Grading the Season Finales 2014: New Girl

new girl cruise

Title Cruise (3.23)

Written By Luvh Rakhe & Rob Rosell

What Happens? When Nick and Jess can’t get a refund on the couples’ cruise they booked back when they were dating, they decide to bring all of their roommates along to keep things from being awkward. That plan falls apart when a day spent taking part in activities that were part of their “Grand Romance Package” leads to Nick trying to kiss Jess.

As Nick and Jess make the decision to abandon hopes of a friendship, Coach struggles with his fear of boats and water, and Cece keeps trying to get a signal to talk to her boyfriend. Schmidt initially plans to give Cece a class ring to celebrate her getting her GED (and to try to win her back), but Winston knows this is a bad idea and “accidentally” causes the ring to go overboard. With his grand gesture ruined, Schmidt takes a moment to see that Cece is really happy in her new relationship and decides not to pursue her now.

Winston and the rest of the group plan an intervention in their stateroom to help Nick and Jess accept that can still be friends. Although the intervention proves to be a success, the aftermath is not pretty; the group gets themselves locked in their stateroom for three days. When the cruise is over, Nick and Jess decide that they can still be friends, but one of them has to move out of their room. Schmidt comes up with a plan to solve everything: He and Nick can have bunk beds in his room like they did in their college days.

Game-Changing Moment Ever since Nick and Jess broke up, the loft and the show itself has felt stifled by the awkward situation of two people living in the same room after their relationship ended. By ending this finale with Nick deciding to move into Schmidt’s room, the show seemed to be setting up a fourth season that isn’t as heavy with awkwardness and angst as these last few episodes have been. The comedic potential of Nick and Schmidt sharing a room has already been shown in flashbacks to their college days, so this move will almost assuredly shake up the loft dynamics in a fun way next season. Also, the move seemed slightly meta to me, acknowledging the strange writing choice to keep them in the same room and admitting that it’s not working. By moving Nick out of the room, I’m hopeful that the writers will be moving away from having Nick and Jess’s storylines revolve only around each other. Was this game-changing moment a huge one? No, but does seem like an important step on the road to fixing the show after it got off the rails this season.

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Grading the Season Finales 2014: The Mindy Project

danny and mindy

Title Danny and Mindy (2.22)

Written By Mindy Kaling

What Happens? When Mindy believes she’s having an email romance straight out of You’ve Got Mail with the cute stranger she saw on the subway, she breaks things off with Charlie to pursue “Andy,” who is actually Danny, desperately trying to be the kind of romantic man he thinks Mindy wants in an attempt to win her back. On her way to meet “Andy” at the top of the Empire State Building, Mindy makes a stop at Danny’s apartment (to get gum out of her hair). While Danny frantically tries to keep her from seeing him dressed up to meet her, Mindy reveals that she’s happy the two of them decided to call off their relationship because she remembered Danny saying that guys don’t break up with girls they really want to be with.

Thinking Mindy has no interest in him anymore, Danny doesn’t show up at the Empire State Building, so Mindy waits hours there for “Andy,” catching a cold. Danny brings her soup to help her recover, and the two of them begin spending more time together, seeing New York through each other’s eyes. However, a chance encounter with the guy Mindy thought was “Andy” forces Danny to confess that he lied to her and ultimately stood her up. When Mindy asks why he pretended to be someone else, he tells her it’s because he loves her. Mindy says doesn’t believe him because he was so quick to run away the last time they tried a relationship. When Danny begs her to meet him that night at the top of the Empire State Building, Mindy replies that accepting his offer would make her “the stupidest person alive.”

Later that night, the entire Shulman and Associates crew finds Mindy still working instead of meeting with Danny. They all try various ways to convince her that Danny really does love her. But the only one to get through to her is Peter, who shows her a memory box Danny keeps in his desk, which now holds a pair of her earrings. Mindy then goes to the Empire State Building but finds out she’ll have to walk up the stairs the whole way thanks to a broken elevator.

