The Comeback aired its season finale over the holiday break and there was no way we were going to let it get lost in the end of year shuffle. So while this is a little later than normal I am joined once again by Kerensa Cadenas to discuss all things Valerie Cherish, whether we want another season and how neither of us could keep it together for the final 15 minutes.
Emma: For a finale that included shit pouring out over Valerie’s driveway I don’t think there has been a sweeter or more hopeful episode of The Comeback and after fearing that something dark and awful would befall Valerie this was the ending I really wanted but wasn’t sure we would get. There is still no word on whether there will be a season 3 and even though I would LOVE to see more Comeback episodes I would also be okay with leaving the show here because it really is a perfect way to close out the series.
Valerie chose Mickey over the Emmys and all season they had been hinting at how much Val would do for both fame and recognition appearing on a show that annihilated her career and personality. Relationships have been strained and it didn’t appear like there was any way back for Valerie and Mark after their parking lot blow up but it turns out people can surprise you. As we’ve discussed before Valerie is not mean or cruel, she’s just a bit oblivious to how some of her actions might impact those around her and she is very driven when it comes to her career, but on the biggest night of her career and her crowning glory it is the man who has been by her side for 24 years who she runs to.
I don’t know how much Valerie has changed since this success because to me she’s still pretty much the same Valerie and this is apparent when she doesn’t realize that people are applauding her when she walks into Juna’s party. I think maybe she’s still the same but other people are responding to her differently, except Mickey and this is another reason why it is important that she leaves the Emmys for Mickey and not Mark. Juna’s long concerned hug encapsulates this and she can’t understand why she did Seeing Red in the first place, which is a pretty normal reaction because who would submit themselves to Paulie G and that portrayal? This is all part of the “everything is fine” big wide smile mantra she has perfected and it is why those moments of real concern for Mickey really stick with me. They are the OTP of this show and I can’t tell you how glad I am that they didn’t kill him off.
Do you think Valerie has changed?
Kerensa: I’m not sure Valerie will ever entirely change but I do think that things personally for her got shitty enough where she had to realize what she was doing. If you think about it in the first season, yes, professionally things were a wreck for her, but at the time personally things weren’t bad. Maybe got a little strained because of the reality show but it wasn’t a complete utter rock bottom situation like this was with Mark leaving her and Mickey’s illness. She was crushing it professionally but kinda had to turn a blind eye to everything else until it was wayyyy past the point in which she could continue to do so.
I think that’s what made such a hugely emotional impact on me as well, for Valerie to go to Mickey during the Emmys, a time where she was finally going to shine is what’s important. Whether or not she entirely changes, for me isn’t the point, and I honestly don’t expect her to fully.
Do you think so?
Emma: This is the night Valerie has been working/hoping for which is why it means so much that she leaves especially as everyone keeps telling her that she is going to win. I did wonder at one point that if she stayed then she wouldn’t win, but I’m so glad they went with the alternative. When Valerie gets the Mark text about Mickey collapsing she is initially unsure about what she should do with Jane telling her she has to stay because she is going to win. This is the perfect end for Jane’s documentary if Valerie does win and while I think we were both worried about the finished product (which we of course don’t get to see) Jane misses out on the perfect ending when Valerie leaves without her usual camera crew trailing behind her.
The big filming style switch threw me for a moment but it was jarring in the most magnificent way as the documentary format fell away and left us looking at Valerie in a completely new way. It is the perfect way to shoot this moment because Valerie is no longer starring in her own reality show and it was simply stunning. This is Valerie stripped down not trying to be the most liked best person and this is the most likable best version of her and those cameras aren’t there to capture it. And how beautiful does she look in that gown with the red umbrella?! From the awkward Uber pickup to Mark’s face when he sees her sitting in the hospital room. I’m getting teary just thinking about it.
And when she wins and her speech is so perfect; the kitchen speech prep calling back to the pilot was devastating in its loneliness whereas this is all love (well except for the unseen/unhappy other patient). It made me SO happy and I really was expecting this finale to be so dark whereas it was a big huge win for Val and us watching her. What did you make of the camera style switch and the way she won?
Kerensa: I loved the camera switch. I thought it was such an interesting parallel that Valerie’s day to day is stunningly beautiful while the reality TV version of her life isn’t. I sobbed through those final 15 minutes and then when she actually won, I think my heart stopped for a minute. I think the way she won was perfect though, she got to share the moment with the people who really mattered to her, the people who’ve been rooting for her for years, not all the camera crews and all that.
Although, her practice speeches while eating in the kitchen would have been GREAT to see onstage.
Emma: Watching last night’s Golden Globes and with all the chat about rain earlier in the day made it hard to not think of Valerie Cherish.
