Friends — amis — I have to level with you: I found this season finale wildly disappointing. All the potentially promising twists and conflicts and drama dangled before us at the start of the season amount to nothing! Here is an incomplete list of exciting, revealing, finally-a-payoff-for-that things that could have happened in this finale: Sylvie could have figured out that the La Perla lingerie Emily received was from Antoine. Antoine could have stopped dancing around it and just propositioned Emily for real. Olivia at Durée’s warning to Emily that Sylvie would stab her in the back could’ve come true. Camille could’ve actually walked in on Gabriel and Emily together. Madeline could have shown up, however many months pregnant, to say that upon reflection she never really needed to skip out on this amazing opportunity in the first place, thus putting her and Emily in competition for the lone American slot at this French agency. Even the lower-stakes arcs never wound up going anywhere! I mean, where was our triumphant scene of Emily needing to resolve a catastrophe by understanding and speaking French, and — voilà! — busting out some conversational skills that save the day? What was the point of her going to that language class if she was never going to up and speak the language?
Our protagonist has not changed, learned, or grown at all. Nor has she gotten worse in a way that would make her more interesting. (I would support that, too!) She is a totally static character. Meanwhile, everyone around her has only “changed” insofar as anyone who started the season kind of side-eyeing her ended it by reluctantly accepting her. She has been rejected by exactly no one. Her behavior has not alienated a single soul, at least not for any meaningful length of time; her actions have no consequences. I say this not because I dream of a world in which Emily is chucked into the Seine by Camille after the innocent blonde finds out our brunette has been making out with her boyfriend while pretending to be this goody-goody BFF (though, as you know, I would love that), but because a show in which nobody grows or changes or sees their actions affect their circumstances is, as Julian once said to Emily, worse than basic. It’s boring.
But let’s do what we came here to do and recap this final half hour: It’s Paris Fashion Week and Mindy, like a good local, hates the crowds. Her exciting news is that the drag bar where she performed at the bachelorette party wants her to emcee two nights a week. Her bosses are very conservative so they can’t know about it; naturally by the episode’s end, some offscreen confrontation results in them finding out about it (literally HOW would they ever find out?) so Mindy moves in with Emily. I feel like if this was going to happen it would have been better if it happened at the start of the season, so they could’ve just been roommates this whole time, but anyway.
Pierre is still devastated by the Grey Space disaster and won’t allow Emily into the atelier. Mathieu picks up Emily and takes her on a boat ride along the Seine. This is his version of taking her out for a drink. It is ostensibly a business meeting but quickly and obviously becomes a date between two people with no sexual or romantic sparks between them, sorry! He says this is where he comes to get a “fresh perspective.” He’s in a bind: Pierre won’t show anyone the new collection and the show is in three days. Emily has a little meltdown wherein she makes this crisis all about her, and Mathieu comforts her by doing his signature move: taking her back to his apartment. (How original!) Here she takes in a beautiful view, her favorite thing to do.
Also (sorry sorry but) I cannot with the thing where she’s looking at the view and says “it’s so beautiful” and he’s looking at her and goes, “I couldn’t agree more.” Are we just copy and pasting from 10,000 other TV shows and movies now? Sigh. Anyway, they kiss, it’s fine, though I think we are supposed to believe it is HOT. Then the landline rings. How Claudia Kishi of him! The landline is just for Pierre. Pierre wants to cancel the show, so Mathieu has to flee and talk him out of it, and for some reason (too expensive to build another set?) he doesn’t tell Emily to just sleep there, so everyone goes home.
The next day, Emily is wearing a little newsie hat in white-and-pink houndstooth print (WHY) with a matching Pepto Bismol pink jacket (ugh) and matching skirt (??). She sent Sylvie a list of influencers to invite to Pierre’s new show, and Sylvie is actually happy to see her so something must be very wrong. Antoine is also here, smoldering and looking great. All is well until Women’s Wear Daily tweets that Pierre is cancelling his show. Emily, who in however long she’s been at this job has still learned negative nothing about how not to suck at it, did not alert her boss to this impending PR disaster as soon as she learned about it last night, and Sylvie is appropriately horrified. Emily is, implausibly, calling Mathieu “Matt” and now everyone assumes they are sleeping together. Great work, Emily.
Sylvie blames Emily for shattering Pierre’s confidence with the Grey Space debacle. “We have a fashion designer who won’t show his fashion. It’s almost as meaningless as an American who doesn’t speak French at a Parisian marketing firm.” That’s what I’ve been SAYING. Sylvie fires her and honestly, this is correct! This is overdue! Am I supposed to feel badly for Emily? I do not!
But alas/again, because in this show Emily’s actions have no consequences, Emily is swiftly assured that it’s practically impossible to fire someone in France because it’s a bureaucratic nightmare. Julian and Luc advise her to keep coming into work and avoid eye contact for the time being. Luc says “we will never deserve you” like … what … why … where is this coming from?!
Back at the apartment, Camille reports that she and Gabriel are in a huge fight because Gabriel just decided to buy a restaurant in Normandy, where he will be moving next week, without discussing any of it with her. His girlfriend. Of many years. EMILY HOW ARE YOU NOT BLINDED BY THE RED FLAGS. Either he expects Camille to move or this is his (pathetic, cowardly, I mean are we seriously supposed to be attracted to this fuckboy) way of breaking up with her. I know this isn’t really the time to mention it, but Camille looks very cute with that ponytail. Emily, just fully committing to antihero status, says, “I’m here if you need anything.” You know, like someone to have sex with your boyfriend now that you’re mad at him.
