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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Medium ends series strangely

***This article contains spoilers. If you have not watched "Me Without You" yet, I strongly recommend you do not read it, as there were some pretty neat twists.***

     Last night was the series finale of CBS's Medium. I used to watch the show religiously when it ran on NBC, but after the move to CBS last year, I thought quality went down. NBC wasn't afraid to shake up the series and make major changes. CBS, on the other hand, toned it down to a common procedural, something very successful on their network, because their viewers don't like to pay much attention apparently, but the reason I don't bother with much of their programming. Boring! However, having viewed a handful of episodes this year, and they were better, with more focus Dubois family, the true heart of the show.

     Last night's series ender pretty much dispatched with the children all together. It was the love story of Allison (Patricia Arquette) and Joe (Jake Weber). In the first moments, Joe is killed in a plane crash. Flash forward seven years later, and Allison is working with the district attorney (Roger Bart, Desperate Housewives, The Producers) to bring down a major Mexican drug cartel. The DA is killed and Mayor Devalos (Miguel Sandoval) tasks Allison with finishing the case. But then Allison begins dreaming about Joe, convinced the accused has her husband stashed away down in Mexico. Joe has suffered from amnesia, and doesn't remember her.

     I thought that the plot up to that point was unrealistic, and it was stretching my enjoyment. I like the series, and sometimes there are some fantastical things that happen, but even so, it was going a little too far. Amnesia? Come on. Been done before. Don't do such a hokey plot for your final episode! I kept trying to talk myself out of the disappointment and just enjoy the love story, but I was having a difficult time. When Allison blew the case on purpose to find Joe, it was really bothering me. Yes, she loves him, but she also cares about her job, and about putting away bad guys. Plus, I wasn't crazy about the new, older Marie. And, let's be honest, Arquette isn't the most talented actress in the world.

     And then came the big twist: Joe had died in the wreck, and sent her the dream of seven years later to show Allison that she would be fine without him. Allison's only brain forced the Joe survived subplot into the story, and she took over the dream. Now we're back to the night Joe died, and he's telling her that he's really gone.

     I was on board, now. Cool idea, executed wonderfully. Unlike Arquette, Weber is a hell of an actor, and he sold the whole thing brilliantly. I didn't see it coming, but it validated my doubts about the episode up until this point. Of course it seemed off, because it was! The whole Mexican case and amnesic Joe never happened! But with about ten minutes left in the show, I wondered what could possibly be done to top what the writers had just pulled off.

     Sadly, instead of using that ten minutes, the series chose to only use a few of them, and then do another few minutes of goodbye montage to the main actors in the show. The music was a little hokey, but I can appreciate that after seven years, the series wanted to give credit to the people who brought the characters to life. The words revealing that the real Allison and Joe are still living happily together was nice, and surely appreciated by some viewers who had remained heavily invested straight through to the end.

     Now, the last scene after Joe's reveal and before the tribute may have been the most interesting. It was set forty-one years after Joe's death, with Allison slipping quietly into, surrounded by pictures and memories of her family. Their three daughters were adults with children, and at least one great grandchild for Allison. Although she was alone at the time, it was clear that she was still loved by her family. And the aloneness worked out better, as just after Allison died, Joe appeared to take her into the after life.

    My question is, did this scene happen? Or was it another dream sent by Joe to comfort her, and Allison didn't take it over this time because she had her happy ending? Or Joe knew she'd take it over, but also knew that it would work anyway? Or did Allison make it up herself? It was a beautiful demonstration of their commitment together. Their marriage has always been a major cornerstone to the series, and I loved that the final moments of footage were an affirmation of their bond.

     Thank you, Medium, for an uneven, but mostly interesting story of a fascinating and relatable family. Besides those mentioned above, Medium also starred David Cubitt as Lee, Sofia Vassilieva as Ariel, Maria Lark as Bridgette, and Madison and Miranda Carabello as Marie.

Article first published as TV Review: Medium Ends Series Strangely on Blogcritics.

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