'Parenthood' Returns With "Just Like At Home," Bring Us Back To What We Love About the Bravermans

Parenthood has returned to its rightful place in NBC's Thursday night lineup, and, with its return, I can officially stop cursing the Olympics for all it deprived me of for all those weeks. It wasn't necessarily the smoothest of weeks — there was little point to Adam and Kristina's spa sojourn other than great views — but it was a sweet one, and the kind of quiet sweetness that kind of just makes you sit back and contemplate the beauty and sadness of life. In other words: It's schmaltzy, but it feels good, and that's just where we like our Bravermans.

Adam/Kristina

Adam and Kristina are at a spa, being weird middle-aged married people recovering from a rough couple of years and continuing to forget they ever had a daughter who went to Cornell.

Julia/Joel/Their Kids

Joel's taken the kids for the weekend and Julia's suffering through her first weekend completely alone in that (gigantic) house. She's got a binge-watch of Orange Is The New Black to keep her company, but overall, it's just a generally depressing divorce storyline we're all pretty familiar with and that she is very very reluctant and sad to be a part of. She does have an intensely sweet moment with Victor at the end of the episode, though, one that takes me back to all the sweeping Victor emotion of last season while also reminding us of how far we've come.

Her siblings are worried about her and check in on her, though, which is adorable, and as I write this, I'm like hella upset I'm not a Braverman, which at the end of the day kind of seems like the point of this show.

When they all come over at the same time to cheer her up? Braverman sibling bonding can sooth any wounded soul.

It's also a reminder that ADAM BRAVERMAN DANCING IS A GIFT FROM THE GODS, and all his siblings joining him is the reason I watch this show.

Crosby/His Parents

Crosby discovers his parents are selling the house, reacts petulantly, then has to come to terms with it. It's a pretty standard Crosby storyline. Anyone else got the inkling that Crosby and Jasmine are gonna end up buying that house (SOMEHOW) at the last minute? Or that (SOMEHOW) it'll end up being the site for Kristina's new school?

Drew/Amy

Amy's been Drew's shadow at Berkeley for a little too long — it's playing out as a story of young co-dependence, but with an interestingly intense (but notably not stalkery) relationship in which one person needs the other way more. Drew, thank god, realizes this and nips it in the bud, in a scene that proves Drew's just as Braverman as the rest of them, even as he's generally more quiet.

Sarah/Carl/Hank

I might be in the vast minority of recappers/critics here, but... is anyone else on Carl's side now? We know Hank's larger struggles and are therefore when it comes to life and relationships, so he's definitely got my sympathy and my narrative interest, but when it comes to Who Should Sarah Braverman Be Romantically Involved With — it's gotta be Carl for now, right? What we saw with Hank here was what Sarah Braverman does not need: More reasons to feel flighty and insecure. What we got with Carl was someone who reaffirmed something in Sarah that she already knew about herself and her work. He's a support system in a way that Hank isn't.

Hank is getting help, of course, and as a character, he is more fully formed and compelling than Carl the Magic Child-Saving Doctor Man. "I'm not like Carl and I never will be... I've never been that good with you, and I'm trying to do better." That is gold, that is wonderful narrative gold, and I really love Hank and this journey.

But god dammit, I really wanted Sarah to keep that taco truck in those pictures, and Carl agreed with me, so he wins this round.

Image: NBC