The Season Finale of Season Finales
Three last season finales to discuss. Into the fray (spoilers abound, so be wary):
Not as good as the "Three Stories" season finale from last year (which I actually only finally got to see right before seeing this year's), but an engaging, thought-provoking episode nonetheless. Some found it obvious, but I didn't pick up on the fact that the whole ep was one dream/hallucination until the very end - in fact, my wife picked up on it earlier, and I thought she was wrong. The story leaves us on an interesting note - is House going to be cured next year? Reports indicate that effecting the limp is screwing with Hugh Laurie's back in a major way, so it's entirely possible that that's precisely where they are heading. And if they are, I'm suddenly much more intrigued with next season than I was previously.
A hard call to make, since this wasn't really a season finale, but rather the 12th episode in a 20-episode season. Sure, we'll have to wait until January to get the rest, but it's still reasonable to see this as just another episode. That being said, I do wish we had gotten a little more of a hint as to what's coming down the pike for these characters. The relentless cynicism of this show is something that can be hard to take - even with all of the sturm and drang of the initial few episodes, with Tony's near-fatal shooting and the resultant epiphanies he experienced, he has backslid to the point that he is almost the same character he was before the shooting. And Carmela's Paris-derived insights of just a few months back (in show time) are likewise pretty much tossed aside when Tony, to stop her from thinking too hard about Adriana, gets her spec house up and running again. Realizing this made me appreciate the sudden "AJ grows up" mini-arc from this ep more than I might have otherwise. Sure, his change of heart and sudden maturity seem odd, but less so when you realize that they unlikely to be real in the first place. My bet is that AJ hasn't grown up, and we'll see him abandon this phase as quickly as we saw him abandon that long hair early in the season. I know many were let down by the ep, but it has me very much looking forward to 2007's last eight.
Big Love's season finale echoed The Office's, in a way. Both shows had built up, relatively early in their runs, what we assumed would be long-running storylines--the struggle to keep their identity as polygamists secret in the former's case, and the unspoken attraction between Pam and Jim in the latter's. And in their season finales, both very unexpectedly, and happily, resolved those conflicts. The family was "outed" and Pam and Jim kissed and acknowledged their feelings for each other. I've liked Big Love since the first ep, but I'm looking forward to the next season even more now. The dynamic of the family's having to deal with the reality of being outed as polygamists fascinates me, and I'm highly curious to see where they take it next season. Even aside form the reveal,though, this was perhaps the best episode of the season--from Albie's comical poisoning by Wanda, to the wonderful acting by Chloe Sevigny in what could easily be a completely thankless and unsympathetic role, to the remarkably steady and calm brilliance of Harry Dean Stanton, this was an eventful and engaging episode.