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'Parenthood' recap: Enjoy the ride

Season 5 | Ep. 21 | “I’m Still Here” | Aired Apr 10, 2014 

Just when you think it’s safe to wade into an episode of Parenthood without an industrial-size box of tissues, the return of two familiar faces (and the heartbreaking departure of one) eventually makes that an ill-advised decision.

Mr. Knight joins Julia — at this point we can only assume they hooked up with each other last week because of the awkward “bro hug” they give each other in greeting — with Adam and Kristina at an abandoned office building that they’re considering as a potential site for their new charter school. The space is old, but with an open charm that I can already envision being renovated and looking way cooler than we know the Bravermans can afford (what with the Cornell tuition I’m assuming they’re paying for the daughter they sent there and have apparently forgotten).

Later that day, Julia confesses to Sarah that she did, in fact, sleep with Mr. Knight (she actually calls him Evan, but since he’s a teacher, I cannot) and that she feels bad about it because, you know, SHE’S STILL MARRIED. Sarah is shocked, but tells her not to feel bad about it and that it’s about time she added to the list of people she’s slept with.

Hold on. Last week Kristina was encouraging her to “have fun” with Ed, and now Sarah is treating the fact that she cheated on her husband as no big deal? (Think what you will about Joel’s behavior; she is still married, after all.) These Braverman women seem to be demonstrating a surprisingly low regard for the sanctity of marriage. Julia tells Mr. Knight that she thought their romp was “nice,” but that she got ahead of herself and can’t do it again. Mr. Knight responds by saying that it’s no biggie! They were just having fun! Ouch. They agree not to tell Adam and Kristina. Good plan. I can’t tell if whatever this is between them is over, and if it is, what the point of it was, other than to show that Julia had finally had it with the messed-up events of the past few months and needed to (as she told Mr. Knight) “break free.”  On the other hand, I’m fairly certain it won’t be over when Joel finds out, which we know he eventually will.

Meanwhile, Gwen (Rose Abdoo), Kristina’s best friend from her chemo days, is fading, and Kristina goes to her bedside to pay her a final visit. As she sits by a seemingly already gone Gwen, Kristina tells her about their plans for the school and tries her best to hold it together — unsuccessfully — before telling her that she doesn’t want to let her go.


Later, when Kristina finds out that Gwen has died, she breaks down in a heart-wrenching scene that gives this episode its title (and further supports my opinion that she was robbed of an Emmy nomination). She sobs to Adam, “I’m still here. I get to be a wife. I get to be a mother. I get to hold my kids. Why do I get to be here and she doesn’t? I’m mad. I’m mad!”

Forget the tissues. Can somebody pass me a beach towel?

Over at the Graham house, Joel continues to complicate things with Julia. After helping Crosby fix his mold-infested floor and having some quality bro-time over a beer, he suddenly gets a burst of humanity and pays a surprise visit to Julia under the guise of fixing the dishwasher. He takes the opportunity to ask her how she’s coping with her parents selling the family home. Julia, happy (and shocked) to see Joel with an expression other than his recent mask of indifference, is obviously surprised at his sudden interest in her feelings. Who knew it would be Crosby, of all people, to make Joel start the journey back to his family?

Julia and Joel’s possible road to recovery isn’t the only turn of relationship events in the Braverman clan. Sarah, still confused about her feelings for Hank, turns to Adam for advice. Adam recognizes that she’s concerned about Hank’s possible Asperger’s and reassures her that, with patience, Hank is capable of having a relationship. Later, when Amber receives news that Ryan has been in an accident (the nature of which remains a mystery to us viewers), Hank drives her to the hospital and stays with her until Sarah arrives. During the wait he does a few very un-Hank-like things: places his hand on Amber’s back for comfort, lets her sleep against him for two hours (even when he has to pee) and reassures her that things will be OK. When Sarah arrives and sees him with Amber, it’s obvious that his atypical comforting behavior makes an impact on her. Amber eventually gets to rush to Ryan’s bedside, but all we get to see is his bloody face and her obvious relief at being reunited with him.

Finally, Adam and Kristina open a package Gwen sent from the grave. (I’m assuming it was delivered by Gwen’s sister. I hope it was delivered by Gwen’s sister.) It’s a baby oak tree with a check and a note that reads, “It’s going to be a great school. Enjoy the ride.” And as they cry — and as I cry — they know they have a namesake for their new school.

Drew finally breaks free of his never-ending sexual-tension-disguised-as-anger with Natalie and — after she apologizes for sleeping with Berto — asks her to be his girlfriend. She says yes. They kiss in the middle of the UC Berkeley field. Everyone screams. No, really. Everyone screams. It’s a UC Berkeley thing. Don’t ask.

Do you think Julia and Mr. Knight’s hookup will come back to haunt her? Will Joel ever find out? Was she right or wrong to sleep with him while married, even taking into account the way Joel has been treating her? What do you think happened to Ryan, and will his accident heal his relationship with Amber? Tell me your thoughts in the comments below!

Read more of Michelle’s posts at You’re My Favorite Today.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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