When Mae Whitman told us "shit gets crazy" on the Season 5 finale of "Parenthood" she was not kidding. Although, the shit that got crazy was far from what we expected to see play out. Instead of wrapping up the stories the show had been tracking all season, "The Pontiac" was almost a standalone episode about the family's cohesiveness in times of change. Grappling with the fact that the show has not been renewed, Huff Post TV sat down to gather our thoughts about what might be the last ever Thursday night of patent "Parenthood" weepiness. Here's what we thought of the episode that just might have been the series finale.
Warning: Do not read, if you have yet to cry all the tears over "Parenthood" Season 5, Episode 22, "The Pontiac."
Lauren: Leigh, I just felt all of the feelings ... but about things that this show hasn't even really focused on this season. I don't know how that finale could have been so aggressively great, without even really providing any serious conclusiveness to its open-ended questions (but I do know that I cried approximately three and a half times).
Leigh: Lauren, I cried through the entire second half. I don't even know where to start. First of all, let's talk about Haddie. Was there anything more beautiful than Adam and Kristina's reaction to her coming out? When Kristina said that thing about Haddie listening to her heart, I just about died. Actually, I'm tearing up again writing about it.
Lauren: That entire Prodigal Haddie plot line was fantastic. To be honest, I was worried when I saw those spoiler-y previews. It's easy to fumble any character's coming out as an excuse to manufacture scandal (especially when that character has also been missing for more than twenty episodes and was not even mentioned at Thanksgiving) but this was done so, so well. The quiet and unquestioning acceptance from Kristina and Adam held serious weight, even though we can expect that kind of honorable behavior from both at this point. Really, Haddie's radical return functioned as the narrative center of a finale focused on the things that keep families together in times of change.
Leigh: Yes. And to be honest, I was worried. I feel like if Amber or Drew came out, Sarah would be like, "Cool, you do you." But Adam and Kristina can be uptight, and I kind of thought Kristina would freak out. But she didn't, and watching that silent exchange between Haddie and Adam at the Braverman family dinner while "The Times They Are a-Changin'" played in the background ... I can't even. It was, in my opinion, one of the best scenes on television in a very long time. But wait, can we talk about the possibility that Amber is pregnant?!
Lauren: YES. The grin on her face when she picked up that pregnancy test was almost unnerving. One of my cries from this episode came with the finality of her realization that it was essentially impossible for her and Ryan to be together. But to find a solution to that through an unintended pregnancy is really dark. Her relationship with Ryan is deeply complex and ultimately toxic. It's also interesting to juxtapose Drew's own cycle of dependence with Amy from earlier this season. Both have some serious collateral damage from the kind of dysfunctional relationship they must have witnessed between Seth and Sarah growing up, and the slow burn way that they show is dealing with that takes daddy issues to the next level.
Leigh: Totally. Ryan and Amber's relationship is proof that love doesn't always conquer all. Sometimes two people have to separate because the circumstances are just too much -- or, as you said, toxic. And their relationship is. If Amber is pregnant ... I just don't know if that would be a good move for "Parenthood." I kind of feel like it's time for the Amber and Ryan saga to end. And yes, Drew does have attachment issues, and I agree that all of this stems from Sarah's relationship with Seth. But at the same time, watching Drew quietly grow and gain confidence over the past few seasons has been so amazing.
Lauren: Indeed, Drew's overarching development has been so amazing that I am willing to forgive the overt symbolism of him being ready to take the wheel now. When you think of this finale in terms of things like that, there were mini moments of closure (Zeek and Camille FINALLY moved, Victor has finally found happiness in his adoptive home, etc.), but I'm still so floored by how intense that hour was without addressing any of Season 5's central themes. It refused to give us a solidified indication of Joel and Julia's future and we have no inkling as to whether Bob Little agreed to lease Kristina's dream building for the school. I mean, it tied up the strings on the ballad of Hank and Sarah, but that plot line wasn't central for me. In a way, I think this kind of anti-conclusion is a rethinking of what a finale requires, especially for a show that aims to be so realistic: all the loose ends are rarely tied up in real life, why do they have to be at the end of a season?
Leigh: Right. We had that sweet moment with Joel and Julia in Sydney's bed, but in that final scene I kept waiting for Joel to show up. I remember thinking "There's no way this will end without tying up the Julia and Joel thing. NO WAY." But it did, and there were so many other beautiful moments that I had to accept it. The thing is, "Parenthood" hasn't been renewed for a new season yet, and there are loose ends that need to be tied up. If the universe cruelly made last night's episode the final episode of "Parenthood," do you feel like it could function as a series finale?
Lauren: As much as it kills me to to say it, I do. Despite some intense moments and unanswered questions, there was relief in "The Pontiac" as a whole. Seeing the family center shift from Camille and Zeek's backyard to that of Adam and Kristina carried a powerful message about the strength of this family in the face of change (literally set a song about "the times a-changing"). A happy ending for any individual story line would be emotionally satisfying, though that's not what's important about this show. The purpose of the Bravermans has always been to emphasize the strength of family. Once I put down the tissues, I can admit that overriding message is occasionally heavy-handed and deliberately heartrending, but it still gets me to shed the good "Parenthood" tears every time.
Leigh: Agreed. Like you said, we can't expect every issue to be resolved. Because that's not how life works. There was something so final and symbolic about ending Season 5 with a Bob Dylan song about change, when I will forever associate "Parenthood" with his song "Forever Young." After I put down the tissues last night, I started thinking about why "Parenthood" is able to bring me to tears every week without fail. Because the fact is, it isn't a show that deals with the heaviest of heavy issues. The magic in it lies in the beauty of ordinary life. It's a show about resilience, small victories and, ultimately, love.
Lauren: Wait, are you literally crying right now, Leigh?
Leigh: No! I just have something in my eye.