ADAM PALLY, ELISHA CUTHBERT

‘Happy Endings’ 3.22 & 3.23 Recaps: “Ooh La La, Pepe Le Pew, French Stewart!”

This may be the end. ABC has aired the final two episodes of ‘Happy Endings’ Season 3. These may be the final two episodes of the series forever, unless ABC offers a last minute renewal, or USA or TBS snaps the show up. If these are to be the end, at least they’re not a bad way to go out – with some slapstick and a whole lot of whimsy.

In ‘Deuce Babylove 2: Electric Babydeuce’, Dave and Penny’s parents (Michael McKean and Megan Mullally), now a couple, announce that they’re planning to adopt a new child, which throws Dave and Penny into disarray. (Dave resorts to scatting as a response to the news.) Meanwhile, Max and Alex tag along with Brad and Jane to a tennis club that they want to join.

‘Deuce Babylove’ doesn’t do anything astonishing. It just revels in the absurdity of these characters. Dave and Penny hold a fake commercial audition to steal a baby in order to remind their parents that kids aren’t all sunshine and roses. The plot isn’t as important as Dave and Penny’s interplay, the kind of controlled silliness that the cast has become so good at. This is even more evident with the other four. Alex, dressed like a flapper from the ’20s, and Max, who Jane points out looks like “John McEnroe’s fat cousin, John Mac and Cheese,” are determined to ruin Brad and Jane’s chances of membership, because they’re under the misapprehension that Brad and Jane want to do rich things away from their poor friends, when all they really want is some couple time.

The foursome get into a tennis match that is pure slapstick bliss, with Alex and Max fumbling in every way you could imagine. The punchline, centered around Brad and Alex’s overinflated sense of victory, is played perfectly, right down to Jane’s weak attempt to backpedal. And Max’s plan to recover things is even more spot-on.

The last episode, ‘Brothas and Sisters’, forgoes the physical comedy, bringing in a new Kerkovich sister, Brooke, played by Stephanie March. We learn that Jane is actually the middle sister, and her alpha personality is overshadowed whenever Brooke is around. Brooke is in town to get married to a black man, which gives Brad a complex, because he was the first, and feels like he’s also being overshadowed.

More interestingly (the Jane and Brooke stuff isn’t as funny or satisfying as it could have been), Alex and Dave have secretly broken up but not told anyone. In a conversation involving ever smaller spaces (a neat physical gag that also doubles as a metaphor), the two realize that they’ve not had enough relationship experience with other people to know if they’re right for each other or if they’ve just grown comfortable.

Dave and Alex decide not to announce until after the wedding, but Max and Penny get the scoop and accidentally let it slip. In an attempt to “change the news cycle” and redirect the curious wedding guests, the pair make up a series of stories about Alex being pregnant and Brad planning to leave Jane because he has a love child with another woman. This all comes to a head during the ceremony, topped by the fire sprinklers going off because Jane, stressed beyond belief, left the programs next to lit candles.

Ultimately, introducing Brooke seems like a mistake. If this is truly the last episode of the series, we should keep it about the gang that we know, not new outsiders. Her addition seems so out of left field, especially when you consider that she’s not even central to the story. She’s simply the excuse to get the group to a wedding, which they’ve done for the past two season finales.

Still, the humor will not be contained. Alex, Max and Penny all get in some excellent lines, and Brad makes a delightful fool of himself all the way through. If this truly is to be the last we see of these strange, crazy friends, then at least we saw them going out celebrating their friendship together.

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