Well, when the pre-episode recap includes reminders of pretty much every single story line that has gone down in season three, you know you’re in for it. There’s so much for Good Trouble to get into in its finale that they had to supersize it. Ninety whole minutes of drama, baby! And yet, with all that extra time, there is so little closure in this episode it mostly ends up feeling less than satisfying. Listen, it’s not like I don’t love a good finale cliffhanger — Isaac coming up on that elevator?! Reader, I gasped — I am a human woman! But, like, all the cliffhangers? Especially when it comes to story lines playing out all season long, it would’ve been a little more narratively pleasing to get some definitive answers instead of stretching some of these stories out past their expiration date. It’s time for some of these plots to level up, you know?
While there aren’t many answers in this episode, that doesn’t mean nothing is happening. Every main character has an arc! The Coterie is alive with angst! For this reason, I think it might be best to end these season-three recaps the same way they started back in February and parse through it all character by character. “Closing Arguments” is framed by a dream sequence in which each of our main players takes the stand in a courtroom and must answer for their transgressions, explain themselves, or finally make a decision — the show is putting each character in the hot seat and so will we.
Things are going pretty well for Malika, which is always a sign that drama is nigh. She and Angelica have their second date and hit it off even though Angelica isn’t totally sure how she feels about Malika being poly. (Do you smell it? That’s some future drama brewing.) Not only does Malika get offered the full-time job at DPN, but she ends up having to turn it down because Angelica’s ex, City Councilperson Lucia Morales, offers Malika a position on her staff. Although Dyonte is wary of trusting a politician, Malika believes she could help enact real change when it comes to justice reform if she’s working inside the system. Little does Dyonte know, but the only reason he winds up with the DPN gig is that Malika turns it down … which is definitely a piece of information that is going to come out at some point and cause problems; it is the only way.
But only if Isaac doesn’t first. Just as Malika says good-bye to Dyonte after what looks like it must’ve been a wholly satisfying fuck, and he takes the elevator down, the other elevator rises (it’s a great shot), and inside stands the Coterie’s tallest boyfriend. Malika is at a loss for words. But I am not! Guysssss, Isaac had such a tough time processing Malika coming out as poly, what is he going to do when he learns that she now has two partners? And is Malika even interested in him anymore, or is this just going to be a closure thing? Is there any way Malika could really not want to climb that tall man like a tree at least one more time?! See? This is the type of cliffhanger I am very much onboard for.
On the opposite side of the spectrum is the Tommy Sung case. Tommy’s trial has been moving swiftly in the very best way — you know I am all in should there be a sudsy lawyer-show spinoff called Gale & Associates — and all signs pointed toward wrapping this baby up in the finale. And why not? A guilty verdict or not, there would be some major fallout to deal with next season, right? Good Trouble has other plans, it seems.
The defense team needs to recover from that bombshell last week: Tommy and Zack were in a romantic relationship. In their regroup, Tommy breaks down into tears (Kevin David Lin is so good in this episode) because he loved Zack — he didn’t kill him. It’s compelling stuff, and the reason why Kathleen thinks the only move left is to put Tommy on the stand. There is a brief hiccup: Tommy’s dad says that if Kathleen promises NOT to put his son on the stand, he’ll tell her where his sister is, which would get Kathleen out of her FBI troubles. It’s an enticing deal, especially after Kathleen’s old law-firm partner informs her that he handed her books over to the FBI, and they are hella incriminating. If Kathleen is only looking out for herself, she will refuse to put Tommy on the stand.
And just when you think the worst of Kathleen, she ends up doing what’s best for her client.
Callie questions Tommy and allows him to tell his side of the story. When Rothman tells Jamie to cross-examine since Jamie is able to rile Callie up, Jamie straight-up refuses. Jamie Hunter is back in this game, people! It’s great news if you’ve been looking for more evidence that Jamie and Callie are slowly moving back to one another but maybe terrible news if you’re Tommy Sung and on trial for murdering your secret boyfriend. Why? Because Rothman is forced to do the cross and he goads Tommy into exploding with anger. It’s not a good look. Thankfully, Kathleen gets Tommy to give some heartbreaking testimony about losing the person he loved. And yet, still, the jury could go either way.
The foreman stands up to read the verdict, and just as he’s getting to the good part, the scene stops. It turns out we will not be learning Tommy’s (or Kathleen’s!) fate just yet. It feels cheap to drag it out this way! Instead, we wind up in our dreamscape courtroom where Callie is being questioned by our old friend Judge Wilson — an interesting choice! The whole scene is about Callie feeling aimless because she simply reacts to the situation around her rather than going after what she wants. She tells Wilson it’s because growing up the way she did, she had no control over her life and has always simply had to adapt. He thinks using her childhood as an excuse is too easy. She needs to have the courage to live her life. She’s scared — “What if this is as good as it gets?” she asks, in tears.
