Parenthood – Series Finale Review – “May God Bless and Keep You Always”

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I’m writing this blog as I watch the Parenthood series finale for the second time. There was so much in the episode, and it elicited so many emotions, that I knew there was no way I could write about it without watching it again.

I thought the finale was perfect. It was a show I truly loved, and I think Jason Katims and the other writers gave the characters the kind of send-off we’d all hoped for. This is a family drama that has taken us through difficult times – illness, bad decision making, falling outs – but it’s not Breaking Bad. It would have been wrong to end this show on a note that was anything other than hopeful.

Here we go. Stop reading if you haven’t watched.

Only the Bravermans would be able to put together an actual wedding in a week. Well, the Bravermans with a helping hand from the magic of television, I guess.

“I’m not going to be assisting, you need to work on your listening skills. I’m going to be the main photographer.” – Max

It was very sweet that Hank asked Max to photograph the wedding. I liked that Kristina felt that it was a risk, but I bet Hank did not. Hank’s been working with Max for a while now, he’s seen his photos. He wouldn’t have done this if he wasn’t confident that Max could do it, I think. So to me, this felt like a way to let us know that Max is talented. That maybe he really could take photos and have a career in the future. His jubilant “I’m employed!” was pretty darn cute.

The first scene where I think everyone probably started to cry came about five minutes in, when Hank came to ask Zeek for his blessing. (Something, we later found out, that not even Joel did!) Hank told Zeek about the Aspergers thing, which he wasn’t aware of. Zeek barely getting out the words “Take care of my daughter” was beautiful, but the moment that really got me was when Zeek realized why Sarah was in such a rush to have the ceremony. My heart!

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I know Amber’s apartment was small, but what really bothered me about it was that she still left the door open with the baby! Crosby and Jasmine came to visit, and he told her that they were shutting down the Luncheonette. It was a strong scene, because you could see Crosby struggling with the “why?” and he just had to tell Amber the truth. That Adam didn’t want to do it. I never cared that much about the Luncheonette, but I care about Crosby and Adam. I felt so bad for Crosby, he was clearly so hurt when Adam asked him to sign the dissolution papers. Adam asking if Amber thought the payment was “a fair amount” made me so mad. He just never gets it, that guy. It’s not about the money.

When Julia got a call from the social worker, I wasn’t sure what was in store. But as soon as they found out that Victor had a new half-sister who was up for adoption, I knew they’d go for it. I loved the way they tried to debate it and be logical, but you just knew that they wanted her. Because of the struggles that Joel and Julia went through over the past couple seasons, it’s easy to think that they’ll never be the same again. But in the earlier seasons of the show, they were my favorite couple. I’m choosing to believe they can get back to that.

Another one of my favorite smaller scenes was Hank asking Drew to be his best man. Hank has always had a strong relationship with Max and they obviously have a lot in common, but he’s a lot like Drew as well. They’re both men of few words, who care a lot about their families.

I think my favorite scene from the whole episode (except for maybe the final one, of course) was the conversation between Zeek and Sarah. I said in my last blog that I feel like the show has truly been about Zeek, Sarah and Amber. Those relationships have been at the heart of this show, at least for me. That’s never been more evident than during this scene.

“Have I ever told you that you’re my favorite?”

“I don’t think I would’ve ever found him if you hadn’t let me come home and stay here for a while. It just changed everything. Thank you.”

“Have I been a good father?” “The very best.”

And then we were all a collective puddle of tears.

Halfway through the episode, we got to the wedding. It was so perfect, it gave us so many great moments and that wonderful thing that happens when this whole big crazy family gets together.

(From my intense Instagram stalking of the cast, I’m pretty sure that Tavi Gevinson, who played Haddie’s girlfriend, was around during the taping of the finale. So I’m assuming her scene got cut, but I’m telling myself that they continue to happily date.)

My friend Melanie predicted that Zeek might buy out Adam’s half of the Luncheonette and leave it to Amber, so that she and Crosby could run the business together. She wasn’t far off, and actually I think Melanie’s idea was a bit more plausible than what actually happened. But it’s best we don’t think about the actual business logistics here. What Crosby needed was to hear that he could do this without Adam, and it led to a really nice scene between him and Zeek. Also one between him and Adam, and best of all between Crosby and Amber. I love the idea of Crosby, who’s all grown up, being “the new Adam” and Amber, who’s just getting started, as “the new Crosby”. Can we get a spinoff series with Mae Whitman and Dax Sherperd running their family-friendly recording studio, please?

