Well, we’re here and it’s the last episode ever of Togetherness. (Sob.) The good news is that even though the creators didn’t plan for this to be the series finale (check back tomorrow for my interview with the Duplass brothers), they at least left us with what is really a pretty satisfying conclusion. The bad news is… Well, you know what the bad news is. Anyone else already missing the end of this one?
Anyway, back to the beginning of the episode: Michelle and Tina watch the big Dune show and… How to describe it? It’s really pretty bananas and seems pretty terrible. (That said, I know a bunch of dudes who would probably love it.) Tina and Michelle’s faces sort of say it all — a mixture of horror and amazement at just how intense said horror is.
When it’s over they act like the guys did a great job! And then turn to each other to whisper furiously about what a disaster this is. Says Michelle: “They put so much work into this. How? Why?” Tina’s response is that it’s stupid-ass Dune (she phrases this more strongly), and they both wonder why they wasted so much time and lost so much sleep for the great sand caper. Michelle starts to panic as she realizes she’s screwed and this means the school will end up being Anna’s dumb Petite Village overpriced nonsense. Plus, she’s not sure how to totally crush the boys’ dumb Dune dream.
Tina is going to but chickens out, saying she has to go to the gynecologist to see how her baby making machinery is doing because tick-tock. Alex follows her out and tells her he wants to go with her. Why? He knows that the conversation that’s about to happen between Brett and Michelle will be a doozy, and what’s more, he knows that the Dune show is as awful as they do. He was doing it for Brett. Aw, Alex.
Back with Brett and Michelle, he’s optimistically asking if he can make some tweaks and she is like, dude, there’s not enough tweaks in Tweaktown to save this thing. They’re starting to fight about it when the phone rings — it’s the hospital, and little Sophie has been in an accident!
Alex is chilling in the car with Frank when he gets a desperate call from Michelle — Tina and Alex happen to be at the same hospital where Sophie has been brought into the ER, and Michelle asks Alex to go there until they can arrive.
Brett is driving like a world-class maniac. He’s swerving, he’s speeding, this electric car finally has some go! Michelle is trying to reason with him, but the dude has some real crazy road rage. He’s literally driving through trees with a maniacal gleam in his eyes when he crashes right into a barrier on the shoulder. Metaphor for something, or just really bad driving? You decide.
Meanwhile, Alex calls Tina. She’s in the stirrups, but when she hears what happened, she rushes to the ER. (A lot of personal growth for our Tina, who puts her own cares aside without a moment’s hesitation. Perhaps a natural mother, after all.) She gets there, frantic, and finds Alex waiting. Sophie fell off the monkey bars and broke both arms but is okay. She comes out — and really, what in the world is sadder than a little girl with two giant casts up her little arms? She asks where her parents are just as Brett and Michelle call and try to talk to her. But she won’t speak to them. Little girl sadness and rage! Tina covers and tells them they’ll meet them back at the house.
They’re home waiting when the gang arrives from the hospital. Sophie has a very grave look on her face, and Brett goes for the easy kid appeasement and asks if she wants some ice cream, but she turns it down, saying she’s just tired. (A true sad adult response if ever I heard one.) Michelle rises to take her to bed, but Sophie grabs Tina and says that she wants Tina to do it.
Little kids really know how to turn the knife, right? It’s a real gut punch. Who knows if this is a reaction to all the marital tension she’s subliminally absorbed or if Sophie just acting out or if Tina is just her safe place but it’s all pretty awful.
Next: The futures of the school and our heroes are on the line.
The four adults lounge on the couch, each looking fairly defeated. Michelle starts to cry talking about how much she wanted this for Sophie and all the neighborhood kids and now her daughter isn’t even talking to her. Tina tries to cheer her up, as does Alex and Brett, but Michelle has had it, says as much, and walks outside and starts to cry.
The next day, messes are being cleaned up. Sophie doesn’t want to go to school because she thinks she looks like a monster and they go to the charter school building where the boys are breaking down the Dune stuff. But wait! Sophie is totally charmed by a Sandworm (she’ll learn eventually), and that’s when Michelle has her eureka moment (again, thanks Dune!) as to how they’ll save the school. They’ll create something that will be educational and interactive.
Next, we get a montage of our gang hard at work. My favorite moment is seeing Tina full-on welding which is even hotter than her white jeans. Some friends arrive to help—they’re the ones from the season one kick the can adventure—and Sophie is bossing everyone around sweetly, simply bursting with imagination.
Across the way, Anna has a harp player — of course. Her side of things is very sterile and, judging from the kids’ faces, incredibly boring. She makes a speech, and yeah, she’s just the worst. Even the parents in the crowd look annoyed thanks to this environment. But then there’s a shriek from outside, and Sophie comes running in, dressed in full colorful costume. She turns very seriously to a little redheaded boy and says, “Want to come to another planet?” See, Dune lives! Like a little pied piper, Sophie brings then all over to where a very impressive sight awaits them. It’s like Neverland on steroids.
Alex is hanging from the ceiling like Ziggy Stardust; Brett is in a robot suit; Tina is wearing a rug and looks like an exotic bird; and Michelle is a tree. Sophie (it should be said here that Abby Ryder Fortson has turned into quite a little actress) tells the kids that they need their help protecting this new strange planet, and then, after a brief moment of hesitation, they join in and have an absolute ball. Sure, there’s probably important lessons being learned about construction and irrigation, but really isn’t the point that Michelle has totally kicked ass? Everyone is so happy! The vote turns out to say as much, and let’s all together say it: Suck it, Anna! The good guys win this one!
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Michelle and Brett get to the house, and she takes the kids inside and puts them to bed. He crosses the threshold, sees the door has been left, very tellingly, open. Michelle comes back, and they gaze at each other a little shyly. He begins: He tells her he’s been thinking about it and how much he hated what she said to him. She starts to apologize, and he stops her and tells her she’s apologized enough. “I owe you an apology,” he says. “You were right. I’ve just been really self-involved and lorded it over you and was really selfish.” Is this the greatest apology of all time? Perhaps. It feels fantastic. It’s also a little scary to think how easily this could have gone the other way. Oh life, you are so fragile.
He then says what we all (with the exception of Natalie) have wanted to hear: “I guess what I’m asking is — if it’s okay with you — I want to come home.” His voice breaks on the last word; Michelle’s eyes fill with tears. She tells him that she really wants that, too, and then they hug and kiss and it’s wonderful.
Of course, their problems haven’t disappeared, but this is a promise to keep working together as a team. It feels right.
Back at the school, Tina and Alex halfheartedly bicker as he tries to help her out of her costume. Then, he takes a second to think with her somewhat trapped and lays one big, hot, amazing kiss on her. And this is wonderful, too! They start getting down (my favorite part is when he yells “get off!” to his own shirt), and when she asks if he has a condom and he says no, they keep on keeping on. Yowza.
So there you have it. It’s tempting to imagine what would have happened next season: Tina and Alex with a baby? Michelle running a school? Would Dudley teach a class? Does Alex suddenly have a million dollars and star on a TV show? Does Brett have a new career, or is he still working on Dune? Do they get a car that runs on gas? Is Natalie okay?
But maybe this is the way things were meant to end: full of love and terrific possibility.
(But that doesn’t mean I’m letting you off the hook, HBO! Oh, Togetherness, I will miss you. Nothing gold can stay.)