BWW Recap: Liza Leaves Empirical (!!!), We Meet Chad on YOUNGER Season Finale

Well... it's all come down to this. Though nothing can really compare to last week's shocking ending, this week's outing comes pretty close, offering surprise after surprise while simultaneously tying up loose ends and opening new doors. There's also a slew of familiar faces that return throughout the various scenes - some may actually be a little too familiar. And all this while Liza's still trying to keep her secret a secret. It's all very well done, well-acted and, as always, well-written! Intrigued and ready to find out more?! Well... you know what to do. First, watch Sutton Foster pal around with Seth Meyers, of course. Then, read on:

We open up at.... Thad's funeral. So, yep. Pretty much confirms he's dead. :-(

Liza's muttering about how she must come clean to Kelsey because "it's all gone too far." I mean, considering the circumstances, can you blame her? She isn't wrong - it has all gone too far. Maggie, ever the voice of reason, advises her to consider her timing. So (yet again), Liza stays mum.

Thad's brother Chad gets up to say a few words... and OMG... they're twins! Chad is Dan Amboyer!!! WOW! What a GREAT way to keep him involved in the show! And what a change from Thad! Chad's much more subdued and less aggressive than Thad ever was - great for Amboyer to show range!!

But although Chad may be physically and behaviorally different than Thad, he does mention he and his brother "shared a lot of the same interests.... we chased the same beautiful girls"... while looking at Kelsey, who cringes (and rightfully so). Does this mean we can expect Chad to make a move on Kelsey??? Or for Kelsey to have an affair of sorts with Chad next season? Hmmm... would be really interesting... and, again, a great way to keep Amboyer around. (He seemed pretty bummed on Twitter after last week's airing). I mean, think about it, will you, writers? We know from the fact that Amboyer played Thad that he and Hilary Duff already have great chemistry! :-) (And that hug Chad gives Kelsey post-service - and the peck he gives her in her office - might suggest that maybe I'm not too far off in my speculation. ;-) ).

But anyway...

At the reception, Chad's looking for the password to Thad's laptop, so he can "check his photos and delete his browser history... just to protect his privacy."

Obviously, Liza has to step in and stop him - 'cause we know she knows what's on the laptop and what looking at his photos could reveal to everyone else. Listen, I get that her keeping her secret is important to the premise of the series, but also, like... as Maggie said, consider your timing, girl. Like... seriously. The man just died. Have some respect.

Subsequent to that, she gets to talking with Josh (yes, he came to the funeral), and after discussing their separation and their mutual feelings of sadness - "All I wanted to do since I heard the news was just be there for you." / "I thought about you during a lot of this, too" - they end up in bed together (I mean, who couldn't see that one coming?), for what Liza later deems "mourning sex." ("What are you talking about? It's 3:00 in the afternoon," says Josh. Oh, Josh. You lovable little idiot!)

While in bed, Liza reflects upon and discusses with Josh the repercussions of her ruse and the (negative) effects it's had on all her relationships. Now, I know she always says this, but this time, Liza really seems genuine, like she's really thinking about it, and owning up to it. (She even takes responsibility for their break-up, saying "No, it's really not" when Josh tells her everything's okay). A nice moment of reflection for her to have... and it seems like it comes at just the right time for her, too. #CharacterGrowth #GoWritersGo

But alas, her reflection period is cut short, as Greta shows up (oops), and Liza's shooed out of a window to avoid getting caught with Josh. (LOVE the look she gives him from outside as he watches her make out with Greta... it's like "boys will be boys. Whatcha gonna do?")

At work, the gang is preparing themselves for a pitch meeting with famed astrologist Stephanie Smith, whose book "delves into the astrological signs behind our relationships.... the orgasmic pairings that erupt in sexual fireworks, but are devoid of spiritual comfort.... the bling bling signs that create wealth and power, but not happiness."

Wait... could it be a metaphor for Kelsey/Thad's relationship? From the looks of Kelsey's face (yes, she showed up to work), it is, and I gotta say... that's pretty tough on the girl, who BTW, is still frustrated that she hasn't actually shed tears over Thad's death yet.

Sidebar: The fact that she hasn't cried hints that there may be an Audrey/Orin LITTLE SHOP vibe going on here. Like... Thad was so awful... could Kelsey have "secretly been wishing it" (that he died, I mean), like Audrey admits she does with Orin? And if so, is that why she's not upset?