The sequence of the family taking photos before the wedding might be one of my all-time favorite things.

“Boy, we did good, didn’t we Camille?” “We sure did.”

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Then Zeek walked his favorite child down the aisle and it was beautiful. Sarah’s storylines on this show have often focused on her love life, and there have been a couple love triangles. Mr. Cyr came in and out of her life, and thus ours. But I must say, I’ve loved Ray Romano in this role, and I’m glad Sarah ended up with Hank. I’m glad she found photography, and him.

The party scene was amazing because you know I LOVE watching Bravermans dance. (The fever!) It was cute how Ruby’s friend thought Max was cool because he was the wedding photographer, and when he asked her to dance it was the single best moment of Max’s entire time on Parenthood. And the song playing was “Maybe I’m Amazed”, which is one of the all-time best songs.

The wedding was really one incredible moment after another. Camille and Zeek asking Amber to move in with them was so beautiful and full-circle and incredibly moving. They’re helping her get on her feet the same way they helped Sarah.

“Grandpa and I have talked about it, and we decided that we want this to be our third act.”


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Another moment that gave me all of the feelings was Drew’s speech. Kudos to Miles Heizer for pulling that off perfectly. He was much more eloquent than 15 year-old Drew had been, but it also wasn’t like he was suddenly the president of Toastmasters. It was sweet, genuine and simple. He was holding back emotion the whole time. The tears in his eyes when he addressed his mom really got me.

Moving on past the wedding… Chambers Academy has never been my thing. Adam and Kristina have never been my favorites. But it was nice that Crosby helped Adam realize that he should follow his passion, and it was convenient that Kristina could just offer him her own job so she can go build 100 more schools. That’s all I’ll say about that.

The Final Scenes

I could write an entire blog about the last eight minutes of the episode. I keep using the same words over and over again in this post – emotional, beautiful, perfect. I’m sorry to be so repetitive, but they all describe these final scenes as well.

Camille found Zeek in his chair, resting in peace. It was horribly sad, and the look on Camille’s face broke my heart. Her voice wavered, and my own face just crumpled. I knew the show would end this way, we all did. That couldn’t have mattered less.

“If I die, you take my ashes and you scatter them over center field at Marine park and then play a game of baseball over me.”

That’s what Zeek said to Adam in an earlier episode, and I never forgot it. For the show to end with scenes of the family fulfilling Zeek’s wishes would have been fine. But I’d been really, really hoping for a flash-forward sequence to end the show, and I was so relieved to get it. We get to see where our favorite TV family ends up in a few years, we get to have a sense of how their lives progress. It was a gift.

  • Camille goes to France, to the place Zeek had wanted to take her as a surprise.
  • The song that played during the sequence is being recorded at The Luncheonette. Jasmine is pregnant again, and Aida has an amazing hairstyle.
  • Joel and Julia’s family gets a puppy, and has a new baby a couple years after adopting. Joel and Victor get glasses. We never find out if Sydney becomes President of the United States.
  • Hank and Sarah’s blended family has a happy dinner together, and we see that Amber is now with a single dad. Ryan has cleaned up his act and is now a part of Little Zeek’s life. This made me the happiest. I didn’t want Amber to end up with Ryan, but I’m happy that he became healthy. And, she ends up with 6! Jason Street! (Another appearance from a Friday Night Lights alum, for those unfamiliar with Katims’ other famous show. Now if you haven’t seen that, go watch it ASAP.
  • Max graduates from high school. This isn’t surprising, given that his parents created the school for him. For me, moments that packed more emotional punch were Max asking a girl to dance, Max taking beautiful wedding photos, and Max hugging little Nora during the baseball game. But his celebratory fist pump was cute.

I wish we’d been able to see a bit more of Haddie and Drew’s futures, but as I assume both Bravermans graduate from excellent colleges, they probably end up just fine. With Zeek gone, I love the idea of Amber living with Camille even more. She can watch the apartment while Camille goes off on adventures, and keep her company when she’s home.

Crosby and Jasmine end up with at least three children, and Julia and Joel end up with four. The Bravermans loved their big family, and it’s only fitting that most of the children end up having their own big families.

There are a few lovely deleted scenes on I hope there’s even more when the DVD comes out.

I will miss this sweet, at times sad, lovely family drama very, very much.

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