Catching Up With Our Parenthood Recaps: Man This One’s A Long One
Time to recap the lovable, dysfunctional-but-redeemable Bravermans, one couple at a time. Three episodes in to the weepy dramedy’s fifth season, we’re here to help you sort through the static.
Since it’s been a while, let’s first look back at where we left off with the clan last season.
Beautiful, beauteous dancer-leggy Jasmine (Joy Bryant) was preggers. Perpetual-screw-up Crosby (Dax Shepard) was stressing about his role at the Luncheonette and bumbling through fatherhood.
Flighty Sarah (Lauren Graham) broke things off with all her mens and moved into her own apartment, taking a super job, and by that we mean a crappy job as the building’s super. Drew (Miles Heizer) got accepted to Berkeley and Amber’s (Mae Whitman) Army Sergeant PTSD boyfriend Ryan (Matt Lauria) who served in Afghanistan where some bad shit went down left again for some sort of secret mission.
Julia (Erika Christensen) and Joel (Sam Jaeger) adopted forlorn orphan Victor (Xolo Mariduena), officially making him part of the Braverman clan. He scored. Julia told her boss to take her job as a highfalutin corporate lawyer and shove it up his attorney-hole so she could make her growing family her business. That sent Joel back to work, flip-flopping them back to more traditional marriage roles.
Feisty Kristina (Monica Potter) kicked cancer’s ass. Haddie (Sarah Ramos) left for college and we haven’t heard much from her or about her since. Max (Max Burkholder) became an even-more awkward teenager. And good ol’ Adam (Peter Krause) continued to be everyone’s rock.
Patriarch Zeek (Craig T. Nelson) acted as eccentric as ever. Camille (Bonnie Bedelia) gave him lots of endearing looks.
So that brings us to Season Five.
Jasmine’s baby belly is bursting at the seams. She and Crosby are out shopping for baby stuff. While distracted with whether to hyphen or not to hyphen and what infant car seat to purchase, Jasmine, of course, goes into early labor, three weeks before the due date.
Crosby explains that, no, Jasmine, you can’t have the baby yet
…but the baby doesn’t value convenience. Jasmine pushes the baby out of her vajayjay, but it’s beautiful, of course. The experience, not the vajayjay, although maybe it is, we don’t know. This is network TV.
Crosby and Jasmine aren’t sleeping. Duh. And Crosby doesn’t like Jasmine’s naggy micromanaging. Duh. The big baby needs eight hours of sleep, and we’re not talking about Baby Braverman, who came home from the hospital sans name.
“I am sure you’re going to be the best thing that ever happened to me someday,” Crosby tells his daughter as he holds her like a bomb about to go off. “But right now I really hate you.”
Jabbar (Tyree Brown) is losing patience with having to tiptoe around the ticking time bomb, otherwise known as Baby Braverman. When Crosby gets on Jabbar’s back for making too much of a ruckus during naptime, he says the words all parents dread hearing out of their children’s mouths: “I hate you.” Payback’s a bitch. To smooth things over, Crosby promises to take him to his favorite Italian restaurant for dinner.
Then some asshole waiter asks them to leave Jabbar’s dinner pick because the baby is making too much noise being all crabby, which causes Crosby to pretty much flip the eff out. The next day, he breaks Jabbar out of school for a father-son jam session at the Luncheonette to make him feel like more than a second-class citizen. They commiserate.
Crosby is fascinated with the breast pump, but the baby less so. They are all sleep-deprived. The frustration continues to grow when Baby Braverman refuses to take a boob break for the bottle to give Jasmine a mommy break.
“I know your mom’s got boobs and that’s very, very awesome, but I’m here for you, too,” Crosby says, struggling to connect with his little bundle of misery. “It’s important to me that you know that.”
Crosby talks to Zeek about not feelin’ it with his daughter, and Zeek explains the deal between dads and daughters. “It’s difficult,” he says. “But that’s what makes it great in the end.”
Crosby finally gets his tearjerker bonding moment with the baby when she takes the bottle, and just like that, he falls for little Aida. They finally named her. Sniffle sniffle.
Sarah stresses over Drew’s short texts while away at Berkeley because she doesn’t speak emoticons. She’s not LOL.
Later, one of Sarah’s tenants knocks late at night on her apartment door. Of course he’s hot. Isn’t everyone on this show? But it’s no booty call. See, Carl and his 20-years-younger-than-him ladyfriend dranky like fishies, took a cab home and forgot his keys with the valet because he’s an irresponsible manchild.
