Parenthood "There's Something I Need to Tell You" Review: So Many Bombs to Drop, So Little Time

By Nick Campbell

Oct 10, 2012

Parenthood S04E05: "There's Something I Need to Tell You"

"I feel really far away."

Well, it all came out last night, didn't it?

You wouldn't think anyone in the realm of Braverman would have anything left to get off their chest since it's in their blood to talk about their emotions all the time (the writers probably have the words "I feel" recorded as a macro in Final Draft) but everyone let it out this week, either to themselves, to other people, or to a group. So many bombs to drop, so little time.

It was the second episode this season with a title drawn from something Kristina said when discussing her health and, with wording like that, you'd expect for the biggest bombshell to be hers. And it was. Cancer is still the ultimate in one-upsmanship. But the first volley belonged to Sarah and the slowly eroding Hank.

Hank! It happened in the teaser and I wasn't ready. I'd just slowly recovered from an early powerful scene between the two supernovas of Season 4, Monica Potter and Mae Whitman, when we got what I thought was going to be a breather scene before cutting to some pre-credit cliffhanger. Then I sensed it coming. They were close. Too close. He looked like he wanted to. But he didn't. Then he did! Hank knocked Sarah a kiss, and she didn't immediately pull away or start laughing or even show mild distaste. Not that you'd expect her to.

It seemed sudden but it wasn't. We're five episodes deep in Season 4, which seems like only a handful of installments to draw this thing out but we've also already gone through most of the motions possible for Hank and Sarah. They've met each other's kids, they've spilled about their darkest relationships, they've been vulnerable, and they're clearly in each other's heads. Drawing it out any more than that would feel like overkill. Hank and Sarah aren't supposed to be Sam and Diane, Maddie and David, or even Chuck and Sarah.

And so the dilemma isn't "will they or won't they"—it's "what happens when they do?" From the first episode of the season, everyone knew that Hank would be a player in Sarah's suddenly tenuous romantic life, but the question was more about what she would do with that information once she came to terms with it. Her answer: rededicate herself to her fiance by sending up red flags all over the place. From the look on Mark's face, she's not fooling anyone.

Speaking of people fooling themselves, Julia landed the next big bombshell, though one that's been dormant for a while. The matter of Julia's involvement with her child (and now children) with respect to how much she works was a question in earlier seasons, but it mostly had to do with how Joel feels about being a stay-at-home dad or her connection to Sidney. These things generally worked out for her, where everyone caved and she got to not change at all. Within the span of an episode, though, Julia spun out of control.

The beautiful part of how we watched Julia collapse on herself like a dying star was how honestly it happened in such a short amount of time. She was given the first scene to demonstrate that something was terribly wrong. She had another couple of scenes where she showed how stressed she was and how close she was to breaking before heading into a rare stylized moment for the show. Julia's panic attack marks one of the few times I can recall where the image is anything less than stable, picturesque, and constructed for melodrama or comedy. Chaos is not a popular look for Parenthood. And while I'm not sure it stands up to similar exhibitions of that sentiment (Breaking Bad owns this area these days), it certainly stands out. And that's how you sell a person going from fine last week to disturbed this week.

It obfuscates the fact that we haven't seen Julia struggle at her job until now. The editors made sure to show her all-day parking lot stay from a few weeks ago in the "Previously On..." but that was the only example of Victor putting a real strain on Julia's career. Her late-episode revelation that she is not dedicated to her job anymore came off as honest through some storytelling trickery, but that's good enough.

Then there was the tumble of bombshells from Kristina. The cancer brought Sarah Ramos back (as a couple of you predicted in the comments for "Left Field") as Kristina dropped her burden upon Haddie and Max (the latter of which almost shrugged off the weight). She and Amber had a surprisingly powerful scene in the teaser (or at least I thought it was powerful, but I'm a sucker for those two right now). And then came the admission at the end to all of the adults. Just as she let out the eponymous line, the dialogue went silent and we only saw reactions to the words (which is also how "Left Field" ended).

