Much like a good ending to a movie, the final episode of a television show must deliver a satisfying ending to the story that’s been playing out by building upon everything that came before it. So by the end, we can look back at the whole story with a new perspective of where it was leading and how it got there.
Pretty much every discussion we’ve had about the series, or even the season, can be rendered useless if the finale contradicts some of the points that we thought the story was trying to make. This was the case with Love and Death.
I’ve been praising the show for the past few weeks for its dedication to tell a story where character exploration comes first, and the depiction of a crime and the investigation and trial that ensued came second.
Why did Candy do this? What was it that led a seemingly normal woman living in Texas in the late ’70s, to commit such a heinous act?
As I argued in my discussion of the fourth episode, the details of the crime should take a backseat, as showing the actual murder does not contribute much to the story. And yet, going into the final episode we should put all of that aside and focus on what the writers have to say. It’s the unfortunate truth about reviewing these episodes week to week, even if it’s also what makes it so satisfying.
Overall thoughts on Love and Death episode 7 (non-spoiler)
The final episode of Love and Death was pretty consistent with what the last one was, but also corrected some of the concerns I had about episode 6. Much like “The Big Top”, “Ssssshh” is a direct retelling of the trial, starting with the moment Elizabeth Olsen’s Candy Montgomery takes the stand. Throughout the episode, the actress delivers another outstanding performance, even if her acting peaked in the first half of the show (mostly because she has significantly less to do once the trial starts).
But the script doesn’t take a lot of liberties or allow for many creative decisions. These past couple of episodes might as well have been a documentary, except for a few scenes we get outside of the courtroom. (Kelley returns as the only writer, with Lesli Linka Glatter once again directing.) And yet, unlike the last episode, the finale did include a few moments throughout that served as characterization of the people in the show, and we certainly get to tie some of the open threads regarding Candy’s psyche from episode 5, which was satisfying.
As the series wraps, it’s certainly time to revisit the question I posed in the discussion of the first three episodes — Why tell this story now? The fifth episode, as we discussed, pretty much laid out the entire theme of the show, adultery=murder in the eyes of this town. The finale does once again revisit that theme through subtle references, both visually and dialogue-wise, from different perspectives.
But how do we apply this to our modern world? Is David E. Kelley asking us to rethink religion and some of the exaggerations that are completely outdated, and yet continued to be followed quite strictly by a part of our society? Is this an introspection about how we look at the media and how much we are fed up with a certain narrative just because it’s beneficial for the ratings and the polarization of our society? Were we in that town at that moment in time, should we have cared for everything that happened as much as they did? These are questions that the show ponders and doesn’t really answer, hoping the viewer will draw their own conclusions.
One final thought… Minor spoiler alert
There is one thing I would like to add to all of the above, but viewers who are not familiar with how the case played out in court and are looking to be surprised by the episode may want to avoid it. As I said earlier, I had the impression after watching episode 4 that Kelley wanted to avoid showing us the murder because it didn’t really matter how Candy killed Betty. The only thing that mattered was why. And while I still feel that way, the finale showed that the truth was actually much simpler than that.
In episode 4, when we are watching the events play out, we are seeing this through an unbiased, third-person point of view. The camera is the narrator, and we are witnessing history. The director may want us to focus on one or two things in particular, and also use the actors to convey a story, but for the most part we are looking at the story from the outside. What they are really saying is that we (and by extension, they) actually don’t know what happened.
We get to witness the events through Candy’s point of view as she is telling it to the jury. By introducing this scene earlier in the season, Kelley and Glatter would be saying “This is what actually happened”. Now, it turns out, we don’t know if this is how it went down; we just know that in the eyes of the law, Candy Montgomery is not-guilty of what she’s being accused of. But the truth is that we don’t know if her testimony was really truthful or not, and that was a very fine line that Kelley had to walk when writing the show, allowing the viewer to take their own conclusion.
What did you think of the finale of Love and Death? Did you enjoy the series overall, or were you a bit disappointed? What was your favorite part, and what was it that didn’t quite work for you? Let us know on our social media, and stay tuned for more reviews coming soon!