Sara Chaffee ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Parenthood’s season six premiere showcased everything viewers have come to love from television’s biggest tearjerker. The hour was filled with steam, surprise, and fear of the heartache to come.
Parenthood wasted no time jumping into its biggest shocker from last season’s finale: Amber’s (Mae Whitman) pregnancy. Opening on her sonogram gave viewers no time to question the actuality of this storyline. It is somewhat refreshing for a TV drama to get right to the plot instead of dancing around and over-dramatizing it. This realistic form of storytelling is something that has been at the heart of Parenthood for the past five seasons and shows no sign of faltering as the series begins its final season. Throughout the episode, Amber processes her pregnancy news and ultimately confides in cousin Haddie (Sarah Ramos). While she has not been the most likable character in the past, Haddie’s relationship with Amber has apparently blossomed while she was away at college. And in a scene that fans have been waiting five years for, the two of them finally laughed about their season one (and two and three) boyfriend drama. Progress!
In the main plot line of the episode, Sarah (Lauren Graham) surprises Zeke (Craig T. Nelson) with a trip to Las Vegas to celebrate his birthday. While in a heated game of blackjack, the Braverman patriarch collapses. At the hospital, Zeke refuses to let the doctor or his family assist him. He leaves against medical advice and returns to the casino to finish his birthday weekend, ignoring the pleas of his children. After returning home, he visits his doctor with wife Camille (Bonnie Bedelia) in hand. As the scene comes to a close, the sound fades out as the doctor discusses further testing, an editing tactic loyal viewers know all too well. Parenthood fans have come to expect the worst from medical scenarios, and Zeke completely denying his health status is not reassuring. With series creator Jason Katims stating earlier this week that the final season would focus on mortality, the head of the Braverman clan might be in jeopardy.
On the Joel (Sam Jaeger) and Julia (Erika Christensen) front, the couple is still taking some time apart. In the steamiest scene in series history, viewers were misled to believe that the Grahams had reconciled. But Parenthood wouldn’t be Parenthood without a little heartbreak, and it is quickly revealed that the man Julia is sharing a bed with is not in fact her husband. Later on, the estranged couple shares an awkward exchange at Chambers Academy, where Joel is helping Kristina (Monica Potter) prepare for the school’s grand opening. This scene officially marks the return of Good Guy Joel, who is more than welcome after his disappearance last season. Towards the end of the episode, after her father’s suspected heart attack, Julia confides in Joel, who kisses her. The scene is written so naturally that the kiss is difficult to discern as a mistake. Then Julia pulls away, and the audience is shattered.
The beauty of Parenthood is its ability to draw in its audience. This has always been attributed to its impeccable writing, engaging characters, and realistic story lines. Through these aspects, the show has been able to pull on the heartstrings of its viewers for the past five years. Year six seems to be no different. From Amber’s pregnancy to Zeke’s health issues, there will be plenty of tears to be shed as the series comes to an end.
Overall Episode Grade: A-