In the last episode ever, the characters — and the viewers — learn that life is supposed to surprise you

By Jennifer Armstrong
June 06, 2006 at 12:00 PM EDT
Warner Bros.
  • TV Show

There’s nothing better than a well-earned sap-fest: that crucial opportunity that comes along, every once in a great while, to get your happy ending, to experience a moment better than you’d dared to hope, after you’ve been through a hell of a lot of crap to get there. True in TV as in life — just as Everwood has always been.

The series finale (words it literally pains me to type when it comes to this show) gave us, for once, everything we expected. But unlike, say, the main characters on Friends or Sex and the City — fine shows in their own right — the folks in our beloved Colorado burg have suffered through so much painfully real drama that their grand gestures and poetic professions of love did not tempt us to roll our eyes. They only jerked tear after deserving tear — all of them joyful.

The two-hour sobfest subtly (for the most part) took us through moments with every once-contentious relationship in town and showed us how they’ve quietly inched toward resolution, from Andy and Ephram out in front of their house (where they had that seminal ”I hate you!”/”Well, I hate you right back!” fight in the pilot) discussing whether Dad will propose to Nina, to Harold and Andy (who even made a reference to their first confrontational ”cute meet”) having a heart-to-heart about, well, the same sitch.

And, finally — as evidenced by the above-referenced Nina fixation — all of our star-crossed, long-tortured lovers started acknowledging their feelings for each other at the same time, in that way that can only happen in a series finale (ouch, yes, it never does get any easier to type those words). Frankly, I couldn’t get enough of the sappy romance stuff, either, after all the painful tears I’ve shed for these folks. Hell, this is the series that was killing main characters before it was cool — remember Colin’s botched brain surgery? The series that put poor Dr. Brown in love with an HIV-positive chick and a woman whose husband (his patient!) was brain-dead. The series that, in this season alone, nearly killed vision of hotness Reid in a suicide attempt and most evolved character Bright (how brilliant has Chris Pratt become in this role?) in a fall through a plate-glass window before sending cuddly Irv to his maker with a heart attack. It’s about time for some unabashedly good news.

But before we could get to the much-discussed proposal, we had to, unfortunately, dispose of darling, dimpled doc Jake, who was fixing to haul Nina off to California with him. To that end, the new, proactive Ephram — having learned all kinds of lessons from fathering a kid he never knew and playing father figure to his piano prodigy this year — confronted Jake at the coffee shop about taking Nina away from her rightful place in Everwood. But Jake, bless his heart, offered up the kind of heartfelt lecture only Scott Wolf could get away with delivering, about how ”life is supposed to surprise you” and ”there are windows that don’t stay open forever.” Which, of course, we realize applies to everyone in town, and, in fact, to all of us in the human race. Sigh.

Amy, meanwhile, was realizing those same lessons about her love for Ephram (recently rekindled upon watching him canoodle with exceptionally awesome new girlfriend Stephanie). ”The Ephram-and-I thing, it’s a long story,” Amy said, ”and I think we all deserve a little closure.” I couldn’t agree more, even though we know those two will end up breaking up about 87 times before ever settling down for good (and let’s hope so, what with them being mere college freshmen). But I did also kinda love Stephanie despite myself, with her witty banter and her cute kissing of Ephram in the jewelry store.

As far as Jake went, he sealed his own fate at the airport by actually saying what he felt — namely, that he wasn’t too keen on finding out Andy had bought his girlfriend an engagement ring. ”I don’t want just part of your heart; I want all of it,” he told Nina before getting on the plane without her (another line it takes a special, special actor on a special, special show to pull off; Scott Wolf was born for Everwood). ”I never expected to find love here in the first place, or to find myself,” he continued. ”And I did both because of you.” For the record, I’m still not sold on Nina as the magical angel capable of redeeming both Scott Wolf and Treat Williams, but I do love the parallels between broken big-city recovering addict Jake and broken big-city recovering workaholic Andy. So I’m willing to go with it.

And I’m really willing to go with Drunk Amy, anywhere, any time. In this case, she was drunk on kosher wine at Delia’s bat mitzvah. (”Be proud, girlfriend, you are a woman!” she slurred, hugging a stunned Delia. Emily VanCamp’s comic timing throughout this episode, incidentally, reached a whole new level. Get this girl at least a juicy guest spot on Gilmore Girls, CW.) It’s also nice to see the drinking as simply a way for Amy to drown her sorrows — not an Important Lesson in the Evils of Underage Imbibing nor a convenient excuse for her to blurt out her feelings for Ephram. That was to come soon enough, and soberly, as it should.

Amid all the romantic push-and-pull, Rose and Harold managed to get the baby they’ve been aching for — a chance they thought they’d lost because of Rose’s history of cancer. (See how much these folks need a break?) Harold’s schizophrenic patient, who’d just given birth, left her newborn on their porch and skipped town. And Andy clearly mended his sometimes-tense relationship with daughter Delia, as evidenced by their arrival home from her party. ”Have I told you how great you were tonight?” he said, but that was nothing compared with how he watched her walk up the stairs. Seriously, this episode was the death of a whole box of Kleenex. (A few scenes later, he gave her the pony he’d promised her when they first moved to Everwood, which was a nice bit of closure, but he had me at that look.)

With most of that parent-child stuff out of the way, it was time for the epic romantic stuff: Nina was back from the airport and waiting in Andy’s kitchen; Ephram was expressing concern to Bright about whether Amy had gotten home safe the night before. (Bright — did I mention how much I love him? — just scoffed, in his brilliant Bright way, ”You think there’s juice left in that box, but there isn’t.”) Amy was taking action the way only a women’s studies major can — by meeting with her rival, Stephanie, to tell her she was going to make another play for Ephram. ”Sisterhood above all, woo-hoo!” she said by way of explanation.

And Bright, for his own part, had Hannah’s possible departure to contend with when she told him she’d gotten a full ride to Notre Dame. She was, however, still considering nearby A&M, too, despite its lesser academic reputation. ”The only reason I’m considering it is because you guys are here,” she said. ”Which is a huge pro.” And while it was easy to get wrapped up in the grandness of the Amy-Ephram and Andy-Nina resolutions, it was Hannah’s final action — happily dropping her A&M acceptance into the mailbox — that showed us what this series was all about. A lazier show would’ve sent her to Notre Dame to demonstrate the properly independent, achievement-minded American Way. But Everwood has always put relationships above all — and, in fact, has disparaged the idea of achievement at every turn — a commitment it stuck to in the end.

The rest of the show, I must admit, was a teary blur for me. As soon as Andy, standing at his late wife’s grave, said, ”It was you I wanted to be this guy for,” I was pretty useless. And don’t even start me on the Amy-and-Ephram montage. There was a proposal from Andy, and an acceptance from Nina. There was this bit where Amy rented a Ferris wheel to stand before as she declared her love for Ephram, but all I really cared about was that he said it back and kissed her.

Here’s the one coherent thing I did manage to write down from that whole sequence, something Ephram said to Andy just before the proposal, and something that just so happens to sum up my feelings about the series finale: ”I’m so used to things not working out the way they’re supposed to that I get a little freaked out when they do.” Consider me equally freaked out, thrilled for my Everwoodians, wistful about their departure from my life…oh, and really pissed at The CW.

What do you think? Was this a worthy finale? What were your favorite moments? And was there anything you wish had turned out differently?

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