What is there to say about Schmigadoon! Season 1 Episode 6 that hasn't been lauded and applauded throughout this far too short one-month engagement?
The finale gives us everything the final act of a Golden Age musical would encompass, PLUS a totally evolved and empowering ensemble number that conveys through its medium the message of change and growth.
To draw on musical theater touchstones, it was like the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius paid the Rent because they could Hear the People Sing Somewhere Over the Rainbow.
I commented earlier in the series that there seemed to be a hint that Melissa and Josh would affect the town as much as the town would change them.
In the process of mending their relationship, many Schmigadoonians were able to find the courage to step out of the situation they were written into and express their personal desires and ambitions.
And there are such beautiful parallels.
Emma Tate's honesty about being Carson's mother is scorned by Mildred only to have the Laytons' own daughter confront her mother with her own illegitimate grandchild. Scandalous but so incredibly fitting.
I got pregnant out of wedlock with a seaman and, yes, I heard it.Nancy
Mayor Menlove announced his homosexuality from the Reverand Layton's pulpit on Schmigadoon! Season 1 Episode 4, and the good Reverand made his own announcement at the mayoral election (and upped the ante by admitting to his affection for Aloysius).
Such a lovely narrative symmetry.
But, of course, Melissa and Josh's journey from "committed partners" to True Love is the crux of the narrative, and its resolution is as sweeping and romantic as any lover of musicals could ask for.
Although a position could be taken that they cut a bit of a swath through the eligible men and women of Schmigadoon in their short time there, no one's going to argue that finding their way back to each other is an improbable outcome.
What's important is that they find their way back, recognizing that neither of them is the same person who crossed that bridge a few days ago.
Mildred: What are you doing?
Melissa: I know what it's like to want to fix everyone around you and think that's the only way to be happy. But it's not. You have to learn to let go.
Melissa clearly articulates her change when she offers her advice to Mildred.
Her moment of madness with Danny Bailey taught her the joys of letting loose while her encounter with the Countess opened her eyes to the dangers of presuming you are the hero of any situation.
Even when your opponent is a Nazi.
Melissa: You can't do this. I'm not the bad guy, here.
The Countess: You walked into my engagement and destroyed my future. That's called being the bad guy.
Melissa: Well, it's never explicitly stated, but I think you're a Nazi.
The Countess: Of course, I'm a Nazi.
But it is the Widow Lopez who really speaks the truth to her situation. From her perspective of recently losing the love of her life, she values the weight of true love, which is both comforting and requires effort to sustain.
What you have just described is love. It is not something you can prove is there. It is something you choose to believe in.Widow Lopez
And the fact that Jorge needs her because she can drive (and, presumably, he can't) adds a fun layer to the Lopez family dynamic.
Now, while I feel for Doc Lopez at having to step aside for Melissa and Josh's true love, I'm with his mother on how quickly he'll find someone new. After all, he declared his love for Melissa while engaged to Blerky. Eh. That's a bit sketchy, Doc.
On the other hand, Josh abandoning Emma and Carson literally at the bridge to a new world is deeply painful with emotional baggage that needs unpacking on both sides.
It's extraordinary, really. One can be convinced they are the smartest person in town and yet still miss the most important detail.Emma
So what is it about Emma Tate that affected Josh so intensely?
Is it the fact that she, like Melissa, is a capable woman with high standards and expectations? One with vulnerabilities? One who gave him honest feedback?
Or was Carson the magical element? A kid whom Josh could advise and through whom he could see the world and relationships differently?
I know it's hard. Relationships are not like playing the kazoo. They take work, but they're worth it.Josh
Whatever the case, her life is a lot more honest, having had the relationship with Josh and, maybe she's more open and trusting now, too.
ICYMI, her blackboards on Schmigadoon! Season 1 Episode 5 held some meaningful poems.
John Donne's on the left speaks of allowing love to change and changing with it, while the lines from Shakespeare's sonnet on the right (despite the one error in line 2) trumpet steadfastness and permanence.
It's a battle of natural inclination versus self-preservation that could be being waged in any of our beloved characters.
Mildred: I'm a good person.
Melissa: Not really. You're kind of a controlling, judgemental asshole. But you don't have to stay that way. That's what's so great about change. There's always the hope we can be something better than we are. It's not too late, I promise.
But the true resolution of Melissa and Josh's journey was foreshadowed by Melissa's own words.
Melissa: You're in a musical. That's how musicals work. When you're too emotional to talk, you sing. When you're too emotional to sing, you dance.
Josh: What happens when you're too emotional to dance? Does it loop back around to talking? Cause I feel like that's where I'm at right now.
Josh's willingness, nay, need to sing his feelings out is the proof that he's changed.
Despite the candy bar presentation on their anniversary (which I thought was incredibly romantic), the flashbacks we've seen of their relationship have revealed a pattern of personal isolationism.
At the same time, we've seen that he wants the relationship to work, that he cares for Melissa, that he's made the effort to learn her personal likes, fears, ambitions, and humor.
But, before Schmigadoon, he never did anything with that knowledge that might inconvenience himself.
So to serenade Melissa (and a cappella initially!) and then dance with her in their own little twilight-lit world, we are left with no doubt about his growth and commitment to their relationship.
Oh, right, and there was an election. That went well. For the Menlove campaign, that is.
Thank you for your support. I am honored to be Schmigadoon's first openly gay... anything!Aloysius
To be sure, Mildred deep-sixed her voter appeal with her little tantrum, but I thought the most influential testimonial was Florence Menlove's return to Aloysius's side.
When Ann Harada spoke with TV Fanatic, she cited Florence's love and loyalty to her husband as her essential quality.
And that brings us back to that closing titular number. I think it's honestly my favorite song of the series, but I'll have to give the soundtrack a few listens to confirm that.
More than being an uplifting and sparkling musical piece, it's visually electrifying. When it bridges from the introduction to its tambourine-shaking, all-out jamboree, everything -- down to the camera technique -- becomes more energetic and free, symbolizing the change they are singing about.
Even the lyrics in the "Schmigadoon!" reprise are reforged for the occasion.
From being "warm and safe as a new cocoon," it's now "Where we learn to change, and we learn to grow / What the future holds, well, we just don't know / But there's hope for all..."
And my hope is that Schmigadoon! Season 2 is announced very soon!
Well, readers, you know how I stand on this series (clearly). How did you like it? Was it polite applause or spontaneous ovations every week? Will you be back for more? What would you hope to see in a Season 2? Hit our comments with your rants and raves!
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.