As it did last year, “Suburgatory” ended its season on something of a downbeat note. Wednesday’s (April 17) finale splinters several of its key relationships and leaves a lot of things up in the air for a (not yet confirmed) third season.
And that’s OK. For starters, “Suburgatory” has a pretty decent chance to return next fall. More important, though, the show often steps up its game when the silliness of life in Chatswin gives way to deeper, more emotional stories, and “Apocalypse Meow” and “Stray Dogs” had plenty of that (along with a few very funny moments).
The way Tessa and Dalia’s fight was choreographed, with both of them suddenly turning into mini-versions of Angelina Jolie‘s character in “Salt,” was pretty amusing. But it also let the two characters really let out their anger at one another: Dalia for Tessa’s perceived betrayal of her secret hookups with Jenna, and Tessa for the very real way Dalia helped break up Tessa and Ryan.
Tessa’s rediscovered assertiveness also speaks to something creator Emily Kapnek says the show has been trying to do all season: Have the characters change without always commenting on it.
“We really tried to grow story lines, essentially, and have things happen to these characters that we weren’t necessarily mining for stories but that were palpable changes within them,” Kapnek tells Zap2it. “Like the softening of Tessa, where she gets to the end and is like, ‘Oh my God, what happened to me?’ She and George can look up at the end of Season 2 and go, ‘Jesus Christ. What a far cry from when we first moved here.'”
For George especially, the finale brought the sky down on his world a little. Not only is his daughter looking to reunite with her mom, but Dallas has also left, leaving him with an empty new house and just a big stray dog (and Dalia — more on that in a minute) to share it with him. George was not wrong in his speech to Dallas about her needing to love herself again before she can love him — but Dallas also has a point in saying that George might be more committed to the practical side of their relationship than the emotional one. That’s why their final scene together is so tough — George buying the house was an overreach, but you feel like if they could just talk some more and maybe step back from their headlong rush* into living together, things would work out.
(*One complaint about the finale: The show may have been a little too subtle in delving into the doubts George and Dallas have about one another. Their past disagreements have been repaired pretty easily, so this big blowup felt a little bit hurried.)
As for Dalia, for all the insane things we’ve seen her do in the past few weeks, it’s clear that she’s developed a bond with George (after the finale, too, it seems even more clear that the photos of him that Lisa discovered in Dalia’s desk were pieces of her Tessa revenge plot, not an expression of romantic interest). George will also put Tessa first, but right now Dalia can at least help him deal with all the pain he’s feeling at losing his daughter.*
(*About those sepia-toned images of Tessa and Alex we see while George sings “Pleasant Nightmare”: They’re meant to represent George’s “worst-case scenario,” Kapnek says. “On the one hand, it’s his deepest, darkest fear, and on the other hand, that’s the bittersweet beauty of being a parent and being a divorced parent. You have these moments for your kid — you want the best for them and want them to be happy, and sometimes it comes at your own expense,” she says. “It’s certainly not what George would have wanted and certainly now how he would have envisioned spending Tessa’s last year of high school, apart from her. But in that moment, wondering if she’s happy and content and getting exposure to a mom who hasn’t been around, it’s not the worst thing in the world either. So he’s just playing that out in his mind.”)
Tessa, meanwhile, has found her mom again at a time when she really needs her — albeit maybe too conveniently. Kapnek says Alex’s reappearance may be a little “opportunistic” since she knows, thanks to Tessa’s grandmother, that George and Tessa are at odds. There’s also no guarantee Malin Akerman will return next season — as Kapnek noted in our interview, Akerman is both a brand-new mother and committed to a pilot in contention for next season.
It seems inevitable that Tessa and George will make up, but it doesn’t seem like the show can just hit the reset button at the start of next season. Too much happened in the finale for that to work, and that’s probably good. “Suburgatory” has never been afraid of letting its characters grow, and even when it takes them to a little bit gloomier place, that still makes for good TV.
What did you think of the “Suburgatory” finale? Where do you want the show to go in a possible third season?