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TV Review: Parenthood – “My Brother’s Wedding”

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NBC’s Parenthood is always among the first of the network shows to bow out for the season, and with last night’s episode, “My Brother’s Wedding,” it does so again. Crosby (Dax Shepard) and Jasmine (Joy Bryant) rush their wedding into existence in less than a week. This happens despite Crosby’s feud with Adam (Peter Krause), which heats up as Adam pressures Crosby into selling their business. Also, Julia (Erika Christensen) and Joel (Sam Jaeger) struggle with their devastation at not getting the baby they were promised, and consider other options, while other Bravermans fall in and out of love.

Crosby and Jasmine getting married is long overdue. For awhile, it appears that the two are ready to move on, both dating delightful people, who are great additions to the series. But in a cast as full as Parenthood‘s is, there just isn’t any room for too many extras, and they were superfluous. Yes, the idea isn’t romantic, but it’s realistic for the confines of a network television budget. And so, gone are Dr. Joe (DB Woodside) and Lily (Courtney Ford), as regrettable as that may be.

In some ways, Crosby and Jasmine’s nuptials in “My Brother’s Wedding” come out of nowhere, as the characters have been separated for quite a bit of time, and only reunite in the penultimate episode of the season. On the other hand, this is a plot thread begun in the very first episodes of Parenthood, and one this has often seemed an inevitable conclusion. Crosby is finally mature enough to handle a family, and so he gets one. It’s nice that Parenthood decides to stop playing around and just get them together already, in a hopefully permanent situation, even if it may have been done partially due to fear of cancellation.

The main story of “My Brother’s Wedding,” more than the wedding itself, is the fight between Crosby and Adam. These two siblings are as close as can be, and their purchase of the Luncheonette earlier this season solidified that. While the two have plenty of stories together prior to this arc, seeing them in business together creates a whole new, welcome, dynamic. To think that they might give it up for money, admittedly, a whole lot of money, is heartbreaking.

That is the crux of the fight. The Luncheonette is Crosby’s dream, but Adam only sees it as a business. Worried about his family’s financial future, Adam is eager to sell, even before the offer is upped considerably. He doesn’t think about what it means to Crosby all that much, and certainly doesn’t even consider how the business has brought them closer together.

Crosby, on the other hand, is not only in his dream career, but genuinely seems to enjoy working with Adam. It’s this affection that convinces him to let Adam sell, not wanting to deny his elder brother his own dreams. Until Adam sees this, it looks like the partnership might be over. But in a very touching wedding toast, almost coming too late, Adam waxes the truth of the matter, and decides to turn down the offer. It’s a prime example of the best that Parenthood has to offer, and a moment that will rank among the series’s best, even should the show go on for ten years. As it should.

Joel and Julia are wrecked in “My Brother’s Wedding,” but not surprised, when Zoe (Rosa Salazar) decides to back out of the adoption. While Zoe does seem sincere when she says she had no inkling that she wants to back out of the adoption prior to her son’s birth, it’s a fear that haunts Joel and Julia all season long. And with good cause. As parents themselves, they know how the birth of a child can change a person. For Zoe, she is leaving this ordeal enriched and in a much better place, and is rightfully grateful for everything Joel and Julia have done for her. But for the couple, Zoe deciding to be a mother is a painful betrayal, and Zoe is lucky that they handle it with grace, when anger would be perfectly justifiable here.

However, Joel and Julia’s plot going forward in “My Brother’s Wedding” seems rushed. They immediately go to someone to expand the pool of children they are looking to take in. When they are asked if they would be willing for a last minute placement, and agree, it’s highly predictable that they will have a child by the end of the hour. And sure enough, they do, though he’s a boy at least as old as their daughter, Sydney (Savannah Paige Rae), rather than a newborn. Only in television, with the threat that Parenthood may not get a fourth season, would a bureaucratic system move so swiftly!

If Joel and Julia thought the risk of losing Zoe’s baby was great, wait until they get attached to this boy! His mother is incarcerated, and only gives up her rights to him up to keep him out of “the system,” assumedly, foster care. It seems incredibly likely that, should the show return, she will be freed at some point and seek to get custody of her son back. Joe and Julia may be much better caretakers than this unseen criminal mommy, but courts usually side with the biological parents, if that’s at all possible. This could end in even more tears, which would not be fair to the characters or the fans of Parenthood, who have suffered along with the couple.

Sarah (Lauren Graham) also has babies on her mind when she dumps Mark (Jason Ritter). Mark is willing to do without children, something he’d really like to have, but Sarah isn’t about to let him make that sacrifice for her. She has a point. Mark may think he is making the right decision now, but who’s to say that he won’t regret it later in life?

To the delight of many a fan, Mark wins her back and proposes, which she accepts, by the end of “My Brother’s Wedding.” The question is, how successful will this be? Sarah’s fear about Mark’s potential regrets are real and unresolved. The simplest solution would be to have Sarah get pregnant, then come around to the idea of raising another child. After all, viewers have gone through enough heartbreak with this pair. However, that’s also an anti-feminist story, in a way, which could offend a number of women. In that regard, it may seem a little old fashioned should this happen, but compromise is also the key to any successful relationship, and might just need to happen here if the two are destined to stay together. That is, if Ritter doesn’t get another series. Budget be damned, lock him in as a series regular Parenthood! It’s necessary!

New love blossoms as Drew (Miles Heizer) and Amy (Skyler Day) decide to do the nasty in “My Brother’s Wedding.” That’s a crude description of what has been a sweet, young romance. But how else to talk about it when they sneak upstairs and get it on with their family right below at the wedding? Just because it’s a season finale, does not mean that Parenthood should have rushed this along. Their hooking up is actually a great scene for those who like love. But the circumstances surrounding it are this episode’s misstep.

In the meantime, Amber (Mae Whitman) must choose between her job and being with Bob Little (Jonathan Tucker). He is her boss, and running for office, so it wouldn’t be cool for him to sleep with his assistant. And yet, Bob, who is supposedly a “great politician” doesn’t concern himself with this. He is genuinely interested in Amber, and also in need of her capabilities as his assistant. There is no discussion of him considering how it might hurt his standing with the voters. And so the choice falls to Amber and Amber alone.

It’s a shame that this is handled clumsily, and the resolution stretched out an episode or two longer than it should be just so it winds up in the season finale. But Amber makes the right choice. Yes, it would be terrific to see her in a sturdy relationship with Bob, who seems like a good fit. However, Amber is only 19, and just starting out in the professional world. She should not give up a chance at a real career doing something that she is good at for any guy. If they are meant to be together, it can still happen down the road. She is smart to not toss out the opportunity at this juncture.

Amber’s story channels the classic head versus heart debate. Many people of a romantic notion always root for heart. In reality, head must sometimes be given the preference. Not all the time, mind you, but in certain situations. The one presented in “My Brother’s Wedding” for Amber just feels like one of those times. So while Amber and Bob not being together might be sad, it’s the right thing for the character and the show.

Lastly, it is worth noting who Crosby’s best man is. The character is named Billy, and he is played by Derek Phillips. Phillips played the character of Billy on Jason Katim’s other series, Friday Night Lights. This Billy has a different last name, but fans of Katim, who created Parenthood, will not miss the reference, as Parenthood‘s Billy acts very much like early Friday Night Lights Billy. Also, this could just be coincidence, but the woman in the green dress that Billy dances with at the wedding in “My Brother’s Wedding” looks an awful lot like Dana Wheeler-Nicholson, who played Billy’s mother-in-law on FNL.

In all, Parenthood delivers a moving, fantastic season finale. If the world is just, the story will continue next fall on NBC.

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com