Ohhhh boy. Okay, things are really happening in this show. Some of those things I enjoy quite a bit, but others... not so much. Let's take a look, starting with the patriarch of this fine family and then working our way through the others.
I loved this. I love Zeek and I love the way this show doesn't ignore the stories of the older generation. Zeek isn't doing well without Camille, and it's for a lot of different reasons, some of which are very shallow - he's not good at taking care of his own basic needs, and he wants his wife to come back and do it for him. But he also misses her for more than that, and this episode very clearly showed that he loves her and is willing to make sacrifices for her happiness. I hope we see more of Rocky in the future, since I thought he was a fun character.
Then we've got Sarah's plot, which was extremely... weird. So, this Carl guy asks Sarah to be his "plus one" at this weird charity event, and Sarah says yes, while making it clear that it's not a date. However, when looking for a dress to wear from Jasmine's closet, Jasmine Googles Carl's name and discovers that he's a very successful charity mogul and a doctor as well! Sarah is very intimidated but goes to the event with him anyway. Turns out, Carl is there to accept an award. After the event, Sarah hints that she might want more with Carl, but Carl holds to the deal that he's not going to make a move on Sarah, and that they will be just friends.
Okay, so... I didn't like this one. It basically made both Carl and Sarah look like sorta bad people. First of all, if Carl is this rich and successful guy, why is he living in such a crappy apartment and generally sleeping with twenty-year-olds? And why did he hide who he was from Sarah? And Sarah was ashamed of her interest in this guy and unwilling to act on it until she realized that he was rich and successful? I sort of don't think they deserve each other. Maybe Carl will become more interesting to me soon, but for now I'm not impressed.
Then we've got Drew. He's turned into such a lady's man! Amy turns up, and her reappearance makes Natalie turn into a possessive jerk. Amy doesn't give in to the obvious bating, and in the end Amy stays and spends time with Drew while Natalie gets ousted.
I liked the fact that Drew is getting attention from girls, but this episode made Natalie into a totally irredeemable character. Before, I was interested in her as a girl who didn't want a serious relationship, and I liked how the show wasn't portraying that as a bad thing. But now, Natalie is pretty terrible. And are Drew and Amy going to get back together? That could be interesting, but again I wish we could see Drew at college actually doing college things like stressing about class and whatnot. So this episode gets a middling reaction from me. Some things were good, others were iffy.
Now onto maybe the most important plot of the evening... Julia and Joel. Nothing much actually pushes the plot forward, here, but things are getting steadily worse for this poor marriage. Julia goes to Adam and tells him about Ed, and Adam then goes to Crosby and fills him in on the situation. At a school auction event, Ed talks to Julia, quite drunk, telling her that he felt something from her. Joel later confronts Julia and asks if anything is going on between her and Ed. Julia denies anything happening, but Joel can't believe her. He leaves, and it looks like their marriage is in real trouble.
I think this plot thread is one of the most interesting things this show is doing right now. I hope Julia and Joel don't get divorced, but in some ways it seems like it's heading there. At the very least, things are going to be pretty extreme for a long time. I've always rather been on Joel's side about all of this - he's made some serious errors as well, but Julia is the one making the big mistakes. I think it's interesting to have the protagonist of the plot thread be the one who's actually most in the wrong, and I really enjoy watching this tricky situation play out.
No Amber this week, which is a shame, and we only get brief Crosby and Jasmine. I loved Crosby and Adam's protectiveness of Julia, and I liked the scene where Jasmine and Sarah look up Carl on the internet and try on dresses.
Now for the last plot - Max and Hank. Basically, Max has a freak out when he doesn't get to develop his pictures like Hank said he would. He runs out of the shop and Hank chases after him, worried. Adam gives Hank a book about aspergers to look at, but when Hank reads it he discovers that he seems to be reading about himself. He goes to Sarah to ask what she thinks, and she says that if he is similar to Max, then he's got a great life and he's done well for himself. Their moment is interrupted by Carl coming to pick Sarah up for their "date." Hank goes over to the Braverman's and talks to Max, who apologizes for his breakdown, and then the two of them play a game of chess while Kristina and Adam look on happily.
I mean, I saw this coming from a mile away; it was obvious that they were playing up the similarities between Hank and Max. But I loved this plot line a lot, despite its general predictability. I love the fact that Hank was worried about Max, not upset with him. I love the fact that Hank is upset to discover he might have aspergers, but that he also doesn't let it totally define him. I love that Hank went to Sarah to talk to her about it, because he still considers her an authority on who he is as a person. I adored the apology that Max gave to Hank - it was like he was reading it off of a script, and it was obvious that he was just saying what his parents told him to say, but what makes it great is that it was still sincere. Even if the specifics didn't register for Max, he did want to fix his friendship with Hank. I have to give all the props to Max Burkholder, the kid who plays Max on the show. He is a serious talent, one of the best child actors I've ever seen.
So there you have it. Hank and Max had a good strong thread, as did Julia and Joel, and as did Zeek and his new friend. I'm less convinced by Sarah's new love interest, and by Drew's love triangle story. I want Amber back next week!