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Parenthood, Ep. 5.08, “The Ring” sets up coming conflict, change

Parenthood, Ep. 5.08, “The Ring” sets up coming conflict, change

Parenthood S05E08 promo pic

Parenthood, Season 5, Episode 8, “The Ring”
Written by Justin W. Lo
Directed by Lawrence Trilling
Airs Thursdays at 10pm EST on NBC

Much continues to be in flux for the Braverman clan this week, as Parenthood moves forward its central plots, to varying success. Kristina as mayor remains a rather sizeable stretch, as she demonstrates yet again that she lacks the killer instinct necessary for a career in politics. It’s looking instead like this arc exists mostly as a way to put new stresses on an already physically-tested character. Her choice this week, though, says more about just how unsuited she is to the world of politics than it does about her character. She’s willing to exploit her son’s condition for sympathy, however honest she’s being, but she’s not willing to tell voters exactly why she’s running in the first place, her Amber-inspired distaste for Little? Given Amber’s thoughts on the issue, this should be a no-brainer.

Morality aside however, with the campaign coming to its final weeks and Kristina down six points, it looks to be time to start pondering what will come next for this portion of the Braverman family. Barring a last minute bombshell (and if the show was planning to deploy one, it would’ve this week with Amber), Kristina is poised to lose the election, and then what? Hopefully the writers have some fallout planned to justify the arc, or the time spent on it will feel like somewhat of a waste.

The literal ring this week, to go with Kristina’s metaphorical one, casts further doubt on the pending nuptials of Ryan and Amber. It’s nice to see someone besides Sarah raising questions- as Kristina says, these two are going to be married; they need to be able to communicate, particularly over the little things, like spending a big chunk of change to mark your territory in jewelry form. It’s a shame to see such simple, obvious pitfalls threaten such a likable couple. While every Braverman need not be happily married off, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to want a happy ending for Amber and Ryan.

Parenthood S05E08 promo picSpeaking of marital bliss, the Julia and Joel conflict continues to grow. While the scenes here are still a significant improvement over the rather clumsy way this arc started, and Erika Christensen continues to knock it out of the park with her strained performance, the writers are beginning to have a Joel problem. Though his assertion that she continues to make unilateral decisions for the family without consulting him are valid, his closed-offedness seems to be coming out of nowhere. The show has gone to great pains to establish that he’s rarely around (and hasn’t even been reliably answering his phone). Why does he think he knows where Victor’s at better than Julia? Where is this hostility coming from? We get to see Julia’s point of view through her conversations with Ed, her mom, and others. We need similar insight into Joel’s mind right now, or this entire arc will lose traction and end up right back where it started, a dramatic contrivance.

Sarah and Zeek also spend some quality time together this week and Zeek’s Bacchanalian (for him) embrace of his momentary independence is a lot of fun. Sarah being drawn back towards her tenant, however, raises some red flags, given her scene last week with Hank. After last season’s less than thrilling triangle, the notion of a Hank/Sarah/tenant/20-something love polygon is far from promising. Her building a more stable identity and social life outside of her family does sound like a good idea though, so we’ll see which way this new friendship goes. As for Crosby, his discomfort with Jabbar’s embracing of ballet makes sense, though it’s far from a season highlight. It’s very nice to see Aida calming down a bit and the show taking most of the episode off from Ashes of Rome is a welcome move. All in all, Parenthood has had a solid year so far and, with “Election Night” coming next week, it’ll be interesting to see what the next phase of the season has to offer.

What did you think of this episode? Will Kristina win the election? How long until Amber and Ryan or Julia and Joel explode? Think Camille will be back soon? Post your thoughts below!

Kate Kulzick