“M Is For Meant To Be” is that awful necessity of modern network TV, the midpoint that serves as a finale if it comes to that. It came to that. Andrew and Zelda still have four months left on their clock, but this feels like the romantic high point. Would the spring have seen a slow, subtle decline? And, for the final time, is that narration really, truly, sincerely, 100 percent honest? “M Is For Meant To Be” has no answers for my biggest A To Z questions, but you can’t blame it for not being “Z Is For Zodiac Killings.” It’s a special episode in its own right, just one that leaves us with happily ever after on a show that promised the opposite.
What happens is Andrew’s ex comes to town, Madeline from Milwaukee. (Since I haven’t explicitly praised it yet, I appreciate the way the main guests are named after the letter of their episode. Adds to the storybook quality.) They dated years ago and Madeline’s engaged, so Zelda signs off on her staying with Andrew. Once she arrives, it turns out she’s no longer engaged and very much interested in Andrew after all. It’s an obvious plot, but the writing and Dreama Walker play up how obvious it is for laughs. The worst part by far is the one time she acts like she’s not trying to steal Andrew, which is when Andrew finally confronts her about her behavior and she feigns offense. Andrew feels like an idiot for not trusting her, but he should feel like an idiot for trusting her just then. When you catch someone doing something embarrassing, they’re going to deny that’s what they were doing. You don’t just take that at face value.
To sidetrack Madeline, Zelda sets her up with her (Zelda’s) ex Jay, egged on by the first and heart-breakingly final appearance of the new sisterhood of Stephie, Lydia, and Lora. The men (Stu, Dinesh, some other nerds) form a posse to help Andrew too, but the women are the real comic heroes. Madeline doesn’t hit it off with Jay, but at least he inspires jealousy in Andrew. He also comes right out and Frenches Zelda, which doesn’t help. Andrew’s posse shows up at his door to fight him—well, let’s be real: to say mean things to him—but he opens the door in his dress uniform. “This is just to get on The Price Is Right. They always pick guys in the military.” That impresses the guys even more than his apparent being in the military did, so they decide to stay with him and send Andrew packing.
Which leads to the big crisis. It’s a strong episode for Cristin Milioti—always her and never Ben Feldman, unfortunately, because Zelda’s the one with layers; Andrew is right there on the surface. When Andrew says, “Didn’t you date one of the guys on To Catch A Predator,” her almost huffy, bratty delivery is hilarious because Zelda’s usually so together: “No, I just said that I thought one of the predators was cute before I knew what I was watching.” Here at the two-thirds point, things are more downbeat as Zelda has just found out that Andrew used the whole “meant to be” line on Madeline, too. Eventually Andrew says he can’t guarantee they’ll be together forever. She turns around to look at him across the plaza. He doesn’t notice at first, but then he meets her gaze. And then she turns back around and says, “Well, that’s too bad. Because I was offered a partnership in my firm but it would mean moving to New York, and I didn’t know what to do until just now.” And the episode makes damn sure we know it’s not trying to yank our chains. In the framing story—all this has been Zelda’s testimonial to a partner at her firm about whether or not she, Zelda, is interested in the partner track—she tells her boss (executive producer Rashida Jones) her assumption is right: Zelda does want to move to New York. We even follow her there for a four-months-early lay-of-the-land visit. There’s no mistaking Zelda’s intentions.
Back at the bar where they had their first date, Andrew calls Zelda and says, “There’s probably no such thing as meant to be, but I don’t care, because I want to be with you.” And in walks Zelda wearing that dress from the concert. “I didn’t like the view from my office.” It’s all very touching.
It’s also a recapitulation of the pilot, and not just in cute full-circle ways. Andrew doubles down on destiny, Zelda freaks out and runs, and then Andrew tries to apologize as Zelda “comes to her senses” and the couple recommits. We’ve seen this one a few times, actually. It adds to a quality of specialness in this final episode, but it also lightens the mass. How much can this really mean? “M Is For Meant To Be” plays like it wants to be the big doorstop at the end, but it ends up sliding with the weight of the door.
But as for that specialness, “M Is For Meant To Be” gives good goodbye. There are other little subplots, like the posses, but nothing else runs through the episode. All eyes are on Andrew and Zelda and the exes. But the supporting characters aren’t sidelined, either. Well, Howard isn’t here. And Dinesh claims not to have a girlfriend for some reason. But the point is Stu, Stephie, Dinesh, Lydia, Lora, and a few tertiary characters get to show up, say funny lines, and leave. It’s a nice curtain call. And, narrator aside, Andrew and Zelda get their happy ending. It’s a worthy finale for a nice, little romantic dramedy that was really coming together.
Now bring on the Ben Queen interviews! I’m dying to know what happens after happily ever after.
- Zelda knocks on Andrew’s door, and Madeline opens in gym clothes. “Sorry, I just got off the plane and did a quick 10-miler.” “What a coincidence. I just ate onion rings at a red light.”
- “The only thing a boyfriend-stealer understands is brute force. Which is why you need to coldcock that bitch with a sock full of oranges.” Take a bow, Lydia.