This week's episode of "Parenthood," titled "In Dreams Begin Responsibilities" (which is also the title of the "My So-Called Life" series finale, in case you were wondering), allowed the season to really settle into its groove. The Bravermans are in full-on supportive family mode, finally giving us all of the heart-to-hearts, inspirational speeches, and familial advice we've been waiting for.
We'll start with Drew, whose life as a UC Berkeley freshman could easily shape-up to be the most entertaining plotline of the bunch. Drew faces the ultimate struggle of an 18-year-old boy when his dorm crush, Natalie, officially friend-zones him, dubbing him her new best friend after he pretends to love her favorite Joni Mitchell song. But Drew refuses to accept his doomed fate. When he asks Crosby and Adam what to do, they advise him to really commit to his Joni Mitchell obsession and reel her in with his love for folksy, lady music. As it turns out, Natalie only knows the one Joni Mitchell song, forcing Drew to own up to his lie and admit that he likes Natalie in a non-friend way. Natalie's reaction is hard to read. She's clearly thrown off, but is it in a good way? I guess we'll just have to wait and find out!
On a slightly more serious note, Victor's struggles with reading continue to trouble Julia, who is convinced that holding him back is the only option. When she sends Sydney and Victor to help Zeke around the house, these issues only become more prevalent. Zeke gets the siblings to help him work on his car, but when he asks Victor to read to him from the manual he can barely get through the first sentence. Sydney impatiently snatches the manual from Victor and reads the instructions with ease. Victor is clearly frustrated with himself, but Zeke sits him down and tells him exactly what he needs to hear, pointing out that Sydney may be a better reader than Victor, but Victor caught onto the mechanics much quicker than Sydney. He then tells Victor that his old eyes can't properly read the manual and asks him to sit with him and read it to him, and together they slowly begin to work through the sentences. It might not be the solution to all of Victor's struggles in school, but it's definitely a start.
Things might be looking up for Victor, but the episode isn't exactly smooth sailing for Sarah and Amber. Amber and Ryan's wedding plans are in full swing and Sarah's supportive mother act is starting to wear on her. When she learns that none of Ryan's family plans on attending the wedding, she can't hold in her concerns any longer. She thinks Amber is being naive by thinking that Ryan's past is truly in the past and she can't help but compare Ryan's struggles with substances and violence to Seth. Amber refuses to accept anything that Sarah has said, telling her that she won't make the same mistakes as her and angrily pushing her away. But as Amber attempts to learn more about Ryan's background she discovers that not only is he not close to his family, but his father actually passed away. Considering that they're engaged, it seems surprising that Amber wouldn't already know this about Ryan ... they might be in love, but do they really know each other well enough to get married? It definitely seems questionable.
Over at Adam and Kristina's, the mayoral campaign is continuing to suck them dry. Sassy Heather is pushing them to use all of their resources to look for funding, and when she discovers that one of Adam's former clients is the successful rapper Mr. Ray, she demands that Adam ask for a sizeable donation. Adam works up the courage to go to Mr. Ray's extravagant house, but when it comes time to actually ask for the money, he chickens out. So instead, Heather sets up a meeting with Kristina and a very wealthy developer who plans to build huge apartment complexes all over Berkeley. Kristina is strongly opposed to everything that he stands for, but Heather continues to push her and they end up leaving the meeting with a $20,000 donation. Kristina still doesn't feel right about it, however, and decides not to accept the money. So Adam, being the dutiful husband that he is, bravely goes back to Mr. Ray, this time actually asking for the money. As it turns out, Mr. Ray is a total softie, who wants nothing more than for Kristina to win her campaign for mayor and improve the public schools, so he gladly hands over $20,000 to the campaign.
The episode ends on a high note, with Max delivering an inspirational speech to Kristina on why she shouldn't quit the race and a self-satisfied Adam sticking a "Kristina Braverman for Mayor" sign in Mr. Ray's lawn. It looks like things might finally be looking up.
"Parenthood" airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.