The kitchen scene really works in a similar way to the no reality show cameras in the hospital scenes as it seems like she’s really forgotten they are there, mostly because I can’t imagine her eating this much on camera on purpose. This bit where she gets out the frozen cake (that’s what it is right?) is the perfect representation of those times where you do just want comfort food.
The crack in the wall and the torrent of shit that followed was very on the nose in how it mirrors what’s going on in Valerie’s life and it also gave one very disgusting (and hilarious) sight gag when Brad brings the dress over. This is followed by one of my favorite shots of the season as she is carried to the car by Billy and a shirtless Brad. What did you make of the whole getting ready stuff and especially Jane’s territorial attitude?
Kerensa: Oh the getting ready stuff was incredibly uncomfortable especially when Valerie goes and begs her neighbor to let her get ready in his home. And all his points about Valerie being incredibly selfish were so on point.
Jane’s territorial attitude has been very apparent in the last several episodes and I’m not super surprised? I think she has that attitude a little bit about Valerie, who she does care about, but I think it’s grown more because this HBO project for her is a big deal. She’s making a documentary about women, that’s funded and that would eventually be on HBO–and show what we can assume will be Jane’s vision about women in Hollywood.
What do you think?
Emma: You’re comments about Jane’s vision are spot on and really I would love to see a Jane spinoff show that runs parallel with this one to see her side of it all. I also think she cares about Valerie, but that she also wants to have an impact on both how Hollywood is run and with her documentary work. I don’t think she’s that bothered about accolades considering her Oscar is a doorstop and she is also aware that an award doesn’t necessarily equate to better work after. She obviously didn’t want Valerie to leave as it takes away from her documentary but in a way this empty chair is a much bigger moment for her to use in her doc. I also love that Paulie G goes up to accept the award and he is essentially shooed away.
We see some returning faces from season one including Jimmy who emphasizes that this is only one night and while it is important, it is not as important as the relationships in your life. I do wonder if this was the extra push Valerie needed when choosing Mickey over the Emmys. The other Room and Bored face making their first appearance this season is Chris and I was surprised (and skeezed) by the brief attraction I felt towards Kellan Lutz. I loved everything about these scenes from the girls following him around cell phone in hand in a zombified state to the fact he only had eyes for Val. In our last chat you wondered if Val was going to sleep with Chris and while she could have done she chose not to so were you happy with how this played out?
Kerensa: For one, I think this is arguably Kellan Lutz’s BEST work. He’s really great actually. And I agree with you, I was weirdly attracted to him too? But for me, that attraction might not be brief 😦
I loved Val’s whole interaction with Chris. Mainly because that is a DREAM LADY SCENARIO. I mean, in every stage of life, haven’t you always wanted someone from your past irregardless if you were into them or not, to learn of their long yearning feelings for you, trying to get it in and then massively rejecting them?! I have had SO many of these (all dream unfortunately). I never thought she was going to sleep with him though. I mean it was obviously fun to be flirted with and when he swept her into the bathroom (!) But Val’s never wavered–at least–from what we’ve seen about Mark, so I never expected her to go there with Chris. Did you?
Emma: It’s so good and I love that she points out how good it has made her feel. That’s all she needs from this encounter is a self-esteem boost because even though she’s getting all these plaudits and praise nothing can beat a more personal moment like this. And we know Valerie cares what people think and to have a young, hot guy like Chris see her as a sexual being is definitely not what she was expecting. And like you I didn’t really expect to see her fall for his charms other than taking a ride home and the compliments as in her eyes she is still very much a married woman and I cheating doesn’t seem like a Val thing to do.
So the season ended in this really happy and inspiring way, which could be the perfect way to wrap up the Valerie Cherish story but I also want more. I want to see how Val reacts to this new found appreciation of her work and if her marriage can be salvaged as the end of the episode suggests it can. Do you want a season 3?
I’d rather leave Val on a happy note than have to see her suffer again. Do you want a season 3?
Emma: I feel how I do about the end of Friday Night Lights in that I would LOVE to spend more time with these characters but both endings are perfect. The slight difference is with how few episodes there are in The Comeback’s run I think there is still a lot more story to tell, so if they announced a third season then I would resist. Seeing Valerie get the happy ending does make me reluctant for them to make more, but I wouldn’t say no to more Val.
Kerensa Cadenas is a writer living in Los Angeles. She is an Editor for Snakkle. She also writes for Women and Hollywood, The Week, This Was Television, Forever Young Adult, and Bitch magazine. You can follow her on Twitter to read her thoughts on teen TV, snacks and terrible pop music.