Connecting her traumatic childhood to the way she makes decisions as an adult is a huge revelation for Callie and bound to be a big beat in her character development — the way it ties together so much of what Callie’s done on Good Trouble is a thing to see! — I only wish she had this epiphany in a real conversation. Surely a deeper exploration will happen in season four, especially since the big cliffhanger we’re leaving on in regard to Callie is Wilson’s parting question: “What’s keeping you here?” Now, time will tell whether he means the law as a career choice or Los Angeles as a whole.
But we know she sure as shit won’t be staying for Gael. The writing’s been on the wall regarding Gael and Callie for a few episodes now, but in “Closing Arguments,” the on-again-off-again-on-again couple is, well, off again. It’s inevitable after Isabella returns from the hospital. She and the baby are fine — her blood pressure was way too high, and now she’s on bed rest — but it’s never been more clear to Gael that he wants to be a father to this child and a support system to Isabella fully and completely. This, of course, means that he can’t be there for Callie in the way he wants to or she deserves. This breakup is amicable, but wow, it is so sad! It very much feels like a true closing of the book on these two — and the closure we need in this episode! Now, as far as what’s to come for Gael: He tells Isabella that he doesn’t want her to go to Santa Barbara; he wants her to stay here with him. Will she say yes? Will these two get together romantically? Doesn’t raising a baby at the Coterie sound like one of the worst ideas in actual history? There were two raccoons loose not that long ago, lest you forget.
After an email is leaked in which the comedians learn that the network already picked Alice to win the talent deal because “Asians are in this year” and the optics would look great, the group decides to take one last stand. They’re tired of being used and treated this way, and as Margaret Cho points out, so many of her big breaks came from her fellow artists supporting one another. So, that’s what these guys do — they say screw this workshop once and for all and put the showcase on themselves at the theater below the Coterie. They even throw in a surprise sketch celebrating Alice. It’s a little much, but it is nice to see everyone — yes, even Derek — be there for one another in the end, and it is doubly nice that this cursed workshop is over.
Also possibly over: Alice and Sumi. They finally get honest about how they’re feeling, but for Alice, that also means being honest about how scared she is that they might fall back into their old patterns. It just isn’t worth the risk, and she thinks they should stay friends. I’d be more devastated if I actually thought Alice was going to stick to this decision.
The award for the strangest turn of events in the finale easily goes to whatever the hell is happening with Mariana and the Fight Club Girls. If you were looking forward to our dear Mariana learning a life lesson about how sometimes you need to choose yourself over less-than-supportive friends and move on, you will not find that here.
After a huge blowup at work, Claire admits that, of course, they work better as a team, and she’s tired of holding a grudge. It’s exhausting! So the Fight Club Girls make up, but not before Mariana had a chance to take that job interview with the other start-up developing an app similar to BB. Which, as Mariana informs her friends, is more than similar — it’s the exact same thing. And moreover, it’s funded by Jackie Morton at the Hallis Group. You know, the Jackie who turned BB down after hearing about their reputation for drama at Speckulate. Suspicious!
Mariana isn’t having any of it. The women concoct a plan to destroy this new app from the inside by having Mariana convince Jackie to hire her to run this other app and, like, I guess try to fuck with it? The plan seems less than fully baked. They seem pretty pumped when Mariana does, in fact, lock down that job with Jackie thanks to a great recommendation from Evan (Mariana has to buck up the courage to ask her ex for the favor), but little do they know that when Evan asks Mariana if she’ll meet up with him, it’s only because Jackie is telling him to; they’re in cahoots! Is this going to be a little double-cross-app development action? I have many questions. They are mostly “What?” also “Why?”
You’d think after all this time —so much time! — that we’d finally learn if Davia is choosing Matt or Dennis. Even if it’s Matt! Just lay it on us, already!
Instead, we get one very special gift in the form of a gorgeous scene between Davia and Dennis on his food truck — the Toasted Truck — in which he tells her that while he was at the hospital with Isabella, he took a walk into the children’s ward, a place he hasn’t been since his son died. He’s holding back tears as he talks about wanting to use his food truck once a week to bring food to the parents at the hospital. He remembers what it was like to be them and wants to offer support. Honestly, I am floored that the writers at Good Trouble found a way to connect a fucking food truck that sells toast to Dennis healing from his emotional trauma. Everybody involved deserves a vacation for figuring that out. Davia is so proud to see how far Dennis has come. And then the two get weepy together because Dennis tells Davia that she’s the reason he’s still here. She never gave up on him, and he knows he wouldn’t be alive today without her. It might be my favorite scene of the entire season? It’s so quiet and loving and a well-earned payoff, and I might be tearing up just thinking about it; please leave me alone or hand me a piece of toast or something.
The other thing this story line offers up is a new musical number. Davia imagines herself onstage belting out another Sara Bareilles heartbreaker and thinking about big moments in both her relationships. It’s not that I don’t love any and all opportunities to listen to Emma Hunton’s incredible voice, it’s just that this whole thing takes up a ton of time that could’ve been used on, I don’t know, actually learning who Davia is going to choose? At the end of the episode, she walks into Dennis’s room and tells him that she finally knows what she wants. Now it’s time to let us know what she wants. And I swear to the Coterie gods if Davia Kelly Taylors this thing after all we have invested, there will be the flipping of tables.