For the first time in “Parenthood’s” history, Crosby Braverman is the voice of reason. In a role usually reserved for Adam, Crosby stepped up to the plate in a fine performance from Dax Shepard. The Bravermans are a close nit family, but they aren’t the most open. They are all pretty emotionally guarded, and never really open up until they are ready to explode. Just like last week when Drew avoided his mom’s questions, yet still wound up on her front porch in need of a hug.

PARENTHOOD — Season: 4 — Pictured: (l-r) Dax Shepard as Crosby Braverman, Lauren Graham as Sarah Braverman, Erika Christensen as Julia Braverman-Graham, Peter Krause as Adam Braverman — Photo by: NBC

Parenthood Review “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back”

It was a night full of honest, open moments. It was a huge thing when Kristina opened up to Crosby about her hesitation and insecurities in finalizing Victor’s adoption. It was also a huge thing for Crosby to stand up to Jasmine’s mom, and refuse to apologize to her. Also opening up this week was Ryan, who finally apologized to Joel for walking off the job site and quitting in disgrace. Yes, he did ask for his old job back, but when he went to actually apologize he was full of sincerity. Sarah opened up to Mark about the kiss she and Hank shared while they were still together, and Hank opened up and finally told Sarah that their relationship was important to them and he was all in.

The previews for this week’s episode made it look like the Sarah-Hank-Mark triangle would dominate the night, but it actually was only a small part. Sarah runs into Mark at school and the two meet up for a cup of coffee. She tells him that she’s with Mark now, and that even though she never cheated on him, she did kiss him while they were still together. Understandably hurt and confused, Mark later confronts Hank and tells him he’s not done fighting for Sarah. It sounded like a last minute plea of desperation, but it was earnest in its intention. Later, Hank tells Sarah that the two had a conversation and that he, too, was committed to the relationship. Over the season, Hank has never opened up or really expressed his true feeling for Sarah, so when he opened up to her she was shocked at his honesty. I don’t think she realized just how much she means to him. He tells her to figure it out, and Ray Romano’s shaky, tearful voice as he tells her almost broke my heart. He’s vulnerable and knows it. Romano has been so good as Hank and it will be sad to him leave, if that’s what Sarah chooses. Last week I mentioned that I was over the relationship drama, but I couldn’t help but get pulled back in. Sarah and Mark have years of history together, but I still think he’s too young for her. So, next week we will hopefully have our answer. I like both guys for different reasons, so I’m anxious to see the outcome.

Victor’s adoption storyline finally comes to a close as Joel and Julia agree to finalize the adoption. Thank your bro-in-law there, Joel. While out to dinner with Crosby and Jasmine, Julia walks out of the restaurant. Instead of Joel, we see Crosby follow her outside. She shares with him her feelings toward Victor about how he doesn’t love her and Crosby holds her tight and says “how can anyone not love you?” He tells her that when he was Victor’s age he never told his mom he loved her, either, and instead told her he hated her. He then tells her that when he found out about Jabbar he was not ready to be a father, but watched Julia and saw what an amazing mother she was. He saw her grow and become an amazing mother, which inspired him to become a father to a son he didn’t know. Julia just cries as she sinks lower into Crosby’s embrace. It was such a beautiful scene by Dax Shepard and Erika Christensen. We definitely don’t get enough scenes of just the two of them. Taking Crosby’s advice, she tells Victor (and by extension Joel) that they are going to finalize the adoption. And you know what? Victor didn’t look upset.

Julia mentions that Joel and Victor have no trouble getting along. The two get along because he’s never had a dad, so Joel-as-dad is something he has never experienced and has been craving it his whole life. He knows his birth mom and is pushing Julia-as-mom aside because he doesn’t want to associate her as his mom when he still has memories and feeling for his birth mom, no matter the mess he grew up in. The dichotomy is fascinating, and it has made the adoption storyline a wonderful one to watch.

In other Crosby news, Renee reprimands Jasmine and Crosby for not feeding Jabbar better food. Crosby asks Jasmine to stand up to her mom, and when she doesn’t, Crosby has it out with Renee. He tells her that they are the parents and know what’s right for their son. Meanwhile, Renee has the audacity to bring up the fact that Crosby was absent from Jabbar’s life for five years, so she’s been raising him longer than Crosby has. And that is the moment Jasmine should have stood up and defended her husband. It was because of her that Crosby didn’t know about Jabbar, and Renee knows it, yet still throws Crosby’s unknowing absenteeism in his face. Jasmine’s apathy toward both her mother and Crosby is disconcerting to say the least. When she asks Crosby to apologize to her mother is when I wanted to jump into the screen and slap her face. Crosby choosing not to apologize to her pandering was the third time in the episode I fell in love with Crosby. And Renee’s passive-aggressive stance at the end was the worst. Again, Jasmine just stood there as she watched her mother eat in her room alone. I understand how hard it is to stand up to your mother, but Jasmine’s weakness is not endearing. She’s a grown woman who still relies on her mother’s approval. There comes a point in your life where you have to cut ties and move on, and Jasmine has yet to do that. Crosby has grown so much as a character in the last three years, while Jasmine has regressed.

Finally, Matt Lauria returns as Ryan and asks for his job back, while Kristina fights to get the vending machines back in Max’s school. Ryan doesn’t so much as for his job as demands it, and when Joel won’t give it to him he throws a little fit. Later, after a little help from Amber, he brings donuts to Joel and actually apologizes to him. It’s was sincere and heartfelt, and it moved Joel enough to hire him back.

Max finds out the vending machines will not make their way back into the school, so Kristina comes up with a plan to help Max but to also help out help the school get extra funding. Kristina stating her passionate case to the other PTA members served to remind us that she used to be Bob Little’s campaign manager; she’s smart, persuasive, and makes a darn fine argument. Her political experience and communication skills appealed to all sides, as the vote swings her way. She wins, Max wins, and Skittles fly through the air in celebration.

What a truly wonderful episode, and a nice way to set up for next week’s finale. I can get used to the big honest moments, especially from Crosby and Sarah. Next week marks the season finale. Here’s hoping it’s not the series finale; it will be a travesty if we don’t get a fifth season.

Written by Jordan Hickman. You can read more from her at and you can follow her on twitter at @jordan_hickman.