High hopes. That's what I had for the last episode of All My Children on ABC today. But alas, they were dashed with a single gunshot meant for whom? Erica? Marissa? Bianca? My only question is…why? JR is a great baddie, but today he became cartoonish. Gunning down someone at a party in his own house while mysteriously watching from a weird panic room behind the walls that connects to every room in the house? What?
Now, I will say this. I understand after talking to many of the actors on the show that an entire ending wrapping up storylines was written before ABC made its deal with Prospect Park, which then sent the writers back to the drawing board. They needed to do the almost-impossible – write a satisfying ending that held enough cliffhanging moments to bring fans home to the show online in January after a four-month absence. That's a tall order, even for the great Agnes Nixon.
While I was happy and grateful to see the week-long roll-out of old clips featuring Angie, Jesse, Greg, Jenny, Erica, Tad and Dixie, I felt today's episode did not give me the satisfactory ending/cliffhanger that I so longed for. The party at the Chandler mansion felt forced and rushed. "I didn't shoot and kill my twin brother after all – let's party!" declared Adam, who only hours before had been wallowing in it like he was an orphaned pauper. At least Adam and Brooke invited everyone in town to the party via text – who says soaps are out of date? The reunion/confrontation between Adam and JR also felt out of sync and lacking any real emotion. It seemed to me to be a big waste of one of the finest father-son battles in television history, as well as a huge missed opportunity for the incredibly talented David Canary (Adam) and Jacob Young (JR).
And then there's Dr. Hayward. He gets out on bail and shows up at the Chandler mansion to lurk around and ask for money? This is not the hard-earned ending for Vincent Irizarry, whose brilliant villain deserved more than a heartfelt confession of "See, I'm not such a bad guy after all." If they wanted to leave us with a giant cliffhanger, why not center it around David, whose storyline has been electric these last few months and right up there with One Life To Live's "Who's the real Todd?" drama. OLTL's numbers are up from last year. Maybe AMC should have taken a page out of their book for the finale. How about dropping a cool and mysterious clue over the last patient in David's Invasion of the Body Snatchers lab? Now that would have been something to salivate over for the next several months.
Believe me. I don't like dissing the show or the final episode. I wanted to laugh through tears, feel triumph through tragedy and watch my favorite characters in Pine Valley go out on top. I can happily say that, more than anyone, Jackson Montgomery did just that. When he turned to Erica and said, "Frankly, Erica, I don't give a damn what you need," I gasped and went into "Oh no he didn't!" shock for a full minute.Hats off to all of the other actors who gave these last few weeks their all, particularly Michael E. Knight, who made us remember why Tad is the true heart of Pine Valley.
When I interviewed Susan Lucci a few weeks ago, she said everyone was in agreement that the show should go out with a bang, not a whimper. Instead, I fear the literal "bang" did not leave fans with that same insatiable "Who Shot JR?" curiosity to sustain them over this long hiatus. When the show is reinvented online, the writers and producers have their work cut out for them making the shot heard 'round Pine Valley a worthy jumping-off point.
While I may not be able to give the last episode two thumbs up, I still have hopes for the next chapter in the All My Children saga… high hopes.