Regardless, the astrologist's speech does very little (read: nothing) to help her cope or cheer her up. Given that there was no way to predict and/or expect Thad's death - Smith herself even admits to having no proof - Kelsey completely shuts down Smith's pitch - "I can't sell people on the idea that they can predict their life!" she says - and storms out of the room.

Chad arrives - in a sweater, a drastic difference to the forever suit-clad Thad; LOVE IT! - with video surveillance of the last moments before his brother's demise; as we know, it reveals Liza and Thad arguing - Thad grabs her arm ("This isn't over") and she angrily shakes it off.

Chad questions what Liza was doing there; when she refuses to answer, Chad adds an extra threat: "I still have [Thad's] computer and I will figure out his password. So," he tells Liza, "I wouldn't hold back, because we will know everything eventually."

Two points on this quote: One, that's a total metaphor for the series, clearly foreshadowing that someone else will eventually know the secret (which is, like, of course, 'cause obviously she can't keep this thing up forever). The only question is: who and when?

Point two: Does this suggest a "To Be Continued"-esque storyline for next season? Is it hinting that Chad will join the main cast? (I mean, again, he's played by Dan Amboyer who, as Thad, was already part of the main group!) And does him saying what he says - and having the laptop - mean that he'll continue Thad's mission (albeit a little less aggressively) to dig up dirt on Liza? #Curveball! Oooh... this is getting good.

With Kelsey now having seen the surveillance footage, Liza, realizing there's no way out, decides to come clean to her friend... about how Thad was having an affair with his co-worker... not about her secret. Damn! So, I guess all the guilt you told Josh you felt about keeping the secret didn't really bother you that much, now did it? (But notice how she gulps nervously when Kelsey asks her a question. You're still hiding something, Liza!!)

But Kelsey's response is far from what Liza's expecting. Presumably the result of repressing her feelings of grief, Kels snaps back at her friend: "Who made you the morality police? People aren't perfect, Liza. We're all entitled to our own secrets."

She also admits that she knows Liza only interfered to protect her - glad someone referenced the "motherly instincts" - but like any daughter would, Kelsey tells her to butt out: "I have to make my own mistakes....Not everyone can live up to your standards, Liza."

Woah. That was harsh. And it clearly hits Liza hard. I mean, to be fair, Ms. Miller has certainly made her own mistakes - ahem, ahem - and we know, even if Kelsey doesn't, that "her standards" are definitely not as high as Liza'd like them to be. But, at the same time, it's just not the right time to tell Kelsey the truth - certainly not now, lest she make Kelsey feel even worse. Liza knows she's just got to give Kelsey space... but, at the same time, she's got to protect herself as well, so that she doesn't get hurt ('cause that obviously wouldn't help matters at all).

So, after some debating (which we see her do at her desk), Liza goes into Diana's office to tell her the big news: she's.... leaving the company.

WOAH! Did not see that one coming! I mean, I could tell from the promos that it was gonna be something big, and I figured, for the sake of continuing the series, it wasn't that Liza would reveal the secret (though I didn't shoot that possibility down completely), but no. Nope. Not at all. Did NOT see this coming. What a curveball!

Despite the shock factor of it all, though, I really appreciate what Liza says to Diana: "I just want to thank you for everything. I appreciate it all. More than you'll ever know."

You can tell how much she means it, too. From the way her face looks to her tone of voice, it's so clear that she's completely serious. Liza knows that while she's been "mothering" Kelsey, Diana, in a way, has been "mothering" Liza, and the two have had some incredible growth together this season. Likewise, though Diana can be a bit tough, she's definitely less of a bitchy than she was last season (IMO), and you can tell - though she'd never say it - that she truly appreciates Liza.

Also, kudos to the writers for injecting some comic relief into the big, dramatic moment: 1) "Well, Kelsey's little tantrum sent Stephanie Smith running right to Random House." 2) "Well, I guess she should have seen that one coming, right?" (Hahahaha!) 3) Diana's unamused facial reaction! (Priceless!!)

But yeah. That's that. Liza officially resigns from Empirical.

And we know it's official, because when we return from commercial break, Diana's got a new assistant, Becky.... who kinda makes me a little uncomfortable. (Though, I still found it in myself to LOL at Miriam Shor's brilliant physical comedy bit when reaching for the coffee cup). It feels kinda like when Brian was killed off on FAMILY GUY. Like, we knew it couldn't be permanent, and he'd obviously be back, but, given that we didn't know when or how, it still felt weird seeing a new dog in his place.... because something was off and he clearly didn't fit in... and we could tell the Griffins were missing Brian. This new assistant has that same effect - on both the Empirical staff (yes, Diana included) and the audience.

