'Cougar Town' Season 4 finale: Fate and a funeral

cougar-town-season-finale-tbs.jpgWhen Season 4 of "Cougar Town" began airing on its new home, TBS, Jules Cobb was in the first week of wedded bliss with Grayson, whom she sweetly wed in Season 3, the last season to air on original network ABC. The stakes for the character had reached a low point, which is saying something considering this show's kept it relatively low-stakes since the day it premiered. And it wasn't until midway through the 15-episode season that the writers introduced the new great worry in Jules' life: the health of her father, Chick.

Forcing Jules, and the rest of the Cul-de-Sac Crew, to acknowledge their own mortality and the mortality of those they hold dear gave the characters something serious to consider, as opposed to when they'd next pound some grape. That's not to say that "Cougar Town" became a telenovela overnight, but there was something present in each scene -- a sharpened focus in each interaction.

This was never more apparent than Laurie and Travis finally unable to avoid what they felt for one another, with last week's episode ending with Laurie on Trav's doorstep, spilling her guts. So, where did they go from there? As tonight's finale began, we find the two stuck in the awkward reality that it's difficult for friends to transition into something more. It was refreshing to see the show go this route, rather than throw the two into fairytale romance right off the bat.

Throughout the hour, the couple felt as though they were fighting fate, with every one of their attempts to have a first kiss interrupted, whether by Travis' peeping-tom roommates or hotel room squatter Bobby. Of course, in the final moments, fate conspired to bring the two together in the most perfect of circumstances. Where will we find these two next season? That's up to, you guessed it, fate. (Well, and a handful of writers, natch.)

Apart from Laurie and Travis' nascent romance, the hour was mostly dedicated to Jules and Chick. With her dad in town to house sit while the crew vacationed in the Bahamas, Jules learned that Chick hadn't gone for a check-up for five years. While that didn't exactly add up, considering Chick's last appearance involved an injury that had to have been treated by a doctor, it did set Jules on a mission: Get her dad to a doc.

There's a humorous moment where Chick acts just like a dog who's been tricked into going to the vet, but when Jules is finally able to get him there, she's hit with a punch to the gut. Turns out Chick has been at the doctor and he's experiencing memory problems. That's right, it's the early stages of Alzheimer's.

The scene where Jules and Grayson sit everyone down to break the news, telling them that they'd all approach it as a family, was an authentic, grounded moment in a series that can, at times, teeter on the edge of cartoon.

In light of the news, Jules changes the gang's Bahamas trip to a jaunt to Hollywood, to give her dad what he'd always wanted: A night in the company of Tippi Hedren. She's driven by the need to give her dad this one last memory that he'll hopefully never forget, even though the reality that he may soon forget her is weighing heavily on her chest.

This being a TV show, Jules, of course, succeeds. But it's a brief victory and, though the characters don't address it, they know it. Chick is still sick. Life goes on, fair or not. Let's just be thankful TBS is giving this little show the opportunity to go on, too.

Oh, and as for that funeral? Let's all pour one out for Big Lou. He may be irreplaceable, but Big Tippi ought to fill in just nicely.

Spare Observations:

- Whatever it takes to keep the lights on, guys, but that AutoTrader.com product placement (along with the Target storyline a few weeks back) felt a tad awkward. Please see "30 Rock" for the correct way to make in-show advertising funny.

- "No one's dumb enough to believe we're going to a bikini contest." No one, but Bobby Cobb, that is.

- According to the senior citizens of Gulfhaven, the perfect impersonation of Clint Eastwood is as follows: "Make my day... Hello, chair."

- The greatness that is Laurie: "No one's ever made me a stalker video I didn't have to see in a courtroom first. I love it."

- Also: "I once made out with a girl in front of a bunch of dudes, but in my defense, one of them had bought me a shot."

- And: "Laurie has a score to settle with Christina Aguilera over a bitch-slapping incident that occurred during Mousketeer tryouts."

- The responses Andy gets when, during his ethnicity identity crisis, he asks the group what they see when they look at him: "A Mario Brother," "a Land's End model," "a bisexual bowler," and "a bald guy." (Never change, Jules.)

- Grayson's homemade audition reel was perfect. Just perfect. More of that in Season 5, please.
Photo/Video credit: TBS
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