Things have been so uneven on this final season of Younger that we’re now getting what we want (or perhaps for some viewers, wanted) — a Liza and Charles reunion — but it doesn’t feel in any way satisfying. For one, what was the point of breaking them up in the first place, if they were going to get back together without much gained? Neither of them seemed to change or grow because of the breakup. Charles admits that now he realizes he wants to be with Liza any way she wants because he loves her, but does it even matter when no one really bought the new relationship he was in? (He even says that he doesn’t actually like Quinn!) What were the stakes here? And what of Liza, who began the season by getting hurt by the man she loved, never moving on, and simply pining away for him until he changed his mind? Did she have any kind of development this season? We do have one more episode to go before Younger rides off into the sunset, so perhaps Liza will get one last earned win that feels satisfying, but for now, this Liza-Charles shipper will fully admit she’s conflicted as to how the whole thing should end.
All that being said, even though the buildup has been a mess, the actual moment when Liza and Charles finally come together again is admittedly a little swoon-y. Let’s talk about how we get there, because it involves a surprise visit from a ghost of Younger’s past: Oh, friends, Pauline Turner-Brooks is back.
Last we saw Charles’s ex-wife, she was outing Liza at the Debut-tante event, which at the time felt very dramatic, but there haven’t been any real long-lasting consequences from Liza’s identity fraud. On one hand, yeah, of course Liza hates Pauline’s guts, but on the other … who cares? So Liza, who is still processing that lingering almost-kiss with Charles from dinner the other night, bumps into Pauline at Inkubator. Pauline, with a very wholesome new boyfriend, by the way, is seeking out Liza because she wants to make amends. What is the proper way to say, “I’m sorry for humiliating you in front of your entire industry?” Well, first Pauline starts with donating a nice bottle of booze to Inkubator and then she starts in on Liza’s love life.
In a true plot twist: Pauline has become the biggest Liza-Charles shipper of us all! She tells Liza that it was a mistake for them to break up, that true love must conquer all, and that she’s discovered an engagement ring at Charles’s place and he cannot marry that woman! Liza goes from being annoyed to being devastated to being resigned to the fact that it is now finally time to move on; if Charles wants to get engaged to Quinn, she won’t stand in his way. But soon enough, Liza circles back to annoyed: You see, Pauline, not satisfied with Liza’s decision to let this go and probably terrified at the thought of co-parenting with a monster, has come up with a plan. She knows that Charles and Quinn are running off for a getaway to Mustique and assumes Charles will be proposing there. To buy Liza time to come to her senses and stop Charles from making the biggest mistake of his life, she steals her ex-husband’s passport. Charles and Quinn arrive at the private airport and when he realizes his ID is missing, Quinn proceeds to passive-aggressively (also, aggressively) tell Charles he’s an idiot over and over. She seems so fun!
Meanwhile, when Liza finds Lauren trying to track down the passport at the office, she puts it all together and calls Pauline to be like, You’ve got to be kidding me, you actual insane person. Pauline tells Liza where she’s hidden the passport and Liza decides she’s taking it directly to Charles herself. Pauline might see a last-minute, panicked run to the airport as romantic, but Liza swears she is going to say good-bye, once and for all.
Liza arrives at the airport and Charles’s face is a mix of surprise and relief, and you can even see the realization of this is who I should be with. Liza hands over the passport and, true to her word, tells Charles that she wishes him all the happiness in the world and says good-bye in a way that feels really final. She is the world’s most intense delivery service. Quinn has time to inject one more patronizing comment about Charles needing to get his life together and then Liza leaves the two of them. We find her standing on the road outside the airport awaiting her car service.
And then there is a familiar voice behind her.
It’s Charles. He is handsome. He is tall. He is finally telling her what she’s been waiting to hear: “I was with the wrong person,” he says. And, by the way, he was not planning on proposing — that ring that Pauline found was just the ring he had bought for Liza. (Pauline’s at home making more peanut butter and jellies, not realizing the chaos which she hath wrought.) He’s been a fool, he continues, and tells Liza that he doesn’t need to get married, he just wants to be with her, if she’ll still have him. By the way Liza plants that big ol’ kiss on his face, it looks like yes, she very much will have him.
Liza and Charles aren’t the only couple reconnecting ahead of the finale. There is a second Younger blast from the past that we should talk about.
Kelsey’s having a “housewarming party” because she’s temporarily moving into the model unit in the luxury building that Rob owns and, from what I can tell, paying zero rent. Good for Kels, but please, if you’re a real person, do not make your friends celebrate the emergency move into a free, luxe apartment that was necessary because you started secretly dating your friend’s ex and she doesn’t trust you around her child. I’m begging you.
Kelsey, and more importantly, Lauren (and Younger!), loves a good party, so a housewarming it is. Speaking of Lauren, her parents are there to join in the festivities and Lauren’s perpetually, inexplicably creepy dad gets drunk and challenges Josh to a push-up contest. He ends up having a heart attack.
Do not worry! Everything’s fine. As Lauren and her mom wait at the hospital, it gives her mom time to pressure her about getting married, which seems antithetical to what this show should be preaching, but season seven of Younger has decided to be about unleashing chaos, so I guess in that sense, this works. And then, as if Kathy Najimy had conjured up the spirits of the Sanderson sisters themselves, who should appear but Lauren’s ex-boyfriend, the very nice but very vanilla Doctor Max. He’s the one who saved Lauren’s dad’s life! If anything should be a sign, it should be this, Lauren’s parents tell her as they push her to rethink her relationship with Max. He’s nice and a little flirty and suggests they should meet and catch up. Lauren swears to her mom and dad that she’s just not attracted to the guy … but then proceeds to have a truly wild and quite satisfying sex dream about the guy. So, will the two reunite in the end? We only have one more episode to find out!
• So, if Liza and Charles are truly together together already, what’s left for the series finale of Younger to take care of? Well, the major thing seems to be the fate of Inkubator. Charles makes Kelsey and Liza an offer to bring Inkubator into Empirical, and although Kelsey verbally accepts, she also has Rob take a look at the offer. He, in turn, says Inkubator is worth much more than Charles is offering and will send it to a venture-capitalist friend for valuation. That VC friend sends the pitch to other VC friends and so on and so forth until the Inkubator pitch ends up in the inbox of one Quinn Tyler. Quinn has just been unceremoniously dumped by Charles and left on a private plane, so who knows what kind of devious plans she might try to set in motion to get back at Charles and/or Liza.
• Josh has to get some kind of romantic “happily ever after” at the end of this, right? My inclination is that he and Clare will reunite, but his gentle threatening of Rob to be careful with Kelsey felt a little more-than-friends, didn’t it? Maybe I’m just seeing things because I want so much more for Kelsey than this snoozefest of a real-estate developer.
• Any and all “Liza and Maggie catch up in the morning and call each other out on stuff” scenes have always been a delight and I will miss them.