Ending With a Bang and a Whimper
For as long as I can remember, talking soaps with people in my everyday life would lead to pity (on their part), discomfort (on mine) and the all too frequent use of the phrase "Oh, my nana watches that!"
Few people were ever willing to go on the record as watching, let alone loving, soap operas, so I was seriously flummoxed when 1:55 last Friday afternoon (goodness, has it been that long already? I really didn't mean for my mourning period to take quite that long! I was away last weekend and then apparently spent the rest of the week in sort of a cold medicine induced fog) came around and my phone practically exploded with All My Children related texts and Facebook messages.
"Are you all right?"
"How can that be the last AMC?"
"I can't believe it's over!"
"I can't believe JR!"
"I will never watch The Chew"
"What the fuck?!"
Some of these missives were, of course, from AMC fans and people concerned about my soapy well-being, but many were from people who "never" watched soaps, "ever", "at all"! I'm friends with a bunch of liars who just can't resist Erica Kane.
Or couldn't, I guess. Couldn't resist Erica Kane and her enormous hair and staggering inability to dress for her age and climate.
While the past few years saw the bad outweighing the good in Pine Valley in record numbers, the series finale did so much more right than it did wrong--flashbacks! Speeches! That adorable moment with Miranda, Spike, and AJ reciting the "All My Children" poem, like what could possibly be fucking cuter?! Brooke and Adam getting engaged!. It's just that what was wrong...was wrong. So very wrong.
I still question the need for a cliffhanger--the people who are going to follow AMC online will do so regardless and would be all too willing to accept a "Hey, isn't it weird that, like, half of the people in town moved away, all at the same time?" explanation for the absence of certain characters; I mean, we gladly worked with the whole Project Orpheus thing, right?
And JR's angry lurking throughout the episode got to the point where it was hilarious. Can you imagine being Jacob Young? "What did you do your last day on set?" "I hid in tunnels and made angry, angry faces". I hope he took a nap the next day so that his facial muscles could relax a bit from all the apoplectic contorting they had to do.
But--and this is going to show how much of an ABC Daytime viewer I am--I anticipated a cliffhanger much, much worse. I knew there was going to be a cliffhanger; I knew JR would finally shoot at least one person with the gun that got more screentime this week than Frankie and Randi got all year. I just assumed that it would be a bloodbath. Like, corpses all over the Chandler mansion and blood on the walls and someone, maybe Joe, saying something like, "You've killed all my children!" So this ambiguous, although downbeat, ending was sort of a welcome reprieve from the conclusions I was leaping to.
*If David can bring people back from the dead, he ought to be able to bring anybody who got shot at the end of this episode back from the dead too, right? So...weird cliffhanger. Unless JR just offed himself, in which case most of Pine Valley would just gingerly step over his body and continue partying or, as Colby said, "Whoop[ing] it up a little bit".**
**When Daniel Cosgrove did his dorky "Raise the Roof" dance during the talk of the party for Stuart, I just about passed out from the cuteness. Get this man a show, ASAP!
And everything before that was so, so wonderful and so, so tear-inducing. Here are just a few of the things that made me cry:
- The flashbacks. All of the beautiful flashbacks!
- Oh...my god.
Stuart: Are you sure I'm not dreaming?
Marian: No. No, darling. This is my dream, and I dream it every night -- that you've come back to me. And then I wake up, and it's a dream.
I...amazing. Just amazing. I was so happy that Marian got a happy ending--I had worried that she was just roaming around Pine Valley in her velour tracksuit, like a deranged Real Housewife. And David Canary! Can I gush again, some more about him? Because I so want to. It was so good to have him back as Stuart and to have the writers right that most offensive wrong.
- The name Babe ate up so much airtime this week and during this finale that I've grown to hate it as a term of endearment in general.
- Brooke bought the Chandler Mansion! Three cheers for a happy ending for Adam Chandler (until it turns out that his son is either a mass murderer or a suicide victim, either of which he will be blamed for in perpetuity)!
- Every time ABC aired a commercial for The Chew--including over AMC'S LAST CREDITS, EVER--I found myself grappling with an urge to cry and retch at the same time.
- WINIFRED! I can't even tell you how delighted I was when Adam called her name and when she gleefully bounded down the stairs.
- The end of Jack and Erica. On one hand, it was expected--I mean, it's Erica, the most dramatic of drama queens. On the other hand, it was sort of depressing that such a popular, important couple in AMC lore didn't get their happy ending. On another, freakish hand, it tickled me that Jack so casually tossed a Rhett Butler line in Erica's direction. I am sort of a little heartless.
- All of this.
Tad: Ok. All right. Fine. Um -- it's funny, because at a time like this, there's always so much that you want to say. There are so many people that mean so much, and you can't find the words. But I've been thinking about it, and I've come up with three: Neighbors, family, and friends. I found all of them here. It's been my home, the best years of my life -- not to mention the beautiful woman standing beside me. Here's hoping she stays there.
Tad: And then again, there are all these amazing people that should be here and aren't, who deserve to be here, that have meant so much. And some of them I'm sure, sooner or later, they're gonna get around to buying a ticket home. Usually they do. And then there are others who -- who, sadly, can't. But, uh, I'd bet my life on one thing -- that if they were all here, they would remind us what a miracle this place is..
Tad: You're my dear, dear friends. What would I do without you? I met you back in high school. Now -- now we all have kids that said good-bye to high school a long time ago. How the hell did that happen? But it's because of the love and the help of everybody, everybody in this room, because that's how Pine Valley works. Always has, always will. In tragedy and triumph, we come together. I wish the rest of my kids were here to see this, you know, because this is -- this is something to remember, folks. We'll be talking about this for a long time. But then again, I always like to think that no matter what, my family and all my children -- they're always with me. So here's how. What do you say?
Every single beautiful, earnestly delivered word. This wasn't Tad talking to a snazzily attired group of friends and acquaintances; it was Michael E. Knight talking to his co-workers and his viewers. And it was amazing.