Emily immediately switches loyalties by pouting in Gabriel’s apartment while he packs up his stuff. See, he didn’t tell Camile because he knew she’d say no. That’s how adults in committed relationships handle difficult conversations. Emily totally gets it. Emily says she cannot imagine Paris without him and I write in my notes oh my GOD Emily he SUCKS just move ON.
For this day of lying low in the office, trying not to be noticed, Emily wears a pink denim jacket hoodie thing with enormous black-and-white sleeves. Subtle! Sylvie is also wearing hot pink, which is very out of character. Is this a way of suggesting she and Emily are more on the same wavelength than they seem? I don’t buy it. Emily explains the paperwork thing and Sylvie summons Julian to expedite said paperwork to get Emily out of their lives. At this exact moment, though, a job opens up: Luc and Antoine can’t work together (two alpha males … only one would live) so Emily volunteers to step in. I am hopeful this means a La Perla–clad tryst with Antoine but alas, nothing really comes of this development.
Since Pierre abdicated his fashion-week venue, Grey Space picked it up, and invited Emily (and Pierre) to their fashion week show. Pierre wants to see Emily NOW. Sylvie wants to chaperone. Makes sense. Emily puts on a black and white houndstooth beret to go with that horrid outfit. (Sylvie’s coat is also black-and-white, I guess we are supposed to believe they are a team now. Okay!) Pierre unveils what he calls “the future of Cadault.” It’s a dress that Emily likes! Sylvie is horrified. But anyway, since Pierre forfeited the venue it’s on Emily to find a new one on such short notice.
Gabriel, manipulative as ever, swings by Emily’s place with a “going away present.” It’s the cast-iron pan, so I will say: Fine, ONE reference comes full circle. His last night at the restaurant is tomorrow. “Why wait to start my new life?” he says about the three-year relationship he has abruptly ended, entirely on his terms and without consulting Camille at all. I’m sorry, I’m just … is the intention here that we will feel un-conflicted and super excited about Gabriel and Emily’s inevitable hookup because he was so objectively terrible Camille had to accept his breakup by default, so technically he’s not cheating on his girlfriend? Ughhh.
At the Grey Space show, everyone is LOUD and YOUNG and WEARING HOODIES. Emily is in a bright pink beret and a puffer coat. Pierre pulls a Grey Space on Grey Space and crashes their show, showing up in that autographed t-shirt they gave him, blaring music out of a truck, and bringing out models wearing, essentially, the Viktor & Rolf statement dresses from 2019. The statements are I AM TACKY and PIERRE WHO and BASIC. It’s all very neon and I must assume in this alternate universe there is no Viktor & Rolf and/or there was no 2019 and this is wildly original and not super derivative. Good for you, Pierre! The Grey Space guys practically blend into the marble behind them, very sore about getting shown up by their supposed idol.
Everyone gathers at Gabriel’s to celebrate. All of Emily’s men are there. Sylvie is still talking shit about Antoine to his face. (“Oh, he’s full of promises, isn’t he?”) Antoine’s wife tells Emily she’s very excited to have her “taking over the account” which it turns out is a euphemism for “having sex with Antoine.” Emily is wary but I’m all for it. As the night comes to a close, Emily actually looks fashionable — non-obnoxious styling, great makeup — and Mathieu asks her if she wants to go to St. Tropez for a weekend. Bold choice for a couple that’s had exactly two (2) balcony makeouts, but why not give it a shot?
Antoine can’t believe Gabriel is leaving the restaurant behind, and Gabriel admits it’s just a matter of money and an unwillingness to get into bed, financially, with his girlfriend’s family. Antoine can relate.
Pierre wants to crash a Grey Space fashion week party so Mathieu, like Camille, is conveniently disposed of for the evening. Back in her apartment, Emily pours herself more wine. She watches Gabriel stack chairs from her little balcony and then sprints back out because she just can’t bear to have their goodbye be that awkward thing that it just was! They deserve MORE. She is banging on the doors and it’s like … Emily … you literally just saw him stacking chairs outside; he is still outside.
She says she’s going to miss him so much and then they share a big deep kiss that I just cannot cosign. They have sex; she says it was incredible. He insists they can still see each other since he’ll just be in Normandy. Emily does not say, “If the distance is so inconsequential, why are you and Camille breaking up?” Instead she says, “I don’t think I should ever see you again.” They have a conversation about how they are in a dream from which they hope to never wake, as real humans are wont to do.
It’s morning in Paris and Sylvie’s dress is slit up to her hipbone. She tells Emily that she has decided not to file her termination paperwork, but from now on she will be much tougher. Emily lacks polish. LOL, you don’t say. The girl wearing a beret with a pom-pom lacks polish?
Emily discovers Gabriel at the restaurant where, what do you know, he will be staying after all, because Antoine (also here, bonjour!) has decided to invest in a man he calls, for the second time in two days, “the most promising young chef in Paris.” Just as this news starts to really hit Emily, a text comes through from Camille: “I just heard from Gabriel he’s staying in Paris, can we talk???” Good luck with that, Emily!
This is the part of the recap where I list the most egregious, eye-roll-inducing, come-ON-now clichés, and then award each episode a special cliché rating.
• In an episode full of Emily choices that made me shout at my television, I don’t think we got so many Parisian clichés, no? Was I too distracted by my need to type EMILY NO EMILY STOP in my notes so many times? Please let me know in the comments!
Cliché rating: Someone like Emily not realizing that guys like Gabriel are the worst and that she’d be much better off having an affair with Antoine.