Five months have passed since we last saw the sprawling Braverman clan, and change is in the air for nearly all of the family members. Adam (Peter Krause) is still out of work and has been reduced to loafing around the house and going on interviews for jobs that he doesn't really want and is over qualified for, having lost his purpose and identity as the family's breadwinner; Kristina (Monica Potter), meanwhile, is quite pregnant and quite capable of bringing home the bacon, having gone back to work. It's interesting to see how the dynamic between the two of them has shifted so considerably, now that their traditional gender roles have been reversed. (Adam, were you always such a traditionalist?!?) But there's another possible path for Adam, one that involves Crosby (Dax Shepard). That's all I'm saying on that front.
There's trouble ahead for Haddie (Sarah Ramos) and Alex (Michael B. Jordan), as things go in both a predictable and unexpected way in the season opener, and Jordan gets the chance to act opposite a cast member with whom he may not have gotten any screen time last season. (I will say, however, that something needs to be done to Haddie's hair, which just makes me sad.)
Amber (Mae Whitman) attempts to get back on her feet after last season's car accident and decides to move out of her grandparents' house. What follows--and the places that her relationship with Sarah (Lauren Graham) will likely go this season--gives the episode a strong throughline as Sarah too reevaluates her life on the eve of her 40th birthday, and the episode gives Graham some strong scenes with both Whitman and Bonnie Bedelia's Camille as a result. Plus, Jason Ritter is back, as well, which can only mean one thing for Sarah...
Julia (Erika Christensen) and Joel (Sam Jaeger) are still looking to adopt, though the perfect birth mother basically stumbles into Julia's lap. I was a little bit uncomfortable with the sheer incongruity of this development--as well as the massive coincidental nature of the set-up--that it took me a little out of the story, if I'm being honest. (The only instance would be the return of Joy Bryant's Jasmine, who continues to be a major downer.)
But, really, that's a quibble regarding a sterling season opener that reminds us why we love Parenthood in the first place: realistically drawn characters, universal emotions and experiences, and dialogue that captures the natural tone and vigor of familial life in all of its glorious colors. I've missed you, Team Braverman.
Season Three of Parenthood begins tonight at 10 pm ET/PT on NBC.