Parenthood Recap: Start The Clock Ticking On How Long This Record Label Idea Survives
Last time we left the Bravermans, Sarah was all atwitter about Amber getting hitched to an unhinged army man, Julia and Joel butted heads about whether or not to hold Victor back a year at school, Drew was falling in love again, Kristina’s new campaign manager Heather was on her way to bankrupting Adam, and Zeek landed a rusted-out 1965 GTO as his new muse.
The fourth episode of the season gives us all the heart-to-heart rap sessions we’ve come to count on with the brood. To keep you in the mix, we’ll take it one Braverman plotline at a time.
As the wedding plans continue, Amber (Mae Whitman) and Ryan (Matt Lauria) showed soon-to-be mother-in-law Sarah (Lauren Graham) a possible wedding site, a romantic neck of the woods, literally in the woods. It’s the spot where Ryan took Amber on one of their first dates, so it’s a sentimental mosquito-filled neck of the woods.
Amber and Sarah’s next wine-filled wedding planning session gives Sarah the opportunity to nudge Amber more about Ryan’s family not making the cut for the invite list. Sarah pushes the red flag angle, which Amber does not find endearing. Sarah tries to impress upon Amber that Ryan not having a family he has dance parties with as being a big deal.
Amber gives in and nudges Ryan about the whole dysfunctional family thing by explaining her own complex relationship with her father. “Our wedding is supposed to be the happiest day of our lives, and if my stepfather comes it will not be,” Ryan says, one of the first clues to the mystery man’s past. And, in a new revelation, Ryan unconvincingly announces that his real dad is dead, so we assume he’ll turn up drunk somewhere along the line.
Sarah tries her best to sell Amber on having the impending nuptials at grandma and grandpa’s house. While there, Amber tells her mom she talked to Ryan about his family and it’s a nonissue. “Your past is what makes you who you are, it’s what you bring to the marriage,” Sarah says. But Amber recognizes the rehash of her mom’s past, shutting her down.
Amber tells Ryan she wants to get married at the lake. Then she shows him her appreciation with a quick wrestle in the sheets.
Lil bro Drew (Miles Heizer) has his own relationship fodder to deal with. He and his dewy-skinned dorm-friend Natalie (“90210” alum Lyndon Smith) have a musical tête-à-tête with their laptops back at Cal Berkeley, measuring their compatibility, or so it seems to Drew (and for good reason). “If you know this, we’re officially soul mates,” she tells bashful Drew as she plays Joni Mitchell.
He nails it after a little hesitation, but knowing the song doesn’t mean he gets all warm and fuzzy every time he sees a big yellow taxi. “Drew Holt, you are officially my best college friend,” Natalie announces, crushing his little heart.
Drew resorts to uncle Adam (Peter Krause) for schooling on all things Joni, studying the curriculum like physics. “You’re at a critical juncture with this girl,” Adam tells him, “to break from the Friend Zone to the Fun Zone.”
Crosby (Dax Shepard), who takes a short break from dealing with rock star-record label douchebaggery with Ashes of Rome (who is frontman with All-American Rejects’ Tyson Ritter) at the Luncheonette, drops his Lothario logic on the conversation, as well. And just when he seems to be going in the direction of the ol’ just-be-yourself crap, he pulls a 180: “I pretended to be a vegan for a year for a girl so I am not one to judge,” Crosby tells him, giving the uncle-y advice of “commit to the lie.”
Drew commits to the lie, and it turns out the girl just liked the one Joni Mitchell song. But then he tries to keep up his Joni Superfan act, tangling his web a little more. He’s a terrible liar though, so he just goes with the truth, admitting to Natalie that he like-likes her.
“Now I know,” Natalie says, not particularly reciprocating. But, she doesn’t run out of the room screaming fire either, so we assume we’ll see her again.
Julia (Erika Christensen) has a much more serious dilemma on her hands with with her rascally kids. She resorts to taking the children to see Zeek (Craig T. Nelson) for punishment, offering them up as servants for whatever drudgery he can find.
