In the final scene of the season, Sean and Bev revel in walking hand-in-hand down a cold, damp London street. They are far away from Hollywood, both literally and figuratively, and they comment that their run on Pucks feels like some sort of fever dream.
The same could be said for season 3 of Episodes, now that we know the pieces have been rearranged pretty much right back to where they started. For all of the buzz about Sean and Bev’s old script, The Opposite of Us, and Andrew Lesley’s new pilot at NBC, those two projects turn out to be a double-headed red herring, a shouty scribble of plotlines that resulted in no real forward movement. Pucks is coming back, almost solely for the purpose of resetting things for Episodes season 4.
The narrative justification is that network president Elliot Salad, fresh off of firing Castor Sotto (who, in case you hadn’t heard, was crazy), has no intention of letting NBC snap up Matt LeBlanc and build a new night around him. Because the cancellation ink isn’t officially dry yet on Pucks, he orders six more episodes out of spite, knowing Matt is contractually obligated to return to the show. Carol: “But you hate Pucks.” Elliot: “I hate NBC more.”
Matt isn’t too thrilled with NBC either when they initially ask him to read for the new pilot, despite his agent’s assurances he wouldn’t have to. He successfully calls their bluff, after outlining for Sean and Bev the type of convoluted casting scenario he wants to avoid, at the same time illustrating the cycle of Hollywood shit-eating the two of them are so eager to leave.
Well, Bev’s a little more eager than Sean, who’s genuinely excited about the prospect of launching another show, especially when names like Susan Sarandon and Goldie Hawn start getting attached. Bev reminds him they were fed all the same promises on Pucks, hilariously detailing a scenario in which The Opposite of Us ends up starring a tea cup whose previous credits include Where’s My Saucer? and Me and the Spoon. (Realistically, it does seem suspicious that three networks, including Fox, would be so hot and bothered about a series whose main character is apparently a 60s-ish woman.)
But now it appears The Opposite of Us will stay in the drawer, as Sean’s phone rings in London with an L.A. number, and we know Pucks is waiting for them on the other end. I sympathized a bit with their feeling of dread, since I was intrigued by an Episodes that would focus on these characters’ lives and not just their lives working on Pucks. For all of Castor’s insanity in the staff-meeting rant that would cost him his job, his points about TV networks playing it safe and predictable were not totally crazy. And now it feels like Episodes may have taken the safe route by setting everyone back to their original places. That said, over the past three seasons, that’s been a pretty funny place to be, and even though none of the characters are happy about heading back next year, I certainly will be.
Christine Moore is a freelance writer and pop culture geek based in Atlanta. She blogs about television and comedy at TV Kitchen. Follow her on Twitter.