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Spring ’17 Finale Roundup: Week I

April 4-23 |

Finales can be the best times or the worst — there is no in between. But this year, so far they’ve been solid giving us all the feels possible while leaving us enamored and amazed all night. With Big Little Lies, When Calls the Heart, and New Girl wrapping up for the season, we’ve got a lot to say.

Most Noteworthy Performance by an Actress
“You Get What You Need” | Big Little Lies
Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, Shailene Woodley, Zoe Kravitz

It’s impossible to write about a finale like Big Little Lies’ “You Get What You Give” without crediting all the women who have brought the masterpiece to life. You can’t watch a finale like this and simply choose one when each of them contributed gorgeously to making the finale indescribable. Whether it was Witherspoon’s drunken vulnerability as Madeline, Kidman’s breakthrough as Celeste finally stood up to Perry in public, Dern’s heartfelt sincerity as Renata, Woodley’s fear stricken realization that she’s standing in front of her abuser, or Kravitz’ subtle work as Bonnie understood there’s more than meets the eye — every performance was brilliant.

Each of these five women have delivered some of the finest work on television to date, and in “You Get What You Need” they worked off one another gorgeously in poignant, profound performances helping one another rise to their highest potential by offering unbeatable support. And while each woman was given an opportunity to shine throughout the season, in order for the finale to be evocative, they needed to work off one another in building something entirely rare on television — an ensemble of women whose performances are all incomparably unique but gorgeously intertwined telling the kind of stories only such team work is able to do. The screenplay and direction are one thing, but these are the kind of performances that have the innate power to truly resonate with the audience.

Honorable Mention
“Heart of a Fighter” | When Calls the Heart
Lori Loughlin

Lori Loughlin is no stranger to delivering heartfelt performances on When Calls the Heart, but the full range of emotions conveyed in “Heart of a Fighter” evoked all the feels. When Abigail realizes that she may lose Cody, Loughlin projects a thousand words in a single expression that show us everything she’s felt with Peter and her late husband are finding their way back to her. The sheer expression of her heartache in her realization was enough to bring on the waterworks, but it’s the confidence she wore later as she told the doctor her decision had been made that brought her performance full circle. In a single moment, Loughlin reminded us that while her character can be incredibly vulnerable, she isn’t someone who’d ever succumb to anything less than when her children are involved.

And in that final scene when Cody called her mom for the first time, Loughlin brought something incomparably raw to life. A kind of motherly adoration that’s only present when faced with someone you’d give your all for.

Most Noteworthy Performance by an Actor
“Heart of a Fighter” | When Calls the Heart
Kavan Smith

Kavan Smith is easily one of When Calls the Heart’s most entertaining characters, but the series has yet to give him a moment of complete vulnerability. And when they did so, Smith met it with a brilliant performance that had me astonished. Throughout “Heart of a Fighter”, Smith had us under the impression that whatever Lee’s hiding, it’s bigger than anything we could imagine. And that would’ve been enough for us to understand the calamity, but when he couldn’t even talk to his wife, it became clear that when he would, it’d open up a great deal. So when Lee finally talked about how worried he is because Cody reminds him of his late brother, Smith brought his a-game, allowing us to feel every ounce of his character’s pain and empathy. Through every word he spoke, and every time his voice broke, Smith allowed us to understand the profound weight the character carries on his shoulder allowing us a glimpse into the vastness of his heart, while laying the character bare in a moment of complete sincerity.

Honorable Mention:
“You Get What You Need” | Big Little Lies
Adam Scott 

Adam Scott’s Ed is quite possibly the most underrated character on Big Little Lies and without a doubt my favorite of the husbands. But in the finale especially, Scott makes it clear that his character is sick and tired of the ridicule in this town. He’s already swallowed way too much in a collected manner, but when needed to erupt, he did so not drastically, but with the right amount of emotions showcasing just how much has been building up within. Ed loves his wife and Ed loves his life, but lately, he’s also been piling up a great amount of frustration, and in a single moment, Scott allowed us to see each burning emotion within the character masterfully.

Most Exquisite Moment
“Five Stars for Beezus” | New Girl

To be quite honest, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Nick and Jess as a couple. I loved them in the beginning, but something, perhaps the constant back and forth, pulled me away where I then reached a point where I didn’t want them together again. But during the last few episodes of New Girl, I was beginning to see the sparks again — the understanding that this time, when they find their way back to one another, it’ll be permanent. It’ll be good. It’ll be worth it.

And as the elevator opened in that final scene, it was as satisfying as I had imagined it to be. In the most Nick and Jess way possible, they found their way back to one another. Plus, their expressions leading up to the hot, messy, gorgeous kiss was that of pure sincerity. This was it — their happy ending. And Nick’s words are still ringing in my head like a perfect song: “I have to tell my best friend I’m in love with her.” Perhaps that’s why this time they’ll work out. Nick and Jess are now closer than ever as friends. They are, in every sense of the word, the best of friends, and the friendship they’ve fortified all these years while working to make themselves better will help them be stronger, and happier as one. (Plus, the lovely bonus Schmidt + Cece and Winston + Ally. If New Girl returns next season, I’ll be the happiest camper. If not, I’ll be satisfied with the gorgeous finale we got.)

Most Stunning Montage
“You Get What You Need” | Big Little Lies

Final montages such as the one featured at the end of Big Little Lies is the reason why this category exists. There is just something inexpressibly profound about quiet scenes brought together through music that tell compelling stories. And this was the story we’d been waiting to see from the very beginning. There’s a great deal to appreciate about the Big Little Lies final montage, but the most intriguing aspect is the amount that still lingered on the screen along with the comforting moments we were given. Whether it was the gentle touches at the funeral or each of the women laughing at the beach with their kids, you were able to witness something wondrous. Where there’s honesty, there’s great strength. And at this moment, the women were all honest with one another, but much like an ocean, there’s great depth and ambiguity. They may have found a common ground where they can feel a sense of serenity together, but the untold secret will perpetually linger — a metaphor the ocean drew gorgeously. The montage delivered the kind of ephemeral closure that tied the show in a loose bow leaving us with plenty to think about while simultaneously leaving us at ease. The hardest part is over and for a moment, they could just be. Mothers and friends — women taking care of one another and putting their children first in a dark, often unpredictable world.

“Wait what? What just happened?”
“You Get What You Need” | Big Little Lies

In its entirety Big Little Lies was the kind of mystery that was solved diligently in a manner of seven episodes thereby making it close to perfect. But revealing that Perry is also Jane’s assaulter and the one who was murdered was somewhat unexpectedly expected. You’d expect the villain to die in the end, but perhaps we’re used to the (spoiler alert) Robb Starks and Ygrittes dying instead, you don’t always consider that the villain would get what they deserve. And Perry’s death along with the showcase of him being Ziggy’s father was a cold, brutal reveal that gave the show its gripping closure. Big Little Lies is in talks of a second season, and while the detective watching them reveals that the story isn’t believed by all, I’m not entirely sure I want one. It’d be great to see these women again after these events, but so much of the show’s greatness comes from its more open ending. I’m conflicted because great television is rare and should grace our screens frequently, but the open ending? It was wonderful. Who knows. Either way, I’d watch it.

What are your favorite finale performers and moments so far?

By: Gissane Sophia
Check us out on Twitter: @MGcircles

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