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The 'Schitt's Creek' Finale Gave David A Happy Ending

David (Dan Levy) and Stevie (Emily Hampshire) shared a driveway moment in the penultimate episode of <em>Schitt's Creek</em>.
David (Dan Levy) and Stevie (Emily Hampshire) shared a driveway moment in the penultimate episode of Schitt's Creek.

Note: This review discusses events depicted in the final season, and final episode, of Schitt's Creek.

From the opening moments of the first scene of last night's Schitt's Creek finale episode, it was clear: Nothing would change, and everything would.

"The day did have a slight singultus," said Moira, upon waking David on the morning of his wedding day. And there it was, clear as a mission statement. Moira was still Moira: that same affected diction, the same penchant for circumlocution, the same tendency to minimize others' distress. Because by "singultus" she meant "hiccup," and by "hiccup" she meant "downpour."

(Those of us who prefer Moira's bonzo pronunciations to her obscure vocabulary had but to wait a few minutes to get handed one last gem: "Unless it was the year I booked that international campaign for Looky-Loo BinocuLAHRS.")

But later she greeted daughter Alexis warmly, even going so far as to compliment her appearance — this from the woman who once remonstrated Alexis for her choice of diner entree ("A heavy salad might as well be a casserole"). And later, of course, as she officiated David's wedding, this most arch, least emotive, most coolly distant of the Rose family completely friggin' lost it. (The fact that she did so while clad in an ensemble that represented the peak of ecumenical couture was just so much frosting on the communion wafer.)

Moira's the same Moira she was in Season 1, Episode 1: Vain, self-important, condescending. But over the course of six seasons, the town of Schitt's Creek — and the new familial intimacy thrust upon her by her living situation — went to work on her. She became a better version of herself, her carefully crafted facade cracking just enough for her to reach out to others, and for others to reach back.

The show grew more empathetic along with her as, happily, Moira's status as a washed-up actress, her defining characteristic in early episodes, receded into the background. Her arc over the course of filming and releasing the unabashedly cheesy The Crows Have Eyes movie over seasons 5 and 6 revealed something important and satisfyingly surprising: Moira is good at show business. She's canny, self-aware and determined.

This is one key to Schitt's Creek's abiding appeal — the opportunity to watch characters we've come to know staying true to who they are even as we can see them evolving. The Roses didn't fundamentally change, but they grew -- they added layers of humanity, sincerity and vulnerability, even as the series allowed them to hold on to a sense of self-awareness that kept things from getting too sticky-sweet.

Consider: The ruination of his carefully made wedding plans sent David into a spiral (nothing changes), which was met by his fiancee Patrick's steadfast understanding (nothing changes), and then David, to some extent ... actually stepped up and rolled with the punches (everything changes!). Granted, the masseur Patrick gifted him with before the ceremony lent a hand, but Season 6 David has become a more grounded person whom Season 1 David likely wouldn't recognize — and would definitely resent.

Season 1 David would also be mystified by Season 6 David's decision to stick around Schitt's Creek — much less to end up married to a sweet-natured, practical pair of Dockers in human form like Patrick, much much less to start a life together in a kitschy Thomas Kinkade Goes To The Suburbs cottage number, but then — nothing changes, and everything does.

The same Alexis who spent the first episode waiting to be rescued by her boyfriend-of-nearly-four-months Stavros, and who collapsed into helpless wailing when he dumped her, has decided to venture out on her own, rejecting Twyla's generous, no-strings offer of financial support, because she's tasted what building a life on your own skills, not the attentions of others, feels like.

And as for long-suffering Johnny Rose, who spent his years in Schitt's Creek up to his half-Windsor in a state of perpetual exasperation that sent those eyebrows undulating like a pair of woolly caterpillars on molly: He got the two things we've watched him struggling for: 1. His family secure again, and 2. Vindication.

The final episode was long on grace notes for various characters, as was last week's episode, which gave David and Stevie a final driveway moment. (One could complain that the show's shift in focus to David/Patrick left the great Emily Hampshire underserved for the past few seasons, but as a famous fruit-wine spokesperson/chanteuse once said, now is not the time for pettifogging.)

Now is the time to be grateful for a show that never aspired to be a joke-dense fusillade of gags like 30 Rock or Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt; that let itself be driven as much by the relationships among its characters as by the conflicts between them; that found the humor in characters silently reacting to one another:

Farewell, the pained grin/grimace of Jocelyn Schitt!

Au revoir, the simpering head-tilt of Moira Rose!

And adieu, the "I can't believe this is happening but I love it oh my god" stifled smile of David/Alexis/Stevie! I think I'll miss you most of all.

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Glen Weldon is a host of NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast. He reviews books, movies, comics and more for the NPR Arts Desk.
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