Mindy’s late arrival and slow ascent had Danny convinced she wasn’t coming, so his coworkers find him eating pizza instead of waiting for her. They tell him that Mindy really is on her way, so he begins a mad dash through the New York City streets to reach her (including getting hit by a car). Once at the top of the building, Danny finds Mindy sprawled out on the ground, exhausted from her trek up the stairs. He tells her he loves her and is “all in” in terms of their relationship. They decide to go on their first real date, end up arguing about the number and names of their future children, and seal the moment with a kiss.

Game-Changing Moment The Mindy Project started as a show about a woman obsessed with romantic comedies whose own love life was the antithesis of a Meg Ryan movie—aka a disaster. For two seasons, we watched Mindy Lahiri cycle through an endless parade of attractive hookups, boyfriends, and fiancés. Even her first attempt at a relationship with Danny was short-lived. But “Danny and Mindy” fundamentally shifted the show’s direction with three little words, “I’m all in.” Danny knows what those words really mean, and he knows what a huge step this is for him to say those words (and Mindy knows it, too). This is a character who—even in marriage—had trouble investing all of himself in a relationship. But Mindy wants something real, and she deserves nothing less. So with three words, Mindy’s string of short-term relationships might finally be over, ushering in a new era for the show—an era of telling the story of what happens after the characters in a romantic comedy get together with a kiss at the top of the Empire State Building. Mindy and Danny were already talking about kids by the end of this scene, so we know these aren’t just empty words. There’s a chance that The Mindy Project could be finally ready to go all in on telling not just a “will they/won’t they” story but a “they did, now what?” story. I am eager to see what comes next and hopeful that it will be handled with care, which is exactly what a good game-changing moment is supposed to make a viewer feel.

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Grading the Season Finales 2014: Parks and Recreation

This is the first of my regular shows that I review to have its finale this year, so I just want to say thanks to all of you who’ve read and commented on my Parks and Rec posts this season. It’s been a pleasure spending the season in Pawnee with all of you! 



Title Moving Up (6.21/6.22)

Written By Aisha Muharrar & Alan Yang

What Happens? Leslie attends a National Parks conference in San Francisco, where some advice from Michelle Obama and Ben help her see that she needs to accept the job she was offered with the National Parks Department to head up their branch in Chicago. While in California, Ben discovers that his board game, The Cones of Dunshire, has taken off in popularity, and he’s later given the copyright to the game as a gift from the Pawnee accounting firm he keeps having to turn down.

Leslie’s decision to take the National Parks job is complicated by the experience of others in similar positions to hers in terms of the Pawnee-Eagleton merger, people who tell her it could take a decade of close involvement with both towns to make the merger work. In addition, her team at the Parks Department has her love for Pawnee commemorated on a statue.

Leslie must put aside her difficult decision to help finalize the Unity Concert, which Andy leads surprisingly without difficulty. The same can’t be said for the soft opening of Tom’s Bistro, which is disastrous, but April, Ron, Donna, and Craig inspire Tom to give it another try with an after party following the Unity Concert. The concert itself not only features performances from major musical acts (including Donna’s cousin Ginuwine), it reunites Mouse Rat and introduces all of Pawnee to Ron’s saxophone-playing alter ego, Duke Silver. That success is followed by another—Tom’s after party is a huge hit with national and Pawnee celebrities alike.

Feeling more torn than ever after such a successful event in the town she loves, Leslie seeks out Ron’s advice and finds him on the third floor of City Hall, which he completely restored over the course of the year. He tells Leslie that her ambition deserves more than what Pawnee can give her, and she can’t have everything she wants. However, Leslie is inspired to find a way to do exactly that. She convinces the National Parks Service to open their Midwest branch in Pawnee instead of Chicago.

The final moments of the finale flash forward three years into the future, where Leslie is running the National Parks Department branch in Pawnee, heading to an event for Ben (that requires him to wear a tuxedo), and leaving her young triplets with Auntie April and Uncle Andy for the evening.

