Parenthood, Season 5, Episode 4: “In Dreams Begin Responsibilities”
Written by Gina Fattore
Directed by Patrick Norris
Airs Thursdays at 10pm (EST) on NBC
This week, on Parenthood: Victor channels his inner mechanic, Sarah and Amber almost avoid fighting, and Drew dodges the Friend Zone
Parenthood has been characteristically strong this season, with a string of memorable, effective episodes. That doesn’t change with “In Dreams Begin Responsibility”, but after three episodes of bigger moments, this week we get a bit of a table-setter, quietly moving various plots forward and setting up developments yet to come.
The biggest change comes with Adam, who decides he and Crosby should start their own label. The scenes between Adam and Mista Ray are a lot of fun and rather telling, as Adam’s self-centeredness is called out a bit, but more than that, they show Adam’s changing perspective on the campaign and give Peter Krause a new note or two to play. While the label seems like an even more foolish idea than Kristina running for mayor out of the blue, it at least gives us some scenes with the Adam and Crosby at work. The rapport between Krause and Dax Shepard is always entertaining and it’s particularly fun here, as they discuss the pros and cons of Adam’s scheme and give Drew a crash course in Joni Mitchell and the dreaded Friend Zone. Having the delightfully insufferable Oliver at least demonstrate some musical taste in his appreciation of Mitchell is a nice touch. It seems likely he’ll be sticking around for a while, if only so we can revel in Crosby’s frustration, and this moment not only tells the audience he may at least have a good ear, it confirms our disdain for him with his utterly classy analysis of track nine.
Speaking of Drew, his scenes this week are less engaging than his roommate issues last week, but for a subset of the audience, they will ring incredibly true. The specificity of song choice goes a long way towards propelling the dorm room scenes and the turn that his crush Natalie is not hugely musically literate (or at least not as much as she seemed), but heard this make-or-break track in a movie once, and probably only likes it ‘cause her mom does, is hilarious.
Elsewhere, Zeek and Camille’s discussion from last week’s emotional episode remains untouched, but still a present undercurrent, thanks to the return of Zeek’s new car. Victor’s lackluster response to the novel Julia’s been reading with him seemed to be a clear sign that material wasn’t working for him and it’s nice to see that idea followed up on this week, as he engages far more fully with the manual and fixing up the car than Island of the Blue Dolphins. When students aren’t big readers, sometimes all it takes to open them up to that world is the right book (Harry Potter turned a generation into fantasy fans, for example). Hopefully this hands-on approach will be what inspires Victor to engage more with reading and appreciate its value. If so, this is a refreshing and surprisingly quick and drama-free turnaround for what looked to be a season-long struggle.
Finally, there’s the Sarah and Amber dust-up. It was coming, it had to happen, and it’s nice to see it handled so maturely, at least on Sarah’s side. She may have taken Adam’s advice to start, but Hank’s creeps in this week and, while Amber could have taken it better, it’s great that Sarah is comparatively understanding and patient. Writer Gina Fattore handles what could have been an over the top moment with restraint, allowing Mae Whitman to sell Amber’s anger (and underlying fear that her mom’s actually right) through the details of her performance, as well as the words left unsaid. Ryan’s quiet patience afterward and laid-back attempt to dissipate Amber’s frustration towards her mother says a lot about his family dynamic growing up and the value it seems he places on healthy, supportive family connections. We’ll undoubtedly find out more about his problems with his stepfather and, by extension, mother, as the season progresses, but chances are it won’t be pretty. That being said, it would be nice if just one non-Braverman could have a healthy, close relationship with their family. Right now, Jasmine is the only in-law (or potential in-law) who seems to ever talk to her relatives and it’s frankly strange to see a show so centered on family so consistently ignore Joel and Kristina’s relations.
The various storylines keep moving forward and, though this may not be the most memorable episode of the season, it’s certainly another strong installment for one of network TV’s best dramas.
What did you think of this week’s episode? Anyone else get mega-dusty when Max donated to Kristina’s campaign? How great was it to skip the Joel/Julia drama this week? Think we’ll ever see Dennis L.A. White as Mista Ray again? Post your thoughts in the comments below!