Parenthood – “Hard Times Come Again No More”: Curtain call

So if that turns out to be the last episode of Parenthood ever, I think I can live with it.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want it to be the end of Parenthood.  What started out for me as a show I watched mostly as a concession to my better half (for making her sit through all manner of shows each week she probably wouldn’t have watched otherwise) slowly grew on me as well.  I’m a huge fan of Friday Night Lights, and I think enough of what Jason Katims did on that show made its way into Parenthood for me to recognize something familiar.  So I’m definitely hoping for more Parenthood (if only to not have to explain to my sweetie what a network executive is and why they are bad, bad people) .  But if it doesn’t make it off the bubble into the promised land of renewal… I liked last night’s episode as a stopping point.

That’s not to say that we got complete resolution on everything, but like Lights Out and Terriers (two other recently departed shows, taken before their time) the season finale was clearly written in such a way that it could serve as a series finale.  We got enough closure on each of the families’ stories to not feel as though we’ve been left hanging, yet each of those threads could easily be picked up should the show continue.

After a powerful cliffhanger the week before (but not a surprising cliffhanger thanks to NBC promo-ing what turned out the be the episode’s finale shot about every five minutes the entire week leading up) last night’s episode opened with a very powerful and emotional scene; the entire family in the hospital waiting for Amber, as Michelle Featherson’s “I’m There Too” plays.  Got a mite bit dusty in ol’ Yeti’s living room for a few minutes.  The scene building to Max’s freakout set up some nice beats that would continue throughout the episode, leading to a very nice resolution for that character’s ongoing growth.

Another standout scene was certainly Zeek taking Amber to the junkyard to see Cappie’s mangled car (honestly Cappie… how could you)(also, no idea what the character’s name actually was).  There was nothing in that scene that we hadn’t seen before from Craig T. Nelson (tough love, Vietnam reference, bluntness) but that didn’t make it any less excellent, especially as it built to Amber’s acceptance of what she had done and where she had gotten to in her life.  After a long time of seemingly not knowing what to do with Mae Whitman’s character, the writers gave Amber an amazing arc to finish out the season.  Much of the best material for the past several weeks has belonged to Whitman, and she’s played the hell out of it.

On the topic of Amber, I laughed my ass off at Richard Dreyfuss’ line “I told them your daughter died.”  As a guest star, I think he did decent work throughout the playwright storyline, adding some heft to that part of the story without taking it over with showy “I’m the guest star dammit” antics.

I’m not going to mention the Jasmine/Crosby storyline because I got sick of it about 5 episodes ago, except to say that if nothing else, this show gave us Dax Shepard as a surprisingly competent and enjoyable actor, and not just a prop for the Dane Cooks and Ashton Kutchers of the world.

Finally, if this was all the Parenthood we’re going to get, I think they chose a wonderful moment to end on, with Adam and Kristina unable to contain the giggles about what a wonderful mess their life had suddenly become.  More than anything else, I think that scene captures what Parenthood has ultimately been about; life is rarely simple or easy, but as long as you have your family there will always be reason to smile.

(photo credit, NBC)

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