What prevents FOX from renewing this series? Sadly, years of being a TV Fanatic means I understand the answer to that even if I hate it with every fiber of my being.
What prevents more people from watching this series? One could guess that some fear getting attached to a series, lest a network cancels it, failing to consider that by not tuning in, they subject something brilliant to that very heartbreaking fate.
But even factoring that in, the answer to that question eludes me. As Nick astutely mentioned in The Big Leap Season 1 Episode 9, fear prevents many things, but for we who fearlessly embarked on this journey with this series, our reward is gorgeous hours like this one.
Each passing installment of this series evokes a similar bittersweetness that this hour adequately explored. Dr. Seuss' problematic nature aside, there's wisdom in the quote, "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."
It's a similar sentiment and grace that Paula exudes in her final days and attempts to impart on all of her Big Leap loved ones who have become a fast family for her.
Have I mentioned how incredible Piper Perabo is or is it a redundant thing by now? The hour in part belonged to her, rightfully so, but Jon Rudnitsky stole the majority of the installment with an assist by Scott Foley.
It's Mike's opener that transported us to another tragic time in his life, and it served as a reminder of how familiar this character has been throughout the series.
Mike couldn't handle it when his father died.
He was on his last breath, and Mike was in the kitchen, doing anything to avoid facing the reality of losing his father. The denial ran deep within him, and in such a short moment, the series executed quite a gut punch when his sister chose to chastise him for his avoidance, and they both missed the chance to say goodbye.
What? A pregnancy, a wedding, and a divorce all in one episode? Thank you!Nick
Can you imagine what their relationship is probably like after something like that? She mentioned that Mike behaved similarly when their grandmother passed away. Death is not something he handles well at all.
These are the bits about a character that leaves fans wishing that we could spend seasons with these characters in some capacity to unpack all of the intricacies of who they are and how they came to be.
Those moments nod at the character development we've witnessed all season. Mike could never face loss and trauma well. His introduction was that of a severely depressed man who had difficulties addressing life's hardships.
But for Paula, and through her and this show, he has become a better man, so when he says things like that during his wedding vows, we know them to be true. We've seen the growth ourselves, despite the short time.
Paula, ours is a classic love story. Guy falls for girl. Guy loses girl. Guy goes on a reality dance show to win girl back, but then meets a totally different girl who turns out to be his soul mate and shows him what true happiness is. Paula, you met me at my worse, and you accepted me. You made me my best. I love you.Mike
The Mike of 2015 is not the Mike of 2021. As painful as the reality of losing the love of his life, of her short one, he's facing and enduring it. Mike is committed to Paula deeply and is trying to be strong. He's a better person for all of it.
Mike has come a long way in that regard. And again, these are the ways that Rudnitsky is such a talent with his understated performances, distinguishing the Mike from years ago, hell, the Mike from weeks ago, from the man he is now.
You sensed the heaviness and terror. His fear was palpable, but so was the strength he exuded to overcome that for Paula.
It made all of his scenes during this hour standouts and an excellent depiction of his range. Hell, even the delivery of the most predictable and cliched response to Paula's superpower question was delivered with such a rawness that even though you knew it was coming, it still made your breath hitch.
Paula: If you could have one magical power, what would it be?
Mike: To stop time.
I'm forever enthralled by this series' consistent dismantling of toxic masculinity as they allow men not only to access their feelings but do so with other men. The depiction of healthy, emotionally-sound male friendships is such a rarity -- what Mike has with Joel and the others is a fictional unicorn.
No one knows Mike the way his friends do, and no one supports him implicitly like them either. It's genuinely refreshing that they're depicted as these salt of the earth, everyday men, factory workers, and they ooze such depth and emotional maturity that you could only wish to have those types of meaningful friendships in your life.
Mike comes from a background where he suffered deep depression. The series explores mental health candidly.
Mike's friends supported him through that, openly talked about his feelings without judgment then, and crying while advising him how to be there for Paula now -- The Big Leap could easily have devoted an entire installment to them.
Even if you run from this, Paula's going to die. And, uh, you're going to be heartbroken. The choice isn't whether or not you're going to feel pain, you're going to feel pain. The choice is about how you feel about yourself when that time comes.Joel
It's the beauty of a series that understands how to deliver such rich characters, even if they're in supporting roles.
It's Mike's friends who give him the most sound advice. Sure, Paula has made him a much better man and enriched his life, but it's his friends who have quietly held that role in his life for over a decade, and you don't see those types of friendships on television. We need more of that.
They're all so unapologetically vulnerable, and they give each other permission to be that way, encourage it.
Joel's heartrending statement about how Mike has to be there for Paula, but they'll be there for him while they encouraged and gave him the space to break down sobbing and didn't treat it as something to turn away from was enough to bring anyone to tears.
