Anyone who watches Parenthood regularly knows it’s wise to keep at least one box of Kleenex nearby until the credits roll. That’s not to say that every episode is overly sad, but every episode is overly emotional in the best way, making you tear up both when things are going great (Joel and Julia are getting back together! Hank proposed to Sarah! Amber named her baby Zeek!) and when things are going quite the opposite (Zeek may be dying! And he won’t do another surgery to prevent it!). Thankfully, Jason Katims and the powers that be at Parenthood are taking some mercy on us as we embark on tonight’s series finale, titled “May God Bless and Keep You Always” (you know, just like the lyrics–sob, sob!–to Bob Dylan’s–sob!–theme song?). According to star Erika Christensen, we’ll be more happy than sad when sniffling through our last moments with Julia and the rest of the Bravermans.
“I think it’s okay for me to talk about this because someone said Jason was talking about this. At the end of the finale, there’s a flash-forward. You get to see the family bloom into another three years,” Christensen told Cinefilles at the 2015 Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour in Pasadena, Calif. earlier this month. “It will be really satisfying because we have seen the Bravermans go through so much, but you wanna know that they kind of end up happily ever after. So you get to see some of that.”
Christensen wouldn’t elaborate on what the distant future holds for Julia, but said that “a lot can happen in three years” and shooting those future-based scenes was “wild” because “you really felt like you were time-travelling.” Also, we can be safe in knowing that in the end, Julia and her on and off husband Joel (Sam Jaeger) will be feeling the same way we will be when “May God Bless and Keep You Always” comes to a close.
“We will get to see them happy,” the actress tells Cinefilles. “We get to see more of them earning that happiness. But ultimately, yeah, you’re going to get to see them happy.”
When Christensen speaks of Joelia “earning that happiness,” she refers to their recent admissions of guilt over their trial separation, during which Julia found herself a boyfriend and Joel started to realize the error he made in leaving her. She is just relieved that the two got to this point after their rocky road to recovery, seeing as she hated seeing them apart.
“I was shocked Julia was starting the season with a boyfriend,” she says. “I fully assumed that over the hiatus, they worked out it, or at least they did a lot of working it out. Obviously, I didn’t want it to be swept under the rug, but I wanted it to be pieced back together.”
“It was pretty brutal for us because as we started going through Season 6, we wanted Joel and Julia to be together as much as anyone. But also we wanted them to earn it and for it not to be swept under the rug. And obviously Jason Katims doesn’t write that way, so we were safe.”
Joel and Julia aren’t the only ones who will be safe and sound at Parenthood‘s end, either. According to Christensen, even if there are some difficult conversations had, or serious choices made, in the end everything will be sorted out before we find out the final fates of everyone, including the still-struggling Zeek.
She explains, “It’s like Drew was saying [to Zeek] in [“Let’s Go Home”], ‘I thought I was going to lose you and you were going to remember being mad at me.’ Thank goodness [you can] jump on those things and resolve them so you can just remember the good times. So that the cumulative effect of the relationship is all of the good times.”
See? Happy tears, guys. Happy tears.
The Parenthood series finale airs tonight, January 29, at 10 p.m. ET/PT on NBC. It also airs on Global this Saturday at 10 p.m. ET/PT.