“I think my mom has those pajamas,” the ladyfriend tells Sarah, the very thing 40something women love to hear from college co-eds.
But we all know Sarah is smoking hot, so this plot line is not fooling us.
Amber misses Ryan. They’re Skyping like crazy. She’s struggling with the distance, and computer snafus don’t help. She’s getting all antsy about Ryan coming back and maybe not being as in love with her anymore.
She goes to see Ryan in all his flutter-inducing camo-glory when he returns to the States. He plops down on one knee and asks her to by his wifey. And so Amber’s all: “Oh my God, yes!” We’re slicing onions in our retinas at that point.
Adam’s son Max, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, breaks up Amber and Ryan’s make out session right before they announce their engagement to the clan. He innocently assumes their were just wrestling, and well, they sort of were, with their tongues out.
Woohoo! Bravermans celebrate this new impending nuptial, some more cautiously than others. Ball of nerves Sarah’s not big on it and a little butthurt that she didn’t get a one-on-one with the info before the big family-style announcement.
Amber picks up on her mom’s buzzkill, as always, throwing a little tantrum in her heart. However, her mom’s query motivates Amber to ask more about Ryan’s thought process leading up to popping the big question, which she finds out was really spur of the moment while ravished by her beauty rather than soul searching about who to spend the rest of his life with.
Adam and Kristina’s son Max and Sarah’s ex-boss/boyfriend, Hank, played by Ray Romano, spend more time together because of Max’s budding interest in photography and the location of the photography studio within his acceptable walking “radius” laid out by his parents.
Max brings in some of the photos he took of people he knows, which conveniently allows Hank to get the 4-1-1 on the Braverman brouhaha, particularly Sarah’s faction. He sees the engagement celebration through Max’s camera lens.
Hank shows up with a housewarming gift for Sarah at her new “bohemian” apartment. He tells her Max came by, and he’s got the photography bug. He tells Sarah that, as a friend, he’s just checking in to see how she’s doing, not being creepy or lurky at all.
Sarah lies, says she’s thrilled for Amber, but admits that maybe she kinda wishes they would wait, prolly because of that whole elopement with a druggie/musician thing in her past. “What is the hurry? Why they don’t just move in together for a while?” she asks.
Wise, sage, blunt Hank says he wishes that someone would have talked to him before he walked down the aisle, the whole 20/20 hindsight thing, and of course he’s right.
Sarah goes to see Adam. “What’s your kid and my ex doing hanging out?” she asks with feigned ‘tude. Then she gets over it seconds later. Then she admits she’s not really that comfy with Ryan becoming her son-in-law because he takes pills and fights.
Adam says he thinks Ryan’s a good guy and is dealing with his issues. “Here’s why it’s not a good idea” to be Debbie Downer about the engagement, he says before laying out her own stupid past for her in case she forgot. He reminds her about how things went when Zeek freaked out after she announced she and Seth were tying the knot. Yeah, yeah, she hears him.
Sarah goes by to see Amber at her awesome ghetto crib that is starting to look like Rachel and Monica’s apartment despite that she is poor and has rats. “Is Ryan the man you want to spend the rest of your life with?” Mommy Earnest asks.
Have you seen him? “Without a doubt in my heart, 100 percent,” Amber says with those bleeding eyes that make you want to hug her 24 hours a day.
Sarah tells her about her elopement skort makeshift wedding attire at the courthouse on her big unromantic day. It wasn’t what she had pictured. She offers to help make Amber’s big day bigger. Tears. She pulls out magazines and some appletinis and they get down to bridezilla business.
Sarah takes more pictures of a woman and her cat, while discreetly dying a little inside. She jumps on the opportunity to take Kristina’s candidate headshots, undercutting the going price by $950, leaving her with $50 to pocket. But Kristina puts the kibosh.
Hank gives the tough love, explaining that some people who may or may not be related to her might see her career trajectory as flighty. “They don’t take you seriously because they know you,” he says. “Working with family is hell. With strangers you get a clean slate.”
Sarah hustles, bombarding Kristina with her animal photography portfolio, at which she balks. But Sarah wins Kristina over when she tells her she believes she will win, the words she longs to hear from a Braverman. At the photo shoot, Max and Heather want to take over though and Sarah sort of crumbles.
In Sarah fashion, it’s a disaster. She shows up at Hank’s, asking if he thinks any of the photos are any good. She got the donor money shot, a needle in a haystack.