Though Kristina certainly had the largest bombshell to drop, it wasn't for the audience: The kiss and Julia's resignation were far more intense. It's as if the episode could be broken down to GASP! GASP! Relieved Sigh. We feel for the Bravermans learning that one of their own has a life-threatening disease, but them knowing isn't as course-altering as the other two major events of the episode. Although if the three of them sit down and talk it out, Kristina's "I have breast cancer" still wins. Cancer is the best trump card.


– If only I could just get to the point in my life where I could walk into a Diesel store and drop $400 without even worrying about it.

– Sarah's jogging spur felt like a Lorelai freakout, didn't it?

– The call to Haddie about Kristina's cancer was weird. To paraphrase: "I'm glad you did something that had to do with history class. Listen, I got the cancer. I'm going to be fine! But it's totally the cancer. We'll let that sink in. You're upset? Oh, well. Gotta go." Seemed so un-Braverman to hang up without fully exhausting the cry.

– Julia playing the Victor card when asking for mercy from opposing counsel. It hurts. – Adam may be a jackass, but I can't take him tearing up like he did on the phone with Haddie. Don't make me shed these robot tears, Krause! That's Mae Whitman's job.

– Hank's admission that "it wasn't nothing" and the subsequent "but I know you have somebody" were heartbreaking, both because of the sentiments themselves and because the scene marked the end of curmudgeon Hank. As JD from Scrubs might say, he's a sensy now.

– I like Max when he isn't a prima donna. He's at his best when he just doesn't care about people. Or rattling off statistics and saying things like, "I'm retired." That being said, Max asking about chemotherapy at the game was touching.

– Really? Victor's first at-bat resulted in an in-field grand slam? Kids are stupid when it comes to baseball. There were like 10 errors on that play. One time, the ball made it from the infield back to the outfield. What the heck was that? Did you even want that game, not-Victor's team?

– Amber and Ryan York are about to have all of the sex. I wonder how it'll ruin his life.

– Good to see that Drew isn't dead. Where have you been? I've seen more of Haddie in the last few episodes and she's supposed to be living on the East Coast now. You live in the Braverman family compound. You must move around pretty stealthily, like some emo ninja.


1. How long is Haddie staying for?

2. Do Joel and Julia switch roles now like on Up All Night?

3. What's the funniest moment of the season so far? Does Zeek talking to the coach rank in the top three?

4. Over/Under: Number of episodes before Mark walks out a sad, sad man: 3.

  • Comments (25)
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  • ch0c0nutz Oct 15, 2012

    i love this show so much and cried a lot during this whole epi... will it really be a 12 epis only season and will it really be the last one?

    1. i think haddie is already heading back to school... no?

    2. i believe julia should still be the one working but with more flexible hours etc

    3. zeek talking to the coach was hilarious, but when grandma (forgot her name) yelled was even funnier

    4. 2

  • violetpretty Oct 13, 2012

    Oh my goodness, this episode had me in freaking tears the whole time. Boom. Boom. BOOM. That last scene, so powerful, and so gut wrenching. Their reactions said it much more powerfully than words could have.

  • HeatherCunnin2 Oct 13, 2012

    Does anybody know the name of the song that played during the previews for episode 5? It was at the end if 4 th episode when they were showing previews for next week.. It was when they showed the kiss in the dark room .. I can't help but fall for you? Who's it by? Please

  • SokkaAppa Oct 15, 2012

    I think its the The Lumineers "flower in your hair"

  • Littlefield913 Oct 13, 2012

    Am I the only one that hated that initial skype video chat with Haddie? Who's brilliant idea is it to tell your freshman daughter that her mom has cancer, but to just go back and focus on her studies? Seriously? That's a conversation you have in person. Video chat doesn't count. How could they possibly expect her to be able to stay that far away and focus on ANYTHING else?

    ok, rant over. Love the rest of the episode including the ending scene. Just thought the initial call to Haddie was terribly mishandled.

