After a two week break, Parenthood is back to keeping our tear ducts nice and lubricated as the Bravermans prepare for Kristina's first round of chemotherapy.
But first we'll check in with Drew, who opens the episode on a cringe-inducing note as he re-gifts a get well basket for Aunt Kristina to his ex-girlfriend Amy who has been home sick. As a refresher, Amy dumped Drew on the first day of school over a guy she met at camp, which reinforces to us all that you should never left your significant other go to camp.
Amber serves as the getaway driver and as the voice of reason, pleading with Drew to a.) not re-gift a "cancer basket" and b.) not be completely pathetic and borderline creepy. Drew is spooked by Amy's gargantuan dog and drops the basket and runs, telling Amber to gun it. It's a really great example of sibling teamwork when faced with the consequences of total social ineptitude. Later, he returns to Amy's house to actually exchange words and finally meets Camp Dude, a college student who looks like a third-string Abercrombie & Fitch model; the kind that actually has to wear clothing in an ad campaign. Camp Dude offers Drew a ride to school with them, but Drew declines, putting on his dorky (but safe!) bike helmet and pedaling away.
At school, Amy apologizes for the awkwardness -- which is uncalled for, since Drew technically brought the awkwardness to her front door -- and Drew gets pissy, explaining that his life sucks at the moment anyway with the move to Mr. Cyr's house and Aunt Kristina's diagnosis. Amy seems genuinely affected after hearing about Kristina and shows up at Drew's later that day to offer her condolences and some comforting hand-holding. In a flash of manipulative genius, Drew realizes that he can milk this and succeeds in getting Amy into the bedroom. Who knew Drew could be more than a sullen, neglected teen and actually exhibit some cunning, skeezy behavior?
Drew isn't the only one of Sarah's kids getting lucky this week. Amber goes on a mini-golf date with Ryan because adults still do that apparently. There's lots of playful banter and bad golf form, as to be expected, along with the requisite "Let me help you with your golf swing, Mi'lady ... from behind." It's at this moment where Amber and Ryan start making out hardcore (good thing no one else was mini-golfing that night, perhaps because they have some sense of what "fun" is) until Ryan pauses, suggesting they take it slow. Cut to Amber's apartment where clothes are flying and sculpted Afghanistan vet shoulders are bared.
The morning after, Ryan pops some of his vet meds and Amber suddenly remembers that she was supposed to have breakfast with Sarah, who happens to be knocking on the door. Amber tries to shoo her away, saying she really likes this one. Sarah immediately starts ribbing her and even yells "Bye, Ryan!" through the door because Sarah is awesome.
Ryan meets up with Zeek later to talk about job prospects. Zeek suggests an irrigation specialist job for a wheat farm which prompts Ryan to launch into perhaps one of the saddest war stories ever about persuading an opium farmer to switch to wheat, a decision that gets the farmer murdered by the Taliban. Nice one, Zeek.
Sarah stops by the veterans' center to see Zeek and casually ask him for the scoop on Amber and Ryan. Zeek is flustered because Ryan never mentioned it. This gets Sarah paranoid and she later presses him further on Ryan. Zeek says that Ryan is a good guy and what he's going through now is normal for a vet, but unfortunately people in this situation end up hurting the people they love the most.
Back at Amber's love pad, Ryan gets out of bed to stare out the window. Amber realizes he's gone and goes to join him, asking if he wants to talk about anything. He just says she should go back to bed and she does, but not without looking stricken with worry. Amber (or Mae Whitman, rather) is exceptional at crying so let's all just prepare for the emotional ass-kicking that this storyline will surely deliver within a few episodes.
Over at Julia and Joel's, our favorite adoptive parents are worried that Victor isn't invited to hang out with his baseball teammates after practice. They wonder if it's because Victor is Latino which is a softer way of asking if these little brats are racist. They ask Victor if he'd like to invite any friends over to the house -- Victor scores points for scoffing at their use of the term "play date" -- and to their surprise, instead of suggesting one of his potentially racist teammates, he suggests Miguel, a pal from his old neighborhood. Julia consults with their social worker who nixes the idea, but she defies her anyway because that's where Bravermans excel. Julia and Joel roll through Victor's old working-class neighborhood in their luxury sedan and pale, pale faces to pick up Miguel and they finally see Victor legitimately happy for once. He and Miguel play basketball with a giant terra cotta pot (Joel, just build a hoop already) and converse in Spanish which surprises Julia because she knows nothing about her adopted son. Later, she tells Joel that she wants to see Happy Victor all the time but wonders if they'll be able to bring it out of him. At the end of the episode, we see Julia listening to a Spanish Rosetta Stone CD and learning words like "niño." A lifelong California resident, ladies and gentlemen.
Finally, we get to Adam and Kristina's house which is fraught with pre-chemo tension. Adam goes on a "solidarity diet" which has both him and Kristina forgoing sugar and caffeine and downing kale juice spiked with agave syrup. Kristina takes a sip and immediately spits it out, meaning she just wasted roughly $24 worth of juiced ingredients from Berkeley Bowl. Kristina is also stressed that her mother is still waffling on coming into town to care for her, but Adam assures her that Camille will be there help around the house while Kristina rests.
Kristina calls Adam while he's at work, complaining that Camille is a "hovercraft" -- there's a great scene where Camille stops Kristina from putting sugar in her tea and asks where the Stevia is -- a Bay Area question if I've ever heard one -- and that she feels like a prisoner. She wants to resume her usual mom duties and then curl up into a fetal position to cry but can't with Camille around. She also laments that her own mother didn't consider her enough of a priority to be there. Kristina's mother sounds terrible and it's confirmed when she calls Kristina to say she isn't showing up. Camille overhears this and Kristina gets snippy with her, saying she's going to defy Adam's orders and go pick up Max from school. Kristina pulls up to Max's school while devouring an ice cream cone, which is a really perfect image against the backdrop of Max saying she shouldn't be eating sugar or driving a car. Kristina bribes him into not telling Adam by taking him to the arcade where they eat cotton candy and play skeeball, meaning Kristina is now the greatest mom on earth.
Meanwhile, Adam is staying late at work, probably because if he moves from his chair, his head will explode. He already began the work day yelling at Crosby (who doesn't?) for leaving the studio a mess and letting Amber come in to work late. Crosby tells Adam that they need to go to a bar, but Adam refuses. Crosby says he's putting in a once-in-a-lifetime offer to pay for drinks, which is enough to get Adam out the door. At the bar, Adam reveals how scared he is and how he doesn't want to see Kristina in pain.
The next day, Camille comes over just as Adam and Kristina are getting ready to leave for the first day of chemo. Camille brings Kristina a sweater from her friend who went through chemo, which had been passed down from other cancer survivors. Kristina thanks her and begins to cry, probably because she realizes her biological mother sucks. Camille tells her that when Adam first brought Kristina home, she didn't think she was right for him. This is where most of our own mothers-in-law would simply trail off and leave the room, but not Camille. She follows up by saying she has never been so happy to have been wrong about someone and that though she won't try to replace Kristina's mom, she loves her. They bring it in for a hug. We end with Kristina at the hospital with an IV hooked up to her arm and Adam by her side. The sneak peek of next week's episode looks brutal (Vomiting! Shuddering!) so prepare yourselves, perhaps with some comfort eating. Where the Stevia at?
Parenthood airs on NBC on Tuesdays at 10 pm PST.