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Parenthood “Too Big to Fail” 

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

3 months have now passed. While some things have changed, many things have remained the same for the characters of Parenthood. Max is trying to date Dylan, though she seems to be more interested in Max’s family than him. Jasmine remains worried about Crosby, especially since Crosby doesn’t want to tell Jasmine that his business is failing. And Jabar wants to go to Harry Potter World for this birthday.

But I think the most significant storylines in this episode focus on Sarah’s family.

When the episode begins, Amber and Drew are looking at baby furniture and realizing they have no idea where to begin. A store clerk rattles off an almost comical list of things they absolutely have to have, including a stroller with a phone charger (seriously?). Drew has become such a good brother to Amber. I think he always has been, but he’s a character that has grown quite a bit throughout the series and he’s become especially available to Amber since her pregnancy. Amber is overwhelmed at all of the options and their high prices and the reality of the new baby and the cost of taking caring of it settling in. Not just for Amber, but also for the baby’s uncle.

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

Amber approaches Adam and Crosby and offers a convincing case for receiving a raise. While they agree she deserves it, the look on their faces says it all. The Luncheonette is going under and giving Amber a raise is the last thing they can do right now. And later, Amber walks in the room just in time to hear Adam telling Crosby that the only reason Amber hasn’t been let go is because she is their pregnant niece. And that’s not because she hasn’t been doing good work—it’s just that that’s how much trouble they are in financially. Of course, Amber is hurt and angry – especially since they weren’t honest with her.

Meanwhile, Drew has his sister in mind as he decides what to declare as his major. He tells his girlfriend that he wants to make a responsible decision and come out of college with a good paying job. Why? Because he thinks he is the only one who can take care of his family.

Drew: “I’m the only one in my family that’s gone to college. I need to be responsible.”

He also seems to be trying to do the opposite that his father did. So he thinks he should major in economics because it’s good to know about money. His heart is in the right place and I think it is nice that he wants to be able to help his sister and his new niece of nephew, but where is Sarah in all of this?

I think – I hope – that Sarah will become more helpful to Amber as her pregnancy progresses. For now though, she is busy with Hank and his problematic teen daughter. Sarah is trying to help Hank negotiate being a father to an out-of-control teenager, but neither of them are doing so well. Sarah suggests a game night with pizza in place of a party that Ruby wanted to attend and Amber joins them to be a part of it. I was glad for this too, because I think it showed a bond between Amber and Sarah that we don’t get to see very often. But Ruby flies off the handle when she and her dad do poorly at a game of “Celebrity” and storms off to her room leaving everyone else to feel pretty darn awkward.

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

One of my favorite moments from this episode comes from that evening. Amber is sleeping on the couch when a drunk, giggly Ruby comes home in the middle of the night. Amber finds herself holding Ruby’s hair while she vomits, washing her face and making sure she gets to bed. There’s a glimmer of hope, I think, that comes across Amber’s eyes as she’s holding Ruby. There are no words here, but it’s easy to see that Amber thinks she might just make a good mother after all.

And it is Amber, not Sarah or Hank, who finally gets through to Ruby. She wakes Ruby up the next morning with a cup of coffee and asks if she wants to talk. Of course, she’s closer in age, so it’s easier for her to relate to Ruby, but she also gives Ruby some generally good advice. And as for Hank, Amber has an opinion on that too. She tells Ruby that she ought to cut her father some slack, saying that her own father “didn’t even give it a shot.” Later, Ruby apologizes to both Hank and Sarah for “being a jerk” at game night, and even goes so far as to hug her father and tell him she loves him. A happy ending? Maybe. We’ll see how long that lasts, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Ruby will need a few more heart-to-hearts with Amber before she gets herself in check.

You know, I almost wish we could get one more season of this show, just because I think Amber and Ruby could develop a really interesting relationship. The way things are going, they’ll eventually become step-sisters. And as Amber points out, they really aren’t all that different.

And I’d love to see more of Sarah and Hank’s relationship! They had a very “Lorelai and Luke” moment tonight when Sarah was showing Hank The Breakfast Club for the first time. I’d love to see more of those moments, but this show has a lot left to give us before it can end.

Parenthood airs Thursdays at 10/9c on NBC.

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