Life is filled with gray areas.
Simply standing on a different side of an issue can create a margin of error whereby you either win or lose an argument and that was the theme of Parenthood Season 5 Episode 8.
Four of the larger stories involved Kristina dealing with her campaign, Amber's concern about the cost of her ring, Zeek's discovery of what life would be like without Camille and Joel and Julia coming to terms with the choices they made about Victor, along with Joel's growing disdain for all of Julia's choices over the past year.
Things started out so great for Kristina, as she learned she was within two points of Bob Little in the mayoral race - until Bob Little took the gloves off and started swinging. All of a sudden innocent Facebook photos taken on the sidelines of Haddie's soccer game made Kristina and Adam look like killers and Adam's past run-in with a man who insulted Max in a supermarket parking lot thrust their personal issues into the spotlight.
It's a sad thought that the same people who stood behind Kristina and made her a contender in the race didn't give her the same support when she chose the high road in defending her husband for his actions. Of course, they didn't know the dirt she had on Bob Little and may never know.
I'm also not sure just how "dirty" the dirt they had on him really was. Yes, he had a relationship with Amber when she was an intern, but she was 19. While a lot of people thought he used his position to his advantage, he was single and he treated her well. Frankly, I was surprised that Amber had such animosity toward him about the incident considering how it ended.
Amber's other story of the evening was her upset over the ring Ryan bought her. Despite what everyone says, I still say she's wavering about Ryan and not just the ring. Remember this Parenthood quote?
Kristina: Are you sure it's just about the ring?
Kristina: Oh. OK.
Amber: Everything's fine, I just. Yeah.
Sure, it was a big ring, and it felt odd to her to have such a large ring on her little finger and to have a bigger diamond than her aunts. But she was also afraid of his anger if they had the discussion. That's a flag. The way she answered Kristina was a flag. And Ryan's reaction to her request and how he felt after returning the ring weren't the actions of a happy man.
Amber and Ryan have a very long road of growth and discovery ahead. Marrying so soon is a mistake. They should do more of the former, first.
If Amber asked her grandmother about her thoughts on the issue, Camille would most likely tell her to live a little bit more before settling down. She has two generations below her and she's just now seeing the world and doing things she dreamed of as a young woman. She's doing these things while her husband is at home, eating cereal with whipped cream and bananas.
At first Zeek seemed to be loving the freedom on peeing in the bushes of his own front yard, but as much as he complained about his kids dropping in on him it was obvious he enjoyed the company. The joy on his face when he saw Millie on Skype and his exclamation of how beautiful she looked were lost on her because she was having the time of her life in Italy. If she had been able to process how deeply he felt in that moment, it might have been one of her favorite memories from her trip.
Their time apart will definitely make Zeek appreciate her more, and increase her wanderlust. I just hope they find a middle ground where they can enjoy their "Third Act" together.
A marriage that seems to be skidding into it's final act prematurely is that of Julia and Joel. Every week their interactions become more forced and painful to watch. There is little that they are not at odds on at this point, but the issue of Victor has been a sticking point since he entered their lives. Julia has always had a more difficult time with him, and I think her earlier belief that they would never bond makes Joel think part of her is giving up on him and his education. She's not.
Julia hates to see Victor struggle, but he is seriously behind in school. The differences between he and Sydney are noticeable and other students must see it as well. It will affect every aspect of his life if his friends are kids who are also behind. They should have held him back earlier in the year so it would have been easier on him, but to make it easier on them they chose to wait.
Something that hit me and was unexpected was when Joel told Julia he would be there for his son. No mention of his wife or his daughter, but only of Victor. Where is the family man we loved? He has completely changed. I understood his frustration and taking Julia to task for making decisions without him, but she quit her job in part because she had missed out on her children's lives and Joel kind of held that over her. Not against her, but over her.
Now that their roles have changed, he doesn't seem to like being in the position she was once in any more than she did. Their role reversal is not working. Is their future one of separate lives? It seems closer than ever.
The other two stories on the burner weren't upsetting in any way. Thank goodness!
Crosby realized he had to change his expectations with regard to the life he thought he would have with Jabbar when he decided his winter sport would be ballet. My favorite scene of that whole plot line was when he was bouncing Aida around and asked her if she wanted to head into the ESPN Zone and do some chest bumps. Embrace diversity!
Sarah took Zeek's advice and went to her neighbor Carl's party. She kept acting as if he was going to have a college kegger going on, but when she arrived her had a rather lovely apartment party with wine and cheese and a lot of nice looking people just waiting to for Sarah to befriend them.
Frankly, it made the job of apartment superintendent look awfully appealing. It's like your own Meet Up group, if you get into the right building.
This was a really pleasant episode. I didn't miss Drew and his college drama, and even though everybody wasn't happy, they weren't dire and downtrodden. There's a way to play drama where it's still an enjoyable experience to the viewer, and the mix this week was just right.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.