Game-Changing Moment For six seasons, Leslie Knope has worked as an employee of the Parks Department of Pawnee, Indiana. Even when she was a city councilwoman, she never stopped being connected to that Parks Department. Heck, it’s the title of the show! Therefore, if Leslie leaving that Parks Department to take a job for the National Parks Service doesn’t qualify as a game-changing moment, then I’m not sure what does. Yes, she still lives and works in Pawnee. Yes, she still seems to be close to her friends. But the fundamental makeup of the show—a workplace comedy about local government—has been dramatically altered thanks to the events of “Moving Up.” And after a season that had many—myself included—feeling restless about the direction of the series, this game-changing moment was a breath of fresh air, a necessary step in the real story this show is trying to tell. Because at its heart, Parks and Recreation isn’t a story about local government; it’s a story about Leslie Knope, and Leslie’s story needed this change.

That could have been enough to change the foundation of Parks and Rec, but the show went one step further with the final-minute time jump. Taking these characters three years into the future opened up new avenues of storytelling that would have taken too long to develop any other way. It shook up the sense of stasis that existed for most of this season in a major way, and it created a sense of eager anticipation for next season.

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Grading the Season Finales 2014: Scandal


Title The Price of Free and Fair Election (3.18)

Written By Shonda Rhimes and Mark Wilding

What Happens? Jake tells Fitz about the bomb Maya Pope planted in the church (which Cyrus was still not going to tell him about), prompting an evacuation of the church just as the bomb goes off. As Fitz delivers a speech, Sally is shown helping the wounded among the rubble of the church, and it becomes clear that Fitz is about to lose the election.

Olivia confides in her father that she doesn’t want Fitz to lose and that she was scared Rowan was going to die when her mother stabbed him. With Maya still on the loose and the election all but lost, tensions are running high in the White House. Things only get more complicated when Olivia tells Fitz about his father raping Mellie. Fitz goes to his wife, and both he and Olivia understand that he can’t leave her with this new knowledge. Instead, he and his family make an appearance together, but while Fitz is delivering his speech, his son Jerry collapses and later dies from bacterial meningitis.

Jerry’s death is revealed to be no accident: A vial containing a strain of the disease was stolen, and all signs point to Maya. A grieving Fitz gives Rowan permission to do whatever he has to do to bring her down, which means reinstating himself as Command of B-613.

As Fitz and Mellie mourn together, Olivia and Cyrus contemplate their humanity: Were they always monsters whose first thoughts are winning elections, which they know will happen now with the public support thrown behind Fitz after Jerry’s death? Olivia is confronted with a way to rediscover her humanity when Huck reveals Quinn found his family. While he ultimately decides to see them again, his words about disappearing inspire Olivia to take her father up on his offer of putting her on a plane to disappear forever—and she takes Jake with her.

With Olivia gone just like her father wanted, Harrison puts the pieces together to see that it wasn’t Maya who killed Jerry—it was Rowan. Olivia wanted Fitz to be president, so he made Fitz president, while taking away his son like Fitz took away Rowan’s daughter. Rowan then orders Harrison to be shot, and we see that he’s keeping Maya locked up once again.

As Olivia and Jake fly towards their new life, David receives boxes of files on B-613, and Olivia receives a phone call from the White House. It’s Mellie calling for Fitz, who has broken down under the weight of everything the presidency has cost him just before he’s set to deliver his victory speech. But Olivia chooses not to pick up.

Game-Changing Moment Scandal is famous for packing multiple game-changing moments into each episode—not just its finales. With so many shocking scenes in its short history, it’s rare that a Scandal twist can be genuinely upsetting anymore, but that’s exactly what young Fitzgerald Grant IV’s death was—upsetting. When none of the major characters in the church died in the bombing, I’m sure most people expected someone to die in a different way in this episode, but I’m not sure anyone expected the teenage son of the president to die in such a sudden and brutal manner. Jerry’s death was a horrifying moment, and it’s more even horrifying after discovering why he died. His death led to so many more game-changing moments in this finale: Rowan being reinstated as Command by Fitz; Fitz winning the election; Maya being recaptured; and, ultimately, the reveal that Rowan was the one who set up the boy’s death (which led to Harrison’s possible death as well). This twist also led to many of the episode’s most important moments of character growth: Olivia and Cyrus talking about becoming monsters; Mellie and Fitz softening towards each other in their grief; and Fitz breaking down in the Oval Office. It’s always a risk to kill off a kid (or in this case, a teenager), but Scandal made it a moment of huge importance while grounding it in very realistic grief.

