Blunt Talk’s first season ends with Walter Blunt experiencing a profound sense of déjà vu, as he once again gets in bed, ready for Harry to read him The Once and Future King yet again. After a strong first season, Blunt Talk unfortunately gives the audience a feeling of déjà vu as well—back to the beginning of the series, when the show was still finding itself and the humor was a bit too broad for its sensibility.
Last week’s “I Brought a Petting Goat!” was a perfect example of Blunt Talk finding its groove and probably would’ve been a better episode for the season finale. In the first few episodes of the series, Blunt Talk relied on big, ridiculous set pieces that would encourage obvious laughs, like Walter getting arrested while on top of a cop car, or attempting to shoot a fake news story at a porn studio. But as Blunt Talk found its groove, it moved further away from those over-the-top moments and went for more subtle, character-driven moments. Unfortunately, “Let’s Save Central Florida! Let’s Save Midtown!” feels like a rare step back.
Unsurprisingly, this comes thanks to Duncan Adler, the father of the zero impact family that Walter has been trying to get on the show all season. Upon hearing that he’s being bumped for the third time, Duncan hijacks Blunt Talk at gunpoint and demands that Walter conducts his interview. Like those other larger bombastic moments in the beginning of the season, there are a few moments of humor during the preposterous premise (like when Walter criticizes the questions he’s being forced to ask Duncan). But it’s not quite as funny watching Duncan flailing his gun around, asking for it to go off and accidentally shoot someone.
Perhaps the biggest problem with these type of scenes is that typically, they don’t really go anywhere. After being kidnapped for twenty-four hours, Walter is found again and the entire crew gathers around him for a sweet moment. It doesn’t feel like his abduction has really made an impact on him or anyone else.
Also considering that the first half of the episode is about Walter and Harry believing that they have PTSD, even going to a doctor—played by Fred Melamed—to attempt dance therapy. But there’s a gun waving in Walter’s face, he never even thinks about the Falklands War and doesn’t seem to experience any trauma whatsoever while trying to get the gun away from Duncan. The closest reminder of Walter’s time in war is Harry trying to save Walter’s life and return the favor by running on the set, which is immediately discouraged by Walter. By not combining these two elements—when they very easily could—it’s a missed opportunity and segments the episode into two parts that never quite come together as a whole.
The finale succeeds in the smaller character interactions, which is where the show usually thrives. This is especially true of Jim, who tells his parents he’s falling for Celia. He’s almost certain that the feeling isn’t reciprocated, but for him it’s a nice feeling to have. In a moment where his nerves surprisingly don’t get the best of him, Jim takes his head out of his ostrich pillow, tells Celia that he enjoys her company and being near her and Celia admits she shares the same feelings.
Meanwhile in the office, Rosalie is missing Martin and is worried about Teddy, so she spoons with Harry, but for once she takes the position as the smaller spoon. When Walter walks in on the two of them, Rosalie admits that she’s “trying something new.”
This attempt to try new experiences as a way to find yourself is a large part of what this first season of Blunt Talk is all about—in addition to surrogate families and seeking understanding in those around you. Harry’s tryst at the party revitalizes him in a way he hadn’t known before. Jim and Celia’s budding relationship gives Jim confidence and Celia a sense of stability. Shelly and Martin are both on their own searches for who they are, Shelly by becoming a bisexual and Martin by walking a part of the Appalachian trail.
As for Walter, he’s found part of what matters, but not fully. He keeps going to therapists and dance doctors as a way to fix himself, whereas everyone around him has discovered that the community they’ve made for themselves helps them better than any specialist can. We end the first season of Blunt Talk with Harry telling Walter the story of a refreshed king, ready to begin again and persuade others to reason. However, it seems like Walter is the one that needs reasoning with—that someone needs to explain the happiness they’ve found in each other. It’s just a shame that the otherwise excellent first season of Blunt Talk ends with those aforementioned déjà vu-esque problems.
Ross Bonaime is a D.C.-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.