Despite last week's glimmer of hope for Joel and Julia, now we're right back to square one and separation frustrations reach an all-time high. Meanwhile, Drew and Amber continue to be the cutest siblings ever, and Max breaks our hearts into a million tiny pieces once again.
BONUS: My mom is back! You'll find her spot-on commentary following each scene recap below.
As is so often the case, Sarah and Ray Romano are hard at work arguing in the studio. They've finally wrapped up their big joint project and send it off for approval from the client. Now they must wait -- and this is easier said than done for these too.
Mom: I'm beginning to think that Sarah and Hank are a perfect match. Neither one can complete a sentence without the other one interrupting.
Max is packing for an overnight class trip to Sacramento, which involves panning for gold in rain boots. Kristina is chaperoning because of course she would. But Max is just as sick of her antics as the rest of us and wants her to sit this one out. Adam is also against Kristina's helicoptering ways, and eventually she concedes that Max will probably be just fine in the hands of a million other chaperones and his teacher, the enchanting Mr. Knight.
Mom: Kristina is a control freak! Max will be just fine without her.
Over at Amber's loft, Drew is channeling his pain into becoming a perpetually stoned singer-songwriter. Make note: your BFF Amber is pro-grass but not before noon. Drew's been skipping the classes he shares with Natalie (which is almost all of them). After a bit of whining, Amber manages to scoot him out of the loft and back to the campus for some schoolin.'
Mom: Drew's hair looks a little better, but I'm worried about him. Hope he doesn't get hooked on drugs.
Over at Casa Braverman, the realtor lets herself in unannounced. Zeek greets her pantsless and with zero shame. Jabbar thinks this is hilarious and wants to join in. Nervously smiling, the realtor says, "Nobody has to wear pants if they don't want to!" But the real reason she's here? She's found a serious buyer for the house.
Mom: Who comes downstairs with no britches on?!
Neither Julia nor Joel are there to pick up poor Victor from baseball practice. It was Joel's duty, but he misread the schedule and sat and watched another team for a really long time without realizing that his son was NOWHERE TO BE SEEN. Eventually Joel finds his way to the right field, but the emotional damage is done. On the bright side, it's nice that they're trusting Victor around baseball bats again.
Mom: Not only was Joel at the wrong ball park, he was obviously in the wrong town -- it went from day to night by the time he made it to Victor's field!
After inspecting the grounds of Casa Braverman, the potential buyer, Mr. Spencer, doesn't like the way the front yard -- or pretty much anything else -- looks. But guess what? Zeek doesn't like how HE looks. Take that, Mr. Spencer.
Mom: It's an old house that's full of family touches, but their memories aren't the buyer's memories. I understand, if don't agree with, his sentiments.
A couple of days later, Julia goes to school to pick up Victor and is shocked to learn that Joel has given him a shiny new cell phone to help him cope with his fear of not being picked up from anything ever again. Victor is now the envy of every fifth grader and the bane of every fifth grade mother.
Mom: I want to be mad at Joel about this, but I can't because he just has such a tender heart. That's why this split makes zero sense!
Drew takes a stroll around campus with Natalie. She admits that she really misses him, but Drew's still hung up on the fact that she slept with his douchey roommate. This infuriates Natalie because really, what right does he have to mad? "Amy came to town and you dropped everything. You dropped school. You dropped your friends. You sure as hell dropped me." Damn, girl.
Mom: I like Natalie better than Drew at the moment.
Julia drops Victor off at Joel's and airs her grievances about the cell phone. Joel defends his choice by blaming Julia's slow text response time. He's mainly worried about Victor's abandonment issues, but Julia swiftly reminds him that everything is happening because "YOU MOVED OUT."
Mom: Good for her for standing up to Joel and putting the family before her personal feelings for him. That's hard.
After a few days at Amber's, Drew has become a typical college kid freeloading off the nearest relative. Sleeping all day, moping all night. Amber is so freshly out of this stage that she's showing no mercy to those who are still in it. But when Drew shares his anguish over the loss of Amy and the Natalie-Berto drama, this tugs at Amber's heartstrings and she lets him continue to slumber on her sofa.
Mom: Drew clearly wants to have his cake (Amy) and eat it too (Natalie). At least Amber didn't go back to the freezer.
Sarah's going crazy waiting to hear back about her and Ray Romano's photo project. "If you ramble, I'm going to punch a bird," Ray says in exasperation. This is a sentiment shared by millions of viewers around the world whenever these two are on screen. To get her to calm down, he massages her shoulders. You could cut the sexual tension with a knife. But alas, Ray Romano has the "wrong idea." Despite running to him whenever she feels vulnerable, Sarah just wants to be friends. In the knick of time, a cryptic and potentially positive email re: the project comes through, but Ray doesn't even care. He's so over trying to win Sarah back.
Mom: Didn't Carl get this project for her? I miss Carl.
That night, Mr. Knight calls Kristina's because of a "situation" up in Sacramento. Max had a freak out and is now plopped on the hotel lobby floor and won't budge. Adam and Kristina head to pick him up.
Mom: Kristina will probably think she could have solved things if she had gone on the trip, but she needs to let Max grow up too.
At Julia's, Victor is texting Joel all through dinner. This makes Julia furious and causes Sydney to have the most spoiled former-only-child outburst ever. She's looking for answers to how her life has gone to shambles and blames Victor for everything that's happened with Joelia this season.
Mom: I do understand where Sydney's coming from. But she's also a brat and they should probably send her to boarding school.
Despite his seeming disapproval of Casa Braverman, Mr. Spencer puts down an all-cash offer just below asking price. Zeek is inwardly freaking out. They've been in Casa Braverman for 44 years! After a cozy fire pit chat with Camille reminiscing about all their good times there, they decide not to take the offer and instead wait until the right one comes along.
Mom: Why settle?
On the ride home from Sacramento, Kristina pushes Max to open up. "Why do all the other kids hate me?" Max asks. "Is it because I'm weird?" Hearts break into a million pieces. The classmates' hatred toward Max has convinced him that he's a "freak," and a boy named Trevor even disgustingly peed in his canteen. When Kristina crawls into the backseat and hugs Max despite his protests, the tears really start flowing. Max Burkholder for ALL the Emmys.
Mom: Okay, how could you not have empathy for Kristina after that? Also, Trevor should be kicked out of school.
Drew's back to songwriting on Amber's bed. She loves hearing him play. She joins in and soon they're dueting. It's a sweet scene that further proves the Holt siblings are extremely precious. And I want all of Amber's earrings.
Mom: I couldn't tell what lyrics he was singing most of the time, but it sounded pretty nice. I really like both of these kids -- a lot more than I like their mama.
While at Joel's, Victor offers to give him the phone back because he thinks it will help Joelia fix their relationship. Joel sets him straight on how, despite Sydney's accusations, NONE of this was Victor's fault. They hug. They cry.
Mom: This was one of the most believable and touching moments in the whole show.
The episode closes with the revelation that Mr. Spencer has now upped his offer to a neighborhood record high. Zeek and Camille are speechless and will definitely have to think it over. Will they sell or will they stay?!
Mom: The whole family is so wrapped around the house, Camille is going to look awful if she makes them sell it.
Mouths drop as Joel continues to be an ass and not only avoids running back to Julia's arms, but GOES ON A DATE WITH HIS BOSS. Also, Mr. Seer is back. MR. SEER IS BACK. The voiceover bills him as one of the "great loves" of Sarah's life, so you know things are about to get juicy. Ray Romano, you really don't stand a chance now.