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Grading the Season Finales 2014: Suits

Suits s3 finale


Title No Way Out (3.16)

Written By Aaron Korsh and Daniel Arkin

What Happens? When Mike is taken in for questioning concerning the Hessington Oil settlement and the accusations of bribing witnesses, it becomes clear that U.S. Attorney Eric Woodall isn’t interested in Mike at all; he wants to bring down Harvey. Things get tricky for Mike and Harvey when it’s revealed that another attorney was also brought in for questioning: Harold Gunderson. When a meeting between Mike and Harold leads to their arrest, Harvey enlists Louis’s help to keep Harold from cracking under the pressure, while Harvey tells Mike to put all the blame on him.

It seems Harvey has been taking a look in the mirror, and he doesn’t like the man looking back at him. Despite the refrain of “You’re a good man, Harvey” that he keeps hearing, Harvey worries that he’s becoming the opposite of that, and Mike might pay the price for it. Jessica is also contemplating her role in the firm’s questionable practices and their affects on the family she’s built within Pearson Specter. Scottie’s role in that family changes dramatically when she voices her desire to leave. Harvey’s parting gift to her is to let her in on Mike’s secret, with a promise that he’s done lying to the people he loves.

Scottie isn’t the only one moving on from Pearson Specter. Mike is tired of lying and having other people lie to protect his secret. So he decides to take the investment banking job he was offered, making him a client of Pearson Specter and no longer an employee.

Game-Changing Moment I’m not sure it gets more quintessentially game-changing than Mike quitting Pearson Specter to take a job as their client instead. The entire premise of Suits was built around Mike’s secret and his relationships within Pearson Specter, especially his mentor/mentee relationship with Harvey. But it became clear that this premise couldn’t sustain a long-running series without turning the characters into unlikeable people and turning the plot into a predictable circle of people finding out, people almost finding out, and Mike still emerging unscathed. Something had to change. And something finally did. Mike’s exit was quietly powerful in the way it not only fundamentally altered the entire premise of the show but also in the way it highlighted something that doesn’t always happen on television: Actions have consequences. Mike’s secret took a huge emotional toll on him, and I thought Patrick J. Adams displayed that perfectly in this episode. It was time for him to do the right thing, and it was time for Harvey to give him permission to do the right thing. It’s not just the show’s plot that will change with Mike’s departure (although he’ll stay on as a client); Mike and Harvey’s relationship will be forever altered, too. I thought both Adams and Gabriel Macht gave that scene the emotional weight necessary to convey the impact of this decision on both Mike and Harvey. Will the show be able to sustain itself with Mike not being a lawyer anymore? I’m not sure. But it’s an interesting question to hold on to until we see how this all plays out next season.

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Grading the Season Finales 2014: Brooklyn Nine-Nine



Title Charges and Specs (1.22)

Written By Gabe Liedman & Gil Ozeri

What Happens? Jake is told to stop investigating a prominent community leader who he believes is laundering drug money. The whole team from the 99th precinct comes together to support Jake: Gina, Rosa, Terry, and Boyle advocate for him at his hearing; while Holt and Amy join Jake in an undercover operation at a dance contest to prove that he was right about the money laundering. It’s later revealed that Jake’s investigation could have compromised a larger FBI investigation into a major crime family. He’s asked to go undercover for six months to infiltrate this family, which means he has to make it appear as if he’s been fired from the NYPD.

The uncertainty of the next six months of his life leads Jake to tell Amy that he wishes they could be together—“romantic stylez”—but he knows that’s not possible because she has Teddy and he has to disappear without any contact for six months. Boyle also faces a relationship crossroads as Vivian calls off their engagement, leaving him pathetically heartbroken. Terry and Rosa try to help him cope by offering their best advice (although Rosa admits she’s not often heartbroken because she doesn’t give her heart to nice guys like Boyle), but he seems to find some solace in a drunken hookup with Gina, waking up next to her in the morning as the episode ends.

