'Life Unexpected': To have and to hold
The season finale opened with a classic fakeout. Lux (Brittany Robertson) was helping Cate (Shiri Appleby), who was wearing a white dress, get ready. Baze (Kristoffer Polaha) was wearing a suit. Everyone looked dressed up and happy. But of course we knew what seemed like a setup for a wedding wasn't so. It was far too early in the hour and the series for Cate and Baze to be walking down the aisle. Instead, they were being reinstated as Lux's parents. It was a picture-perfect moment with Lux standing between her parents as they held hands. Cue the first waterworks moment. I counted at least six during the hour.
“It's almost like I like you,” Cate remarks about how well they're getting along. But she has no idea just how much Baze likes her, so the arrangements for her wedding to Ryan (Kerr Smith) continue. But things immediately start to go wrong before the first commercial break even hits. Cate's mom (Cynthia Stevenson) has made tacky shot glass wedding favors. Abby is sick with food poisoning. (In reality, actress Alexandra Breckenridge got sick and couldn't make her flight for filming of the season finale, creator Liz Tigelaar tells the Cornell Sun.) And to top it all off, the venue for the rehearsal dinner is flooded. Lux, knowing full well about Baze's feelings and his refusal to admit them to Cate, offers up his bar as a replacement.
Meanwhile, Alice (Erin Karpluk) has presented Cate and Ryan with a five-year contract that the station would like them to sign. It's not a typical wedding present, but the line between boss and bridesmaid gets ever so blurred these day. Ryan doesn't want to be locked into a five-year contract. Cate takes his hesitance to mean he doesn't want to be locked to her. Will the same be true of their marriage? But I see Ryan's point. Mixing work and personal relationships is dangerous territory. Cough, costars who date, cough. It's already caused them so many problems in their professional and personal lives. Cate's mom takes over as pseudo-psychologist from Abby this week and suggests that Cate is projecting her issues onto Ryan because she doesn't want to marry him.
At the world's worst rehearsal dinner, which Cate aptly describes as a roast, each guest's toast is worse than the last. Cate's mom is drunk. Ryan's mom suggests he settled. Math (Austin Basis) reenacts a Paula Abdul video. (Why are you trying to kill my love for you, Math?) But hey, we did learn Ryan has a sister who's on a self-indulgent “Eat Pray Love” tour, so it wasn't all for naught. I really hope we get to meet her if there's a Season 2, which there better be. You hear me, CW?
Back at home, Lux spills the beans to Cate about Baze's feelings. Cate goes back to the bar to confront him and admits she's felt something even before their morning hand holding. But Baze has been talked back into reason by Math, who basically tells him the right thing to do is to let her go and let her marry Ryan. So Baze lies and says he doesn't love her.
As Cate and Ryan prepare to get married, Lux runs into Ryan outside the church. Introspective guy that he is, he recognizes her desire to fulfill that childhood fantasy of wanting your parents to end up together. Even though he might be marrying Cate, “You guys are a family,” he says of Cate, Baze and Lux. “All I want is to be a part of it.” Ryan even tears up, giving you a feel for just how much he must sometimes feel like an outsider amidst all the chaos and how badly he wants to belong. We've seen Baze being threatened by Ryan's position, but Ryan must be just as threatened by Baze's position in Lux and Cate's lives. Ryan offers to postpone the wedding if this is all too much, but Lux realizes what Cate and Ryan have is real, not a fantasy.
“Baze is never going to be the guy that you want him to be. And thinking that he is? That's a fantasy,” she tells Cate. They both want something real and so the wedding moves past another roadblock. Ryan even sends Cate a new contract written on a note. He promises he'll still be around in five years, 10 years. Did anybody else get “Grey's Anatomy” post-it note marriage vibes? Unlike “Grey's” though, Ryan and Cate actually walk down the aisle and exchange vows. But just after they say their I dos, Baze storms through the church doors.
Apparently, Baze and his father are back to being angry with each other. I'm not sure what happened between the turtle racing episode and now to break the peace. The explanation that Baze hasn't called in a month and didn't invite his parents to the adoption ceremony seems jarring, as does the whole sudden reinstatement of the Cold War between them. But they make up and Baze's father finally tells him he loves him and urges him not to make the same mistakes. Cue racing to the church, but he's too late! Ryan and Cate both stare at him and then, in what seems like a declaration to Baze, Cate kisses her new husband.
Readers, is this how you thought the season would end? Are you glad Cate and Ryan made it official, or were you hoping Baze would get there in time to stop the wedding? Before I watched the episode, I took a very informal poll on Twitter asking people if they wanted Cate to end up with Baze or Ryan. In passing weeks, the series has made it increasingly hard to choose just one guy in no small part thanks to winning performances from both Polaha and Smith. I got every answer from neither to both to Math, but Baze got the most votes. Personally, I have to go with @sayiarly, who said, “Ryan for now and Baze for later!” I've always been open about my love for Cate and Ryan, especially Ryan, so my choice probably comes as no surprise. I think there's still a lot left to explore in the idea of Cate and Ryan trying to give marriage a go. As Lux says, they are real. They do love each other, even if the idea of Baze seems like a more romantic fantasy. TV has taught viewers to identify and zone in on will they or won't they couples, but Cate couldn't have put it more perfectly. Is the guy who knocked her up in the back of a minivan really her soulmate? Well, probably since this is TV, but for now I want the show to explore the guy you'd probably pick in real life. Plus, as I said earlier, it's too soon for the show to put Baze and Cate together. Let the tension grow. Just no extramarital hijinks, please. What would you like to see in a possible Season 2? Perhaps more of Jones and Bug, who were both absent tonight?
-- Vlada Gelman (Follow my TV musings on Twitter: @stayingin)
'Life Unexpected': Creator Liz Tigelaar talks about the final episodes and a second season
Complete 'Life Unexpected' coverage on Showtracker
Photo: Cate (Shiri Appleby), Lux (Brittany Robertson) and Baze (Kristoffer Polaha) become a family. Credit: Jack Rowand / The CW.