by Jess Lynde
Objects: Caged Bird, Barrel Bear, Karma Chameleon
Mission: “Let him go,” “Tell him you’re happy,” “Give him heart,” and “There’s a hidden door in the bathroom”
‘Caged Bird’ brings the series to a close with a hostage crisis at Wonderfalls and with Jaye and Eric trying to cope with “goodbye” after Heidi arrives to take Eric home to New Jersey. While trying to escape police, an armed robber ends up trapped in the gift shop and takes Jaye, Sharon, Alec, and Wade (the mall security guard) hostage. Jaye is continually encouraged to bolster Wade’s confidence, which leads to him having a heart attack while attempting to bludgeon the robber with a souvenir paddle. As the robber grows increasingly desperate, the animals tip Jaye off to an escape route through the bathroom. The robber takes her along to protect himself, but ends up getting killed by an ambulance speeding to the scene. Ultimately, the deceased robber’s heart goes to the security guard, saving his life, and Eric and Heidi split up, leaving Jaye and Eric free to be together at last!
Yea!!! I love it when a plan comes together! The frustrating, heartbreaking torture of the last run of episodes finally comes to an end as Jaye and Eric are united at long last! I’m thrilled we got to close on a “happily ever after” note for our favorite, star-crossed, not-yet-lovers. I like to imagine the two of them growing old together, keeping busy with hilarious and vague mission directives from Jaye’s animal voices. Setting the Universe to rights with trusty sidekicks Mahandra and Aaron, and with the hapless Sharon inadvertently helping out or getting screwed over, depending on the week. Oh, and the team always makes time for family breakfast and family game night at the Tylers. Dreamy sigh.
I really would have liked to see more misadventures with our core characters, but ‘Caged Bird’ was a fitting end for the series. A hostage crisis could definitely be viewed more as a “stunt” episode than a series finale, but despite the extreme situation it somehow managed to both amuse and provide closure on the main story arcs. In the previous episode, the writers provided some resolution for the series premise, with Jaye basically accepting her special gift and her great purpose (or her role as “fate’s bitch,” if you will). For the finale, they made Aaron’s and Mahandra’s relationship official, gave us several great Tyler family moments --- including a big emotional group hug after the hostage drama --- sent Heidi packing, and had Eric become a permanent Niagara Falls resident. Oh, and did I mention Jaye and Eric were reunited?! Joyous, happy day! With the exception of Jaye’s trailer, they even managed to feature all my favorite locations: the store, the bar, and the Tyler house (and the trailer at least got a shout out). And they capped the episode with a cute final exchange between Jaye and her very first talking animal ---
Wax Lion: “A word of advice ...”
Jaye: “Shut up!”
This episode was also a solid hour of entertainment, with good misdirection and multiple interpretations for Jaye’s missions, plus loads of great character interactions. Sharon comforting Jaye in the manager’s office. Aaron inviting Mahandra to his parents’ anniversary dinner as his date. “How could you say no to delicious?” Mahandra giving in to her feelings by kissing Aaron in public. Karen and Darrin getting busy in the laundry room. “Washer or dryer?” “Washer! Washer!” Eric and Jaye in all their goodbye scenes (although they made me want to hurl things at the television) and the wonderful “hello!” scene at the end. Mahandra prodding Eric about leaving and why he needed her to cover for him with Heidi. Even the surprising combination of Heidi and Mahandra was a winner. I loved how Heidi totally knew what was up and just laid it out there. “Just be decent about this, and tell me why he’s sneaking off to see Crazy.”
I really loved the scene between Jaye and Sharon in the manager’s office. It was a wonderful, poignant moment for the sisters and a fantastic way to bring that relationship full circle. Only three months ago, way back in the Pilot, Jaye was barely comfortable hugging her sister and telling her she loved her. Now she’s confiding her deepest pain, crying in Sharon’s arms, and letting her big sister help. Awesome. Plus, Caroline and Katie completely rocked that scene! When Jaye cried out, “I had to let him go, but I didn’t wanna let him go. I wanted to keep this one,” I started tearing up a bit myself. And this exchange just killed me:
Sharon: “You love him?”
Sharon: “Is he gone?”
Jaye (sobbing): “He’s going.”
Sharon (gently): “Is he gone?”
