'Parenthood': Crying Babies, Skorts, and Alums From 'FNL' and 'The Office'

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I don't know why I'm still surprised when I end up a puddle of tears after watching a  Parenthood episode, because I should realize after five seasons that every single episode is guaranteed to bring on the waterworks. (And warning: spoilers ahead!) Yet each time, when I end up sobbing on the couch while watching some emotional moment between Amber/Ryan or Amber/Sarah or Amber/Zeek (face it, it's always Amber — Mae Whitman can cry), I find myself asking: How did I get here?

In some Parenthood episodes, it's easy to spot the tear-inducing culprit: Kristina finding out she has cancer, Haddie making a surprise visit home to her family, Amber's post-car wreck walk with Zeek. Other times, though, there's no one scene to pinpoint — it's the entire episode that's made me so emotional. And Thursday night's "All Aboard Who's Coming Aboard," with its plethora of poignant moments, fit exactly into that latter category.

Let's break it down, Braverman by Braverman:

Kristina and Adam

In last week's season premiere, Kristina decided that she was going to reject Bob Little's offer for her to be his campaign manager and instead run for mayor of Berkeley herself. This episode saw Kristina working with her own campaign manager, who I think was called Heather at some point but who will forever be known as Jess from Friday Night Lights. Jess from FNL means business. She criticizes Kristina's speech, gets Adam to spill secrets, and questions Adam's loyalty to the campaign. She suggests to Kristina that Adam might not be fully supportive, and when Kristina confronts her husband, he doesn't deny the accusation. He feels that she shouldn't be doing anything stressful (aka, running for mayor) after she almost died earlier that year, but in a moving moment, Kristina tells him that "that's the reason for doing it."

It seems that sentiment has an effect on Adam, because later in the episode, when Kristina announces her candidacy to a crowd, Adam finally looks proud.

Side note: Seeing Adam, Max and baby Nora stand to support Kristina looked sad without Haddie. I get that she's off at college and the show's just being realistic, but still, it just didn't feel right without her there.

Sarah and Amber

There is only one person in the entire universe that's less than thrilled about the engagement of Ryber, and it's Sarah Braverman. The worried mom, whose own less-than-ideal marriage began at a pretty early age, is concerned that Amber's making a mistake. As much as we want to root for Ryber, she has a point. We all love Ryan, but Amber's what, 20? 21? That's a little young to be making rest-of-your-life decisions, regardless of how great the guy is you want to marry.

Sarah's hesitant to tell Amber how she feels, because if there's anything we've learned from Parenthood, it's that Amber doesn't react well to being told what to do. So she goes the passive-aggressive, manipulative route instead, asking Amber if the engagement was planned and implying that she was just swept up in the moment. Amber denies this, but Sarah's evil plan begins to work. Just a few scenes later, Amber is questioning Ryan about the proposal. He tells her that it was spur of the moment, but that it was "an easy choice to make." Aww. We can see that Amber's doubts aren't yet squashed, though.

Sarah, meanwhile, gets a surprise visit from Hank, who's brought her a housewarming gift of a candle. They talk awkwardly for a bit, per usual, and then Hank breaks the ice and asks Sarah how she feels about Amber's engagement (Max filled him in at the studio). She admits that she's apprehensive, saying that she barely knows Ryan and she doesn't get why the couple's in such a hurry. Hank advises her to tell Amber how she feels. "So what if you piss her off?" he says. It's solid advice, and the exes have a moment.

Sarah gets some conflicting guidance from Adam, though. Her brother reminds her of the results of her own controversial engagement — she eloped with Seth and didn't communicate with the family for a long time — and says that she shouldn't do anything to drive Amber away. Wise Adam is wise, and so when Sarah visits Amber, she simply asks if Ryan's the man her daughter wants to spend the rest of her life with. "Without a doubt," Amber says all teary, making me all teary. It gets even more emotional when Sarah pulls out the bridal magazines, saying that while her own wedding wasn't ideal ("I wore a skort"), she wants Amber's to be nothing less than perfect. I love those two.

Julia and Joel

Joel is basically M.I.A. this episode, but Julia gets a storyline that's bound to have some repercussions down the line. When she's late to drop off stuff for Sydney at school, she ends up bonding with fellow delinquent parent Roy from The Office. The two of them end up volunteering to be on "Green duty," sorting the trash and educating kids about the dangers of potato chips. Victor gets one line to say he's embarrassed, and the adults agree. Still, they get a nice friendship out of the task. We find out that Roy from The Office is married and currently unemployed. Julia, weirdly, is prompted to say that she's still happily on the payroll of her law firm, even though we all know that's a lie. Eventually, she guiltily admits that it's not true, and Roy from The Office isn't pissed. It's nice to see Julia make friends, even though previews from next week tell us that Joel's not gonna be too happy when he finds out.

Crosby and Jasmine

Apparently baby Aida is a crying, sleeping nuisance, and both Jabbar and Crosby aren't too pleased (Jasmine's barely in this episode). Jabbar, mad that he can't do anything when his sister's asleep, pulls the "I hate you!" card on Crosby and convinces his dad to give him some attention. The family goes out to eat at Jabbar's favorite restaurant (how great did unlimited breadsticks and soft serve ice cream sound?), but Aida's incessant crying gets on the nerves of their waiter and fellow customers. They're asked to leave, and for Crosby, that's it. He makes a scene, yelling at everyone for getting angry about a baby crying, and taking out his frustration on the poor, frazzled waiter. It's strange to see Crosby so angry, but you can't blame him for being stressed out.

Later, Crosby "jailbreaks" Jabbar from school, and they have some much-needed bro time at the Luncheonette. It's adorable.

Zeek and Camille

Finally, a bit of story for the criminally underused Zeek and Camille. After an inspection guy comes in and informs the couple that their house needs major repair, they debate what their next move should be: expensively fixing up the property, or moving to a smaller home. Camille's in favor of changing house, but Zeek, attached to the home they've lived in for years, is resistant. Assuming they do move, it'll be interesting to see how their decision will affect the rest of the family. Let's pray they don't go too far, because we need our Braverman grandparents close by.

Image: NBC