Parenthood "You Can't Always Get What You Want" Review: Here Comes Superstorm Sarah-and-Mark

By Nick Campbell

Nov 28, 2012

Parenthood S04E09: "You Can't Always Get What You Want"

Hey, look at that! Crosby is getting an actual storyline! One that could be a multi-week arc and, better still, Pamela Adlon is in the middle of it! I like her face!

It's been weeks since Crosby's been able to step into the spotlight. Mostly he's been revolving around Planet Cancer with everyone else and enjoying the good life with one-off stories, but nothing that extended beyond a single week. And it looked like for a while this thing with Marleise was going to be wrapped up in an episode, too. I mean, Crosby usually gets his way once he flips on that Braverman charm and I thought he was going to have her with the fence meeting. I was already bracing myself for disappointment over the show's misuse of Adlon.

But tucked into the end of an otherwise filler episode, we got a whiff that it will last just a little bit longer. All it took was for every other character on the show to stop chewing scenery for a week.

It's hard to talk about episodes of Parenthood being filler since so much of the emotional pull for the series is in constantly piling frustrations and stressful experiences until the characters are at breaking point and we get our catharsis (a.k.a. we're sobbing messes because Kristina got a blanket). In some ways, this episode continued that but so many of the stories were either brief extensions of the overall seasonal arc or stories were tied up by the end of the episode.

Planet Cancer is the prime example. Kristina struggling with her diagnosis and treatment has been a major focus for the season thus far, to the point where most of the other characters on the show merely perform their roles in the shadow of Monica Potter shredding it every episode. This week, however, we get something that tied up into a bow a little better. Probably because she was all potted up.

Last week was emotionally trying as we watched Kristina suffer the effects of the chemo and look like the husk of a woman that Adam feared, but she looked no worse for wear this week, with only the lingering doubt of being cured still kicking around to create drama. In the grand scheme of their having to deal with dire and heavy circumstances, Adam and Kristina trying to get Max to go to a school dance was nothing, especially when Adam played the cancer card, and definitely when they caught Max at a time when he wasn't being a prima donna. Imagine asking the same Max who denied his paraplegic best friend lights-out bathroom privileges if he would go to the dance. It would be a total tantrum meltdown.

Speaking of meltdowns, Ryan and Amber (Ryamber? Ramber sounds wrong) this week were essentially in a flight pattern over the throbbing nuclear disaster waiting to happen. We had an emotional review of what happened last week: Ryan is messed up from going to war and Amber is worried about him. Zeek was around to help Amber but he didn't say anything new that we as an audience haven't heard before. We know Ryan's a time bomb. We just want to know how it's going to go down. You don't date Amber and not have something explode.

Julia and Joel had a storyline that was basically only remarkable because Joel got to deliver his once-a-season defend-myself-from-the-moral-high-ground speech instead of caving in to whatever Julia wants. It's no surprise that Julia isn't taking quickly to the stay-at-home mom thing, particularly since she's had no love for the family since the beginning of the series (remember Racquel?). So her trying to put that back on Joel meant there was room for Joel to stand up for himself while ensuring there was no possible way for anyone to take Julia's side. Joel Graham doesn't work if he's not always perfect. Otherwise he's just a pansy.

Now, with all those stories getting wrapped up within the episode, there were two that set the table. The first was Crosby's neighbor issue which, based on that short scene near the end of the hour, looks like it could ruin the Luncheonette. I'm sure the legal mumbo jumbo is sound about how it's a business that's operating in a residential zone (if you're a lawyer, help me out). I know they can't lose the studio because (a) Adam losing his job and Kristina needing weed for her cancer would just be too much, even for Planet Cancer and (b) how else would they be able to sell product placement for bands? Basically, all I care about from this scenario is getting to see more of Pamela Adlon and hoping the show doesn't replace her with Constance Zimmer next week. Oh yeah! I just made a Love Bites joke! Look it up! Ahhhhh. NBC is terrible.

While Crosby stepping back into the spotlight was exciting, the main course we're preparing ourselves for is a big plate of Sarah and Mark drama. Ah, yes, since the start of the season we've been waiting for the ax to drop on Mr. Cyr, and it's all beginning.

First, let's give a warm hand for Mark taking Joel's lead and standing up for himself. I understand that the only way for Sarah and Mark's relationship to continue for as long as it did in storyworld time is that Mark has always noticed the strange relationship Sarah and Hank share but has never said anything about it. The tension has built up. Mark's outrage is only the vent that lets the rest of the drama simmer. Nothing Sarah did was a surprise. Of course she would try to compromise by attempting to carry out an impossible, self-destructive schedule. She's her daughter's mother after all. The change was Mark standing his ground. And, if next week's preview is any indication, it's about to quake.

Overall, you can see how this would be Parenthood's version of a filler episode: Characters interacted, but no one actually changed anything and the episode basically reset at the end. Ah, but next week. Next week, things blow up in people's faces, and even though I'm pretty sure we saw all the best parts of Mark and Sarah's argument in the preview, I'm excited for this storyline to finally start happening. It's taken a little longer than I thought. Mark Cyr, time to start jamming to the "Final Countdown."


– Max's schoolmates had a bit of election remorse when their president was on the near side of tantrum over the first major decision for the year, one that would generally be pretty open-and-shut. But who could blame them for getting swept up in the rhetoric by an autistic person, who, on this show, is our flesh-and-blood equivalent of a robot.? "Dance?! Does not compute! Does not compute!"