Fantastic stuff. I was so impressed with Sharon in this episode. I was strangely surprised that she didn’t panic during the hostage crisis. I don’t know why it should surprise me, because we’ve seen her hold it together through several tough, high-pressure situations. I guess I have this mental image of her running into the Tyler kitchen with the tennis shoe from the gutter and semi-freaking out about the missing “children” in ‘Safety Canary.’ But she handled herself very well here: trying to talk the robber down with legal advice; trying to covertly send a message to her parents; deftly switching the phone with the tazer and stunning the robber; and using the tazer to revive the security guard. She was a rock! Jaye was very brave, too.
One story arc that didn’t get resolved: Sharon and Beth. We’ll never know if Beth slept with her ex-husband and went straight again. Did Sharon lose her girlfriend?
I loved the reveal that even though Jaye hadn’t tried to signal him, Eric knew something was off and went to the police. “I just knew something was wrong. I came by to say goodbye, and she wouldn’t let me do it. And when you care about somebody, even if she’s upset with him, you let him at least have that.”
Heidi accidentally hitting the escape van was too perfect. “Of course, now she’s kicking herself for saving your life.” And the ambulance taking out the robber was definitely a shock! I’m pretty sure I gasped. Or maybe even shrieked like Heidi and Jaye!
I really liked the Sarah McLachlan song playing over the end of the hostage crisis (‘Dirty Little Secret’).
If I had the chance, love,
I would not hesitate,
To tell you all the things I never said before.
Don’t tell me it’s too late.
Cause I’ve relied on my illusions
To keep me warm at night.
But I denied in my capacity to love.
I am willing, to give up this fight.
Oh, I am willing to give up this fight.
The lyrics really resonated with the moment and with Jaye’s emotional arc through the series, especially as she watched Eric and Heidi walking away together. Of course, this was at least the third time I wanted to throw things at the television. But, in the end, it all worked out just as I --- uh, the Universe wanted it to, so all is forgiven.
Eric: “This was all sort of inevitable, right? Me going back to Jersey. I mean, it is what it is. Right?”
Wade: “George W. Bush doesn’t like them either, so you can forget about working in a government or police agency.”
Shoplifter: “Is that why you’re not a real cop? You got caught shoplifting?”
Wade: “Unpleasant situations can be avoided by making good life choices.”
Jaye: “I have to disagree. I make good life choices. Mostly because they’re forced on me, but I make them. And I find myself in unpleasant situations all the time.”
Jaye: “We’re all fate’s bitch. You might as well go ahead and bend over for destiny now.”
Mahandra: “I’m a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I’ve infiltrated her flock and now I’m about to eat her delicious baby lamb. Answer’s no.”
Aaron: “But, you just said that I’m delicious. How could you say no to delicious?”
Jaye: “What about me? Who’s gonna give me heart? Who’s gonna strengthen my resolve? Because my resolve is definitely losing structural integrity.”
Jaye (crying): “I know there’s that whole clause about letting somebody go, and what it means if they come back, and blah, blah, blah ...”
Barrel Bear: “Give him heart.”
Jaye: “No. And you can’t make me.”
Robber: [Sticks gun in her face] "Get on the floor!”
Jaye: “Oh god! [...] OK. So maybe you can make me.”
Alec: “Please, don’t kill me! I can’t die! I’ve never been with a woman.”
Robber: [Swings gun towards Sharon] "You.”
Sharon: “I have been with a woman!”
Wade: “It may shoot rubber pellets, but it’s a fully licensed crowd-dispersal firearm.”
Mahandra: “You don’t trust him.”
Heidi: “Well, of course, I don’t trust him. Have you seen the way he looks at her?”
Mahandra: “I’ve seen it.”
Heidi: “Well, then you know.”
Mahandra: “Yeah. I know.”
Heidi: “Are you listening to yourself? Whining to me about a guy who wants to be with you, and knows he wants to be with you? Please, tell me what is so confusing about that, so I can listen to you whine some more and not kill myself. Please!”
Eric: “It was inevitable. Everything that had to happen, happened. [...] I had to leave before I could come back.”
Eric: “I’m a resident. And I’m single, if ... anyone were to be interested.”
Final Analysis: Wonderfalls had precious few episodes, but it was a hell of a ride. The show took us from the confusion and ecstasy of falling in love for the first time, through the agony of crushing heartbreak, and hit all the notes in between. It brought laughter, tears, fury, and elation, but mostly laughter. Careening crazily from one laugh-out-loud adventure to the next, Wonderfalls was quite the full experience. ‘Caged Bird’ brings the show to an enjoyable and fitting end, and I close the book on the series content and delighted to share the joy with others. Thanks for watching with me!