Parenthood: “Politics”
A-

Parenthood: “Politics”

A-

Parenthood

“Politics”

Season 3, Episode 15
A-

Parenthood

“Politics”

Season 3, Episode 15

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On tonight’s Parenthood, we had some real, clarifying moments that have been months in the making, moments that the whole season has been building to, moments that…

Oh, who am I kidding? On tonight’s Parenthood, Dawes guest-starred, and even though the rest of the episode was really good, all you guys are going to want to talk about is that Dawes was in the episode and Peter Krause said the word “Dawes” so often he seemed to be applying for an honorary comments section membership. (Krause directed the episode, and I like to imagine that when reading drafts of the script, he kept sending them back with a note on the cover page, scrawled in red ink. “NEEDS MORE DAWES.”) There’s a rich tradition of drama series doing episodes where somebody gets obsessed with a band for that episode and that episode only—as anyone who’s seen the Rooney episode of The O.C. can tell you all too well—but the fact that the band Adam got obsessed with here was Dawes and that they provided a guest turn will surely set many of your hearts alight. I’ll bet you all really enjoyed when you got to know the names of everybody in the band and when they saved Crosby’s bacon for no real reason.

Here’s the thing: Even if there hadn’t been a Dawes cameo (or if the band Adam had gotten obsessed with was Fleet Foxes or something), this still would have been a pretty good episode. I’m genuinely impressed with how much this season has dealt with the same three or four storylines for 15 episodes now, with no real end in sight other than the season finale in three weeks. I haven’t always loved the various twists and turns of these stories, but I’m amazed that the show has doggedly stuck with them, even when it might have cut bait and headed after something else. Really, the only new story arc introduced all season long that had nothing to do with what came before (and even that grew out of Kristina’s need to get back in the workforce) is the strange saga of Candidate Bob, running for City Council and apparently better funded than Mitt Romney.

It was the story within Bob Little’s campaign that struck me the most tonight. I really love the way the show has dealt with Amber this season, and here was another scenario where she found herself in over her head, trying to figure out how to swim. It’s clear that she and Bob have a certain connection romantically, but it’s also clear that she’s not sure how much that played into her getting the promotion to Bob’s assistant, and it’s clear that she knows the whole thing would look a little iffy if it came out, both to Bob’s staff and to anyone in the media following the Berkeley City Council race all that closely. (Seriously, this storyline would be much more believable if Bob were running for a House of Representatives seat or something. You could even make it the Democratic primary if you wanted to make the timeline work out.) Her inner turmoil is conveyed as much by Mae Whitman’s facial expressions as anything else, and everything that transpired after she got the bouquet from her mom—but briefly thought it was from Bob—was just terrific on the part of Whitman.

Also, Dawes.

Meanwhile, the Julia/Joel/Zoe storyline reached a really nice point, again, if you can sort of ignore the whole way the story started out. Now that Zoe’s on the verge of giving birth, she’s getting that far-off look in her eyes when Sydney talks to her about having a baby brother or when she’s at Lamaze class or whatever. To Julia and Joel, this seems, understandably, like she might be having second thoughts. It seems even more like it when she quits her job and moves out, only to abruptly resurface a couple of days later with a phone call that she cuts short after only a few minutes of talking. Joel tracks her down, and she says she’s not rethinking her decision, but you can forgive the two for thinking their adoption is in jeopardy. I love the way this is all hinging on the fact that Zoe never wanted an open adoption and is now finding herself growing increasingly uncomfortable at just how much this isn’t what she wanted. I’m sure Julia and Joel will get the baby, but I like the way this show has managed to find a way to work in some of the problems prospective parents can have with the adoption process, particularly in a scenario like the one presented here.

And then Dawes popped in, and they all had lines, and it was really kind of weird. But they didn’t sing! What a waste of Dawes!

While Amber was dealing with her boss being a teensy bit in love with her, ethics be damned, her mom was dealing with the fact that her boyfriend graduated in 2002 or something. Now, she found herself hanging out with Mark’s old high school pals and flipping through his yearbook and realizing he had once dated a girl his own age named Kirsten. Now, the whole “Sarah is 40, and Mark is much younger” thing has always been a big part of this storyline’s subtext, but this was really a nice way to bring it up into the actual text. I really did think this was the way Mark would get written out of the show, since you know he’ll have to be eventually. It would make sense for the two to realize that, yeah, it’s been fun, but this is an unbridgeable age gap. Instead, Mark, being the best boyfriend ever, gives up on Morocco and doubles down on having a baby. Somewhere, Bonnie Bedelia is raising one eyebrow skeptically.

And okay, yes, there was plenty of Crosby action to be had, particularly once Adam got him to bend his usual rules in order to stalk Dawes and bring them to work at the Luncheonette. (Dawes stays in really nice hotels, you guys.) But I also liked when he had to deal with Jasmine moving in with DR. JOE PRESTIGE, something she’s apparently hell-bent on doing, even though she’s obviously still got feelings for Crosby. (Why oh why can’t she just have them both, she asks herself.) Crosby’s greatest weakness has always been the way he wears his heart in the middle of his forehead, and that was all the more apparent here, particularly when a Dawes-drunk Crosby talked it out with the cello player, who soon realized that as much as he likes her, she ain’t got nothing on Jasmine.

That was it. Just three more episodes left. How many Dawesplosions can we expect?

Stray observations:

  • Braverman of the Week: Dawes. (For those of you who do not understand the whole Dawes thing, let’s go with Amber, quietly going about her business and making the world fall in love with her.)
  • I love how completely oblivious Kristina is to the fact that her niece only got a promotion because Bob Little’s got a thing for 19-year-olds. But, then, who doesn’t? Favorite scene: Amber has to give Kristina notes and isn’t sure how to break that to her.
  • It feels like an inordinate number of characters sat this week out. They were all in their rooms, doing their homework. Guess they needed extra budget to bring in Dawes.

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