'Parenthood': The Pontiac (5x22)
The season finale! This might actually be the end of the show, since we don't know if they're getting renewed. It feels sort of weird to write this and not know if I'll ever write about this show again... the nice thing about this episode is that it works as a series finale if it must, but it also leaves a lot of stuff open for another season if they can get it. Let's go through what happens!
Zeek and Camille recruit the family to help pack up their house, which causes Adam and Crosby to reminisce about their childhood. They sled down the stairs, play catch with their dad, and feel the sort of bittersweet sadness that will inevitably come when you say goodbye to your childhood home. Crosby actually seems more accepting about it than Adam does.
Drew and Natalie part ways for the summer, and since Drew doesn't have a car, he's not sure if he can go and see her. However, after Drew helps with the moving process, Zeek gives him the Pontiac, and tells him he was always building it for him. Drew, overwhelmed, thanks his grandfather and takes the Pontiac to Natalie, who is happy to see him.
Amber stays with Ryan in the hospital, but things get complicated when Ryan's mother shows up. She's very territorial and insists that Ryan is coming home with her once he is released from the hospital. Amber learns that Ryan has been discharged from the army. She tells him that she doesn't understand why he's going back with his mother, and Ryan says he doesn't have any other choice. Ryan and Amber have sex, and we see them say goodbye to each other, with promises to see each other soon. We see Amber buying a pregnancy test.
Hank sticks around with Sarah to look after Amber for a while. As they leave, Hank tells Sarah that he wants to talk about trying to be together again. He expresses how hard it is for him to say this kind of thing. Sarah says she's hesitant, because she really needs good communication, and she knows that Hank has a hard time with that. However, after giving it some thought, she decides to go for it, and we see Sarah walk into the shop and kiss him.
Victor wins an essay writing contest at his school, meaning he has to read his essay in front of the whole school. The essay is about the Pontiac, and all his fun adventures helping his grandfather work on it. Through watching this speech and celebrating afterwards with ice cream, Joel and Julia reconnect. At the end of the night, Sydney really doesn't want Joel to leave, so he stays, and Joel and Julia crawl into bed with Sydney and tell her stories about their life together. It looks like there may be hope for their relationship yet.
Haddie is home from college, and she brings her "super awesome best friend" Lauren, who it turns out she is dating. When Max sees them kissing and tells Kristina, Kristina tells Haddie that she will always support her. Haddie tells her mom that she is indeed with Lauren, and Kristina tells her that she just wants her daughter to be happy. It looks like Adam approves too, and all his well with the Bravermans.
The family all gets together at Adam's house to celebrate Haddie's return, and we have a music montage to leave us off.
What a sweet, emotional little finale. I didn't love everything about it, but I find myself surprisingly satisfied with how it all ended up. If this does indeed prove to be the end of the show, I'd be okay with it. Still, I have a feeling we'll probably be getting one more season, even if it is a bit shorter, to wrap things up a bit more properly. Let's talk first about the few elements that didn't quite work.
Firstly, I'm still not digging the whole Drew and Natalie thing. It's not awful, but it's just not interesting. The "I love you" from Natalie seemed to come out of nowhere, and when Drew drives to go meet up with her, it was like they were reuniting after a long absence, even though they'd been apart for a couple of days. Also, isn't it odd that Drew takes off the second he has a car? Shouldn't he be there for the family dinner, so he can see his cousin Haddie? It felt a little off to me. Also, while it was sweet that Zeek gave Drew the car, it also didn't quite make sense. After all, Zeek and Victor had spent so much time bonding over the car, wouldn't it make sense to promise it to him once he got older?
I'm also rather unsure about the possibility of Amber being pregnant. It seems just a tad bit gimmicky, like it's just a way to make Ryan stick around. Can't they just repair their relationship without a baby being involved? I don't know.
However, mostly this was all awesome. Sarah and Hank's awkward conversation in the car was so well acted, and the kiss at the end felt so earned. I am a little worried that the relationship is going to be all about how well Hank is doing when trying to communicate, rather than exploring Sarah's side of things. I want more from her perspective if possible.
Victor wins a contest and reads his essay! This was so amazing, and was such a well-deserved conclusion for his character's struggles. After everything that had been going wrong in their family, there's this one success story that makes everything feel better. The fact that the essay was about Victor's family relationships made it even more special, as we see that he really does feel like he belongs in this family, despite the recent fears that maybe he's the reason things are messed up between his parents. Also, that little kid is one hell of an actor. I was very impressed.
Zeek and Camille saying goodbye to their house. Unexpectedly, I got a little emotional when they walked through the empty house together. I always liked the idea of them moving on from the house, but I never felt much of a connection to the house itself until this episode. I'm pretty sad, now! Also, how cute was it to see Adam and Crosby play like little kids? Roughhousing on the stairs, getting injured, tattling on one another... this was so sweet.
Haddie has a girlfriend! I am so, so, so happy that they never explicitly say that "Haddie's gay now" or "Haddie's a lesbian." Haddie has a girlfriend now. That might mean she'll never date another guy, that might mean that she'll marry a man in the future. Her sexual orientation is never actually stated in this episode, and as someone who gets really sick of all the LGBT+ characters in TV being just the L and the G, I'm very happy.
But beyond that, I just loved the way it was handled. Kristina was surprised but completely okay with it. I also loved the way that Adam found out. Haddie made an aborted attempt to tell him, and then later after a conversation with Lauren, Adam put the pieces together. We see a conversation, although we don't get to hear it, where Adam and Haddie seem to discuss it, and they hug. The show toed a very nice line here. It wasn't a Giant Huge Deal that needed to be the focus of the episode, but it was still addressed. Very lovely. I want Haddie back for real if we get another season.
I guess I'll stop there! I doubt this is the end for this show, but if it is, I'll certainly miss it!