic mix that only makes for more interesting, yet frustrating storylines. When Sarah mentions the kiss that she and Hank shared a few episodes back before her and Mark split, it seems as though she almost deliberately sets up a wall from any kind of happiness that she could have had with Hank and by moving on from Mark. She just puts a flustered and emotionally conflicted Mark back in a situation that could have been avoided altogether.
I’m starting to think that Sarah likes being the thing that makes these two men glow. And while she doesn’t purposely string them on for her enjoyment, the not-so-grown up part of Sarah is astonished that she can be loved this much by two different people. From there she doesn’t fully understand the damage that she’s causing. This grown woman is still floundering to become grounded and confident within herself and it is bewildering to her that Hank and Mark speak to her in different, but adoring ways. Sarah has a different love with Hank than she does with Mark, and it will be interesting to see how she decides which love is best for her at this point and time in her life. Will Sarah finally be able to put her big girl pants on and make a choice. Or maybe dumping them both and moving on to do she can do some much needed growing up will benefit her more? We’ll see soon…
Secretary of State, Kristina Braverman does her job well, both as a parent and an involved citizen of the community when she makes strides to help Max achieve something he’s been aching to accomplish since the very beginning of the season. All of Kristina’s points and strides in returning the vending machine to its glory are convincing and well applied to have her son come out victorious over the snide moms of the school counsel. It is great to have Kristina doing something that doesn’t necessarily involve the well-written and emotional breast cancer storyline. Kristina is all steps forward in this subplot that finally helps Max achieve his number one goal for his presidency at school, and that’s pretty awesome. Even Max’s cheesy Skittles-ridden victory dance party signifies an overall sense of finalization. Oh no, the steps Max took to get the vending machine back did not go in vain.
Ryan is back, and learning to take a few steps on his own. The last time we saw him, he and Amber had just broken their relationship off for a bit and Ryan was left alone yet again. He hasn’t necessarily been doing that well and it takes a talk with Zeek to get him back on his feet and moving again. Ryan attempts to get his construction job back and right a wrong; however, Joel is apprehensive. Ryan’s constant strides to step back into society again keep failing him, yet it seems as though Amber is his cute good luck charm. A short and sweet conversation between the two young exes is the push Ryan needs to step up and apologize to Joel. It’s an achieving step forward, but there are many more steps for Ryan to take if he wants to get Amber back…
Julia’s doubt concerning finalizing the adoption of Victor continues to eat at her, while the steps she and Joel took seem to falter. The two parents are at an impasse when it comes to their final decision to finalize Victor being an addition to the Braverman family. Julia has been on an emotional journey all season long concerning her and Victor’s growing relationship, in which they both learn things from each other. All of the steps Julia took have seemingly failed her; however, she’s is only looking at one aspect of the overall picture. Victor has adapted pretty well, apart from his anger issues and this new animosity towards his mother. An animosity that Victor is likely to get over soon enough. Julia is fixated on Victor’s lack of affection, which is understandable. You don’t want to live in a house with someone who presumably hates you. However, I feel like Julia is expecting too much gratification in too short a time. Crosby gets Julia to realize that her fears of being a parent to this troubled young boy are fears every parent has, especially when a kid is dropped off on you and already has some history behind them. Crosby has done some amazing developing over the seasons, and I feel like this one was his season to really shine as a father, a husband, a brother and simply an adult. Julia makes her decision to finalize the adoption, hoping hard for her and Victor’s relationship to better over time. That’s a step forward.
Crosby’s situation this episode takes a few steps back in terms of his relationship with mother-in-law, Rene. Surely young parents have dealt with the criticizing of their parental skills from their parents. It must be insufferable, and admittedly, Rene does ring a bell that is not really appropriate for her to ring. It’s okay for her to speak on her opinion or calmly give advice on certain parental matters; however, the constant critiquing is energy that could be better applied to her finding a job and departing from Crosby and her daughter, Jasmine’s home. Just saying. It doesn’t help that Jasmine’s inability to confront her mother on the issue makes Crosby look like a monster attacking a woman while she’s down. I feel for Rene and her intentions to help out with taking care of Jabbar, but she oversteps just a bit much, and Crosby is right in his action to want her to step off. He has nothing to apologize for. Jasmine on the other hand should be the one insisting her mother respect their parental rules in their house. Hopefully one day, she’ll be able to take that vital step forward in order to keep the peace in her house.
There are multiple steps made in this penultimate installment of Parenthood. Most of them the right ones; however, some are inevitably the wrongs steps. The decisions and movements forward that the Bravermans make in the season finale will ultimately determine where their lives go from here. Sarah’s decision is obviously the biggest thing that is left to deal with and whomever she picks, between Mark and Hank, will impact her and her family’s lives forever. And who knows where Kristina's breast cancer storyline will end up. As Season 4 comes to an appropriately dramatic and emotional close, all we can hope for is that we will see a much deserved fifth season of this underrated family-drama series come next Fall! “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back” gets 4 out of 5 stars!
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© Patrick Broadnax 2013