Bosephus And Jandana Return To Cause Havoc (And Tears) In Playing House's Season Finale
Which BETTER NOT BE A SERIES FINALE, USA.
Happy as I know we all are, as a culture, that USA brought back Playing House for a second season, there are a few reasons to be slightly upset about how it's gone down. For one thing, this second season has been two whole episodes shorter than the first, which is an outrage. Second, those eight episodes have been smooshed into just six weeks -- the first two, and then the last two, aired back-to-back on the same nights -- meaning that our already brief reunion with Maggie and Emma was compressed into an even smaller time frame, and also that unless we watched "Officer Of The Year" early on demand (hi), we got no time to recover from that incredibly romantic penultimate episode before hurtling right into an emotional finale that puts the focus back where it really belongs: on Kenny Loggins. (And also on Maggie and Emma's friendship.)
USA still hasn't picked up Playing House for a third season, so when series creators/co-leads Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair were writing the season finale, it had to have been with the possibility in mind that this...might be it, for these characters and for our relationship with them. And after a Season 2 marked by Emma's boy drama (and Maggie's, I guess, though her dalliance with Bruce wasn't so much "dramatic" as it was "instructive in proving to both parties that her parts are still functional"), the finale leaves no doubt as to the show's most important love story. We open on old VHS footage of tween-aged Maggie and Emma doing their rendition of Kevin Bacon's Footloose dance as a reminder, not that we needed it, that these two have been kindred spirits almost all their lives.
Maggie: Wait, are we both supposed to be Kevin Bacon? I'm confused.
Emma: I think so!
Zach: Yeah, you were both Kevin Bacon. You guys had a huge fight about it.
Emma: No, we didn't, we've never fought our entire lives.
Maggie then gives Emma some thrilling news: they've never seen him live because he doesn't play Connecticut, but Kenny Loggins is coming to Hartford. This is huge news not just to the former adolescents we've just seen body-rolling their way through puberty on a deceased video storage format, but for the adults who, back in the Playing House series premiere, marked Emma's long-awaited return to Pinebrook by harmonizing on "Celebrate Me Home" as Maggie drove them through town. As if seeing Kenny Loggins live wasn't thrill enough, Maggie's heightened it even further: she's gotten in touch with Loggins's "people," sending a letter detailing how important it's been to Maggie to have had Emma's support during one of the scariest, most chaotic times in her life, and on the anniversary of Emma's decision to move in with her, Maggie has arranged for Kenny Loggins to read her letter and dedicate "Celebrate Me Home" to Emma. But since the course of true love never did run smooth, Zach's screwed up on getting the tickets; arrangements with scalper Janine Willcall go south; and Maggie, determined not to ruin her surprise, has to drag Emma and Zach into a caper to get them backstage.
Maggie does succeed in sneaking herself and Emma into Loggins' green room, in which a resplendent buffet of punny foods awaits the man himself.
When Loggins emerges from the restroom to find what he takes to be a couple of new roadies, he doesn't think anything of it, until Maggie is so overcome that she drops character.
It's not until Loggins has them thrown in stadium jail that Maggie gets to tell Emma exactly what they're going to miss, and if you got through their mutual outpourings without weeping, you might be dead inside.
Meanwhile, Zach's making friends (and maybe more) with Pamela, one of Loggins's guitarists, so after Mark -- interrupting his work undercover on the scalping ring -- has come and sprung Emma and Maggie...
...they're in the parking lot to be called onto the bus and not just get a dedication of "Celebrate Me Home": they get to harmonize on it with Kenny Loggins himself. It's such a lovely moment (and yes, I cried again), marred only by the uncertainty over whether the show will return for a third season, or if this scene just closes the chapter that originally opened the series. Are we just supposed to appreciate the bookend-like symmetry? Or should we be take the fact that the episode actually closes with Mark on Maggie's porch, waiting to talk to Emma, as a sign of the creators' optimism that we'll eventually learn what he's there to say?
Maybe I shouldn't be greedy. Eighteen episodes is more than a lot of other near-perfect shows ever got -- including Parham and St. Clair's first series collaboration, Best Friends Forever. And although Emma's cold-open assertion that she and Maggie have "never fought [their] entire lives" is not quite accurate (even Maggie won't agree to it), they've done all of us a service in letting us watch them challenge, support, and love each other through their year of strife and "scrapes." And I mean all of us.
Even that dastard Janine Willcall.