Lots of good stuff going on this week, but there were a few missteps as well. I'd say this episode was generally a bit stronger than the first one, but still about in the same ballpark. It was subplot palooza with the Braverman clan, meaning we didn't have any big unifying scenes with our whole family like we briefly did last week. However, this didn't detract from getting the ball rolling with some of these continuing story lines.
First up: Kristina running for mayor. I still don't think it makes any sense. And guess who agrees with me? Adam. He knows how slim her chances are, and he's worried that the stress of a campaign will be bad for her health. Kristina now has a campaign manager as well. Her name is Heather, and she's young and ambitious and I guess she wants to take a nobody like Kristina and turn her into a winner. I like the character okay, but I just can't tell if we're supposed to think Kristina is a valid candidate or not. Because she isn't. Valid. And if she wins this thing I'll actually be pretty upset. However, I do like the stakes this is creating in Adam and Kristina's relationship, since Adam has to struggle between being supportive and stating his very logical concerns.
Julia gets stuck volunteering at the kids' school for the sustainability program, and she works with a guy named Ed. He's also a stay-at-home parent who used to have a job, so Julia really relates to him. They both talk about how useless they feel about their jobs. There were some funny moments here, but mostly it was just a pretty blatant set up that Ed is somehow going to threaten Julia and Joel's relationship. I have hope that it could be more interesting than that - Ed might act as a catalyst to show that Julia is dissatisfied without her job, which could in turn bring up old resentments in their family.
My favorite plot thread of the week was the Amber and Sarah one. Amber announces her engagement to the whole family, and Sarah is worried that Amber is too young, since she remembers how bad her marriage was. She gets conflicting advice. Hank, who has heard the news from Max, comes over to Sarah's place to see how she's coping. He tells her that maybe she should say something to Amber to stop her daughter from making a mistake. However, when Sarah goes to Adam, he reminds her that when the same situation happened with her and Seth, Zeek's interference only made her more determined to get married. Amber finds out from Ryan that the proposal was totally spontaneous and had no forethought at all, which makes her a little worried, but ultimately she knows she loves him and wants to be with him.
The story culminates into a beautiful scene with Amber and Sarah where Sarah puts aside her doubts and pulls out wedding magazines, telling her daughter that they're going to give her the day she always imagined. Sarah's support clearly means the world to Amber, so that was a really important moment for her.
Zeek is having a hard time keeping up on repairs in their huge house, and Camille suggests maybe downsizing. If they sell the house, they would have money to travel and start their "act three." Zeek of course doesn't want to think about it at first, but I like the idea of this continuing plot thread carrying through the season. It would be nice to give Camille and Zeek something to do other dispense advice for their children.
And then we have Crosby, Jasmine, Jabbar, and baby Aida. This thread was the funniest one for me. I really enjoyed it. Basically, as is typical in a situation like theirs, Jabbar is starting to get dejected about all of the attention the new baby has been getting. He's particularly annoyed about how quiet they have to be, and how there's no time for him anymore. Crosby is struggling as well, since having the baby around is really tense. He tells Jabbar that they can all go out to dinner, wherever he wants. That adventure, however, turns into a nightmare when Aida won't stop crying at the restaurant and they are asked to leave. Crosby throws a fit about this and actually yells at the poor waiter and at the other patrons.
In the end, he pulls Jabbar out of school for a few hours (he calls this a "jailbreak") so that the two of them can have some time together at the Luncheonette. I loved this scene because it really shows how hard being a parent can be. Crosby's not a bad guy for admitting that having a baby around kind of sucks. And he validated his other child's worries by taking the time to discuss how difficult this all is. Go Crosby!
And that was the episode. I mentioned a few weak spots here and there, but really the only thing particularly troubling is the Kristina running for mayor thing. And, as I mentioned, there's opportunity for some real emotional weight in that story line, even if I think the premise is silly. And hopefully we will soon see the rest of the family share their opinions about this as well.