Unless I am hallucinating, I am pretty sure that’s a wedding band we saw on Amber’s finger in the final scene of Thursday night’s episode, the sixth of season 5.

Here are a couple of screenshots where you can see for yourself:




All throughout “The M Word” (FYI, "marriage" is a word that begins with "m"), Amber was suffering from a serious case of projection: Unreasonably lashing out at Sarah when she had finally come to terms with Amber’s decision; and needlessly isolating herself from everyone in the family except Drew. It’s been a long time since Amber behaved this badly, or was this hard on her mother. She, even more than Ryan, has adopted a "me and you against the world" position that betrays a buried lack of confidence in their plans. 

When Amber asked Drew to be a witness at a City Hall ceremony, she told him that it could happen in the next day or two. When he refused, insisting that she would regret cutting their mother out of the wedding, she stormed out of his dorm room -- and could have easily gone straight to wedding express, as an act of defiance. And also, perhaps, to get it over with before she changed her mind.

There’s no question that Amber and Ryan genuinely love each other. But as he admitted, he didn’t plan to propose to her when he did. It was an impulse decision when they were both overcome with relief upon his return from Afghanistan. And at the time, Amber was feeling pretty disconnected from him and worried that he might not be as invested in their relationship as he was before he deployed. She was vulnerable and overjoyed -- a perfect recipe for a hasty engagement that might not have felt like quite such a terrific idea once the dust settled.

Amber is strong and willful, as we saw in season 3 when she left Ryan. At the time (and I don’t think Sarah knows this), Amber invoked her parents’ relationship as the main reason why she couldn’t be with Ryan until he got his act together. She didn’t want to make the same mistakes as her mother, and that’s exactly Sarah’s concern -- which may have hit a nerve.

When Sarah came to Amber’s apartment (unannounced, of course, as is the Braverman wont), Amber and Ryan were still in bed -- she told her mom that they had been up late the night before. Celebrating, perhaps? Also, while Amber is certainly quick to tears, her reaction to Sarah’s mea culpa suggested she was crying over something other than relief that she and her mother had resealed their bond: She looked a little bit distraught. Still, Amber didn’t seem to be in any hurry to hide her wedding band -- but she was certainly caught off guard.

So now what? The next episode could pick up exactly where it left off (though that doesn’t happen very often on “Parenthood”) and Sarah could see the (alleged) wedding band, meaning that Amber and Ryan will have to explain themselves on the spot. If that doesn’t happen, and if Ryan and Amber are the only two who know they eloped, they could always agree to keep it to themselves and go through the motions of a wedding -- but the truth will likely come out at some point. The Bravermans are terrible at keeping secrets from each other.

We can also imagine yet another scenario. Amber begins to have serious doubts about her marriage to Ryan, and confides in Sarah (or Sarah forcibly drags it out of her), and mom is all, “Hey, it’s not too late to back out of this,” and then Amber loses it and admits it actually is, and Sarah is really hurt and angry at first, but then the mother and daughter join forces to get Amber out of the marriage and maybe a restraining order for Ryan if that’s necessary.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Unfortunately, the teaser for next week’s episode doesn’t provide any clues about Amber and Ryan’s marital or Sarah’s feelings about it. Though a preview photo does seem to show Amber with a naked left ring finger.

In other news, it looks like we’ll be seeing more of Ray Romano’s Hank, who is rapidly becoming my favorite character on the show. Will he and Sarah get back together?