Julia arrives to pick up the kids and is surprised when he sees the bond happening between Victor (Xolo Mariduena) and her father. He’s even getting him to read an automobile manual to pitch in with fixing up the GTO, but Sydney (Savannah Paige Ray) grabs the book and shows off her exemplary reading skills impatiently.
Zeek and Julia commiserate about Victor’s reading skills. “I’ve got your back,” Zeek says. “Whatever I can do.”
Julia brings Victor back to see Zeek and the pair get back to fixing the heap of GTO. He helps boost his self-esteem by pointing out how good he is with tools. They’re going to have to read the manual, he laments, and his eyes are really old. So it’s up to Victor, who admits he reads slow.
“Well where the heck do you think I need to go?” Zeek says with all the time in the world. Julia has the moment where she sees her dad making it all better and they give each other the Braverman smirk that is the glue of the show.
At the Adam and Kristina compound, Heather (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) talks Adam into asking the intimidating Mista Ray (Dennis L.A. White), the big Berkeley rapper, for a big campaign donation. Adam comes up with his spiel, practicing it on Crosby, who quickly advises Adam to not humiliate himself. During that conversation, which Crosby finds laughable, they get the mixed blessing news that the Ashes Of Rome is getting dropped from the label and will no longer be needing the Luncheonette’s services.
Adam, in all his awkward white dude glory, heads over to Mista Ray’s for the cringe-inducing convo. “Slow down white boy,” he tells him in his menacing snarl. Mista Ray tells him about the life changes he’s made, ditching his label and going it solo, flipping the switch on an Adam bulb and completely distracting from the purpose of his visit. He doesn’t leave with any money, but he does get a moneymaker of an idea for himself.
Kristina understands, and she is happy he at least gave it the Braverman try. She’s running up on some roadblocks, too, but Heather is not as understanding. But, Heather got her a meeting with a big time millionaire developer, Harry Lerner (Ian Kahn), because she’s admittedly “relentless and annoying” and doesn’t take no for an answer. Kristina from the get-go lays out her terms, to which Heather pretty much ignores her.
Lerner says he’s already sat down with Kristina’s mayoral campaign rival, but, you know, Heather…. He immediately gets into his huge multi-use apartment complex downtown plans to which he expects to have to jump through hoops. Heather sells out Kristina painting her as someone who could help residents see the pros and cons of the project.
Adam presents Crosby with his new business plan, which looks like a bunch of numbers but really is a new record label. “You’re the only person left in America who doesn’t know that the music business is dying,” Crosby says.
But wait. Adam explains, no, it will be a DIY label. “If you don’t want to work for the man, you’ve got to be the man,” Adam says, quoting Mista Ray.
Their first target, Ashes Of Rome, Adam says, to which Crosby cringes. After he explains that the label owns the band’s songs, Adam decides to forge ahead and try to get the band’s songs back.
Then it turns out Lerner pledged $20,000 to the campaign. “I don’t know, I just feel gross,” Kristina tells Adam about her qualms regarding cashing the check. She wants to feel good about where she gets the money for her campaign because she’s ethical like that. However, if she doesn’t take the money, the campaign is pretty much finis.
“Tough call,” Adam tells her. They solve the problem by going to Burger and Pie.
Adam goes back to Mista Ray. He mans up and asks for $20,000 explaining Kristina’s education platform. Little Ray is summoned to bring daddy his checkbook. “The schools in the city are a joke,” he tells Adam. “Make sure she makes them better.” His demands are less daunting: He wants the speed bump on his street gone.
Then we get the inspirational speech. Max (Max Burkholder) tells his mom that dad says she did the right thing by not taking the dirty money. “Are you going to drop out of the race?” asks Max, a former school politician himself.
Max doesn’t exactly throw his support at his mom’s campaign, but he does hand over the $20 he earned by shutting up for a full hour, telling his mom he doesn’t think she should drop out of the race.
Next we see Adam proudly posting a Vote for Kristina Braverman sign in front of Mr. Ray’s house. Ah, he does believe in her. And, as always, we believe in Adam’s powers to make everything great again. He’s the man.
Tune in for next week’s “Parenthood” Thursday, Oct. 24, 10 p.m. to see how that whole new record label thing goes awry and Max’s photography leaves him with some ‘splainin to do.