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Parenthood has its rewards

Parenthood (2009) poster

Written by : published Friday 25th January 2013

The season finale of NBC's Parenthood, entitled "Because You're My Sister," was very busy. The Braverman clan is a large family, and it takes quite a bit of time to serve each family member in their story. Not every episode makes it around to everyone, but this one did better than most at serving a large number of the cast.

A huge part of the sweetness this week comes when Victor's (Xolo Mariduena) adoption is finalized. The entire family piles into a single courtroom, and many of them get to take turns telling Victor how glad they are that he is a part of their clan, and what they are willing to do for him. Every Parenthood season finale needs an organic group scene like this. We see Julia (Erika Christensen) struggle in previous episode with the decision to accept Victor, and it's great to see her affection grow towards him. But it's also wonderful when everyone else jumps on, and this finally makes Victor seem like one of the Bravermans and not just one of the Grahams.

Of course, the road to the courthouse isn't without incident. I'm not talking about Victor breaking the expensive bowl, because it almost seems like a test of Julia done on purpose. At minimum, it's an accident that scares Victor. It isn't until that moment that Victor knows he is fully welcome in their home. But by that time, the drama of doubt is over, as Julia has already made her decision, and she's not going to go back on it.

No, I'm talking about Sydney (Savannah Paige Rae) telling Victor that he isn't her brother. It's a natural thing for a kid to feel or say, acting out against change. However, that doesn't make it any less cruel. I feel like Victor understands that Sydney is just blowing off steam, because he's had enough practice at doing the same thing himself lately. He's also anxious to be part of the family after Julia accepts him, and so does what he needs to do to win Sydney over. It's gratifying when Sydney comes around, too, even if it doesn't take some big event to move her.

Part of what Parenthood does well is write authentically for the children, and actually give them something to do. Many series with kids running around ignore the youngsters, or use them only as comedic gags against the adults. Parenthood lets Sydney and Victor act their age, and have a bit of real story between them. Very cool.

Victor isn't the only new face joining the Bravermans. Crosby (Dax Shepard) and Jasmine (Joy Bryant) learn they will soon be having a new baby. As the youngest of the Braverman couples, and the most ready for a new addition, this is great news. It might be slightly unexpected, as it hasn't been addressed in the story that they are trying, but at the same time, it just feels like a natural part of life moving on.

The news of a baby makes Crosby take stock of his situation with his mother-in-law, Renee (Tina Lifford). It's not that Crosby is wrong in his argument with Renee, but it's more that he needs to just let his anger go. Renee does overstep with her grandson, but she's family, and Crosby understands that. Renee has done a lot for them, especially Crosby's son, Jabbar (Tyree Brown), so sometimes, one should overlook her faults. I don't know that she will be moving back in with them anytime soon, but it's nice to see peace, and I like what having Renee around does to Crosby, forcing him to mature, eventually anyway.

 A tragedy is averted in "Because You're My Sister" when we learn that Kristina (Monica Potter) has beat her cancer. She's not cured, but she is cancer free. Honestly, I feel like cancer is the go-to crisis in family dramas, and I never cared for the story. It's great to see Kristina healthy, if for no other reason than it puts this arc to rest. Hopefully, the illness with not come back.

Other good news in the episode comes for many other characters. Drew (Miles Heizer) gets into a great school, the first in his immediate family to attend college, even if it takes him far away from Amy (Skyler Day), who things are over with anyway. Amber (Mae Whitman) reunites with Ryan (Matt Lauria), something she is afraid of, with cause, but wants, and maybe he could make her happy.

Lastly, though, after all of this happiness, is the tear jerker story. Sarah (Lauren Graham) has to choose between Mark (Jason Ritter), who makes a play to win her back, and Hank (Ray Romano), who she is currently with. Sarah chooses Hank, who then promptly announces he's moving to Minnesota to be with his daughter.

This is rough, but there's little that could be done to make it better, and it all unfolds very naturally. Some argue that Sarah always chooses the wrong guy, but I think that she is right in picking Hank. After all, she has made several attempts with Mark, and they just don't seem to work for all that long. Hank cares about her, and he's good to her. There is no doubt in my mind that he could make her happy. The twist with his daughter only presents him as a better man. Plus, how much would Hank shake up the dynamics when the whole clan comes together?

So what should Sarah do now? Should she move with Hank to Minnesota? I really want her to, but only if the series follows her, and they find a way to come back at some point next season. I don't think that she can go back to Mark now, not after telling him she chose Hank. It will make him feel like second place, which will only implode their next relationship more quickly. Or she might find someone else, which is a little bit of a shame, given that she already has two amazing actors after her character. It would take someone really, really good to be worthy at this point.

The mostly feel-good plots of "Because You're My Sister" allow Parenthood to end on an uplifting note, even as some sadness is mixed in. All of it tugs at the heart perfectly, and it remains one of the best family dramas in recent memory. Hopefully this won't be a series finale, but if it does turn out to be so, at least the series finished well.

Want to read some of my fiction? It's on my website, JeromeWetzel.com! Also, for the latest updates and article links, as well as commentary on episodes I don't fully review, please follow me on Twitter!

About the author JeromeWetzelTV

JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome Wetzel is a huge fan of stories, in both books and television. He writes TV reviews and fiction. He currently posts articles for TheTVKing, Seat42F, and BlogCritics, as well as his own personal blog, as well as writing fiction. His website is www.jeromewetzel.com Follow him on twitter @JeromeWetzelTV

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