Drew walks in on Amber and Ryan in one of their wrestling moments, looking for a place to sleep. Romance, meet screeching halt. Drew’s dormmate’s womanizing ways are starting to cramp his sleep, and Ryan’s wrestling. The next night, the jock roommate suggests Drew get himself a chick instead of fucking up his game, and he doesn’t mean lacrosse.
Doe-eyed Drew ends up at Amber’s again. Ryan and Amber go to talk to Drew’s dormmate. Manly man Ryan lets Lacrosse Dude know if he’s got a problem with Drew, he’s got a prob with Ryan.
“Good talk, bro,” Drew tells Lacrosse Dude. The next day, Drew turns the tables a little. He needs the room to entertain a girl and play Scrabble. That’s not what the kids are calling it these days, they actually plop down on his bed to play Scrabble. That Drew.
Joel shows the family a gargantuan project he’s bidding on, and Julia thinks about how lucky another law firm would be to have her. She’s been home a while and feels things are under control enough for her to go back to spending almost no time with her kids.
Julia auditions for her new gig and, of course, they slobber all over her, BUT they have to call her references and her former attorneyhole boss, Leon. Snaf-ooooh. She doesn’t get the gig. Joel’s possible new co-worker, Pete, turns out to be a hot British chick from Lost. Aren’t all women in the construction biz, like, Victoria Secret models, too?
Guess what? Joel got the job! The breadwinner tables turn.
Julia gets stuck with the dad who sabotaged her committee sign ups at Sydney’s school, Ed (David Denman). They are on sustainability duty, schooling the kids about the environment and helping them “green it up” during lunchtime. The dad, who is recently downsized from his job, finally apologizes for messing things up and getting them in the sustainability shithole.
Julia explains that she’s a downsizer corporate lawyer pig, which she no longer is. She lies and says she telecommutes. What’s weird is, what would have sounded worse, being unemployed or part of the system that ruined the guy’s immediate life? Then she admits she lied and she doesn’t know why. Goofy, lovable, downsized Ed makes her feel fine about it. He gives her the knuckle tap and they move on.
Victor might get held back because he is not at grade level. Julia freaks out because she doesn’t know what to do with someone who is not Ivy League bound. Ed helps her deal with her pro/con list. He says that the longer they wait, the more Victor will be lucky to get into community college. Well, that’s what he means. We speak Ed.
Julia has the light bulb moment, too, and presents it to Joel. Joel is not thrilled that she is talking to Ed about their issues, of course. Joel says no. We made a plan with the teacher, he says, and we’re sticking with it. “If you don’t like it, talk to Ed.”
They come together as a family with the heartwarming shot of them all on the sofa helping Victor with his reading. That oughta do it.
Flash to Kristina and Adam, dirty dancing in a dingy pool hall where she propositions him to hook up in a cheap hotel room and get freaky, freaky.
She’s feeling lascivious, and Zeek, who is inexplicably on the phone all of a sudden (WHY ADAM? WHY’D YOU PICK UP THAT PHONE CALL?) agrees, making everything very unsexy.
“You’ve got to keep that fire in the loins son,” Zeek says, uncocking, unloading Adam’s love gun. “It’s like a rock ‘n roll song. Like the Stones! Fire in the loins.” They march on though, ready to Carpe the shit out of their Diem.
The next day, Bob Little — the creepy politician played by Jonathan Tucker, who looks like that emotionless dude from the Terminator movies and who Kristina used to work for and Amber nearly shtooped — visits to check in on Kristina and ask her to run his new campaign. He promises that education would be her domain and that he won’t hit on any Bravermans. (Haddie’s already gone anyway.)
Kristina talks to Adam about getting back into the politics game, and of course Adam, Mr. Morality, gets all judgey because of the whole Bob-tried-to-schtoop-our-niece thing. But then, doesn’t everybody try to do Amber? She has super hipster girl pheromones, so who can blame Bob?
Later, Adam mantalks Hank, asking why he returned from Minnesota. Hank and his ex-wife were butting heads, so you know, he ran back despite wanting to be a part of his daughter’s life. Adam lets Hank know he doesn’t want him hanging out with Max to get closer to Sarah. IT WAS A MUTUAL BREAKUP, Hank says for the 267th time.
Kristina visits her friend who has gone out of remission and tells her about her opportunity to manage Bob’s mayoral campaign. But, she explains to her friend, there’s Adam’s disapproval, and she’s waiting for a clean scan, blah blah blah.