Game-Changing Moment Jake deciding to take the FBI undercover job didn’t just have huge ramifications for the plot of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, it furthered more than one important character-development arc as well. As far as plot progression goes, the show could choose to spend time next season with Jake as he goes undercover, or it could (and I think it will) use the six-month period to keep the show in real-time, picking up just after Jake’s time undercover has ended. But it’s certain that Jake will be a different character and a different detective because of these experiences, and everyone at the 99th precinct will be different after working for six months without Jake.

The real “game-changing” aspect of this plot twist, however, was what it revealed about Jake and Holt’s relationship, as well as it what it led to in terms of Amy and Jake’s relationship. Holt trusted Jake’s abilities enough to encourage him to take the undercover job, and Jake trusted Holt’s judgment enough to do what he was asking of him without knowing any details. The level of trust shown by these two characters towards one another represented a huge step in their relationship, which has steadily and believably developed since the pilot. Jake’s new assignment also forced him to come to terms with his feelings for Amy, whom he won’t be able to see for the next six months. The danger inherent in this assignment made his confession feel as appropriate as it could, and it will be interesting to see how those cards being laid on the table come into play next season.

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Grading the (Mid)Season Finales 2013: Suits

I know this episode of Suits wasn’t technically a season finale, but it feels right to treat it as such since it aired before such a long hiatus. 

Title Stay

What Happens? After Scottie agrees to help Harvey fight Ava Hessington’s lawsuit, both of them face depositions at the hands of Ava’s new attorney—Travis Tanner. Jessica warns Scottie that these depositions will get very dirty very quickly, which is proven when Tanner brings up Harvey and Scottie’s history, including Scottie cheating on her fiancé with Harvey. Tanner’s personal attacks against Scottie become too much for Harvey to take, and we begin to see that the part of him that cares for her is becoming more and more outspoken. However, Tanner doesn’t just attack Scottie’s character; he accuses her of knowing about Stephen Huntley’s murders, which Huntley attests to in a sworn statement.

There’s one factor Tanner and Huntley didn’t take into account when thinking of this plan, though, and that’s Donna and her dedication to helping Scottie because she knows how much Scottie means to Harvey. Taking Mike along with her, she gets Stephen to confess to lying about Scottie’s involvement, which is recorded by prison cameras. After that, Tanner’s partnership with Ava quickly begins to unravel, ending with the oil magnate dropping her lawsuit and Harvey emerging victorious over Tanner once again. Harvey and Scottie celebrate the victory with dinner and a proposal from Harvey for Scottie to join the firm. She declines because she wants more than to just work with Harvey. When she presses him to say more than his usual “I care about you,” Harvey’s cool exterior finally shows some signs of warmth, and he tells her that he wants more than just a working relationship; he wants her in his life.

Louis and Mike also find themselves with relationship struggles in this episode. Louis fails to recognize Sheila’s desire to be exclusive until it seems to be too late, and Mike is struggling with giving Rachel the space she needs to make her decision about Stanford and Columbia. That decision is made more difficult when Jessica discovers Mike and Rachel’s relationship and decides to act before anything could happen to cause Robert Zane’s daughter to reveal Mike’s secret. She gives Mike an affidavit to give to Rachel to sign, stating that she knows Mike is a fraud, which means her career would be destroyed too if anyone were to find out about Mike. The only other choice, Mike tells Rachel, is to go to Stanford.

It becomes clear, though, that Rachel doesn’t want to go to Stanford, so she’ll sign the affidavit—on one condition. She demands that Jessica drop the firm’s “Harvard-only” requirement for her because she knows she’s already better than most of the Harvard-trained associates they have. It appears Jessica agrees because Mike and Rachel’s storyline ends with the revelation that she’s going to Columbia and staying by Mike’s side.