And Perabo beautifully captures Paula's quiet dignity as she's accepted her fate and relishes as much as life as she can while she still can.
Her proposal in the store was adorable, and you could believe she would've walked out of there with the vodka in her pants if Mike hadn't said anything.
She wanted to feel alive, and the vibrancy she displayed while still carrying that hint of sadness about her future and the unknown was well-balanced.
She doesn't want to dwell on the bad, but she also made room for people's sadness over it all, and it was so much better than the "no tears" thing where everyone pretends to be happy and never voiced how effed up the situation is.
Julia: I'm so sorry I'm crying. I know this is supposed to be happy. We're all pretending that this is normal, but it's sad, I'm sorry.
Paula: You don't have to be sorry. It is sad, and it's probably good we acknowledge that. Today is the best day, and I know I'm asking a lot of you guys. and Mike, He's been so strong and supportive despite being so scared. I'm really grateful.
She gave all of her friends the space to be themselves, deal with their own things, and handle this in their way, too. And she's also challenging the others. Her impact on them hits hard, and it made you wonder when she managed to change their lives in the background while we weren't watching, you know?
Most notably, her connection to Nick was on display during this installment, and we saw another layer to this man we hadn't seen before. I love how this series shows us more to Nick while still keeping him in this specific role.
As a producer, Nick is accustomed to everything being within his control, and we saw firsthand how shaken he is when things are for him when he doesn't feel as if he has the reins.
He can micromanage every part of a show with success, and he's damn good at that, as evident by how he pulled off the impossible of creating the perfect wedding for Mike and Paula in 24-hours. But part of him throwing himself into it like this was his way of processing Paula's impending death.
You may be wondering why Mike and Paula asked me to officiate their wedding. Me too. I didn't want to do this. I didn't want to stand here in front of cameras and talk about love. But then I asked myself the question that I"m usually asking everyone else, which is "what prevents us?" You can ask that about a lot of things. What prevents us from saying the things we want to say or for allowing ourselves to love or be loved, and you always came up with the same answer. The thing that prevents us is fear, putting yourself out there, letting someone really see you is scary. Trusting other people is terrifying. Looking at a terrible situation, holding hands, and facing it together, well, I guess that's love. So today we celebrate love triumphing over fear. You know, Mike and Paula met on the show, and I have to give myself credit. I saw their story right away, I put their head shots right next to each other, and I said these two, these two are going to bang. But it turned out to be more than that. I turned out to be a love story that gave us all hope and inspiration.Nick
Nick cares. It's probably the first time he's become this attached to his subjects; the wall between him and the cast keeps slipping no matter how hard he tries to maintain a professional distance.
He could reason away everything else but officiating the wedding placed him in front of the cameras, and it was the last bit of control he had, slipping from his grasp. Nick is someone who understands the power of the camera and how vulnerable and powerless it makes people, and he yields and exploits that often.
He never wanted to make himself that vulnerable and exposed, yet it happened.
Nick committed himself to make the best wedding possible, and as much as he proclaimed it was about how great it was for the show, everything about his behavior was fueled by him caring too much.
Have we ever seen him take such complete control over specific tasks? He's excellent at delegating things, but he took it upon himself to get Wayne to walk Paula down the aisle. He took over getting the marriage license from the clerk's office no matter the cost with such anxiety that belied the high stakes for him.
He was the one who got through to Paige about signing the divorce papers, and he did it by leveling with her on a personal level that didn't feel manufactured or exploitative but honest.
On top of that, he delivered such a beautiful speech while officiating for Mike and Paula. It was honest, funny, and poignant, something that likely surprised them all.
Toward the end of the hour, it made his admission to Monica an insightful look at his own vulnerability. He wanted and wished that everything he did was enough to keep Paula from dying.
Nick: She's still going to die, Monica. It doesn't matter how hard I work, or how happy everyone pretends to be, the ending doesn't change.
Monica: You just gave them a night full of happiness, so I think it changed a little.
Nick often looked to the couples of the series and reflected on his love life as a result. Everything with Mike and Paula stirred up more feelings about his relationship with Monica. He keeps putting himself out there, wanting them to be something more, and she's the one who always shuts him down.
This time, her ex-girlfriend, Anna, almost served as another wall Monica placed between her and Nick. She fell back into this flirtation with Anna, reliving their best days despite their breakup.
Fortunately, Wayne is always there to level with Monica and point her in the right direction. He knows that Monica's guarded approach with Nick is precisely because she is afraid that she cares about him more than she intended.
Monica is letting love in, though, and she had a bit of an epiphany with that, thanks to Wayne.
