“Parenthood” is a bubble show. It will probably get picked up for a third season since it gets higher ratings than most NBC shows, but it has not been renewed yet. The writers faced the difficult task of crafting a season finale that could also serve as a series finale. They did it with an emotional episode that paid off several storylines while setting up some arcs for next season.
The episode begins with the Bravermans in a hospital waiting room. Amber’s (Mae Whitman) downward spiral car crash that ended last episode left her with a broken arm but no serious injuries. Kudos to the makeup artists for giving her realistic cuts and bruises on her face. She is still defiant and rebellious and determined to tank her future after getting rejected from every college she applied to — all two of them. For some reason, no one has suggested that she attend Berkeley’s community college, then transfer to U.C. Berkeley after two years. Then again, this is a universe where large public universities have admissions interviews, so maybe community college does not exist. Zeek (Craig T. Nelson) pulls a scared straight move and takes Amber to see the totaled car from her accident. He also utters the cliched television “You’re a [last name]. So you’re awesome!” line. Has any real family, with the possible exception of the Trumps, ever uttered those words? But the actors sell the hell out of it. Amber realizes how selfish and self-destructive she has been and makes numerous apologies.
Watch Zeek’s Talk With Amber:
Max (Max Burkholder), on the other hand, needs to be educated on the art of the apology. After he has a meltdown over pancakes in the hospital waiting room, Adam (Peter Krause) wants to teach him empathy. He eventually sort of gets through to him and Max manages to apologize to Sarah. He also loses his retainer, which turns out to be a surprisingly significant plot point.
Crosby’s (Dax Shepard) plan to win Jasmine (Joy Bryant) back by buying her a house totally works. Now they have more room to argue about dishes. She vows to stop being a shrew who uses their son as a way to manipulate Crosby and Crosby promises never to sleep with Minka Kelly (Gaby) again, which will be an easy vow to keep now that she’s one of “Charlie’s Angels.”
After a contrived plot point that has Julia (Erika Christensen) serving as Sydney’s former teacher’s impromptu birthing coach, Julia realizes she does want another child after all. She tells Joel (Sam Jaeger) she wants to adopt a baby. Joel’s feelings continue to be irrelevant.
The staged reading of Sarah’s (Lauren Graham) play has a difficult rehearsal, but the actual performance, in which Zeek and Camille (Bonnie Bedelia) inexplicably play fictionalized versions of themselves while actors play the rest of the Fauxvermans, is a triumph. It would have been a bold departure from standard television portrayals of fiction writing if Sarah’s play wasn’t remotely autobiographical. Maybe she could write about a small Texas town where everyone is obsessed with football and Alex (Michael B. Jordan) could be profoundly moved for reasons he can’t quite articulate. But the actors who sort of look like the Bravermans were a funny touch. The bits we see of the play don’t seem all that great, which is a realistic touch given that its Sarah’s first play.
Kristina (Monica Potter), still coming to turns with Hattie’s (Sarah Ramos) new sex life, rises to the occasion and takes her to the doctor so she can get the pill. Meanwhile, Adam’s irritating skater/Internet millionaire boss fires him for being an uptight guy who wears ties to an office without a dress code. Adam breaks the news to the new, improved non-control freak Kristina who is awesome and supportive. Then the episode’s big plot twist happens: while searching through the garbage for Max’s McGuffin of a retainer, Adam finds a positive pregnancy test. He freaks out and is on the verge of booking Haddie on the next season of “Teen Mom” when Kristina reveals that she is the one who is knocked up. Adam is simultaneously overjoyed and terrified. The inevitable tension between infertile Julia and accidentally pregnant Kristina are going to make for a juicy third season.
Watch Adam Freak Out: