Parenthood "I'll Be Right Here" Review: All the Cuts Are the Deepest

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Parenthood S04E06: "I'll Be Right Here"

"Do a good job tomorrow."

Before this season, I would say I probably hated on Adam and Kristina more than any other characters on Parenthood. I always say that the Bravermans can be the worst people in Berkeley, sort of an emotional vortex from which ordinary people can never escape without becoming sad sacks or alcoholics after being beaten down by clannishness, jackassery, and a supernatural ability to draw tears. But, of the family, Adam and Kristina tend to be the most self-righteous and the most grating.

Julia can be stubborn, but in a way that's because her heart is in the right place, not to mention she's often tempered by Joel being perfect always. Crosby and Sarah can both be strong but are also willing to be accepting, tolerant, and, most importantly, intuitive (as long as it doesn't really make them sacrifice much). Adam and Kristina hold themselves above the rabble of the other Braverman siblings and in-laws with a left-brain stubbornness and unparalleled sanctimony, not to mention a bit of a martyr complex with respect to Max.

But they sure have turned that around this season, haven't they? In this post-Breaking Bad world, a cancer storyline doesn't always have to equal sympathy but the combination of Monica Potter workin' it and the show itself providing opportunities to downplay their martyrdom means we have a new sympathy for these characters. So many times over the past few weeks have I felt a small quiver while watching Adam and Kristina deal with their situation. This week, it was Adam staring at his wife through the window as she went to surgery. It was a beautifully played scene, the look on Adam's face a perfect display of anxiety.

Later, the scene when Kristina learned her cancer was more aggressive, was also very touching, especially with the chaos that ensued between Kristina fighting her emotions, Adam asking questions, and Dr. Bedslow offering his cell phone number, a move he only makes for his most needful patients. Heartbreaking.

Kristina receiving new news about her cancer came during an episode rife with the beginnings of long story arcs that couldn't have come at a better time. With the presidential election coming November 6, and extended episodes of The Voice pushing Go On and The New Normal into the 10-o'clock hour next week, we're headed into nearly a month-long hiatus between this episode and the next one on November 13. Whether or not the timing was planned, we have a number of cliffhangers to think about in the interim.

The one we've been talking about the most is Kristina's cancer, of which this is clearly just the beginning of the suffering for her and the Braverman family. While it's hard to speculate how far into the process the show is going to take us, especially since Bedslow mentioned how curable the cancer is, I can see next the quarter of the season being dedicated to treatment and recovery with some meditation on chemo.

There's overlap there with Haddie returning because, with the cancer still present and more aggressive, and thus weakening Kristina's options and forcing her to at least delegate her activities if not take to the bed, Haddie's help around the house might be necessary. But Adam and Kristina chose to lie to their daughter instead, to get her to go back to school. So we have options here: Haddie gets furious for being lied to (eventually), or she stays on to help out. I, personally, missed Sarah Ramos but I have to trust the show's direction.

Julia left her job last week but this episode marked the first time we saw her at home after quitting. While we didn't see much, Adam and Julia discussed how difficult it was before switching subjects back to Adam. Set-up for trials ahead.

Max. Is President. Of his Student Council. What in the?

Amber and Ryan, by the definition they outlined, are taking it slow. I'm curious to know the obstacles in the relationship, and whether there really are any other than Amber herself.

Sarah and Drew are suffering the growing pains of being a new family unit, which this week seemed to all work out in the end but we know about her relationship with Hank so we know turmoil is afoot. Drew should pray he's in college by the time that rears its ugly head.

Speaking of prayer, Crosby seems to be the only one on the show without his own long-reaching storyline to take him through the next few episodes. He did get Otis injured, so we'll have to closely monitor any adorable-puppy arcs. Of all the siblings, Crosby's handling of the cancer issue has been my favorite. The desperate need to help out, the struggle to make it work, the apologies that aren't really apologies. His "Do good work tomorrow." was so sweet and genuine it almost made me want to find a person going into cancer surgery so I could tell them that, too.

This was a good episode, a sweet and sad one to leave us grieving for the next few weeks until we see how the Bravermans are going to handle everything. Even if not everything will be a surprise, it's all worth looking forward to. Anyone show that, within a season, can turn Know-It-Alls like Adam and Kristina into empathetic characters is a show I can get behind.



NOTES


– Well, I worried about how long it would take for Amber and Ryan to get down but, it turns out, the slowness of the relationship is the focus of the storyline. So either this is going to slowly erupt into a grand explosion or they're getting married. Also, even a gentlemanly soldier knows that a handshake at the door is as good as the friend zone, you awkward handsome devil.

– Anti-Lorelai Sighting: Lorelai in Gilmore Girls was always so concerned with not bringing Rory into a situation where her life would be upheaved and she'd be forced to adapt to a new environs and family. Sarah willed her way into Mark's house early to cover up her feelings for another man by making a brash commitment.

– Interesting thing about Max's speech: The kids responded to it. I believe that's what we might call an audience by proxy. His speech about Asperger's probably wouldn't play to a standing ovation in that auditorium of kids legally skipping class. But we, the actual audience watching the program, might feel that way. So these kids clap for us, instead. We seem to be really enjoying Max's speeches.

– Poor Otis. But that's the cutest little cone I've ever seen.

The interactions between siblings in the waiting room were some of my favorite scenes in this episode. There was so much characterization that they didn't have to have the same conversation or talk about the same topics. Third time around, Adam should've just taken the tea. And where were Zeek and Camille?

– Just as Sarah wore Hank down, Hank is starting to see some chinks in Sarah's "I'm engaged" armor. He's about ready to switch into homewrecker mode.

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