Sydney's teacher Ms. Wu calls Julia and Joel to school for a conference. Apparently, Sydney is obsessed with her rubber band ball, and has been disrupting class. Not only has Sydney been bouncing the ball behind her back, but Ms. Wu believes she stole a box of rubber bands, though she can't prove it. The final straw came when Sydney hit a kid in the head. Joes tries to smooth things over, but Julia acts defensively, convinced that Sydney didn't do anything on purpose. Joel promises they'll take care of it.
Zeek meets Adam at his office for lunch and awkward conversation, avoiding the real reason for his visit. Finally, he confesses: he wants Adam to visit an investment property with him. Adam has "real estate acumen," and Zeek wants his opinion. The only trick -- it will entail an overnight trip. Adam groans about his killer schedule, but Zeek puts the screws to him, pleading for father-son time. It'll be just like the old days, and they'll have a chance to talk.
Later, Adam tells Crosby about his conversation with Zeek -- why did he use the word "acumen"? Speaking of scary fatherhood, Crosby has brought something to show Adam: Jasmine mailed him an invitation to Jabbar's fifth birthday party! Adam advises Crosby to call Jasmine and say he wants to be a part of it. Crosby thinks Jasmine is sending mixed messages. Half of her wants him to be Jabbar's dad, and the other half wants to keep him on the outside.
Unable to find the toothpaste, Sarah looks in the shower, shocked to find Amber with Damien, her boyfriend from Fresno. Moments later, Zeek is on the scene, belligerently demanding to know what's happening. Promising to take care of it, Sarah confronts Amber. This is all because Amber is mad at Sarah for dating Mr. Cyr, right? Amber insists that it has nothing to do with her mother; she and Damien love each other. When Sarah pleads with Amber not to make the same mistakes she did, Amber breaks down. Every time her mother talks this way, Amber can only conclude that her whole life is a mistake. In tears, Amber asks to be left alone.
Over breakfast, Sydney gets upset when Joel handles her rubber band ball. She doesn't want him to take any rubber bands off because she has them all counted, and she doesn't want the brown ones to take over. Just as Sydney seems about to tantrum, Julia promises the ball will stay in the kitchen and no one will touch it. Still, both Julia and Joel are afraid something's wrong...
Zeek accosts Damien in his van to return the dirty sock he left behind and offer $20. He wants Damien to fill up his gas tank and leave, promising that he'll smell the van if it comes within a five mile radius of his house. Otherwise, they'll have to spend some quiet time together. Damien knows that Zeek is a Vietnam vet, but he considers himself a philosopher who means no harm to anyone. Zeek counters, promising that he's an irrational hardass with rage issues. Damien takes the $20 and skedaddles.
Upset, Julia stops by to seek Kristina's advice. She knows it sounds stupid, but based on the rubber band ball incident, she's curious to know some of the first signs of Asperger's. Assuring Julia that there's nothing wrong with Sydney, Kristina gives her the phone number of Max's doctor. That night as Adam packs for his trip with Zeek, Kristina confesses she's a horrible person because she can't help feeling happy that someone else in the family might have the same problem as Max. Feeling the same way, Adam contends that it's perfectly natural. Kristina did one good thing: she didn't tell Julia that Max has a rubber band ball of his own.
Crosby and Jasmine take a trip to Party City to shop for Jabbar's birthday party. Crosby keeps coming up with theme ideas, and Jasmine shoots them down, implying that Crosby doesn't know what he's doing. Finally, they decide on a baseball-themed party. When Jasmine mentions they need place settings for 12, Crosby puts on the brakes. What about his family? Jasmine claims her apartment is tiny, so Crosby can invite four of his family members, even though she expects 10-15 of her own.
Joel and Julia sit nervously in Dr. Pelican's office, awaiting his diagnosis of Sydney. Luckily, it's all good news. Sydney is gifted with above-average intelligence, and her issues in the classroom most likely stem from boredom. Going forward, they'll have to be sure that Sydney is challenged appropriately. Meanwhile, Zeek is his usual annoying self during the road trip, criticizing Adam's driving, asking about his sex life, and laughing about the family trip to the Grand Canyon when Adam puked on Camille's head. It's still funny. The only thing he won't talk about is what they're going to see, which he wants to keep a surprise.
Spying Damien showering with the hose in the bushes, Sarah decides it's time for a talk. Damien seems like an okay kid, but Amber's from a broken home, which means she doesn't know a serious relationship from a sandwich. She needs to focus on school, maybe even college. If Damien loves her, he'll set her free. If she comes back, she's his; if not, she never was. Damien claims it's not that easy, and Sarah agrees. Still, Damien should help Amber out and leave, even if it's just for now.
Julia and Joel get nervous when they see Kristina heading for their front door. How are they going to tell her that Sydney's gifted? Julia claims she has the situation under control, so Joel hides in the kitchen, as the doorbell rings. Claiming she didn't fully express herself the other day, Kristina offers a heartfelt message of love and support, along with a book that really helped her and Adam with Max. She urges Julia to call them as soon as they hear anything. After Kristina hurries off, Joel sarcastically congratulates Julia for her strength in the face of adversity.
