The Bravermans begin 2013 continuing to swim upstream: Kristina begins to look like someone undergoing chemotherapy, Julia is confronted with Victor’s emotions surrounding his adoption, Crosby continues his transformation into a man, and Sarah starts to miss Mark.
This episode opens with the Braverman sisters and in-laws living it up on the dance floor. Kristina, Sarah, Julia and Jasmine are all having a good time. When Sarah laments between Mark and Hank, Kristina bluntly suggests she goes with the man who’s better endowed. Just as they are cracking themselves up, a chunk of Kristina’s hair falls onto the table. What a buzz kill.
At home, we watch Kristina shear off her golden locks through tears. She wakes up Adam, and he’s noticeably startled. He recovers quickly, but the damage is done. There’s a tension between him and Kristina for the better part of the episode. While viewers can see he’s well-intentioned, Kristina clearly doesn’t.
Sarah talks to Hank about actually going out on a date, instead of working or being in bed together. It takes him a minute to catch on, but catch on he does. Between then and their actual date, Sarah ventures onto Facebook (which is treated as an odd occurrence, but is it, really?) and finds Mark living it up on New Year’s Eve. While Drew assures her that Mark isn’t dating the teacher who is kissing him on the cheek, Sarah is shaken. When she’s distracted on her date with Hank, she tells him why. Hank empathizes, and admits that he’s still jealous when his ex-wife has someone in her life. Huh. Maybe Hank is human after all. They quit the uptight restaurant and go back to his place for take out. The next morning he brings her fresh croissants. Good move, Hank.
Crosby continues the transformation into functioning adult when Jasmine tells him that her mother has lost her job and needs their help. She first asks him to consider lending her money, which is shocking enough for him. As he mulls it over with Adam, Adam points out that money loans to family members are actually gifts — a lesson he learned by “loaning” money to a younger, more irresponsible Crosby. He gives Crosby a fatherly lecture on how Jasmine’s family is his family now, and how it’s the right thing to do. When he tells Jasmine he’s game for the “loan,” she drops another bombshell — the most prudent move would actually be for her mother to move in them. Before you can say “HA,” Crosby’s transformed his art room to mother-in-law quarters. He’s come a long way from rocking the houseboat, hasn’t he?
In the separate world of Julia and Joel, Victor surprises them with a 93% on his math test. The score is excellent, and he’s excited; he’s so excited, he asks Julia if he can show it to his “real mom.” Oh Julia. Welcome to adoptive parenting. Sydney is of course listening and watching all of this, and continues to see how Victor doesn’t have to toe the same line that she does. In a fit of sibling jealously, she starts asking Victor about his mom, and wondering aloud what really bad things she’s done that he can’t see her any more. In a fit of sibling rage (is it more? is it less? was it truly an accident?), Victor flings the metal bat he’s been hitting balls with in Syd’s direction. It shatters a window and scares the pants off Sydney. In the aftermath, Joel tells Julia Victor thinks she hates him, and Julia voices her concern over the incident. Joel concedes it was an accident, Julia isn’t apt to let this one go.
After harping on Adam the first half of the episode, Kristina has a change of heart. She finds herself a wig she likes, gets dressed up and rents a limo to take them to a posh hotel for the evening. Adam is stunned and excited at the proposition. While at the hotel bar, Kristina gets hit on, which raises her spirits even higher, and she and Adam continue to have a lovely evening. In the end though, she admits she just wants to sleep, when Adam comes in ready for Funkytown. A video from Amber comes through then, and they laugh as they watch Kristina appear in the limo outside the studio. Turns out, she’s not crazy about the wig. The next morning, they leave the hotel hand-in-hand, and Kristina sans wig.
The name of this episode is “Keep on Rowing,” but as I was watching it, I kept feeling more of a puzzle theme. They’ve been given these pieces, some of them unexpected, none of them without flaw, and their challenge is to fit these pieces into their family. And then we catch of glimpse of next week’s episode: Amy (Drew’s girlfriend) is pregnant. Oh my.