PARENTHOOD “Hard Times Come Again No More” (Season Finale) Review

Parenthood (NBC) "Hard Times Come Again No More"

PARENTHOOD “Hard Times Come Again No More” Season 2 Episode 22 – No emotional punches are pulled as PARENTHOOD closes out its second season in dramatic fashion with the aftermath of Amber’s accident, Adam’s simmering rage, and Sarah’s play driving much of the action in “Hard Times Come Again No More.”

Crying before the opening credits—that may be a new record for me, but that’s the kind of episode this is: sappy with big, dramatic arcs and lots of resolution—maybe too much resolution. I’m glad we learn immediately that Amber is (physically) okay, but I wish we had more time in the waiting room. So many possible mini-dramas just waiting to happen with all the Bravermans plus Alex and Jasmine in such an enclosed space. That feels like a missed opportunity, but with so much action to get through, there is no time for that.

Lauren Graham and Mae Whitman own me. Between Sarah’s infinite number of distressed expressions and Amber’s infinite number of tears, these two have me wrapped around their little pinkies. I love that Drew finally loses his patience with Amber. I always feel bad for Drew because Sarah and Amber have such a bond leaving him on the outside looking in. Even at the end of this episode, Sarah and Amber are tangled together on the couch in a solid mother-daughter unit while he is separate from them. Anyway, Amber and Sarah have terrific scenes all around. Even the overwrought apology scene at the play works for me and I can’t wait to see what Amber decides to do next.

I want to see Sarah’s play produced. Once again I have to marvel at the insane speed in which this play was written, revised, and now performed, but I love that the Bravermans look at Sarah with respect rather than pity and that they seem to enjoy watching the stage version of themselves.

“You do not have my permission to mess with my dreams.” Sobbing. In fact, I can tell you right now that Zeek’s speech will make me blubber no matter how many times I watch it. Amber needs tough love Sarah can’t give her because they are too close and because Sarah blames herself for Amber’s problems as much as Amber would like to blame Sarah. Zeek hits just the right balance of stern and loving. “You didn’t get into Berkeley. Well, boo-friggin-hoo. You’re a Braverman” Love all of this so much, especially the “How about a burger” at the end. That scene is as close to perfect as a show can get.

All of Adam’s building and festering stress comes to a boil in epic fashion. Cory firing him isn’t exactly shocking, especially given Adam’s inappropriate rant, and honestly, I couldn’t be happier. That office storyline had outlived its usefulness and new financial pressures on top of Kristina’s pregnancy (“How did that happen?” Really? Ha!) should let Peter Krause delve into new levels of panic and rage. Just look at his tantrum when he thought Alex “knocked up” his daughter (yes, because Haddie would have had no part in that—maybe he really doesn’t know how it happens)—that’s some serious anger there.

Asperger’s doesn’t take a break for a family crisis, and wow is Max’s outburst in the waiting room uncomfortable. Very well done and I think the Adam-Max scene where Adam wants to look for the retainer is one of the best we’ve seen on the show. Max asking whether Adam is mad at him for having Asperger’s makes me hope we’ll see more of Adam and/or Kristina learning how to tell Max they are upset by something he did because it has to be okay for them to occasionally be disappointed in their son’s actions. I find it interesting that the very smart Max brings up his Asperger’s twice tonight, and both times it helps him gain forgiveness. I have to wonder if he knows what he’s doing. I love his apology to Sarah and her quick but earnest acceptance. It’s a touching moment and Monica Potter does a nice job in the background as Kristina’s face tightens with anxiety and then releases during the exchange.

I’m once again torn about Crosby/Jasmine. On the one hand, Crosby finally understands: it’s not about the magical grand gesture; it’s about owning his actions; apologizing for his mistake as honestly as he can while listening to what Jasmine feels and needs. That’s wonderful, but it doesn’t address the fact that both Crosby and Jasmine contributed to some serious problems in their relationship before Crosby cheated. Crosby wasn’t “fighting over dishes” that night—he was trying to discuss underlying issues of control and trust. Issues that have not only not vanished, by the way, but which have probably been exacerbated by the cheating. I hope they take their time and work to actually resolve things this time around.

Well, of course Julia still wants a baby. Did anyone actually believe she didn’t? I’m very curious to see where this takes Julia and Joel next season because my guess is the adoption process won’t be smooth, and I would imagine Sydney would have some issues should she suddenly have to share her parents. Ms. Woo may be a heavy-handed way to reintroduce Julia’s baby lust, but she’s hilarious. “I think you’re the most wonderful person I’ve ever met in my life. I thought you were such a bitch.” That actually more or less mirrors my feelings toward Julia. Oh, and if it weren’t for Julia, Jasmine, and that pesky heterosexuality, I would totally ship Crosby and Joel. I’m just saying.

Just as a note, I will never again make fun of any show for dropping its theme song during a special episode because “Forever Young” feels like a bucket of cold water in the face right after the melancholic music during the hospital scene.

Parenthood is a gloriously messy show with its huge cast, big arcs and seemingly infinite mini-dramas. In that way, it’s just like family only with much better writers and actors. I’ve had a great time with the Bravermans this season as they ride their hopefully endless emotional roller coaster and I’m looking forward to doing it again this fall. I know the show yet to be renewed, but I have every faith it will be.

What did you think of the Parenthood season finale? Are you happy with where all the Bravermans end up? What do you want to see in season 3? Let me know in the comments.

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