Camille paints in the garden while Sarah laments Amber's total lack of respect. She just left with Damien without saying anything! Camille insists that the best a mother can do is help her child avoid making the same mistakes she did. Sarah thinks she's failed -- Amber hates her. According to Camille, daughters always hate their mothers; it's a law of nature. When tears start to fall, Camille confesses that Sarah was always "her best," the child she still indentifies with most. Sarah's the brave one. She always took risks and asserted her independence early. She needs to honor the person she is.
Zeek tours Adam around a bleak box of a building in an abandoned office park; construction has obviously been cut short. Doubtful, Adam asks about buying parameters, surprised to learn Zeek already owns the building. Zeek puts on a cheerful game face and switches into sell mode. Adam could convince his company to buy the place and use it for a new factory, since they're into keeping their labor in America. Adam admits this is true, but is further distraught to learn that the remainder of the office park is owned by "various entities," some of which are in foreclosure. Zeek waves off Adam's concerns and urges him to take photos and send them back to HQ.
Crosby keeps it light while decorating for Jabbar's party, but Jasmine is critical and grumpy. Before long, the couple pitch headlong toward the elephant in the room: why did Jasmine wait so long to tell Crosby about Jabbar? Jasmine claims she left a few messages. When Crosby didn't call back she moved on, because she had to raise a child. Crosby reminds Jasmine that she doesn't get to make all the decisions. And he wants to invite his whole family to the birthday party! Jasmine admits she let her family think Crosby abandoned her, the same way her father abandoned her mother, Renee. Softening, Jasmine tells Crosby to invite his family; they'll make it work. Crosby gloats. He likes it when Jasmine screws up because it levels their playing field.
Zeek won't hear of Adam paying for a motel room, insisting they share. Later that night, Adam asks Zeek to come clean. They both know his building isn't a great investment. Zeek hangs his head; he never wanted to ask his son for anything -- he should be the one giving, especially now, with Max. How was he supposed to know the economy was going to take a dive? He took a second mortgage out on the house, and then all hell broke loose... Adam promises to present the deal to his boss, but only if Zeek will promise to tell Camille.
The lone white guy at Jabbar's party, Crosby tries to serve sandwiches, but his reception is icy cold. Finally the doorbell rings and the Bravermans enter in force. Things start warming up as Camille bonds with Renee. It's not long before Jasmine's brother Sekou lays into Crosby for abandoning Jasmine and Jabbar. Zeek barges in. The only reason he can see for everyone treating Crosby like a pariah is that he's white. Finally, Jasmine steps up and tells her family the truth: it was easier for her to lie and let them believe that Crosby was just like her dad. Luckily Jabbar runs in, asking if it's time for cake.
Later that night over potluck, Zeek asks about Amber -- why didn't she come to Jabbar's party? Camille covers for Sarah, claiming Amber had to study. Julia returns Kristina's book and tells her the truth about Sydney. Amber pops in to announce that she's going out. Sarah runs after her with a wrapped piece of Jabbar's cake on a paper plate, but Amber turns up her nose. Sarah explains that she's done trying to control Amber. From now on, she's going to simply trust her and try to get along. Set free, Amber grabs the cake and takes off to meet Damien, leaving Sarah to literally bang her head against the wall.
Overlooking the city, Amber and Damien sit on the car eating cake and making out. Amber's disappointed that she got a C on a test the other day, when she was so sure that she got an A. Damien reminds her that it doesn't matter; after the electrical grid fails, nothing will matter. They'll be living off the land and fending off marooders. Amber gently corrects Damien: the word is "marauders." He doesn't really care, but something in Amber's brain has clicked, and she's starting to view Damien in a new light.
Camille asks Zeek about his trip with Adam. Zeek obfuscates. Adam's a great kid, and was it him or Crosby that vomited on Camille's head? Although it's no wonder Zeek can't remember it was Julia, Camille can't swallow the fact that he still finds it funny. Julia was so upset when it happened, and Camille had her hands full trying to comfort her daughter while wiping the puke out of her hair. Zeek was too busy laughing to even think about helping. For his part, Zeek never realized Camille was so upset and offers a belated and ineffective apology. When Camille tries to steer the conversation back to the trip with Adam, Zeek will only say Adam snores. These two are miles apart.
After putting Max to bed, Adam shows Kristina his ill-gotten booty: Sydney's rubber band ball was stashed under Max's pillow! Max did follow Kristina's instructions and asked Sydney to give him the ball, but when she said no, he just took it. Upset, Kristina wants to call Julia right away, but Adam tells her to relax. Sydney the genius can make 1000 rubber band balls using cold fusion. Their laughter is interrupted by Max, who asks, "What's so funny?" Max climbs into bed for a snuggle and discussion about the complexities of how it's not okay to steal.
Crosby and Jasmine clean up after the birthday party. Crosby thanks Jasmine for sticking up for him; he knows it wasn't easy. Jasmine admits she should have told her family the truth a long time ago. The important thing is that Jabbar had a great birthday. Crosby thinks he's falling in love... with Jabbar. He joshes Jasmine that she looks like she just saw a ghost. Jasmine sits Crosby on the couch, and hits "play" on the video of Jabbar's birth. Crosby is churning with emotion; horrified, regretful, but mostly moved that Jasmine may be starting to let him in.