Parenthood Recap: Life of the Party

Parenthood Season 6 Episode 2

Most. Emotional. Birthday. Ever.

On Thursday’s episode of Parenthood, Zeek’s initial refusal to undergo heart surgery opened the floodgates for the Bravermans, leading to a birthday celebration that was among the series’ most bittersweet moments.

Zeek’s stubbornness begins at a doctor’s appointment, where his cardiologist confirms that he’s suffering from a mitral valve regurgitation — definitely had to Google that — and heart surgery, which was once a last resort, is now the only feasible option. But the pleas from Zeek’s doc and his family fall on deaf ears. Camille says they need to have a conversation about how to proceed? She’s shut down. Crosby tries to persuade his dad that surgery is the best option? Zeek convinces him otherwise. And underscoring all of this is the realization (for Jabbar, at least) that Zeek is turning 72, and no one in the family can confidently say how much longer Zeek will be around. (And that is the most morbid sentence I’ve ever typed. Thanks, Parenthood!)

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It isn’t until later that evening, at Zeek’s birthday party with the family, that he realizes just how important the surgery is — and it’s Amber who opens his eyes. During a quiet moment on the front steps, Amber bursts into tears upon telling her grandfather that she’s pregnant, asking, “Are you disappointed in me?” I never thought I’d see a Zeek-Amber scene more touching than the post-car crash tough love he gave her a few seasons back. But this one trumps it, without a doubt, as Zeek holds Amber and tells her that parenthood — ha! See what I did there? — is magic.

After the party comes to a close — sweet festivities that include a birthday song from the grandkids, and a truly awful gluten-free cake from Julia — Zeek tells Camille that Amber is pregnant… and that he’s going to go through with the surgery. Has a bigger collective sigh of relief ever been breathed? I think not.

But the hour certainly wasn’t all about the family patriarch. What happened with the other Bravermans in Thursday’s episode? Here are the highlights:

AMBER & SARAH | For most of the hour, Zeek’s reaction to Amber’s big news is the only positive feedback she gets. After hearing that her daughter is expecting, Sarah is positively stunned. Even when she tries to make up for being shocked, her second conversation with Amber goes equally poorly. (“It’s not that I wish you weren’t doing it. It’s that I wish you weren’t doing it now.”) But later, after Amber has gotten some reassurance from her grandfather, Sarah stops by and reminisces on Amber’s old baby photos. “I forgot to tell you about all the good stuff,” Sarah admits, and the only thing keeping me from ugly-crying is the photo of a young Mae Whitman in a seriously unfashionable onesie. The horror!

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JOEL & JULIA | When Joel and Julia are called into a meeting with Sydney’s teacher, they learn that Sydney has been bullying her overweight classmate and excluding her from their group of friends, something that could be stemming from Joel and Julia’s separation. When Joel tries to talk to his estranged wife afterward and discuss their marriage (or whatever it’s considered these days), Julia won’t budge. “You destroyed us! All of us!” she yells, and Joel immediately cops to his poor behavior. But there is a glimmer of hope at the end of the hour: After Sydney throws a temper tantrum when her parents confront the bullying topic, Julia researches the characteristics of a bully — and reaches out to Joel as she tries to figure out what to do. (Also, let’s just get this out in the open: I think Joel and Julia are the only two people surprised that Sydney is a bully. Moving on!)

KRISTINA & ADAM | When the lunch vendor at Chambers Academy quits because of Kristina’s excessive lunchtime requests, Adam springs into action and helps create a culinary arts elective at the school, through which Adam and the students will prepare all the hot lunches each day. The kids’ first cooking lesson goes poorly — though to be fair, I had no idea how to define gluten, either — but when Kristina gets positive feedback from the parents, they decide to keep the program around for a while longer.

OK, your turn. What did you think of the episode? Is it possible that the previews for next week’s episode are making you more emotional than this week’s episode? Sound off in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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25 Comments
  1. Ashley says:

    Love the side note about Joelia being the only ones shocked about Sydney.

  2. Priyam says:

    I was expecting Sydney to go all Regina George since season 1. YOU CAN’T SIT WITH US.

  3. Joey Padron says:

    New episode was good. Mess up Sydney became a bully to a girl a school. Glad Zeek is having the surgery.

  4. ArchieLeach says:

    my god they’re making Zeek such a stupid asshole I’m not sure I care if he dies.

  5. krysti bush says:

    Why are there NO Black people on your show? In this day and age it’s ridiculous that your portrayal of American families couldn’t at least have a brother in law or someone who’s Black! Come on, you can do better than this.

  6. Amanda says:

    I am really glad Julie finally spoke up to Joel. Last season all I wanted was for her to yell at him show some back bone. Yes she had a friendship that got a bit blurry but nothing happened. He on the other hand walked away and refused to speak. Man I loved that scene. He needs to win her back and he cannot do that all teary eyed bc she won’t fall into him again.
    Totally agree with other commenters how is anyone surprised Sydney’s the bully? She needs a good punishment to get her attitude in line.
    As soon as Amber told Zeek she was preggers I figured he was having the surgery.

  7. Rose says:

    Oh no, I don’t like where this is going….I cried too much during this episode & we haven’t even gotten to the ‘heart’ of the story yet. And after reading the interview with Monica Potter the other day, I’m as afraid as the cast. I don’t want Zeek or Camille, or anyone else to die. I loved the scene with Amber & Zeek, so beautiful, just like the scene they shared at the junkyard after her car wreck a few seasons ago. Boy oh boy, my heart is breaking that this is the final season. I love the quirky Bravermans & hate NBC. This isn’t the first time they’ve jerked a beloved, quality show from us viewers.

    • TV Gord says:

      Why would you hate NBC. They put a brilliant show on the air for six seasons, and they kept it there despite ratings that would justify cancellation. They should be saluted, not hated!

      • KK says:

        As much as I hate that this is the last season, I agree with your TV Gord. ABC would have cancelled this years ago. It’s a great show and I commend NBC for keeping it on this long for the devoted viewers.

  8. Pat says:

    Sydney has been a little bratty since season 1, so what else is new. A very touching scene between Zeek and Amber when she told him that she was pregnant. This brought tears to my eyes, I really hope that Zeek survives the operation. He is most definitely the central part of this family.

  9. Jean Freeman says:

    Love, love this show. This is the only show on TV that I rush home to watch. Nothing else on TV comes close. Love the family ups and downs. Makes one think they are watching their own family with day to day living situations. Sorry to see it end this season. Guess the writers are out of material…………

  10. Kermit says:

    I’ve now a terrible fear that the series finale will be the Bravermans playing a ball game over Zeek’s ashes. That one scene seemed foreshadowy.

    • JeniLee says:

      I still think they are making it too obvious that Zeek will die. I think they are gonna pull a bait and switch and Joel will die in a car accident or construction site accident…..making Julia deal w regret that she didn’t take him back

  11. Allen says:

    I love this show and I think in a year or two they should come out with
    Parenthood the Next Generation. It could have a smaller and cheaper cast. The writing has always been good.