The clock is officially ticking for Parenthood's Joel and Julia. There are only six episodes left of the beloved NBC drama, which is not only upsetting for the obvious reasons, but also because the estranged couple only has six episodes left to save their marriage.
"I want to make sure we resolve that story line by the end of the season one way or the other," executive producer Jason Katims told TVGuide.com at a press event held last week. "We definitely owe that to the audience and to the show, so we're definitely moving toward a resolution."
But will it be a happy or sad resolution? It took staring down his divorce papers — not to mention some stirring advice from Zeek (Craig T. Nelson) for Joel (Sam Jaeger) to realize he wasn't ready to let go of Julia (Erika Christensen). But following his declaration to fight for her, how will he do that? "It's more how Julia reacts at the beginning of the next episode we see them in. It's not going to be easy," Jaeger said. "I think to profess your intentions like we saw Joel do, he's all in. There's no mystery about where he stands, and we'll just see more of that; him really trying to communicate how he feels to her and being unapologetic about it. But also being apologetic about the mistakes he made."
So where does Julia stand? Christensen says Joel's declaration was a "big step in the right direction," but there's more work to be done. "It was the first time it was very clear what he wanted and that he was willing to get in the ring, which has been her whole frustration with him, like, "Where are you in this? You're just not willing to even try?' So he said he's willing to try," she said. "It's not about her loving him because they love each other, clearly, but it's about him earning back her trust, so it's hard to say how to do that."
Taking the Braverman approach definitely couldn't hurt, though. "The Bravermans, for all their faults, are actually really good communicators and they take the responsibility of being a sister or brother or husband or wife or aunt or uncle or cousin really seriously and they jump on things," Christensen said. "They will get in the car and drive over and hash it out with you, and I think that's amazing. I think that's the way to live."
As with any real marriage, the couple's problems won't magically fix themselves overnight. "While what Joel said was great, there are still issues. What I've said from the beginning was that I didn't want to come back at the beginning of this year and they were back together," Katims said. "I feel like wherever they get to by the end of it, I want it to feel earned so we really get the sense by the end that we know what their path is going to be."
There's also the issue of the other men in Julia's life. Not just her reignited law school flame Chris (Coby McLaughlin), who seems eager to take things to the next level, but also her friendship last year with Ed (David Denman). "It comes out in a very unusual way toward the end, [the question of,] if this relationship is to get back together, what does that mean for a guy who left at the first sign of his wife having an affair? A year has passed since the damage was done," Jaeger said. "Our show is about watching characters grow, thankfully, and not digress."
There's also the question of whether Joel will be able to win back viewers. The character who was considered one of the best husbands started receiving backlash last season from angered fans who believed he moved out and gave up on his marriage too soon. Jaeger admits he was taken a bit off guard. "I had wanted to protect Julia so much when I heard that this was where our storyline was going two seasons ago, that there was going to be an affair, I thought, 'Man, I'm worried that the fans will really turn on her,'" he said. "I think we made efforts to make Joel's anger as loud as possible. We may have gone overboard, but our show's about people recovering from failure. It's about forgiveness, and I think we've really earned what we saw last [week]. Nothing's easy, and no relationship is black or white. There's a lot of gray area and I'm thankful we've been able to explore that."
Watch Joel's declaration again here:
Parenthood airs Thursdays at 10/9c on NBC. Do you think Joel and Julia will get back together?