The two-hour season finale of The Client List really built up some heat in the first hour with "What Kind of Fool Do You Think I Am."
But by the second hour - "Wild Nights are Calling" - it started losing some momentum by taking the focus off of Riley and the list and toning down the tension with lighthearted banter between Selena and Derek.
While I have no problem with their storyline and how they were covered during the first hour, I felt the flow of the finale would have been better served if the pacing had been sculpted to strengthen the impact of the ending. But we have to work with what we were given.
Considering how incredibly poor the season has been, the finale was actually quite good by comparison. It addressed issues we needed some resolution to and Riley finally realized how deeply down the rabbit hole she had fallen. I think they could have portrayed that acknowledgement through a method other than flashbacks. It was strange for Riley to be doing something and, mid-stride, stop for a montage of family moments so we'd remember how important her kids were to her.
Before we get to the meat, let's check out the side stories. First up were Derek and Selena. They continued their game of cat and mouse and it seemed like Derek had finally caught Selena after she accepted his house key. Even given their crazy line of work, I can't help but want them together. Selena is so terrified of people letting her down that she ended up giving his key back because even the tiniest bit of change had her planning for relationship Armageddon.
Derek certainly wasn't happy about it. He really wants it to work between them, but you have to wonder how many times he's going to let himself be pushed away before finally giving up. Sadly, I totally get where Selena is coming from. It's a brilliant (if ineffective) defense mechanism that always backfires. You push and push and push, figuring if they really love you and come back then they were truly meant for you. But nobody deserves that much distrust based on past relationships. Selena might be too broken to take someone into her heart, even someone as wonderful as Derek.
Our other side story dangled before us the possibility that Lacey and Dale would be promised a baby from an potential birth mother only to have the birth father run in at the last minute and rip the baby from their arms. For once, I applaud the way this type of story was handled. I completely understand where the young couple was coming from and imagine it would be one of the most difficult choices to make to give away your baby. But the birth mother held strong and saw in Dale and Lacey a fully formed family, full of love and ready for the responsibility of a child - something at their age they were not.
Thank goodness Lacey had a baby in her arms to love when she learned from Riley that it was due to the list that she lost the child she was carrying because the man in the house was after it. Lacey was very angry with Riley when she learned about why she lost her kid, but I think her anger was tempered only because of her new son. Still, it will be interesting to see whether their friendship will fully mend after learning that news.
Kyle sealed his fate as Captain America when he believed he was getting a coaching job at his high school alma mater... only to learn he was going to be a janitor. That's a tough break, but he took it like a man. He said he needed a job and was wiling to prove himself to get to the next step. His path to redemption has been completed.
Another change, should there be a third season, would appear to be less Linette. She was barely on this season as she spent most of it in rehab, and now she told the girls that upon her release she's intending to start a salon with her best friend in Austin. Promising to visit a lot, she made plans to move away from her family and start fresh.
Which leaves us with Riley and The Rub and Evan and his task force. They coincided as they were all after the same thing: to bring down Carlyle. Riley realized that Carlyle must have been responsible for taking the list and Nikki was his gateway into her life to do it. After dismissing Nikki, she had to go back to her bring her in on a scheme to get the list back from him. I was happy to learn that Nikki didn't completely diss Riley; the list fell into Carlyle's hands because he stole it. Do you think Nikki made it out of the finale alive?
Meanwhile, Riley was trying to have Judge Overton delay Evan's task force for as long as possible to get everything in order. She made contingency plans in case things went wrong by tending to her bank accounts and recording goodbye videos to her kids. She wasn't certain she was going to make it through what she was putting together.
After all the accusations Shelby has made about Evan and his ethical choices between job and family, it turns out that what Evan does for family, Shelby does for her job. She had no problem at all accepting a position, even temporary, in internal affairs - based on the fact she was having a personal relationship with Evan - as a gateway to becoming the youngest IA detective the department had ever seen. I have to say, that was one hell of a successful graduating class, wasn't it?
As Evan learned more about the case, he shared information with Kyle and the two of them finally worked together like brothers to help Riley. Even Shelby gave Evan a break and told him what she knew, with the caveat that from then on out he was on his own.
I guess the odds were pretty good that Evan would be on surveillance duty when Riley went into Carlyle's club to enact her plan to bust into his safe and steal the list. His partner was making jokes about how she made her money at first, but even he stood by Evan as he went after Riley to find out what the hell she had gotten herself into, promising never to reveal what they witnessed her doing.
So it ended with Evan, Riley and Kyle standing in front of The Rub which was engulfed in flames. I was unclear if Carlyle was inside or if he escaped, but the list was definitely burned. With Riley in a wig and slut attire, she merely said, "I can explain."
All in all, it was a mighty clean ending. The list is gone, Kyle is redeemed. Evan has a future in the police force and possibly with Shelby; or would he give it all up for family to lie about what he might learn about Riley? Linette will move to Austin to start her own salon and Lacey and Dale have a baby. With Jennifer Love Hewitt engaged and pregnant with Brian Hallisay's baby, you have to wonder if they've written a series ending.
Can The Client List continue now that The Rub is gone? Can Riley continue in her line of work given all of the risks and with so many onto what she was doing? Certainly she wouldn't be that stupid. Granted, most of her actions in The Client List Season 2 would lead us to believe she was, but I'm wondering if we saw the end tonight. It was a satisfying conclusion to their stories. They've left just enough open to come back, but I can't imagine it would be even remotely the same show.
What do you think? Can The Client List come back for another season and what would the show be about? Chat about the finale and what you think might come next for everyone in the comments!
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.