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Recaps

Parenthood “Happy Birthday, Zeek” 

Parenthood “Happy Birthday, Zeek”
Photo Credit: Colleen Hayes/NBC
Photo Credit: Joe Pugliese/NBC
Photo Credit: Joe Pugliese/NBC

This episode picks up exactly where the last one left off—with Amber telling her mother that she’s pregnant.

Sarah doesn’t quite have the reaction one might hope for with news like this, though. I felt so sorry for Amber. Sarah asks who the father is and wants to know how far along she is. Then says, “So, you’re keeping it?” as though that’s about the worst idea ever. She tries to muster a supportive smile, but it’s obvious she thinks Amber is making a mistake.

After the strained relationship that these two have had, I really wish Sarah would have reacted differently. Amber may not be in the perfect place in her life, but I could see her making a great mother.

Photo Credit: Paul Drinkwater/NBC
Photo Credit: Paul Drinkwater/NBC

And then there’s Joel and Julia. They’re still separated, and it’s having an especially bad effect on their daughter Sidney. After learning that Sidney has been bullying other kids at school, Joel tries again to reconcile, but Julia isn’t having it.

Julia: “This is not like her. At all. You know, and moving out and giving up on me, was not like you. At all.”

Joel: “Come on. Come on — stay and talk with me. Please.”

Julia: “Are you kidding me? I begged you for a year just to talk to me and tell me what the hell was going on. And you refused to do that. And that broke me. And I’m almost okay. So you can’t come over and talk to me about my dad. You can’t kiss me. Okay? You can’t pretend like you didn’t destroy me. Because you did. You destroyed us. All of us.”

She’s right, of course. But Joel is finally coming around, and I think he feels truly sorry. The look in his eyes as Julia walked away just then said it all. My heart completely broke for him.

But the most important part of this episode had to do with Zeek. In last week’s premiere, he collapsed on his birthday trip to Vegas, and left the hospital without finding out exactly what was wrong. In this episode, he learns that he needs to have open-heart surgery. Zeek is stubborn, arguing with the doctor and telling him the fall was no big deal. But the doctor makes a good point—and a scary one at that. He tells Zeek that if he collapses again, he might not be so lucky when it happens. What if he’s behind the wheel of a car?

Still, Zeek refuses. And he doesn’t want to talk about it. Instead, he just wants to celebrate his 72nd birthday. But the birthday party he gets isn’t exactly what he was hoping for. His children get him gifts that further remind him of his age and his health, including a step counter from Julia. And the food? It’s mostly “lentils and tofu.” Understandably, they’re worried about their dad, let the guy have a real birthday cake for crying out loud.

Photo Credit: Colleen Hayes/NBC
Photo Credit: Colleen Hayes/NBC

Adam finally gets his father alone and tries to convince him to have the surgery, certain that it would be the best option. Zeek argues, saying that he could die on the table. And if the surgery doesn’t go well, it would mean, as his doctor put it, “diminished quality of life.”

Adam: If you don’t have the surgery, you could die. You could die, Dad. And what do I do then?

Zeek: If I die, you just take my ashes, and you scatter them over center field at Marine Park. And you play a game of baseball over me. Because I’m going out on my terms.

Photo Credit: Colleen Hayes/NBC
Photo Credit: Colleen Hayes/NBC

Zeek and Amber have a really special moment at the birthday party. Amber is crying on the steps outside when Zeek comes out to “get away from the fruit tart.” She gives him the news, and asks if he’s disappointed in her. He wraps his arms around her and smiles, saying it’s “incredible” and “wonderful.” And he says, “I’m gonna be a great-granddad!” This is one of the first real smiles we get from Amber this episode—she even laughs a little.

After the party, Sarah visits Amber. Hopefully, she’ll have more encouraging words than she did earlier. And she does. She brings Amber’s baby book and shows her old pictures. Then she says, “I realized, I forgot to tell you about all the good stuff.” And in this moment we realize that Sarah is going to be supporting Amber through her pregnancy. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if this brought them closer together.

And more good news, I wonder if Julia might be coming around to Joel after all. She calls him that night to talk about Sidney’s issues. They are both concerned about their child, and they sit on the phone in silence for a moment. It seemed to me that this might be the first step toward reconciliation. Gosh, I hope so.

Photo Credit: Colleen Hayes/NBC
Photo Credit: Colleen Hayes/NBC

The episode ends with Zeek and Camille at the kitchen table before bedtime. Zeek tells Camille that he learned a secret tonight—that Amber is pregnant. They both truly do seem to think this is happy news, and they talk about how strange it is that they will be great-grandparents.

Then Zeek says, “I’m gonna have the surgery, Millie.”

Honestly, this makes me really nervous. I can’t decide if this is the right choice or not. But it was obviously Amber’s pregnancy that has changed Zeek’s mind.

I really have to wonder what’s going to happen with Zeek this season. So far, the show has typically offered happy endings. Earlier in the series, Amber got in a car wreck that looked pretty serious, but she wasn’t hurt as badly as she looked. And remember Kristina’s cancer? She made a full recovery, and now she’s stronger than ever.

So my question is, will Zeek get a happy ending, too? Or are we going to be dealing with a new kind of loss this season?

Parenthood airs Thursdays at 10/9c on NBC.

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