  • NicholasCampb Staff Oct 13, 2012

    It does seem really un-Braverman, doesn't it? I can see how the show might've struggled with the decision. They really wanted that "Haddie comes back" moment but had to also tell her somehow to prompt her to come home. One of those rare, forced moments in a show that generally earns its emotional scenes.

  • SokkaAppa Oct 12, 2012

    I really wish Parenthood would use a cold opening for episodes like this you know. Just flash the parenthood title and the get back to the show, it just seems better.

    As far as the scene were Kristina and Adam tell haddie, I thought it was very very real. If you have ever skyped it's hard to make transitions and that awkwardness allow Haddie showing up at the pizza palor a more logical move on her part.

    I don't think amber and ryan will get involved right away or even at all. At this point I think her character needs a great plutonic relationship with a male character.

    Great episode and nice review!

  • NicholasCampb Staff Oct 13, 2012

    Agreed on the awkwardness of Skype. I think it's just weird for how Adam and Kristina handled the situation. The phone call with Adam later seems much closer to the Braverman way, where more information is passed and everyone is crying. I think it was the quick hang-up that bothered me the most. They see that their daughter is upset and they're like, "Sooooooo okay bye!" You're correct, though, in that the scene itself was good in order to set up Haddie's return.

  • bluemystique Oct 12, 2012

    Why this show continues to be on the bubble and is completely devoid of Emmy nods is beyond me. Seriously. All the Emmys.

    -I'm guessing Haddie will stay for a bit. I've liked her more now that she has less screentime.

    - I'd like to see that happen. I'd love to see Joel more. He's always that quiet stable rock holding down the fort for Julia. I'd like to see him sort of have his own thing for a bit. I love Joel. He's my fave non Braverman. I LOVED Julia's storyline this week. It was probably the one I enjoyed most. There was an authenticity to her anxiety and panic attack that was just moving. Great stuff. That was seasons worth of stuff sort of coming to a head.

    - Anything that Zeek does is pretty much hysterical! I love that man. Watching him and his wife going off on the coach made me smile. Add into it the Vet who somehow got dragged along into becoming an honorary Braverman looking on in awe. Awesome.

    - Who? Oh yeah my beloved Jason Ritter. I love him, but Mark as a character doesn't stand a chance. 3 sounds about right.

    Amber and the Vet. I can get down with that. And I must have actually missed Drew. He's just that stealthy and low key. I heart that kid though. He's probably the Braverman I'd identify with the most. LOL! The Invisible One.

  • EChid Oct 13, 2012

    I'm hoping that Amber/vet relationship is a lasting one, for once. I think both have major issues they could work out together, and that their differing personalities might compliment each other. The really interesting dynamic is this:

    Amber is a lot like her mom (creative, artsy), but also a lot like her grandmother. Her choices up to now have been in line with her mom's past mistakes (which I think bothers Sarah). Ryan represents something closer to her grandmother's choices. Is this a parallel they are intentionally drawing? Not sure.

  • GinnyOM Oct 11, 2012

    The episode was great, but PLEASE, someone tell me what is the song title and who sang that incredible song during the baseball game? It was over too fast so the only lines I can remember were: "I'm a man on fire" and "Come dance with me". Please help.

  • NicholasCampb Staff Oct 11, 2012

    The song is called "Man on Fire" by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Here's a link to their official YouTube video for the song:

    You can find all the songs they use in a Parenthood episode here:

  • lishakalrani Oct 11, 2012

    Oh my God ..what an episode ...i saw it online in office and was sobbing into the staff must be thinking their boss is mad....n haddie comin back was perfect...n yes even i knew that Mark was marked the moment he insisted on being in the family pic

  • djkiddnicky Oct 11, 2012

    I knew Mark was a dead man from the moment he was allowed to be in the familly picture

  • MirandaPartri Oct 11, 2012

    "Amber and Ryan York are about to have all of the sex. I wonder how it'll ruin his life." SO MANY LOLS!

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