– Hank keeps descending into more of an emotional mess as the season continues.

– Remember that hard-nosed robot-communer from the beginning of the season? He's long-gone now.

– The ward for Whiniest Braverman goes to Julia this week. Way to be scared and take it out on the exact person who wouldn't care about you being on your own in parenting for a while because he's done it for a decade. You're a champion, Swimfan.

– Adam and Kristina may have taken a step out of the spotlight, but the look on Adam's face while watching her dance with Max—just precious.

– Drew: making everything in life instantly awkward since 2010.

– I'm really glad we made it through the whole episode without hearing The Rolling Stones. House has pretty much ruined that song for the next couple years.

  • Comments (9)
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  • ctlonghorn Dec 03, 2012

    Ryan + Amber = Ambyan?

  • bluemystique Dec 01, 2012

    Solid episode.
    -Julia will never not bug me, in her treatment of Joel who is probably my favorite non-Braverman Braverman. Out of the spouses he's the solid one and it never ceases to amaze me how much she takes that man for granted. But yes, he got to have his seasonal stand up for himself "I am Man hear me roar" bit and I ate it up just like I do every season when that special moment comes along because it is so necessary. Buck up Julia. Joel has done this shizz for years!
    -While yes it's great that Mark stood up for himself, sort of, I can't even be sympathetic because all the signs to his and Sarah's relationship imploding have been there since far before Hank even came along. Their relationship was doomed and he's been desperately trying to keep it together for a while now. Like his insistence that he be in the family portrait. Everything is pure desperation at this point. These kids are whacked, and it's pretty bad when Drew may be the only stable one in that house of gloom.
    -I agree with those who said they should have taken the win with Max allowing the dance to happen and not push it further. I understand why Kristina wanted what she wanted, but the reality of the type of kid she has needed to settle in. His Asperger's doesn't submit to anything, not even her cancer. Which I'm thankful that they didn't focus on so much this week.
    -Amber and Ryan are the cutest and if anyone. Ryan is a time bomb, but I think they can handle it. But I will say I will never love anyone enough to share their ABC gum. that is just gross.
    -LOVE Crosby. He's one of my favorites so it was great seeing him get something.

  • SokkaAppa Dec 01, 2012

    Great episode!! Joel was fantastic and I am very disappointed in Sarah as usual. Interesting thing is that I honestly feel the relationship amber is having with ryan is good for her. She needs a serious dose of life is serious business in her life. To me she hasn't made that transition into adulthood. Moving out wasn't enough, getting a job wasn't enough, almost sleeping with her candidate for city council wasn't enough. I am excited to see the transition finally take place.

  • KayliaMetcalf Nov 29, 2012

    So much hate for the Kristina / Max / dance storyline. He didn't want to go? Why force him? If he was a "normal" kid would she have forced him? I'm sorry... but parents that make their kids do non essential things because the parents want a happy hallmark moment are just being inconsiderate.

  • SokkaAppa Dec 01, 2012

    she's dying of cancer.. Also Max has austism any chance to teach him that making compromising for people you love is worthwhile.

  • 134sc Nov 29, 2012

    Soooo....Julia is like the worst parent/wife ever. Last week her and Joel neglect their daughter, whom threatened to run away and with good reason. Joel to his credit figures it out while Julia is completely clueless. Then this week Joel gets a great job and she craps all over it while using their new adopted son as the reason. Thankfully Joel saw right through that and tore her a knew one. That family would be completely lost without Joel.

    Crosby is my favorite character, so I am happy he is finally getting something good this year.

    As for the law, I am a paralegal student so I will take an educated guess (but if I had an expert field this would definetly not be it, so take the guess for what its worth). In real life, the building would need permits etc. and if it truley was a residential area/zone at the time it was built (as the show implied it was) it would have never gotten built. In the continuity of the show, when they bought the place last season, these issues should have come up for the same reasons. So in other words, the law may be sound for the situation, but really TPTB came up with an interesting storyline and to make it work handwaved a lot of what should have come up before it. They even tried to explain it away when Julia said that "she cant believe that nobody has noticed or done something about it before".

  • ziero Nov 29, 2012

    Next week's promo really put me off, Sarah saying "You're scaring me" Really? I hate the Sarah/Mark/Hank story line. I saw it coming from the first episode of this season and I've been hating the idea since then. B*tch move on Sarah's part.

  • LarissaPeixot Nov 29, 2012

    Sarah's pissing me off. And I love Lauren Graham and the air she breathes, so that's saying a lot.

  • bendylegsnick Nov 29, 2012

    I was annoyed during this episode for two reasons:
    Number One: Julia needs to think about Joel and his feelings! He is the toppest of men! I love him and his wanting to work and his enthusiasm was amazing! I was annoyed by Julia but also glad that Joel took a stand and they sort of resolved the issue by the end of the episode.
    Number Two: Kristina again. It's no secret that I hate her and her guide to parenting, but even with her cancer her pushing of Max to go to the dance this week was horrendous. I understand her point of view but Adam made the point I was shouting at the screen for: that she should take the win for Max letting the dance happen at all. I like the realism of everyone conceding things to her now because of the cancer thing, but this sort of shit has been happening during the whole show and it shouldn't, because on 90% of parenting issues, she is just plain wrong...