She's also open to letting her prized student thrive. Introducing Justin to Annie led to an opportunity of a lifetime for Justin. A six-month European tour is a dream come true for a guy who used to work at a bowling alley and damn near gave up on his plans coming to fruition.
The downside to this is how it'll impact his relationship with Simon. Simon's jealousy came through a bit since he idolized Annie and wanted to seize the opportunity of meeting her.
And for Simon, it's probably hard for him that he's dedicated so much of his life to dance because of his mother, and it didn't seem to matter when none of that hoopla led to Justin getting this tour; his talent was enough.
The upcoming tour could drive a wedge between the two, and that would be awful.
Whereas the empowerment Julia developed throughout the season is inspiring. Her chemistry with Linus is perfection, and the two of them were cut on their unofficial date.
It's too bad it came to a screeching halt when she saw Kevin at the fro-yo shop working. Kevin is a mess, and go figure that Julia and the girls were adapting and getting on with their lives when he pops back into the picture.
Also, screw him for causing a scene at Mike and Paula's wedding. Fortunately, it led to Julia's kick-butt speech to him and Travell's hilarious quip about the fro-yo shirt.
Julia is above Kevin now, and he doesn't have a chance in hell of winning her back, whether he dances for her attention or not.
He showed up in his yogurt shirt? Oh, fro-no!Travell
Ideally, he'd disappear to wherever he went the first time, and she can continue living her best life as a mom and woman who deserves the love from the Big Leap family and the desire of the sweet, hot Aussie sound guy.
But Gabby and Reggie deserve time to talk things out and get on the right page.
Reggie messed up big time when he didn't tell Gabby about the woman who kissed him or his medical risks. He thought he avoided worrying her about matters by not telling her things, but instead, it made her distrust him.
It doesn't help that Gabby's mother has reservations about how fast things are going between Reggie and Gabby. Her mother got in her head a bit with the notion that Sam is too attached to Reggie.
Their issues are fixable, but it requires them to sit down and communicate with each other.
Reggie wasn't coming from a malicious place when he left things out, and Gabby can't allow her past experiences, her insecurities, or her mother to ruin what could be a perfectly healthy relationship with a lovely man.
They can get through this, but it'll take some work.
- Allan remains an unsung hero of this series. His Christmas decorations were adorable. It's another sign that lines between the crew and cast are blurring. He got involved with the dance at the wedding and later danced with Raven.
- It's awful that Jessica showed Gabby that tape at Mike and Paula's wedding, it was interesting to see her step further into the role that Nick often plays. As his protege, she's embraced his position at a time when he's been slipping because of his attachments.
Nick: Does it say my name behind me?
Wayne: Oh, yes it does.
Nick: It's huge, isn't it?
Wayne: Oh, yes it is. Now, look over here, just sit back.
Nick: Wayne, I know where to look, alright? It's just this chair is really uncomfortable.
Wayne: I know, you requested it.
Nick: Are the lights always this bright? I feel like I'm going under the knife.
- The dance at the wedding was cute. Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" is the perfect song that makes almost anyone want to dance, and it was a solid choice for a wedding reception.
- Again, the music on this series is fire! Their musical director is an absolute treasure for these choices. Every song conveyed the perfect emotion for the scene.
- Travell's pink suit only got topped by that "Oh, Fro-no" line, and he, Ladon, and Aja always know how to steal scenes.
- Paula and Mike are both after my heart for choosing Scarface and It's a Wonderful Life and The Matrix and Pride and Prejudice as their favorite films. I love people who get the beauty in eclectic taste and range.
- Like Paula, I, too, have fallen in love with Mike. He's been my favorite since The Big Leap Season 1 Episode 1, but man, have I fallen in love with him with each installment.
- Those bridesmaid dresses were the prettiest ugly dresses. They all looked so gorgeous in them. Why is this cast so freaking pretty?
- Nick has had one of the best character trajectories of this series, and this will probably be Scott Foley's most underrated role ever.
- It's been a long time since a series like this has so deceptively and perfectly encapsulated the human experience and done this well. It's a tragedy that more people can't appreciate how well-written this series is.
Over to you, Big Leap Fanatics.
Let's discuss all the things. If you love this series as much as I do, chime in below.
As always, if you need a boost of serotonin or to get in your feels, you can watch The Big Leap online here via TV Fanatic.
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is an insomniac who spends late nights and early mornings binge-watching way too many shows and binge-drinking way too much tea. Her eclectic taste makes her an unpredictable viewer with an appreciation for complex characters, diverse representation, dynamic duos, compelling stories, and guilty pleasures. You'll definitely find her obsessively live-tweeting, waxing poetic, and chatting up fellow Fanatics and readers. Follow her on Twitter.