I’m back, Popwatchers. I apologize for deserting you without fair warning, but if you’re willing to forgive me, and if somebody could just dim the lights, we can get started. We’ll just pretend that I never went away (to a magical place called Australia) for a short while (okay, two-plus weeks) during one of the more dismal three-episode stretches (look! they can ride bikes!) in recent memory.

So… yeah, last night’s episode wasn’t exactly a thriller, either. We’ve been building all season to Adele’s big moment, but at best, it was a tepid retread of too many other blackmail scenes from too many mediocre boardroom-barracuda scenes in too many bad movies. I don’t know about you, but watching Adele vamp through her big reveal last night just made me want to go back and watch The Temp or something. I’ve had my issues with this whole sex-tape situation since things started to get messy in Jenny and Niki’s Arabian Nights tent last week; if Adele can ostensibly take control of an entire movie shoot right under the director and producers’ noses, couldn’t she have come up with a better blackmail scheme than this? And weren’t we already here in season 2, when Jenny, Shane, and Carmen all learned that Mark had been secretly taping their sexy time via hidden cameras? There’s something rather anticlimactic about the way this storyline has played out. Come on, L Word! If you’re going to subject us to a laughable third-tier “storyline” like Kit’s Adventures With Firearms (for the love of Pete, what was that?), then you owe us some serious fireworks on the Les Girls front. Because I was disappointed in Adele’s quietly detonated bomb; in my head, I was building up the big confrontation to look something like this, or perhaps this.

addCredit(“The L Word: Paul Michaud”)

And how about Niki’s betrayal of Jenny? Did anybody really expect her toagree to walk off the set when Jenny had her JerryMaguiremoment? I didn’t; Nikki was never more than a sounding boardfor Jenny’s ego, and while the two of them had palpable chemistry — MiaKirshner was positively glowing during all of this season’s big rompswith costar Kate French — Niki never seemed like the loyal type in thefirst place. What about you? Do you think Niki did the right thing?Here’s what I think: Yes, she did… and if you were paying anyattention to those Jenny/Shane bonding scenes last night, you probablypicked up on what I’m now predicting will be the show’s banner couplingin next year’s sixth and final season.

The Bette/Jodi saga seems, mercifully, to have ended. No JenniferBeals driving a tractor for this year’s season finale, kids! I’ve beenpretty hard on Jodi (Marlee Matlin, pictured) in this space for thebetter part of nearly two years, and if Jodi isn’t back next season, Ican’t say I’ll miss her too much. I did feel for her tonight, though:Bette threw so much horse-puckey at her, and Jodi… well, Jodi may notbe an awkward late bloomer like Phyllis, but she can be so desperatelyall over the map that it’s off-putting. Last night was a prime example:First she told Bette that she wanted to talk, then she tried to guiltBette into going to work, then she went home with Bette and tried toseduce her, then she lost it when Bette wanted to stop and get going towork, then she calmed down enough to have a civilized are-we-breaking-up-like-NOW!? conversation, then she threatened to never let Bette go, then she followed Bette back to the school (did everybody playing The L Worddrinking game at home take a shot when Bette’s little-seen assistantJames popped up?), then she tried strong-arming Bette into couples’therapy (“You owe it to me!”), then she threatened to kill herself, andthen she gave Bette an expensive gift before giving in to Bette andwalking out anyway. Manic!

We’ll meet back here one last time to discuss the season finale nextMonday, and I’d like you to share your answers to a few more questions:Are you happy with this season of The L Word? What have beenyour favorite and least favorite story arcs? Are Alice and Tashadoomed? Should Shane and Jenny finally give in and become more thanjust friends? Will Bette and Tina finally reunite? Have we seen thelast of Jodi? And do Dawn Bimbo and Lover Cindi — the Boris and Natashaof this series, God bless ’em — have one final blowup in store for us?

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