As for Louis’s relationship, he finds Sheila in the Harvard Law records room and tells her that he wants an exclusive relationship with her. Elated, she leaves the room to call her mother, telling him not to touch any of the files. Of course, Louis can’t help himself, and he finds Harvey’s file. His search for Mike’s file is stopped short by a startling revelation: There is no “Mike Ross” in the Harvard Law system.

Game-Changing Moment There were plenty of moments that could be considered game-changers down the line: Rachel choosing Columbia and Mike over Stanford and a fresh start; Harvey opening up and pursuing a relationship with Scottie; Jessica dropping the Harvard-only rule for Rachel…But the biggest twist came when Louis discovered that Mike’s file isn’t in the Harvard Law system. It sets up a new conflict for the second half of this season, and it brings another person into the web of Mike’s secret. We all knew Louis had to find out eventually, but I like that it was done in a way that still made you feel the suspense even though you knew what was going to happen.

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Grading the Season Finales 2013: The Mindy Project

Title Take Me With You (1.24)

Written By Mindy Kaling and Jeremy Bronson

What Happens? After Mindy decides to go to Haiti with Casey, she attempts to prove herself capable of surviving in that environment during a camping trip with Danny, Christina, and Morgan. However, she soon finds herself wanting to go back on her decision and stay in New York instead. Rather than let Casey down, she decides to scare him off during their going-away party by demanding they get engaged before taking the trip together. Her plan backfires, though, when Casey attempts to propose, and Mindy is forced to tell him the truth: She doesn’t want to go to Haiti with him.

Following the successful delivery of triplets, Mindy and Danny both make big decisions about their relationships. Mindy realizes that Casey is worth the year in Haiti, and she proves this with a late-night trip to his apartment building and a pixie cut. Meanwhile, Danny decides to take a step back and slow down his reunion with Christina. After telling this to Mindy, the two share a moment that blurs the line between friends and something more—before Mindy tells him that she got back together with Casey and is going to Haiti for the year.

Game-Changing Moment With just one look, the dynamics on this show were suddenly changed forever. Danny’s quiet intensity and surprising softness as he looked at Mindy after cleaning her glasses couldn’t be mistaken for anything other than an intimacy far beyond friendship. For this whole season, the audience has been able to see the potential between these two characters, but it appeared that the characters were either unaware of it or unwilling to acknowledge the obvious chemistry between them. After this moment, though, neither will be able to ignore it any longer. Danny made himself vulnerable with her in a way we’ve never seen from him before, and that’s going to fundamentally alter their relationship—even if they both try to pretend like the moment didn’t happen. For someone as obsessed with romance as Mindy Lahiri, it’s going to be hard for her to ignore the fact that her closest male friend put himself out there in a romantic way with her, and it’s going to be interesting to see how that moment is handled at the start of Season Two.

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Grading the Season Finales 2013: New Girl

Title Elaine’s Big Day (2.25)

What Happens? It’s Cece’s wedding day, but Schmidt infers from an accidental look at the bride that she may not want to go through with it after all. Claiming to be working as her friend, he plans to “sabo” (aka sabotage) her wedding with the help of Nick and Winston. However, Nick is initially against this plan, not wanting to upset Jess and hoping to prove her father wrong about his immaturity. However, Nick is betrayed by his own “Cotton-Eyed Joe” CD; when it’s played during the ceremony, Jess assumes Nick is in on the plan and tells him he acts like a child. Feeling hurt, Nick decides to help Schmidt and Winston with the next phase of the sabotage operation, but things take a turn for the worse when the badger they plan to let loose escapes in the air ducts.

As Jess climbs into the ducts to try to stop the madness, Nick confronts her about her concerns about a relationship between the two of them, and Jess admits that a part of her is afraid that he’s too much of a mess to have a functional relationship with her. Their talk is interrupted, though, when they fall through the ceiling and literally crash the ceremony. The destruction seems to allow Cece to finally speak her mind: She doesn’t want to marry Shivrang because she’s in love with someone else (Schmidt). As for Shivrang, he has a secret love of his own named Elaine.

