The first season of Another Period was quite a surprise when it came to how tightly-plotted it was, especially given the high-profile cast and their busy schedules. It was a serialized, historically-based, mockumentary sitcom, which doesn’t even sound a little like an easy endeavor. However, in all its well-earned confidence, this second season found itself stepping away from that, moving toward a looser approach to plot… and honestly took a bit of a hit in terms of quality for it.
Another Period’s second season finale is pretty representative of the season as a whole: It’s a very funny episode of television, but overall, it’s a bit unfocused and scattered as it attempts to do as many things as it possibly can at once. That really describes each episode in the season’s three-part finale—“Lillian’s Wedding,” “The Duel,” and “Lillian Is Dead”—but this last one is the episode that has to make it all come together, and that proves a difficult task. However, if not for this season’s approach to things, the show probably wouldn’t have had this fantastic musical number:
So that makes it more a blessing than a curse in the long run.
“Lillian Is Dead” is a fitting conclusion to the season-ending trilogy in terms of completely committing to the show’s particular brand of insanity and even taking it a few steps further. Another Period has often used its setting to poke fun at modern issues, but it’s never detached itself from reality as much as it has in these last three episodes. There were literally times during this particular episode where, in between fits of laughter, I wondered if I was having a fever dream. Moments like the duel between Chair and Dodo and the aforementioned musical number were simply the appetizer to the main course of Beatrice hatcheting up a bar, Lillian dying (and coming back to life), and even the fiery demise of newlyweds Hortense and Bertram.
Keep in mind: The season began with Lillian and Beatrice trying to keep up some semblance of fame as the Pig Sisters, only to end with them finding that in another way in the form of a drunk, dead, almost-widow and a nun.
To compare the episode to season one’s finale, “Modern Pigs,” there’s less of a sense of finality in “Lillian Is Dead,” even though there are literal main character deaths and a birth in this episode. The only characters whose futures are certain by the end of this episode (besides Hortense and Bertram, obviously) are Dodo and Peepers, while everything else related to the downstairs characters is now up in the air (and not even touched upon), along with the futures of the remaining Bellacourt sisters, a now broke Commodore, and a now single Chair. The foreclosure on Bellacourt Manor leaves a lot more questions about where things will go with the show and the finale doesn’t appear to really care when it comes to even asking them.
And of all the unevenness of this season in terms of plotting, it is sadly the Blanche plot that truly encapsulates that spirit, especially here. Blanche’s pregnancy and subsequent marriage to Moshe Kasher’s Dr. Goldberg have felt more like a bit than an actual plot, and that doesn’t change in the finale. It’s especially disappointing as it took over for the plot of Blanche fearing Chair would discover she pushed her down the stairs at the end of season one, which never really got the focus it should have had. Here, this particular plot leads to humorous scenes like Dr. Goldberg’s “sabbath” and the end of Blanche’s “seven minutes of maternity leave,” but as a whole, the writing for the entire pregnancy (which I believe is due to Beth Dover’s actual pregnancy at the time) and sham marriage has left much to be desired. Poor Blanche, indeed.
Plus, the simple (and appropriately disgusting) birth of Blanche’s child pales in comparison to Chair’s hilarious, frantic coma birth scene from “Tubman.” It’s fitting for Blanche’s punching bag character, but the isolation and unimportance of it compared to the rest of the episode’s plots is apparent. The downstairs characters are pretty severely neglected in the finale as a whole.
One thing remains a true positive for Another Period though: Natasha Leggero and Riki Lindhome have absolutely no problem stealing their own show, and they do it phenomenally. This season doesn’t quite get as much bang for its buck from the ensemble as consistently as season one did—just what has been the point of Flobelle, especially considering how great Chair was in the first season?—but the same truly can’t be said when it comes to Lillian and Beatrice. Lillian’s decision to turn to drink and Beatrice’s turn to God (as well as her turn against God) are sold 100% by Leggero and Lindhome’s performances. In this episode in particular, they get to play two women who are already pretty detached from reality as completely detached from reality. And it’s great.
Just a reminder: Lillian dies, only to be brought back to life by the smell of cash.
This shouldn’t and doesn’t discount just how good the rest of the cast actually is in this episode, even when things aren’t perfect. (As much as Blanche’s pregnancy isn’t the highlight of the season, Beth Dover’s approach to the character’s absurd optimism in the face of all of her pain and suffering is always good.) Both Paget Brewster and Christina Hendricks manage to do the same great job of “stealing the show” with the little time their characters have here, and while the Commodore was easily the weakest character in season one, this season and episode found a way to make him work, especially in his desperation (both in terms of keeping his money and his beloved Chair). Lauren Flans’ Hortense #3 is at her best in this episode, too, which makes it pretty appropriate that she and her new husband go out in the blaze of glory.
Another Period’s second season obviously aspired to be bigger than the first, and it honestly succeeded. But in that aspiration, it lost a good portion of the simple storytelling that made that first season work so well. There is so much death and deception and drinking in all three episodes (especially this one) that it’s hard to believe Leggero, Lindhome, and company weren’t intentionally trying to top the chaos factor for no other reason than the fact that they could. That’s not even a problem by itself, as Another Period is all about this decadent lifestyle for a reason and makes sure everyone knows that. But as I mentioned, this season ends pretty much the way it went the whole time—unfocused and scattered. Unlike the high-society and fame aspirations of the first season, this second season never quite committed to the general plot of Lillian and Beatrice needing to find wealthy husbands to save Bellacourt. And while that made it easy for Dodo to beat the Commodore here, it also made for a season that felt ultimately directionless. Still very funny—oh how I wish I could have written about “Servants’ Disease” and “Joplin”—but in a less-polished way than expected.
- Just so there’s no confusion: The grade for this episode is actually me grading “Lillian’s Wedding,” “The Duel,” and “Lillian Is Dead” all together. So there you go.
- Harriet Tubman showing up in this season finale brings things full circle, which is actually a really nice touch.
- Drunk Lillian and her despair made her so many friends at that saloon, I can see why she wanted to stay. The bartender coined the term “ladies night” and the sitcom bassline and laugh track never ended. Great place to be. Too bad she died after that.
- Peepers: “Lady Dodo, you’re dying. Let me cut my wrists so I can serve you in heaven.” Oh, Peepers. You precious angel.
- Chair’s “just joshin’” after she tells the Commodore what she really thinks about him is just another reminder that Chair is actually the best character.
- The coveted Abbey is now in Peepers’ name, yet he continues to be Dodo’s servant. The things we do for love, huh?
- Lillian and Beatrice are feminist heroes now. This is what Hortense died for.
- But seriously: Hopefully we get a fourth Hortense in season three, no explanation needed.
- So, how are Victor and Albert taking this whole Bellacourt Manor foreclosure?