Meanwhile, Kelsey's completely distraught and heartbroken after receiving Liza's goodbye message, and to make matters worse, she has no idea where Liza's escaped to. Fortunately, Charles steps in (!!!), equally shocked that Liza quit - 'cause we all know he feels about her - and sets out to not only find her, but bring her back to Empirical.

That may be harder to do than he thinks, however, as she's completely off the radar, having taken back her life as a 40-year-old and taken a job as a salesperson at a department store within the (faux) Paramus Mall in New Jersey.... thanks to a connection from Michelle, who must have made up with Liza after their heated encounter earlier in the season. (Then again, Liza is no longer dating Josh... and notice how Michelle mentions that Liza will "meet so many age-appropriate men," so it seems she hasn't really let go of her side of the argument).

Liza returns home (she still lives in Brooklyn, so no worries there!!) after a long first day, and though she says she enjoys her job, Maggie can tell something's a little off. Putting on the-voice-of-good-reason hat yet again - 23 episodes and counting, y'all! - Maggie confronts her and tells it like it is: "You seem more fake now than when you were acting like you were 26. You're running away from a life you created for yourself, and as crazy as it was, it seems a lot more authentic than whatever this is." (For the record, I've been saying that for weeks now! Glad to see someone agrees with me!) Funny, because the look Liza gives to Maggie just before the scene ends (watch for it... those EYES! Come on!) suggests that, in a way, she knows Maggie's right... and she may even secretly feel the same way.

The next day at work (at the mall), Liza gets a visit from Lauren's mom, Denise (Kathy Najimy). Sensing discomfort, Denise asks Liza about how she feels to be working in retail over publishing. Liza's response - stagnant, stuttering words and a tone of voice that you can tell is just forcing happiness - all but confirms she's indeed uncomfortable: "Oh, yeah. Everything's... great. I mean, totally. Ch- change is... good." (Cue nervous nod, and Maggie's voice in the back of her head). Denise, therefore, invites Liza to dinner, saying, "Don't be a stranger."

Take a close look at Liza's face as she watches Denise walk away... she's really, truly thinking about the meaning of that phrase. Don't be a stranger. Hmm... how does that relate to her situation? She was kind of a stranger to Kelsey/Lauren, et al. in that she left them without a proper goodbye, no?

Another point: Like Diana, Denise feels the same way about Liza (in terms of "mothering") as Liza feels about Kelsey, no? So much so that she invited her back to the house for dinner, for goodness sake! So, Denise invites Liza to dinner, and Liza (who feels that way about Kelsey) abandons Kelsey without even saying goodbye? Why is she, to use Denise's words, "being a stranger"? Again, she's thinking about it hard. Can we expect a change by the end of the episode? We'll see....

The next visitor to the mall? Charles, of course. (What, you didn't think it would be Diana, did you? "Don't look at me... I'm not going to New Jersey," she says back at Empirical. ROFL!) And boy, does he have quite the set of inspirational and powerful - and surprisingly sympathetic - words for her to consider: "I know when you're young you think you're responsible for all kinds of things that you have nothing to do with. But you're not. Most things in life are out of your control. You work hard, and you try to be good, but s**** happens."

Whether or not that speech comes as a result of his romantic feelings for her, I'm not sure. What I do know is that what he does next is definitely a result of his romantic feelings for her - a big ol' passionate kiss! And she doesn't let go!! (As a bonus, keep a close eye on Liza's post-kiss reaction... it's totally ROFL!) Well, if Denise's words didn't get her re-thinking, this sure will! ;-). I mean, how could she not go back to Empirical?!

Kudos to Charles for actually biting the bait and following through with the kiss. After all this time and build-up of "will they, won't they," - Peter Hermann even remarked in an interview from earlier this season, "Oh my God! Is it supposed to be!" - he gave in. And now that he's done it, I'm excited to see how that relationship (and the aftermath of that kiss) will play out. Will they act on it? Will they discuss it? And OMG, do I hope Diana doesn't find out. (You thought she was a she-beast before...)

Anyway... as we all know she would, Liza makes her inevitable return to Empirical as Diana's assistant. All is right with the world! P. S. Did anyone catch Diana's half-smile as Liza left the room? Awww.... These two have such growth. Looking forward to their adventures next season! Onward and upward!