With the wedding officially called off, Nick and Jess do some calling off of their own, deciding that the one night they had together was enough, although it’s clear neither of them really wants to walk away from whatever they have. While Nick goes to drown his sorrows at the bar, Winston emerges from the air ducts with a nasty wound and some sage advice: Drinking and running away were the moves Nick’s dad always fell back on when things got hard, but they’re not the only moves. Schmidt seems to have never gotten that memo, though, as he runs from the room when faced with the choice between Cece and Elizabeth.

Unlike Schmidt, Nick doesn’t want to run away anymore. In fact, he’s ready to run to Jess, who he finds standing outside in tears over their decision to end whatever was happening between them. She asks Nick if they can un-call it, and he replies with a smile and a kiss. Laughing and bickering, the two drive off into the night towards a destination neither of them knows yet.

Game-Changing Moment While Nick and Jess’s relationship has been the driving force behind most of this season, the real emotional journey has been Nick Miller’s development from a man paralyzed by anger and fear to a man who can embrace uncertainty and hope. That arc found beautiful resolution in Winston’s speech about Nick not having to use his father’s moves. For much of Season Two, we’ve seen how Nick’s father and his abandonment had such a profound impact on his life and his decisions even after his father’s death. So it was hugely important for Nick to make a stand and show that he’s not his father; he’s better than his father ever was. There are other moves—better moves—and Nick is finally ready to choose another move. That moment of deciding to run towards Jess instead of running away signified a huge leap forward for this character we’ve watched grow all season. It was the culmination of a truly wonderful arc, and it hinted at even more growth to come next season.

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Grading the Season Finales 2013: Castle

Title Watershed (5.24)

Written By Andrew Marlowe

What Happens? As the team at the 12th precinct investigates the murder of a Harvard student and computer hacker posing as a prostitute in a seedy motel, they uncover ties between the victim and a political dynasty which was behind the cover-up of a young woman’s death years before. The case also proves to be possibly Beckett’s last homicide as a member of the NYPD, as she takes an interview in Washington for a job with the attorney general—without telling Castle. Although she’s encouraged by Captain Gates, Beckett struggles with the decision after Castle finds the boarding pass for her trip in her coat pocket and gets angry over the fact the she shut him out of such an important decision. While Castle discusses their relationship and its challenges with his mother, Beckett is counseled by Lanie and her father. Both Beckett and Castle seem to be questioning where their relationship is headed, but both are too scared to broach the topic with the other.

After Beckett is officially offered the position, she begins to feel the weight of leaving her home at the precinct bearing down on her. Both Ryan and Esposito can tell that something is wrong, but neither can figure out what it is. Instead, Ryan lets Esposito in on a little secret of his own—he’s going to be a father. Fatherhood also proves to be a challenge for Castle, as he deals with his fear of letting Alexis go on a summer trip to the rainforest by avoiding the situation—until he can’t any longer and simply has to realize that despite his fears and worries, he loves his daughter and wants to do right by her. That same emotion goes into his meeting with Beckett on the swings where they once talked about Beckett’s emotional walls and where Beckett decided to let those walls come down with Castle. Castle tells Beckett that he understands she’s always going to have walls and won’t always let him in easily, but he isn’t going to give her an ultimatum. Whatever she chooses, he wants to be with her—and he proves this on one knee with a ring and question left unanswered until Season Six begins in the fall.

Game-Changing Moment Yes, Beckett being offered the job with the attorney general was a major moment, but it wasn’t the episode’s true game-changer. No, that title belongs to seven little words said by Richard Castle on the swing set that has come to mean so much to these two characters are their relationship:

Katherine Houghton Beckett, will you marry me?

No matter what Beckett answers and no matter what she decides, those seven words have forever changed their relationship and the direction of the show, which we all know has always been first and foremost a love story (with some murder thrown in for good fun). I know some people hated this twist and others loved it (my own feelings are quite complicated), but there’s no denying that this proposal was one of the most shocking moments in Castle’s five-year history. Whether you thought it was romantic or ridiculous, I bet you had a reaction—and that’s what a good finale cliffhanger should do. This was a moment that people will be talking about all summer, from the most passionate fans to the most casual observers. And that’s what season finales are all about.

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