Recaps

Parenthood “Vegas”

Parenthood

There’s a reason Parenthood is one of my favorite shows. This is the last season and we’re clearly in for an emotional rollercoaster. The premiere episode, “Vegas” picks up after a few months have gone by. Summer is ending and we’re thrown into the story without much time to get our bearings.

It looks like there are big changes for everyone—Zeke and Camille are enjoying their new home; Crosby and Jasmine are watching their baby learn to walk. But the biggest change is for Amber, whose character will likely see the most significant storyline this season.

So what’s going on with her? The episode opens with the sound of a heartbeat through an ultrasound. We get a close-up of her face as she says, “That’s my baby. That’s its heartbeat.” When she tells the doctor no one knows yet, the doctor asks if Amber whether or not this is a pregnancy she wants. Her response is to ask if she can hear the heartbeat again. Her reaction is unforgettable and you guessed it—I was in tears within the first few minutes of the episode.

Amber is a character that we’ve seen change a good deal throughout the season. We’ve watched her grow from an angsty teen to a responsible adult with a big heart. She’s fallen in love and had her heart broken—and now that the love of her life is gone, she’s having his baby.

Still keeping the secret, Amber looks pretty disheveled in this episode, but she’s trying to keep it together. Most of the family is prepared for the opening of Chambers Academy and Amber is on painting duty. Haddie is too and she’s going on and on about her upcoming trip to France. Amber says its sounds “like a fairy-tale” and it isn’t hard to realize what she’s thinking—if she keeps the baby, her life is going to change dramatically.

Later, Haddie confronts Amber later wanting to know why she’s been so distant and Amber blurts out that she’s pregnant.

Haddie: “Oh my God. Oh my God. Amber. Is this good or bad?”
Amber: “You tell me.”
Haddie: “Who else knows?”
Amber: “Just you?”
Haddie: “Are you kidding me? Oh my God… Do you have like wine or like—you can drink tea right? That’s, like, a calming thing that people do. Do you want girl tea or boy tea?”

They go for a walk and it’s one of my favorite moments of the episode. They end up on the lawn of their old school, bundled in blankets and chatting. Remember what their relationship was like in season 1? So many things have changed. Amber says, “Now we’re like, old. We’re real life grown-ups.”

Amber asks Haddie about liking girls and I appreciate the way the show is dealing with Haddie having a girlfriend. So far at least, it’s doing a good job of treating it as normal—even when Haddie’s parents first found out at the end of last season.

Meanwhile, Sarah and Hank seem to have settled into a comfortable relationship (yay!) with Sarah attempting to make a cappuccino with a new machine. They seem to be happy together and living a pretty normal life. And thank goodness, because Sarah deserves it. I absolutely love these two together and I hope it lasts. Hank, played by Ray Romano, probably isn’t who we would have expected to end up with Sarah when we first met him, but he’s so endearing. And it looks like he is going to need Sarah’s help, since he’s going to be taking care of his angry teenager more often. Sarah doesn’t seem to be thrilled with that news, but she’s probably going to be the one who gets through the Hank’s daughter.

Fun tidbit: Hank’s wife is played by Breaking Bad’s Betsey Brandt. Her husband on Breaking Bad? Also named Hank.

And speaking of couples: I’m dying for Joel and Julia to get back together. The first time we see Julia in this episode, she’s sleeping with some guy we haven’t seen before. Truthfully, I’m still so angry at both of them I can barely contain myself. They both screwed up—big time. And now it looks like Joel may just be ready to come back home. He’s willing to help out the family in getting Chambers Academy ready and he doesn’t think twice about stepping in with the kids when Julia hears her dad has collapsed.

But when he kisses Julia after an emotional moment, she pushes him away. Yes, he deserves that. Julia was trying to work on their relationship last season and he wouldn’t give her a chance. Now the tables have turned. I just hope she doesn’t brush him off for too long.

Their relationship has been one of the most interesting on the series and it lends itself to a lot of discussion about communication. This has been their biggest issue. Somewhere along the way, with job changes and adopting a new child, they forgot how to properly talk to one another.

Chamber’s Academy, by the way, is the charter school that Adam and Kristina are starting in honor of their son, Max. Max has Asperger’s and their family has been dealing with it since the onset of the first season. One of the main issues they’ve dealt with is Max’s education and his interactions with other kids. The school he was attending wasn’t a good fit for him and his parents found there really weren’t other options available. You have to love Kristina for her initiative. If she’s not running for mayor, she’s starting up a school.

And in true Braverman fashion, the whole family is pitching in to help. Even Joel (he’s so handy). And we get to see a framed photo of Gwen Chambers going on the wall, as a reminder of all she meant to Kristina and how she helped to fund the school just before she died of cancer.

Too bad Max isn’t interested in going to the new school. He much prefers to be home-schooled and spend his free time with Hank at the photography studio. Kristina tries to get through to him while they sit together, literally watching paint dry, but Max insists he isn’t going.

When the first day of school arrives, it’s Adam that gets through to him. Adam is adorable– and he’s such a great dad. He’s packing Max’s lunch and says, “Ah Max, just wait until you see this beautiful sandwich. I have outdone myself.” When Max still refuses, Adam is finally able to convince him by saying, “Do it for your Mom,” and explaining how hard Kristina has worked for this and all that she had to go through.

Photo Credit: Colleen Hayes/NBC

Photo Credit: Colleen Hayes/NBC

And when Kristina is welcoming each new student to Chambers Academy, she gets a happy surprise to be able to welcome her own son. All her hard work may actually pay off—not just for Max, but for plenty of other kids as well. She composes herself after a moment of shock and offers her hand for him to shake: “Max Braverman, welcome to Chambers Academy.” He goes inside Kristina gives Adam a thumbs up.

If you weren’t already in tears, the next scene was sure to bring them on. The episode circles back to Amber, who has finally decided to share her news with her mother. When Amber arrives, Sarah immediately starts chatting about her Vegas trip and Zeke’s collapse, pouring large glasses of wine. Amber stands in the middle of the floor, nervous and waiting to get a word in. Amber can only blurt out the news and Sarah freezes. All she can reply is “oh,” while Amber tries to muster a tearful smile.

So emotional! So many tears! I can’t get over how powerful this show is.

What did you think of the premiere and what do you hope happens next? Leave us a comment and let us know your thoughts.

Parenthood airs Thursdays at 10/9c on NBC.

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