Up All Night is a show about a little kid growing up, but all this time the adults have been doing some aging as well. In “Letting Go,” it all coalesced into a beautiful cacophony of pain medication. Chris, who occasionally obsesses over how the “young people” view him, realized his aging was an inevitability, and one worth reframing as maturation. Reagan realized that motherhood isn’t a singular role, that her relationship with Amy was going to morph in front of her eyes; and that as sure as she can’t laugh without peeing a little bit, Reagan was going to have to relinquish control over Amy’s every waking second. Ava — um, well Ava … she got to sing an offscreen duet with Stevie Nicks, so, that’s something!
Yes, while Chris and Reagan were receiving proper send-offs into the between-season abyss, Ava was stuck dealing with a crisis that involved something that’ll more than likely be completely forgotten come the fall. Julian, her oversexualized, boundary-pushing bartender friend, bought Ava a tiny dog as a gift — which I’m sure is far better than another one of Missy’s cat pillows for cats with cats on them. At first, Ava was thrilled at having a little guy scampering around her apartment; then, after being woken up in the middle of the night by face-licking (and I’m sure some off-camera floor pooping), Ava realized she wasn’t really the dog person she thought she was. She returned the dog to Julian, who promised to “take care of ‘em.” Thinking this meant a painful death and potential Michael Vick–type battery charge, Ava rushed over to Julian’s apartment — if you can legally inhabit a sex palace — and took the dog back. Then gave it away again later. The end. This was some Lost-style mind-meltery happening.
I mean, sure it was great that Ava’s show was able to facilitate a meeting with Stevie Nicks and real-life duets with both Maya Rudolph and Christina Applegate. But at this point in Up All Night, Ava is more a byproduct of her show than she is a fully realized character. She’s become a writer’s tool, capable of forcing Chris and Reagan to voice their opinions or, failing that, good for a great off-the-cuff one-liner or instigating an impromptu hug party. It’s a shame that Rudolph’s volatile comedic energy couldn’t be put to good use on “Letting Go” because the episode was too busy servicing Chris and Reagan’s stories, but that’s sort of the way it goes on Up All Night. Ava’s the Steve Urkel, and Chris/Reagan are the Winslows.
And speaking of, Chris has never been more like old man Winslow, nor had he felt such a dire need to overcompensate. He’d become the star of his old-timer hockey league — his words, not mine — and captured the attention of the younger, spryer team that played after him. Short one player, they decided to take a chance on Chris and recruit him to play for them, and Chris thought highly enough of himself to give it a shot, as he should. Though as soon as one game later, Chris was in so much pain he could barely climb over one of those baby fences the hyperparanoid Reagan had installed. Reagan had a sitdown (literally — owing to Chris’s pain, there was no other position this talk could have happened in) with Chris about his impending age-itude. He’s aging, she said, and it was time for him to embrace his old-timer status and just accept that he probably had much more hair than anyone else on his team.
Then she slipped him a bunch of expired pain medication, which was enough to get Chris off the floor and onto the rink for one more go-round. Reagan showed up to chew Chris out for saddling her with Amy, and he was thankful she gave him an excuse to leave the rink while saving face. Seriously, the Brinkleys are some bad-ass wingmen.
As for why Amy was a hindrance, it should be noted that Up All Night secured a massive special guest for its final first season episode in Stevie Nicks. So in the universe of the Ava show, Reagan had secured Ava’s living idol to be on the show, pending a meet-and-greet at Stevie’s studio that didn’t involve any publicists or annoying entourage members, just like real life! Because both Amy and Ava’s dog were in tow, the meeting went horribly; each of the show’s babies set the other off. Stevie got stressed out and cut the meeting short, unable to cope with a little annoyingness despite dating Don Henley for a bit. She later came back around, but Reagan was pissed her home life impeded on her work life in such an active way.
The characters on Up All Night are smart enough to realize they’ve got a lot of growing up to do, even if it was in hindsight on “Letting Go.” There are the sleazy people of the world who compulsively Google “Ava nipple slip” at home. And there are those who pull themselves back so their daughter can take her first steps and roam about the house unencumbered by fences. And sure, they might wear shirt-size scarves and get kicked out of ball pits, but they’re only human.