The reason Parenthood is one of the best shows on TV is the relationships. Whether romantic, familial or friendly, the relationships on the show are always strong and believable.

In the first new episode of 2014, there’s a lot of relationship drama. Julia and Joel’s marriage continues to disintegrate, Hank and Max’s friendship hits a stumbling block, Sarah learns the shocking truth about Carl, Zeek makes a new friend and Drew has two girls fighting over him.

Julia’s Marriage

Following her kiss with Ed, Julia is freaking out about her marriage. She opens up to her big brother about it, telling Adam everything. It’s one of those classic Parenthood scenes of honest, genuine family moments and Adam is very supportive and nonjudgmental, telling her about the time that woman kissed him and how he immediately told Kristina and worked it out.

Julia, however, isn’t so sure it’s that simple because she and Joel aren’t on the same page and it’s really hard. Adam suggests counseling and, later, tells Crosby all about it so he can watch out for their sister at a school auction.

At the auction, Ed is drunk and tries talking to Julia. He clearly thinks there’s more between them than she’s willing to admit. He makes a big spectacle and Joel steps in to tell him to leave his wife alone. Things escalate quickly and Joel pushes Ed to the ground, warning him to stay away from his wife.

After the auction Joel confronts Julia and wants to know if there’s anything going on with her and Ed. It’s the perfect opening to admit the truth about the kiss, just like Adam did with Kristina, but instead, she says that there’s nothing. Joel doesn’t believe her (nor should he) and needs some time to think. Their marriage has always seemed rocky on this show, but now I’m genuinely starting to think we’re heading towards divorce territory.

Mad Max

Max visits the photography studio because Hank promised to develop his pictures, but instead Hank has to photograph a purse to make some money. Max doesn’t take this news well and has a total meltdown, screaming and throwing things before running away. Hank is worried and later Adam gives him a book on Asperger’s to help Hank understand what Max is going through.

Hank reads the book and goes a little nuts, highlighting and making notes. Everything he reads sounds like it’s describing him, so Hank thinks he has Asperger’s too, which is no big surprise since he’s always been a little odd. He runs over to ask Sarah if that’s why their relationship didn’t work out, possibly setting the stage to rekindle that romance.

At the end of the episode, Hank shows up at the Braverman house. Max apologizes for his behavior and the two sit down to play a game of chess. It’s funny how Hank started out as a romantic interest for Sarah, but now it’s his relationship with Max that has become one of the most beautiful and touching parts of the show.

Sarah’s Big Date

Carl asks Sarah to be his plus one for a charity event and she agrees. A little Internet research from Jasmine reveals that Carl is actually a neo-natal doctor who founded a non-profit organization that builds hospitals in third-world countries. It’s unclear why this guy would be living in Sarah’s rundown apartment.

At the charity event, Sarah is shocked to learn the whole thing is for Carl and he receives a humanitarian award. They don’t sleep together after the event, but there are definitely sparks flying between Sarah and the good doctor.

Zeek’s New Friend

With Camille in Italy, Zeek’s life is falling apart. There’s no food and the house is a mess (I guess his kids got tired of coming over to help him). Things get even worse when he Skypes with Camille and she says she wants to stay an extra week to paint in Tuscany.

Zeek goes to a diner and winds up sitting next to a surly old dude named Rocky who has a lot in common with Zeek. They start out contentious but slowly become friends. Rocky is a widower and assumes Zeek is too. Rocky then gives Zeek some advice about how he needs to savor the fact that his wife is still vital and eager to go on adventures.

The next day Zeek starts to write an e-mail to Camille telling her to come home, but he deletes it and, instead, tells her to stay the extra week.

Drew’s Two Girlfriends

Drew and his increasingly out-of-control hair (seriously, it completely covers one of his eyes in every scene) are dealing with two girls. Amy, his high school girlfriend, is visiting him and the two fall into old habits, playing around and having fun. Natalie, Drew’s college friend with benefits, is, of course, bitten by the jealousy bug and starts pawing Drew every chance she gets in front of Amy to mark her territory.

I’m not sure how Drew, who seems to have absolutely no game with the ladies, has two chicks fighting over him, but he does. In the end, Amy suggests staying a little while longer, skipping her own classes. That’s definitely a red flag, but Drew’s hair is obscuring his ability to see it. This is going to end very poorly. Or possibly with a threesome.

(Image courtesy of NBC)

John Kubicek

Senior Writer, BuddyTV

John watches nearly every show on TV, but he specializes in sci-fi/fantasy like The Vampire DiariesSupernatural and True Blood. However, he can also be found writing about everything from Survivor and Glee to One Tree Hill and Smallville.