At one point in this episode of Parenthood, matriarch Camille says that in marriage you stand at the altar and promise to love and cherish, for richer or poorer, in sickness and health, and then she takes a shaky breath and completes her thought by uttering, “You just hope you’re strong enough.”
In its previous five seasons Parenthood has never shied away from dealing with the heavy stuff, but it seems that there will be at least double the amount of it as the series dwindles down to its last few episodes. Now fans have to hope that they’re strong enough to handle what’s yet to come.
On the eve of Zeek’s heart surgery, the four Braverman siblings, plus Amber, gather at Zeek and Camille’s to express hopeful thoughts about the impending procedure, during which time Zeek accidently spills the beans that Amber is expecting. The two share a moment on the front porch when Ambers shows him her sonogram photo a t the sight of which Zeek proclaims that he will be there to hold her baby.
The very next morning Zeek and Camille arrive in his hospital room, where Zeek lays down the law with his attending nurse that he will not be removing his wedding ring. This man, who has felt so strong and in charge his whole life, suddenly feels vulnerable at this loss of power and needs to hold onto something, and that ring is it.
He does finally remove it, but only at the absolute last minute, when he’s being wheeled directly into surgery. At that moment, he presses it into Camille’s hand and breaks down, admitting that he’s scared. Camille can only nod and attempt to smile as she slides the ring onto her finger. Once Zeek is in the operating room, out of the sight of her, Camille finally lets down her guard and the tears begin to flow.
While Zeek is in surgery, the Braverman clan all remain in the waiting room, anxious throughout the procedure, with Zeek’s health utmost in their thoughts, but that doesn’t mean that they all don’t have other issues they’re dealing with.
Julia has been spending more time with her hot boyfriend even though Joel clearly is making overtures about getting back together. When the boyfriend, who we finally learn is named Chris, sends a sweet ‘hospital care package’ filled with sentimental items to Julia, she admits to Sarah that she likes him, a lot. Sadly, when she reveals to Joel, via a phone call, that she’s ‘seeing someone,’ Joel looks as though someone has punched him in the face. He clearly did not see this coming at all.
In an attempt to help out Hank and get to know his daughter Ruby better, Sarah takes her ‘shopping,’ well, at the drug store at least, where Ruby promptly slips a lip gloss in her purse, a move that doesn’t escape Sarah. When Sarah tells Hank about it, he can’t believe his daughter would do that. He admits that he sucks at being a parent (his actual words.) As Hank is telling his wife Sandy what happened, she explodes and insists that Hank stop spending time with Sarah and commit to being a better father. Hank half-heartedly agrees.
When Amber goes to see Drew at school to borrow his car to go to Wyoming to tell Ryan about the baby, Drew insists that he go with her.
In Wyoming, just as they’re about to knock on Ryan’s front door, Amber, being Amber of course, reveals that she didn’t call ahead so Ryan has no idea that she’s coming, to which Drew seems upset but, clearly knowing his sister, understands that this type of behavior is not unusual.
Amid a table full of prescription bottles, Amber tells Ryan that she’s pregnant and much to her surprise, he says he’s excited about the baby and that he’s going to be the best dad ever.
When Amber tells Drew that she’s decided to stay in Wyoming with Ryan to work some things out, Drew loses it, passionately proclaiming, “You couldn’t marry him and now you’re going to raise a baby with him? That’s not going to work. He’s not going to change. It’s like dad, he’s going to say a bunch of stuff and not live up to it. You think you’re going to fix him and you’re not. You can’t help him; if you were going to help it would have already happened.” He insists that she’s not staying there, that this is why he came, to make sure she didn’t.
Taking what Drew said to heart, Amber carefully tells Ryan that he has a lot of work to do and that she can’t do the work with him because she has to take care of herself and the baby. Holding his hand, she tells him that he’s just not ready for this yet.
Back in the hospital waiting room, everyone is handling the pressure of the situation in their own way; Adam is Mr. Pessimistic while Crosby distracts himself by watching a baseball game on his phone. When the two fight over some work responsibilities, Crosby rushes out of the hospital, jumps on his motorcycle and speeds off. Accelerating around hairpin turns, the consequences of which can be foreseen and just like that — yep, he crashes. Not too seriously as he just spins out and lays the bike down, but enough that he’s clearly in some pain with a few injuries.
Just as Crosby arrives back at the hospital, Zeek’s doctor announces that he’s out of surgery and that everything went well. The Braverman kids see Zeek, still unconscious with a breathing tube, through a glass partition as Camille slips into his room. She takes a seat beside him, grasps his hand and just then he blinks awake. She slowly slides his wedding ring back onto his finger.
If you haven’t been in a medical facility of some sort, anxiously wringing your hands while you await some news about the health of your father, mother, sibling or child, it’s a given that someday you will. In those fearful moments, you’ll use whatever method is necessary for you to summon the strength to remain in an upright position and not to just crumble to the ground in a heap of uselessness. And surprisingly, you’ll do this as much for yourself as you will to support the people around you.
This is what Camille meant when she talked about ‘just hoping that you’re strong enough.’
Each member of the Braverman family used what they had at their personal disposal to bolster their own strength as well as those around them. And even though those coping mechanisms clearly didn’t mesh at times, they worked for each individual.
Sarah made jokes, Julia ate Twizzlers, Crosby watched baseball and drove fast while Adam used a method he no doubt learned as he supported his wife through cancer; a type of ‘prepare for the worst, but hope for the best’ deal. Camille, mining the years she’s spent with her mate, knew enough about Zeek’s self-management style to know just to let him have his say, hold his hand, and wait until he was not beside her before she let your seemingly steely resolve collapse.
While the majority of this episode focused on the first generation of Bravermans, let’s not forget the second generation duo of Drew and Amber. Drew, who usually appears rather unaffected by many things (he just seems to have very little to say most of the time), took an amazing stand with Amber when he told her that there was no way she could fix Ryan and insisted that she leave with him. As many will recall, Drew and his girlfriend faced an unplanned pregnancy not so long ago and when she decided to terminate, Drew didn’t handle it well. He supported his girlfriend in her decision, but the sense of loss weighed heavily on him. Clearly his experience with that helped him step up for Amber and at this point he seems more equipped to parent a child than she does. It will be quite interesting to see how this sibling relationship progresses given impending arrival of Amber’s child.
Every facet of this episode was extremely realistic, almost too much so, to the point that this might be just too much for some viewers as the very realism that makes this show so utterly believable can also make it a bit painful to take in, But it seems that’s just how fans of Parenthood like it; they relish the exploration of all things family-related, no matter raw it leaves them.
Only ten episodes of this family drama remain. Gather your personal coping mechanisms now. You’re surely going to need them.