After delivering Diana her coffee, Liza then visits a flabbergasted Kelsey in her office, who's sincerely apologetic for what she said earlier. Continuing her I-realize-I-was-selfish schpeel, Liza insists she was the one who was wrong, but Kelsey protests. Furthermore, she grabs her friend in a tight squeeze, telling her, "Please don't ever disappear on me again." Guess we do all need our mother from time to time. ;-)

But, as she says these words to Liza, she releases a downpour of tears, finally rendering herself a blubbering mess. Now, this is important. As Kelsey herself notes, Thad dies - like dies. Dead. Nada. Kaput - and she has no reaction. Liza goes missing (but albeit, is still alive), and Kelsey literally has a waterfall streaming down her face. Hmmmm.... significant? I think so! It may hint at who she really loves and cares for. Very very interesting. #WellDoneWriters

A fantastic wraparound, closing up storylines, strengthening character relationships, and setting the stage for a new season ahead. I love that Liza had the realization this episode (well, thanks to Maggie, and Diana, and Kelsey, and Charles) that her place in life is with Empirical. Maggie was right - no matter how inauthentic she seems to be through all her lies and secrets, Liza's actually created quite the authentic life as a 26-year-old... and she's genuinely happy - which is extremely important, especially given the crap she dealt with in her former life married to David. I'm glad that conclusion was realized, explored, and fleshed out this week (and hey... maybe it means she won't doubt herself as much in Season 3).

Although, with all that, I will say, if I may, that the one fault of this storyline was that, IMO, it was rushed. The three days that Liza spent at Paramus Mall didn't actually seem like enough time for it to be plausible that the Empirical crew could actually "miss" her, or that she could "miss" Empirical.

Don't get me wrong, I'm happy she's back and all is right with the world, but I kind of think I actually would have appreciated a few more episodes with Becky - a la Brian in FAMILY GUY. Three days is just not realistically enough time for either side to really take in what they're missing, and with a few more episodes with Becky at Empirical (and without Liza at Empirical), I think her absence would've had that much more of an impact.

I think the issue with the timeline and speed, though, lay in the fact that the writers didn't yet know at the time of writing that there would be a Season 3, so there was an urgency to wrap up the storyline so that everything had some sort of closure had the show not been picked up. (The downside, however, was that everything felt forced).

Had they known of their renewal at the time of writing and shooting the episode, I feel like it would've been incredibly powerful to have the scene before the commercial break (where Liza quit) be the final scene of the episode. Not only would it have been a great cliffhanger and surprise ending (considering most of us probably thought the reveal would be she'd spill the secret), but the words she said to Diana would've had an extra poignancy and packed a bigger punch. Then, they could've had time pass - a couple weeks, or perhaps, months - and therefore, it would have been a more reasonable amount of time for all parties to consider what they were missing.

But, with that said, stopping the episode at that point, would've left us without the incredible full-circle moments we got at the end of this episode... one being the INCREDIBLE teary moment with Kelsey (I'm telling you, her crying says SO much about their friendship and bond), and of course, that much-anticipated kiss between Liza and Charles. So... you win some, you lose some. I'm just throwing out some ideas and suggestions/what-might-have-beens. All in all, pretty happy with the way everything turned out.

And speaking of being happy with the way everything turned out, as if you didn't think the reunion with Kelsey, Empirical and Charles could be enough.... Liza returns home to find Josh waiting on her stoop.

"I broke up with Greta," he tells her. (!!!) "I wanna be with you. Whatever that means, I'm all in." Okay... now all is right with the world!! Happy endings all around!! The only question is - and Liza's facial expression lets us know she senses this might be a problem, too - what happens with Charles? (A little mini-cliffhanger of sorts!)

So, will Liza stay with Josh this time? Or ditch him for the boss? Or, will she have some type of FRIENDS-esque Rachel/Julie decision? And will Charles be next to find out the secret? And regardless of what happens with them romantically, will that affect their business relationship?

Or could it be that Liza will remain in a relationship with Josh, while stealing glances from Charles? (Like before, but now knowing how he feels about her). It's all too good!! So many questions!! What the heck will happen next?!

Oh, well. Guess we'll find out eventually. 'Til then..... stay YOUNGER.

And thanks so much for joining me this season, guys! It's been a lot of fun!!! Hope you enjoyed watching the show and reading these recaps! Thanks for the all the clicks!!! I loved every minute! 'Til next time... #SeacrestOut

Photo and Youtube Video Credit: TVLand; @danamboyer on Twitter

LATE NIGHT Video Credit: NBC



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From This Author Matt Smith