This week we find many a Braverman on the brink of something big. Zeek finds a purpose, Joel bonds with Victor, Adam and Kristina learn to let go, and Sarah, well, I don’t want to talk about Sarah. “The Talk”, however, is really in reference to Jabbar, and the talk he receives from Jasmine and Crosby, about something that makes every parent’s heart hurt.
Zeek and Camille
The episode opens with Zeek obsessing about the sprinkler system. Camille makes mention that Zeek is now just making up things to do around the house, and that he needs a purpose. After calling Adam over for “an emergency,” which turned out to be a noise in the sprinkler system, he agrees to go the VFW, where Camille tells him to volunteer. At first he is reluctant, but then makes a connection with a young vet. I can see Zeek giving fatherly advice to this young men, now that his family is, for the most part, self-sufficient.
Joel and Victor
Now that Victor has been with Julia and Joel for a few months, they are encouraging him to live life outside the X-Box. There’s a very funny scene with both parents standing in front of the television, with Victor squirming on the couch trying to play the game around them. To Joel’s delight, Victor picks baseball (this is a good thing – do you remember when Julia tried to get Syd to swim?!?).
Adam, Kristina, and Max
We first find Adam and Kristina in the doctor’s office, where she is rescheduling her lumpectomy due to Max’s Student Council campaign. Dr. Bedsloe (the one with the crappy bedside manner), makes an astute observation: that Kristina is the kind of mom that puts everyone first, and herself last. Adam supports Kristina, but is also really concerned that she’s putting off treatment.
Crosby, Jasmine and the Talk
Jabbar joins Crosby at the Luncheonette one day after school, just in time to hear the rapper Double-D say the word “nigga.” Crosby knows it’s a big deal, and in his new I-am-not-a-man-child way, talks to Jasmine about it. Her first response is a bit dismissive –after Crosby tells her that he wasn’t sure what to say, she responds with, “Of course you wouldn’t know how to handle this, I’ll have the talk with him,” which stings. The new grown-up Crosby then says, “I feel like you’re pulling rank.” Like the two grown ups that they are, Crosby and Jasmine then proceed to have a really productive conversation about race.
I’m not writing Sarah and Hank, because if I do not write it, it will not be true. This episode, Sarah learns that Hank has a young teenage daughter, Ruby, who visits him about once a month. Of course their relationship is stressed, and of course Sarah is her wonderful self and salvages their father-daughter weekend. Sarah also learns that Hank stopped shooting on locations around the world when Ruby was born, and resigned himself to the local scene to be a father. Sarah, you need to get a new job and spend more time with your fiance, Mark. Remember him?
This episode really strikes a chord on several parenting topics. While Joel loves the idea of Victor playing baseball, an actual baseball practice proves to be a challenge for both of them. Joel has nervous-dad-first-day-jitters, and Victor, well, Victor can’t actually play baseball. After a tantrum on the field that includes Victor yelling, “Screw this and screw you!” to the coach AND yelling, “You’re not my real dad!” to Joel, he storms off the field. Man, as a parent, what do you do with? You do what Joel does.
At home, Joel tells Victor he’s proud of him. Proud of him for everything he did, right up to that tantrum. He doesn’t dwell on the tantrum, he gives Victor credit for being brave about so many things in his young life. It is a beautiful thing. Julia pulls into her driveway later that afternoon to find the two of them playing catch. Is it really that simple? No. But those moments make it all worth it. For the record, I could watch Joel parent all day long.
Jasmine and Crosby eventually do have “The Talk” with Jabbar. Jasmine hits it out of the park, telling Jabbar about slavery, and about how the word nigger makes someone feel “less than.” Crosby also adds to the conversation, and the whole scene was just about perfect in every way.
Adam and Kristina have to deal with the fact that Max will probably fail miserably at his run for student council president. When Kristina learns that he’s secured the 25 signatures that are required to run, she is beaming with pride for her son, because that wasn’t easy for him to do. Then she looks at the petition and realizes that it contains names like Seymore Butts and Ree Tard. Oh, junior high, you are so, so cruel. Adam is vehemently against Max continuing his campaign, Kristina believes he needs to have the experience. They go round and round about it, but in the end, they support Max. Mostly because he’ll be running whether they help him or not. In the end, Kristina moves her surgery to the original date, and outsources a few of her tasks. Max compliments her on being a good campaign manager, and Adam can’t help but join in the poster-making as the episode closes.
I am not talking about the foreshadowing for next week’s episode. Between something that happens in the darkroom (Hank, why don’t you do digital?) and watching Kristina announce to her illness to the family, it was entirely too much for me to bear.