Episode 4.14 : One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

  • Parenthood
    • Episode Premiere : January 15, 2013
    • Distributor : NBC
    • Genre : Drama
    • Seasons : 4
    • Show Period : 2010 - 2015
    • Production Company: Imagine Entertainment, Universal Media Studios
    • Official Site :

Cast and Crew

The Story

Zeek gets a phone call just before dawn. He tells Camille to go back to sleep and heads out to meet Ryan for breakfast. Ryan admits he can't sleep anymore, and if he does, he wakes up sweating and panicked. He's been waiting for everything to get better, but he's stuck. Zeek advises Ryan to start with something small. It doesn't matter what it is, but it has to be a goal Ryan can accomplish. Across town, Crosby's made healthy scrambled eggs for breakfast, but Jabbar insists on a bar. Renee pipes up: this is not a good idea! An hour from now, Jabbar's bound to have a major sugar crash. Crosby and Jasmine exchange withering looks.

The first bell has just rung when Sarah bumps into Mark in the hallway at school. She's come to drop off a paper Drew forgot at home. Apologizing for how awkward things have been, Mark asks if she'd be willing to meet for coffee so they can talk things through, get some closure? Later, Adam, Kristina and Nora are hanging out having a good time, when Max crashes through the front door, in the midst of a full-blown meltdown. The student council's faculty advisor has told him the vending machine will never come back, because the PTA made sure to remove it from school grounds last year! Unable to settle down, Max declares that his parents have to find him a new school and runs off to his bedroom.

Julia's been up all night worrying. She keeps trying to tell herself that everything with Victor will be okay, but she's just not sure it ever will be. Joel thinks it's time to take the leap and finalize the adoption - he's sure of it. After dropping Max off at school, Kristina steers for a klatch of PTA moms, quickly turning the conversation to the vending machines. The moms are convinced that all their hard work to get the machines banned was the right thing to do. Kristina asks them to reconsider, but they won't hear of it. She can't possibly be advocating putting sugary junk back into the school!?

At work, Sarah tentatively drops a bombshell: tomorrow, she's agreed to have coffee with Mark, in order to clear the air and gain a little closure. Hank can't say no, but through all his verbal stumbling, it's clear he's not at all happy about it. Ryan visits Joel on the construction site to ask for his job back. He knows he messed up; he shouldn't have walked off the job, and he wants to fix the situation. He's willing to work for free to pay off the expensive window he broke. When Joel refuses his offer, Ryan's quick to acquiesce and leaves feeling mystified - how could Joel be so cold?

Amber's distracted during a pie-making session with her grandma. When Camille asks whether Ryan's been calling her at the crack of dawn, Amber gets panicky; she wishes there was anything she could do to help him. Camille advises her not to make his problems hers. That night, Julia tenderly tucks Victor into bed. Her heartfelt "I love you" is met with silence. The next morning, Kristina works the phones, trying to drum up support for the return of the vending machines. It turns out the kids are buying junk food from convenience stores near the school - why not bring the money back into the fold? When Adam asks what she's up to, Kristina tells him it's war. She's going to charge into the PTA meeting as candy's advocate. This is one area of her life she can control, and she refuses to let Max's dream die.

Jasmine returns home from grocery shopping, surprised to find Crosby home alone. It seems Renee's out grocery shopping herself, because she feels there's no healthy food for Jabbar in the house. Crosby uses this point to bolster his argument. It's time for them to confront Renee in a non-argumentative way about their boundaries. No more judgments on parenting decisions, which are only theirs to make. Meanwhile, Mark and Sarah are meeting for coffee. It's almost like old times until Mark asks how things are going with Hank. Sarah won't say much, other than she never cheated on Mark... although there was the one time Hank kissed her in the darkroom, and she probably should have told Mark about that when it happened.

Joel and Julia sit down with family lawyer Alison Locklear to discuss finalizing Victor's adoption. Alison explains they'll set a date, then appear in court with Victor. As the interview goes on, it's clear that while Joel is completely on board and thinks everything is just fine, Julia's not at all sure. Eventually, Julia loses patience and blurts out, "He doesn't love me." She knows everyone keeps saying they need more time, but how much more time will it take for Victor to show her any affection whatsoever? When Alison advises them to take still more time, Joel's clearly devastated, and Julia feels responsible.

Renee's surprised when Crosby and Jasmine show up at home together during the day. Crosby starts the conversation by saying how much he and Jasmine love having Renee live with them, but there are challenges. It doesn't feel nice to be judged every time they make a decision about their son. Renee apologizes, then remarks that sometimes it seems as if the inmates are running the asylum. When she starts ticking off examples of poor parenting decisions, Crosby gets excited, and Jasmine tries to make peace, eventually swinging to her mother's position. Renee's right, they should be more consistent with Jabbar. Crosby throws up his hands. Renee and Jasmine can make all future decisions concerning Jabbar. They can call him when Jabbar graduates from high school.