“You don’t wait for a good scan,” she tells Kristina. “This is not the dress rehearsal. This is it.” If there’s anything cancer teaches us it’s that we are all going to die one day, some of us more horribly traumatically than others. Carpe the Diem friend. Carpe Diem.
Kristina one ups the Diem and decides not to take the job with Bob, instead she’s taking the bull by the balls and running for mayor herself. Fuck cancer, and fuck Bob Little.
Kristina starts interviewing potential people to work on her campaign. She gets a pushy new campaign manager, Heather (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), who worked on Obama’s campaign, and they jump into action. Adam immediately acts like their nana, advising them about the perils of getting in too deep.
And Pushy Heather kinda sucks, rejecting Kristina’s first speech, to which Kristina reminds her that she was Bob’s speechwriter. “It’s got to be great,” Heather says. And What about this Adam guy? Heather asks. Are you sure he’s on board with the campaign? She’s a brow beater. “If your husband doesn’t believe in you, who will?”
Kristina confronts Adam about whether he supports her. He asks: “Why are you running?” She wants to help people, wants to make a difference with her second chance, and she doesn’t want to take it lightly.
“Maybe you should put that in your speech,” Adam tells her.
Kristina and Heather get down to business ordering a gazillion Vote for Kristina Braverman ballpoints because people love free pens. (That’s what she learned from the Obama campaign?) Adam worries they will go broke buying copious amounts of pens, juice and kale chips before donations roll in. This pisses off Kristina.
No, no, Adam is worried about her stress level because the doctors warned her of watching her stress level, and she says he’s the one causing her rising stress level. “You almost died,” he reminds her as if she is the one who needs reminding.
But I didn’t, she says. “That’s exactly why I’m doing this.”
Then it’s time for the big candidate speech. Adam watches her with that moment-when-he-takes-it-all-in-and-everything-becomes-clear-and-he-falls-in-love-with-her-all-over-again look that happens every season.
When they look at the campaign photo Sarah miraculously pulled off, Kristina gets a new sense of self when realizing she doesn’t look like a pug. But, there’s always a but, she feels like she kicked cancer’s ass and that maybe gave her some false confidence. She’s second-guessing herself.
But there’s Adam, making us want to marry him all over again, insisting she keep going while handing over all his credit cards as a show of solidarity.
Zeek and Camille
Zeek and Camille didn’t make a huge impact in episode 1, except for when Zeek creeped us out talking about loins and the Rolling Stones,
…but you already heard about that. So let’s just jump to them arguing about the house in episode 2.
The house they’ve lived in for three decades is fetching, but apparently falling apart. Zeek doesn’t like Camille yammering on about how the insurance company says they need to install a security system in the old clapboard mansion or they won’t be able to insure their home.
When the home security fella comes to give his spiel, Zeek sets him straight. They’ve already got security, Zeek clarifies. “It has two barrels and is under our bed,” he says in that completely unmenacing, stink-eye Zeek way.
Zeek realizes everyone else is right, though, to which Camille zeroes in on to rattle off the list of all the things wrong with the house. “Have you ever thought about downsizing?” she asks. A condo, something metro-cool by museums and culture?
But Zeek loves it where they are. Zeek no like change.
“This house is a part of us,” Camille says, trying to meet him in the middle. There are lots of memories. But, you know, it’s time to move on. They could travel and have adventures instead of fixing leaky pipes and repairing worn out siding all the time. It’s time for “Act 3,” she says.
Zeek buys an old clunker, which he hopes to transform, a 1965 Pontiac GTO convertible coupe. “This is your answer?” Camille asks. He pulls the yearlong project into the driveway.
Camille is pissed. Later she finds Zeek working on the jalopy late at night. “You can’t keep avoiding this,” she says. Zeek doesn’t want to sell the house, end of discussion. Not so fast, Camille says.
Zeek comes back the next day, being sentimental Zeek instead of stubborn, stuck-in-his-ways Zeek, waxing poetic about the childhood memories tied up with their home. “Everything I want is right here,” he says. “This is my third act, with you.”
But Camille wants more. She wants to brag about her grandchildren on the fly. She’s been painting pictures of that beautiful backyard for decades. They were so young when they got married, she says. It’s been a beautiful life, but she is ready for the next step.
Next episode is Thursday, Oct. 17, 10 p.m. on NBC. Kristina’s values are challenged by a big potential campaign donation, Sarah eases back her enthusiasm for the wedding, again, to which Amber reminds her mother that she is not her. She’s Amber!