Review: 'Parenthood' - 'What to My Wondering Eyes': Bad Santa?
The tears flow as Kristina's health takes a turn for the worse at holiday time
A review of last night's "Parenthood" coming up just as soon as Santa is here on a percentage...
Though this has been a pretty tear-filled season of "Parenthood" so far, the show hadn't aggressively gone for the waterworks in the way it did with "What to My Wondering Eyes." But the restraint shown leading up to this episode made the tears here feel completely earned. Kristina and Adam have gone through a lot over the previous 10 installments, but almost all of it was about the anticipation of the terrible things that could happen. This was the first time her health was genuinely threatened — in the sort of ancillary health crisis common to cancer patients undergoing aggressive treatment — and the performances by all the actors, but especially Peter Krause, were fantastic as they sold the fear of death everyone(*) was experiencing. I thought the scene where Adam asks Zeek to stick around was going to be as rough as it got for me, but then Adam watched Kristina's video and prayed to God(**) and I was pretty much ruined for the night until I could put on "The Daily Show" to recover.
(*) One complaint: as far as I can remember, this is the first time we've been made aware that Haddie knows more about Kristina's condition than her parents told her before they sent her back to Cornell. The lie they told was a huge deal, and her reaction to the truth should have also been big, but instead, the show skipped right over it and assumed they had the conversation sometime after she went back to Ithaca.
(**) I do think that moment would have been even stronger if the show had really dealt with Adam's faith before. We know from Crosby stories that the Bravermans are not in general a family of believers, but Adam's specific feelings about God haven't really been addressed — people do change as they get older, marry people with different beliefs, etc. — and as good as that scene was, if we knew that this was Adam the atheist deciding that he desperately needed God to be real, then it would have been even better.
In terms of the non-cancer stories, I find it interesting that Sarah(***) continues to not learn from her romantic mistakes, while Amber has very much learned what not to do from watching her mom. You can see why each woman would be drawn to Hank and Ryan, respectively, and I'm certainly glad to have Ray Romano and Matt Lauria around (and to get another Hank/Max moment last night), doing the great work they're doing. But Hank is yet another Sarah love interest in need of fixing, and Ryan is someone beyond Amber's capabilities to fix. Amber knows this will end badly and walks away before she gets in too deep, while Sarah yet again leaps from guy to guy to guy. I would love for the show to spend another extended period dealing with a non-romantic aspect of Sarah's life, but we can't exactly say this move is out of character for her.
(***) Also, putting Lauren Graham in any kind of Santa-adjacent setting will always distract me with thoughts of this NSFW scene from "Bad Santa."
The other stories were fairly simple, effective, universal ones, whether it was the extended family having to deal with both Victor and Max's very public declarations of Santa's non-existence or (in a very nice moment for Joy Bryant) Jasmine being inspired by Kristina's situation and her time taking care of Nora to tell Crosby that she wants another baby.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go see about why this room is so damn dusty.
What did everybody else think?
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