Sarah Braverman's relationship status has been complicated pretty much as long as Parenthood has been on the air.
Whether it's her on-and-off (and on-and-off) relationship with Mark Cyr (Jason Ritter), her messy work romance with Hank (Ray Romano), or her recent flirty fling with her neighbor Carl (Josh Stamberg), Sarah's love life has never been truly stable. But just when Sarah (Lauren Graham) seemed to be heading in the right direction — i.e. picking her work over a guy — Mark returns on Thursday's episode (10/9c, NBC) to shake things up again.
"Amber happens to run into him on the street, and it leads to this story of Sarah seeing him again after all this time," Jason Katims told reporters Tuesday. "Basically, a year has passed in both of their lives since they have seen each other, and I think it's this very moving story. It's moving for me to literally see them together on-screen again."
Although Ritter will just be back for one episode, his reappearance "sets up for Sarah, where she's going for the rest of the season," Katims teased.
So what does that mean for a possible reunion between Sarah and Hank? Romano has arguably been doing some of his strongest work ever on the show as his character not only tries to come to grips with the fact that he might have Asperger's, but also with the fact that he still has feelings for Sarah.
"Ray and I talked early on about this Asperger's story line that we did this year, and it was something that we both went into cautiously," Katims said. "Ray's involvement in the show is always contingent on his schedule and his availability. Obviously, I would love to keep him on the show. First of all, the show needs to get picked up. If the show comes back and if Ray is available and wants to do more, I would absolutely love to keep telling that story.
"We get to a place by the end of this year that sort of sets up a story for next year," Katims added. "It's Hank and Julia. I can't believe I even said that. That hurt."
Breathe easy, Braverman devotees, Katims is only kidding. In fact, it sounds like there may be some good news -- or at least better news -- on the way for Joel (Sam Jaeger) and Julia (Erika Christensen) after their heartbreaking separation this season. "There's been a lot of change for a lot of our characters, and a lot of those changes come to a head in this last episode. It really does have a feeling of so much has led to this moment," Katims said. "I know people are really mad... about the Julia and Joel stuff, [but] I think there's something in that story that I think I will give people... something to hope for, to talk about."
In the meantime, fans should brace themselves for another emotional reunion when Ryan (Matt Lauria) comes back into Amber's (Mae Whitman) orbit towards the end of the season. "When they see each other again, it's under very, very dramatic circumstances that sort of bring them back together physically to see each other," Katims says.
However, it doesn't sound like the two young lovebirds will get back together right away. "It's a very complicated situation for Amber because clearly this is somebody she has such incredibly strong feelings for and those just don't go away," Katims says. "But on the other hand, there's lot of complications for them. We'll see her sort of grappling with on one hand the closeness that she feels with Ryan and on the other hand, feeling like it's important that they make a break from each other."
But don't count out Ryan completely, even though Lauria signed on for a new DirecTV series Navy St. "Because of the schedule of the series, I'm hoping that there's a possibility for Matt to come back at least for a limited amount of episodes," Katims said of a Season 6 encore. "It's something that we obviously have to look into again."
One other familiar face Katims is hoping to have come back next season is Sarah Ramos, who will reprise her role as Haddie in the season finale. "It sets up the potential -- if we get another season -- for her to come back next year," he said. "We wanted to wait until we found a story for her so that it didn't feel like she was coming back to hug everybody. I really love the story and I think it will be a bit of a surprise."
Parenthood airs Thursdays at 10/9c on NBC. Are you excited for Mark's return? Do you want Sarah to end up with Hank?