Julia's preoccupied on the way to dinner with Crosby and Jasmine. Why did Joel call the adoption lawyer without her? Joel explains again: he was simply returning her call, and he said Julia's having a case of cold feet. Julia angrily tells Joel to stop shaming her into finalizing Victor's adoption. Why does she have to be the only one with doubts? Unable to relax at the restaurant, Julia excuses herself from the table. Crosby finds her outside in the midst of a meltdown. He assures Julia that when Jabbar showed up, the only way he could figure out how to be a parent was to copy Julia, who's the best mom he knows. Besides, when Crosby was Victor's age, he hated Camille and was never able to say he loved her. He knows Victor loves and needs Julia - because it's impossible not to.

Crosby's shaving, totally unprepared when Jasmine corners him. She feels really bad about their conversation with Renee, and no, she's not apologizing for it - she thinks Crosby should apologize to Renee. Crosby rallies: he's the one who deserves an apology because midway through talking to Renee, Jasmine abandoned ship, and their united front crumbled. Jasmine needs to confront her mother - when was the last time she did that? Her argument dismantled, Jasmine flees the bathroom.

Amber tentatively knocks on Ryan's door. It's been a while, and no, she doesn't want to come in; but she does want to check in to see how Ryan's doing. Or more truthfully, she wants to say how proud she is that Ryan asked Joel for his job back. When Ryan brushes it off, saying it didn't work out, Amber remarks that his attitude sounds like that of a quitter. Ryan should give it another try, but this time, he should put an honest and passionate look on his face and bring treats. Smitten all over again, Ryan invites Amber inside, but she keeps her distance, much as she doesn't want to.

At breakfast time, Sydney asks if she can wear slippers to school. Julia says no, but Sydney presses, so Julia says, "Why not?" Victor climbs onboard the slippers train, but when Julia asks if he really wants to wear his slippers to school he says no, which is somehow gratifying to her. In an unexpected move, Julia tells Victor that she and Joel want to finalize his adoption next week. She explains exactly what this will mean - she and Joel will be Victor's real mom and dad from now on. When she asks, "Does that sound good to you?" Victor says, "Yeah" and scampers off. Joel tentatively asks Julia if she's sure about all of this... she's not. Regardless, he's got enough joy for the both of them.

Kristina's welcome at the PTA meeting is anything but warm, and the moms she approached on the vending machine issue have come loaded for bear. Kristina understands why the parents wanted the vending machines out of the school in the first place. But she's done her homework: the vending machine money funded school arts and PE programs, which are now gone. And the kids are still buying sugary junk food - but at local convenience stores. Why not bring the money back into the fold and control it, while offering the kids healthy choices in the vending machines? When one of the teachers admits he would kill for a cold diet Pepsi after fifth period, Kristina knows she's won Max's battle.

After locking up, Hank's surprised to find Mark waiting for him in the street. Mark has something to say: kissing Sarah when she was engaged to another man was calculating, manipulative and cowardly. Hank insists he doesn't calculate any kisses and tells Mark to take a walk and cool off. But Mark maintains his steam - he doesn't need to take a walk. He's going to be the classy guy Hank never was, thus he's come to lay down his gauntlet by declaring his intention to win Sarah back.

It's early in the morning when Ryan approaches Joel at work. Ryan shrugs off the razzing of his former co-workers to explain he hasn't come to ask for his job back. He just wants to make sure things aren't weird between himself and Joel - and he's brought donuts. Thanking Joel for hiring him in the first place, Ryan offers his hand to shake and walks away. After checking out the donuts - his favorites, thanks to Amber's meddling, Joel calls after Ryan - does he have work gloves in his car? Well, he should go get 'em, 'cause Joel's going to teach him how to sweat some pipe.

It's dinnertime at Crosby and Jasmine's, but Renee's not joining in, preferring to eat in her room, lest she issue any unwanted parental judgments. Silent and judgmental, Jasmine puts the stink-eye on Crosby, who feels the heat. Maybe he should have apologized to Renee? The next morning, Max is on his way to the library when he runs into an excited Micah in the hallway at school - there's something Max needs to see. The vending machine is back! Max races pell-mell down the hall to verify that his vision has become a reality, jumping up and down at the vending machine victory he's sure is the result of all his hard work. But do these new vending machines have Skittles on their menu...?

Sarah shows up for work with donuts and a smile, but Hank is in no mood. Why'd Sarah tell Mark about the kiss in the darkroom? Sarah's immediately on the defensive, assuring Hank she only mentioned the kiss to bolster the argument that she never cheated on Mark. Hank goes off - he never calculated the kiss, but he liked it, and he likes what's happening between them. Now he knows where everything will end up: he's screwed because he likes her. Sarah's shocked - she never heard about his feelings before! When Hank turns to leave, Sarah yells - why is he abandoning her, just as he's confessed his true feelings? Heading upstairs to his stronghold, Hank explains. Mark knows what he wants; Hank knows what he wants... now Sarah has to figure out what she wants.

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