Togetherness Series Finale Recap: Everything Changes

Steve Zissis as Alex, Mark Duplass as Brett, Amanda Peet as Tina, Melanie Lynskey as Michelle. Photo: HBO


For the Kids Season 2 Episode 8
Editor's Rating 5 stars

Oof. Well, we have reached the end of Togetherness. I still can’t believe we won’t get to spend more time with these characters, but I’m slowly coming to terms with the fact that this show is over. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I’m a little angry, though. I don’t know what went on behind the scenes, but it never really felt like HBO fully backed this show. Much like Enlightened, another HBO show that was canceled well before its time, Togetherness got minimal advertising and promotion. In a crowded TV landscape, the idea of just putting a show out there and hoping that an audience will find it seems unthinkable.

Here’s the plain truth: For a show to succeed in 2016, it needs to have an element of “Pay attention to me!” — and a quiet, subtle show like Togetherness can only harness that through promotion and social media. I’m not suggesting that HBO set this show up to fail, but I certainly think it didn’t set it up to succeed, which is a shame considering the caliber of acting from week to week. What a shame to lose a show this good. Anyway, the only silver lining in this whole crappy situation is that we get some closure. “For the Kids” resolves a lot of issues and does not leave us hanging. (It did, however, leave me crying.) Let’s discuss the series finale, shall we?

We begin with Brett and Alex doing a run-through of Dune for Michelle and Tina. It is horrrrrible, just as I predicted a few weeks ago. There is no way the dudes can put this show on for the school; Michelle will lose the charter school vote if they do. She knows this, Tina knows this — hell, even Alex knows — but Brett still believes in this project wholeheartedly. And since he and Michelle are barely on speaking terms, someone needs to break the bad news. It won’t be Tina, since she has to go to the gyno. Alex is out, too, since he leaves with her to avoid whatever fight is about to go down. Good call. The fight is not good. Brett thinks that Michelle is hating on the play because of Natalie (he’s maybe … 4 percent correct?). Michelle says she is convinced that if they show the play, she will lose the school. She is 100 percent correct. As they’re bickering, she gets a phone call.

Cut to Alex hanging out with Frankie — cute-dadlike-moment alert! — while Tina is inside St. James Memorial getting her hoo-ha checked. Michelle and Brett call Alex; they’re panicking. Sophie got injured at school and they’re racing to her, but want him to check on her in the meantime. He grabs Frankie and calls Tina to have her meet them at the emergency room. Brett is driving like a maniac, which, at this point, seems less about Sophie being injured and more about the Dune stuff and the overall suckyness of his marriage. After they hit major traffic on the highway, Brett says, “Screw it,” and starts quickly driving up the shoulder until they crash and total the car. That. Was. So. Stupid.

Look, I get that Brett is angry at Michelle for kicking him out of their home. For far too long, though, he and Michelle have both been letting their bullshit affect the way they parent their kids. Sophie got hip to the fact that her parents weren’t getting along months ago, they’re not spending much time with the kids (even though Brett claims he sees them more), and now they can’t even get to the hospital. Ay-yi-yi. Get your crap together, guys. Your kids need you!

So, Sophie broke both of her arms when she fell off the monkey bars. Aww. She seems okay — maybe a little sad — and she asks Alex and Tina why her parents aren’t there. Just then, Brett calls Alex and he puts them on speaker phone. This still doesn’t perk Sophie up. Once again, Tina and Alex are doing what Brett and Michelle should be doing. So sad, y’all! Sophie doesn’t even want to talk to them, so Tina is like, “Oh, the reception is really bad in the hospital. See you when you get home?” Sophie is so obviously over her mom and dad. Anyway, everyone arrives home. Brett wants to take Sophie to get ice cream. She says no. Brett and Michelle offer to put her to bed. She says she wants Tina to do it. PUNCH TO THE GUT! Once Tina is done with that, the four adults talk.

Michelle is devastated about Sophie not talking to her. Tina, Alex, and Brett brainstorm ideas for how Michelle can still win the school, but she’s too heartbroken to discuss anything and says she’s done with all of that. Oh no! The next day, while Brett & Co. are packing up all the papier-mâché stuff, Michelle and Sophie arrive because Lil Soph didn’t want to go to school. She sees all the puppets and loves them, then says she wants to go to her mom’s school if it’s going to be like that. Michelle gets an idea to save the school: an educational theater show that is built by the kids. All they need to do is … tear everything down and rebuild it under the guidance of Sophie.

Cut to the construction montage. They get tons of parents and kids to help them. It’s now the night of the big vote. Anna is hosting some stuffy-ass French party for the parents. All the kids looked bored out of their gourds. Sophie and a couple of kids interrupt this presentation to get everyone to check out their presentation. It works: Everyone goes into the other room and it looks really cool and kid-friendly. At first, the other kids are confused and hesitant, but they quickly join in on the fun, all of the kids just playing and doing experiments and acting. This may not be a traditional way of learning, but the fact that everything is rooted in interactions and experiments makes it seem like this would be a good program. After all, people learn by doing. If Michelle can manage to get qualified teachers, this style of teaching might actually work.

Time for the vote. Michelle wins! Take that, Anna! It’s great to see a villain get her comeuppance, but it’s also nice that Michelle’s hard work was not in vain. She really wanted to do something for the children, and even though it probably destroyed her marriage, it will benefit all the kids in the neighborhood. Silver lining, I guess?

That evening, Brett and Michelle take the kids home. Brett is about to leave when he and Michelle start to chat. He apologizes about being self-involved and lording the one-night stand over her. She says she feels awful about cheating. He tells her not to feel awful anymore, then asks if he can come home. She cries and says of course and they promise to really work it out. Yay! So happy for this. One bad decision shouldn’t undo an entire relationship. It even seems like they’ll come out of this a stronger couple: Michelle’s going to be more vocal about what she needs, and Brett’s not going to sleepwalk through the relationship anymore.

We cut back to the school. While Alex and Tina are packing up, she says she’s had enough of the outfit that she’s wearing. She needs help getting out, and, of course, they start bickering about what she has to do to get out of it. These two. Alex stops talking and looks at her. She feels the heat of his look and glances away. He kisses her! They start making out. She asks if he has a condom. He says no, then they go back to making out. OOH! YES!

End of episode, end of series. What a sweet, touching, melancholy place for both of these relationships to wind up. We won’t know how things will shake out, but it’s easy to picture Tina and Alex’s funny, stressful, crazy parenting adventure. As for Brett and Michelle, I’d like to imagine that they go the distance and stay together for the rest of their lives. But I don’t want to imagine. I want to check in with these characters every week. Amanda Peet’s brilliance is something that should be in our lives always. Please, somebody pick this show up for another season!

Okay, no more pouting. In closing, I’ll say this: Togetherness focused on the not-so-pleasant parts of relationships, but it always gave me hope. Always made me smile. Always made me feel like my topsy-turvy life is okay. Any show that can do that is special. I love you and I will miss you, Togetherness. Hopefully, we’ll meet again.

All righty, what didn’t you think of the series finale? I know some of us wanted Brett to leave Michelle. Are you happy they got back together? Were you as excited as I was about Tina and Alex hooking up?

Togetherness Finale Recap: Everything Changes