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'Parenthood' Recap: Episode 4

Photograph by NBC

Zeek’s home, but he doesn’t want your help or fussing. Just turn on the John Wayne marathon, please, and step away from the television. Oh, and bring him a glass of iced tea while you’re up, because he’s not moving off the couch anytime soon. The doctors said he needed to build up his strength, which means going for slow, short walks and not being sedentary. But Zeek’s not trying to hear it.

The Braverman siblings (plus Crosby’s wife Jasmine and her kids) took turns stopping by to visit Zeek and encourage him to get out and get some fresh air. No go. Zeek wasn’t budging. However, he did share a sweet, sweet moment with Julia. After she failed to convince him to turn his back on The Duke and go for a walk, Julia confessed to her dad that she fears she’s screwing up her kids. She didn’t fill him in on the details about her and Joel’s rocking state or that she’s specifically worried about their daughter Sidney (the one who continues to be The Worst). She didn’t really need to go into all of that for Zeek to drop some science her.

RELATED: 'Parenthood' Recap: Episode 3

“Parents screw kids up. That’s just the nature of it. So don’t think you’re so special.” Zeek told her, wryly, but then turned it into heart-melt by reminding her that she’s always been loving and compassionate, “since you were a little girl,” and that she’s good mom, who will be OK. They both had tears brimming. I was good … until Zeek asked Julia for a favor: “Could you just rest your head here on my shoulder?” Rrrats! I was doing well with the dry eyes.

He winced in pain when she did it, though. Big flag telling us that Zeek’s stationary style of rehab was not working well.

Camille is rightfully worried about her husband. She goes over to Adam’s and tearfully tells him she’s afraid that Zeek’s giving up. Kristina sees this emotional moment from their kitchen. So you know she’s going over to visit Zeek next. Because this is how network TV dramas work.

I started to roll my eyes a bit when Kristina showed up at Zeek’s (the next day?) and started with this: “Man, you look like crap.” But that all turned around the minute the two started talking. She used her experience with cancer to pierce Zeek’s tough shell, and it worked. Her honesty pushed past his stubbornness and barely-veiled fears. “You have to try,” she said, “ because you have a lot of people counting on you.”

Zeek’s response: “Get me up.”

Kristina did just that, and they ended up going for a short walk outside. That scene basically flattened anyone’s hopes of being crowned Queen No-Tissues. It’s a losing game, friends.

Photograph by NBC

As for the other Bravermans:

  • Julia and Joel are trying to find a way to help the kids (and by kids, I mean that ever-whining Sydney a.k.a. The Worst) process that’s happening with their parents. Julia is ready to draw up divorce papers, but Joel is still hanging on for reconciliation. Sidebar: How unhelpful and awful were those other parents when J and J took Sydney over to apologize to their daughter?)
  • Max likes the new girl, Dylan, at Chambers Academy. But Dylan has some of her own behavioral challenges that are making Headmistress/Mama Bear Kristina very uneasy. Dylan dubs Max “Asperger’s” and calls the school “a potpourri of freaks.” Not nice, for sure. But is it wrong that the line made me chuckle and think, “Hmm. That girl might just be a writer”?
  • The whole Hank-Sandy-Sarah storyline around Terrible Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Daughter Ruby got resolved from people doing what they don’t usually do on network dramas: communicate. It all tied up so nicely, I wonder if it was too easy, and maybe not really over.

Teardrop Counter: On a scale of 1 (dry eyes) to 10 (ugly cry), I’m giving this episode 5 teardrops. It’s touching to see a hardened man like Zeek connect with his real fears and vulnerabilities. What did you think of the episode? Have we gotten over the hump with Zeek? Is he out of the woods yet?

Join me every Friday for the recap of the farewell season of “Parenthood.”

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