Parenthood, Ep. 5.02, “All Aboard Who’s Coming Aboard” introduces new characters, for better and worse

Parenthood promo pic S05E02

Parenthood promo pic S05E02

Parenthood, Season 5, Episode 2: “All Aboard Who’s Coming Aboard”
Written by David Hudgins
Directed by Lawrence Trilling
Airs Thursdays at 10pm (EST) on NBC

This week, on Parenthood: Zeek and Camille have dry rot, Sarah has a candle, and Kristina has sustainability problems

Last week’s premiere picked up with each of the Braverman siblings facing change. This week that continues and extends out a generation to include Zeek and Camille as well. For a show so focused on family, and characters with similar priorities, it seems unlikely the pair will sell their home and downsize to a condo. Even more than the characters not wanting to give up the space, the visual ties of a location like the Braverman homestead carry significant weight in a show like this and family dramas (sitcoms too) almost never drastically change their main sets after the first season or two. That being said, it’s a very real predicament and watching the couple explore their options, particularly if the show can convince the audience a bit more that a sale might actually happen, has a lot of potential.

Equally promising is the addition of Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Kristina’s campaign manager, Heather Hill. Smollett-Bell has been a consistently reliable actress on several shows over the past few seasons, though she’s yet to find a role as engaging as Jess from Friday Night Lights, and it’s lovely to see her pop up in a very different, far more confident and mature role. With a character like Heather at her side, all of a sudden Kristina feels like a far more legitimate candidate. Monica Potter and Peter Krause are making the most of their storyline- so far it’s been mostly about Adam having to support Kristina, but hopefully soon she’ll have to listen to him. Their conversations have been very one-sided, and appropriately so, but Parenthood is rarely interested in one side of an argument and the eventual flip should be powerful. Along with getting that hilarious vetting scene between Heather and Adam, we also find out this week that the election is only two months away. In a world of two-year national campaigns and painfully long election cycles, having such a short, intense window for this one is a very pleasant surprise.

Parenthood promo pic S05E02

Another surprise is how quickly the writers bring together Hank and Sarah for a scene. Ray Romano and Lauren Graham still have fantastic chemistry and timing together and we’ll undoubtedly get more of them as the season progresses, but the simplicity of their conversation, and Hank’s correct insti-read of her reaction upon hearing of Amber’s engagement from Max, are nice touches. In a family like the Braverman’s, though some of her siblings may realize Sarah’s less than thrilled about the engagement, everyone’s going to be pretending everyone’s happily on board. Opening up to Hank, however briefly, lets her then go to her big brother Adam for some wonderful advice. Usually Sarah and Crosby seem like the more emotionally attuned Bravermen- having Adam guide her so well and gently is a good moment for him. The Parenthood Patented Feel Good Moment of this week, though, is Sarah’s lovely final scene with Amber, as she accepts and supports her decision in a beautifully respectful manner. There’s a lot of opportunity for fun with Sarah and Amber wedding planning- hopefully we’ll get to see plenty more over the course of the season.

After last week’s parenting panic from Crosby, it’s great to see him so hugely in tune with Jabbar this week. Children acting out after a baby joins the family is a very common storyline (we saw a variation last season with Sydney and Victor), so the writers nipping this in the bud with Jabbar thanks to some UberParenting from Crosby is much appreciated. Less promising is the addition of the talented David Denman as Ed, Julia’s counterpoint to Joel’s new boss, Sonya Walger’s Peet. Pairing them on sustainability duty (can Julia sustain her marriage?) gives us a few nice scenes this week, but everything about Joel and Julia’s new storylines sets off this viewers’ spidey senses. Hopefully these fears are unwarranted and, like Jabbar’s acting out, any potential marital infidelity arcs will be cut off at the pass. Overall though, Parenthood looks like it’s off to a fantastic fifth season. Bring on week three!

What did you think of the episode? Are you as nervous about Joel and Julia this season as I? Think Zeek and Camille will move? How great was Max’s, “Bravermans hug a lot”? Post your thoughts below!

Kate Kulzick

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