A quick review of last night's "Parenthood" coming up just as soon as I give horseback riding a try...

Several of the subplots on "Namaste No More" were the sorts of things we've grown accustomed to with "Parenthood" by now: Julia's competitive streak played for laughs(*), Crosby and Jasmine edging closer towards becoming a couple, Adam and Kristina trying to help Max overcome some of his Asperger's issues. Others, though, offered some new sides to characters.

(*) Though do soccer leagues for 5-year-olds - particularly in crunchy Berkeley - really still keep score? My daughter's not much older than Sydney, and last night I took her to her weekly t-ball "game" where in every inning, every kid comes up to bat, gets a hit and scores a run, no matter what actually happens on the field of play as you or I would understand baseball rules.

In particular, I'm not sure I've ever seen Mae Whitman (whether on "Arrested Development," "Thief," here or anywhere else) seem as relaxed and happy as she did throughout the subplot about Amber befriending (and possibly more) Haddie's ex-boyfriend. It was kind of startling - and, of course, this will go badly for Amber (and probably for her mom, who will presumably come into conflict with Kristina when this gets out) - but overall it was a nice surprise and interesting take on the character when seen completely independent of Sarah.

The show followed up on Zeek's money trouble, and on the condoms Sarah found in his desk back in the pilot, with a very awkward, well-acted (by Craig T. Nelson and Bonnie Bedelia) scene where the four siblings confronted their parents and found out more than they wanted to know. Zeek moving in with Adam should be good for the show's serio-comic tone(**), and the current fracture in that marriage made the usual heartwarming song montage at episode's end feel far more bittersweet than usual.

(**) A nice example of said tonal balance: the sibs rehearsing for the intervention in Adam's car, then bickering over who gets to sit in the front. Some fights with your brothers and sisters never go away, no matter how old you are or how many other responsibilities you have.

What did everybody else think?