Casual: The Great Unknown – Season Two Finale (Review)

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Fred Savage directs the season two finale of Casual. “The Great Unknown”  picks up were “40” left off.  Alex and Valerie’s father has been dropped off at Alex’s house on a hospital gurney. He is dying. Everything, he says, is shutting down and he plans to euthanize himself in the house.

This is easily  the oddest of any episode on offer in Casual.  The tone is somber and somewhat downbeat.  It if were not for the fact that the show will be back in  2017, it feels like the end of the series.

There are moments of humor. Laura’s initial interaction with the pharmacist is amusing. He refuses to give her the medication for George Cole (Melamed) because she is underage. “it is dangerous,” he says.  “Fine,” Laura replies, “Which is the drano?”

Very funny.

While the show deals with euthanasia, which is legal in California, it also deals with Alex’s issues with his father. In many ways it forces him to face his problems and he grows up by the end of the episode.

He also goes to see Jennifer as a patient at the end.

Valerie goes to collect her mother who has, according to George, “recused herself from the situation.”  Her car is at Chili’s. As she starts to leave Alex reminds her  of this and Leon takes her to get the vehicle.

They arrive at the restaurant and it has been towed. As they go to collect the car, Leon and Valerie re-establish their friendship.  She gets her car but not her mother.

Laura calls Spencer to help with the  pharmacist. He still refuses to hand over the medication.  Laura gets angry and tells the man off. She then storms off.  Finally someone else gets the prescription for George.

Outside the pharmacy the subject of Spencer’s not dying comes up. Laura  reveals that since he is not going to die her feelings have changed. Spencer walks off.

Back at her uncle’s house, Laura talks to Valerie about Spencer and her unrealistic expectations of their relationship.  She wanted something that was “timeless” and not long lasting.  They also talk about Valerie going back to Drew which Laura counsels against.

Valerie, Alex and Laura empty the prescription into a glass of water for George to drink.  Before George drinks his  deadly cocktail, he apologizes for not being there for his kids.

The oddest scene in the entire episode is the sight of George’s two kids and grandchild taking apart those pills and pouring the powder into the glass of water.  When they finish Alex makes a joke. “I’m parched,” he says and grabs the glass. Both Valerie and Laura grab his hand..

After Cole drinks the water they order Chinese.  Valerie and Alex make up over fortune cookies while Laura talks to her grandfather. Valerie decides against returning to Drew. Just as Val tells  Alex  it is time for her and Laura to move out,  George dies.

It is a sober and somewhat tearful moment.  Thel brother and sister,  losing the man they hold responsible for their faults and flaws,  grieve silently together.

Later, Laura makes an apology to Spencer via DVDs and Leon helps Valerie and Laura move into their new home.

This was a brilliant end to an eclectic season.  Fred Savage deftly handled the subject material and the cast killed it in terms of subtle performances.  Tara Lynne Barr’s outburst in the pharmacy was beautiful to see.

Casual ends on a somber, yet upbeat, note. Valerie is moving on and Alex has at last talked to his father and is now in therapy. Laura has not given up on Spencer and Leon looks at last to be Val’s friend and not just Alex’s.

Check out the season finale on Hulu.






Guest Starring Fred Melamed as George Cole

Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

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