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New Show Recap: “Parenthood,” Season 4, Episode 13, “Small Victories”

Just when you think Parenthood’s fourth season couldn’t get any heavier than Kristina having breast cancer and Sarah switching boyfriends, it does. This week’s episode’s title is Small Victories, and really, the most notable victory was that Max is now showering on a regular basis.

The episode opens with Crosby doing the bathroom dance as his mother-in-law, Renee, monopolizes their bathroom. It’s kind of hilarious, but also an up-close-and-personal look at how a long-term house guest can grate on a person. In this episode, Crosby’s force-fed fish, watches his brother-in-law eat all of his cereal as his mother-in-law does his laundry, and learns that Renee has turned down her first job offer.

At Adam’s house, the stink, literally, is Max. After realizing the smell wasn’t the lizard’s fault, Kristina and Adam start to talk to Max about how his body is changing. While talking about body hair, Max starts to drop trou, and Kristina leaves the room, promising him Skittles if he showers. Any moments of levity in this episode come from this story line. Max’s factual outlook on the world prompts him to greet Zeek later in the episode with, “Hi Grandpa. I have pubic hair.” Kristina plays the “boys talk to boys card and girls talk to girls” card on this topic, and places the duty of “the talk” squarely on Adam’s shoulders.

At Julia and Joel’s, Victor is still grieving his biological mother by taking it out on Julia. He goes on a hunger strike when Julia refuses to give in to his demands for Burger King pancakes. Oh, Julia. You are the target, but not who this is about, at all. At dinner, Joel tells Julia that Victor isn’t coming to dinner, and when she goes to his room, she finds him eating out of a box of candy. She yanks the box away from him, and Victor falls off the bed in the process. Not long after, the police are knocking on their door, responding to a 911 call about child abuse.

The main focus in this episode is on Drew, who isn’t even mentioned in some episodes. As he and Amy roll up to their high school, he can see that she’s not herself. When she tells him that something’s wrong, he replies with, “I can’t believe this, you’re breaking up with me, again, in my car, in front of the school.” Turns out, Amy’s pregnant. Mark catches an exchange between Drew and Amy at school, and is troubled enough by it to approach Sarah. Sarah tries to approach Drew that evening, but he uses senior year activities as an excuse for being stretched. Sarah and Hank start to think that maybe Mark just made up the excuse to stop by and say hi. Sarah returns the favor by stopping by Mark’s to return a muffin pan that isn’t his. Oh, Sarah.

Amber comforts Drew
Perhaps the calmest, most empathetic 21-year-old on television.

Drew goes with Amy to her first appointment at Planned Parenthood, where the pregnancy is confirmed and they receive counseling. Amy’s mind is made up before they even arrive, and she shuts down any conversation about options other than abortion. Interestingly enough, this is conveyed without ever saying the word abortion. He gives her his unwavering support, and she tells him what she needs is the money for the procedure. The emotionally distraught Drew goes to Amber, who is awesome, like she always is. He accompanies Amy to the clinic, making eye contact with the one other man in the waiting room. When he drops Amy off, he says he’ll talk to her later. That’s when Amy tells him that she needs space. A lot of space. Like the beginning of Kristina’s breast cancer, this story was told visually, with very little script.

Adam has a heart-to-heart with Max about puberty, but when he gets to the words “sexual feelings,” Max stops him. He tells him he’s not ready for that yet. Relating it later to Kristina, Adam noted that it seems like Max is becoming more aware that he sees the world differently than others. The important takeaway though, is that Max is now showering like a pro. He announces, after strutting out of the shower, that he’s washed his pits, his butt and his balls with soap. Music to any mother’s ears.

After entertaining the police officers, Julia and Joel then get a visit from their caseworker. Why they haven’t called her already, I don’t know. The subject of finalizing Victor’s adoption comes up, and Julia says out loud that she doesn’t know if she can go through with it. Joel walks out of the room, visibly frustrated. It frustrates me that Julia’s pinning this on Victor; he’s the child, she’s the grown up. He’s not mad at her, he’s mad at his biological mom for abandoning him. He’s mad that he has no control. I sincerely hope that the show takes a turn here and gets the whole family through this.

The episode ends with Drew, in tears, coming to Sarah. Again, there are no words, but when she opens her door, it’s pretty obvious this is not stress due to college admissions.

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3 thoughts on “New Show Recap: “Parenthood,” Season 4, Episode 13, “Small Victories””

  1. Good recap! Am I the only one here that thinks Julia needs a reality check? She almost adopts this kid, things start getting wonky and she wants to take him back? You didn’t buy a pair of boots, you took a child into your home! WTH! I’m only 15 minutes into the show and I’m ready to smack her upside her frosted head. I may have to skip this one and move on. :-)

  2. Man, I am so irritated with Julia. I don’t have kids, let alone adopting a half-grown human boy, but Victor was just recently faced with the reality that he’s never (or at least not for a long time) going to see the mother who raised him. That is messed up, he is grieving, and Julia immediately takes the bait to enter a “real mom” contest. It seems to me that he’s pushing her away because he’s already lost one mom, and she’s totally letting him, which is sad. Obviously the kid needs to know he’s loved and that this family, at least, won’t bail on him, and that takes time. Also, Sydney is going to turn the rest of the way into a manipulative psychopath if they don’t give that girl some attention.

    I thought the abortion was handled well, but it was sort of annoying that the waiting room scene seemed to imply that Planned Parenthood was a teen abortion factory or something. Sad girls! Sitting everywhere! I totally get Drew’s reaction, though, and I think he did a good job trying to keep his feelings from weighing on Amy too much. Her “They like to see me in a certain way” thing was an interesting reminder that teenagers take on a lot more than their parents probably realize.

    Uh, apparently I had a lot of thoughts and feels about this one.

  3. I was surprised how nuanced the portrayal of Amy’s abortion was. I thought the writers did a good job showing how Drew felt conflicted about Amy going through with the procedure, but was supportive nonetheless.

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