The Comeback Season 2 Finale Recap: 'Months and Months of Pressure — It All Just Finally Blew'

Even in its funniest moments, The Comeback has never been an easy show to watch. (And no, that’s not just a reference to the flood of fecal matter unleashed midway through tonight’s Season 2 finale.)

Over the last eight weeks, Lisa Kudrow and Michael Patrick King’s Portrait of a Sitcom Actress on the Verge of an Unlikely Career Resurgence has shown us the ugly truth of protagonist Valerie Cherish’s quest for fame, success and a little shred of recognition — and the way her unflinching aura of positivity for her omnipresent reality-show camera crew has exacted an awful price on her personal life.

It’s fitting, then, that Season 2’s capper finds Valerie breaking free (however unconsciously) of Jane’s documentarian eye and — after huge guffaws and many hard-earned tears — putting an exclamation point on the episode title, “Valerie Gets What She Really Wants.”

I’ll pause here to say I’m not sure I’ve ever watched an hour of television where one actress has managed to reveal so many different layers of her character — vanity, pride, insecurity, heartbreak, fear, love (both romantic and platonic), pettiness, obliviousness, relief, jubilation (and a few others I’m sure I’m missing) — as Lisa Kudrow does here. (Yes, that’s my way of saying “give her the Emmy — no matter what Julia Louis-Dreyfus cooks up next spring!)

Anyhow, in a nutshell, here’s what happens:

* We open with Valerie attending a night-before-Emmys party at the home of her former Room & Bored cohort (and now major movie star) Juna (Malin Akerman), who expresses her hurt over Val participating in Paulie G’s thinly veiled account of their sitcom experience — mostly because it portrays Juna as “just a body” and Val as “just an ego.” It all ends in a sweet embrace, though, when Juna realizes Valerie’s marriage to Marky-Mark is on the rocks. The real awkwardness, however, occurs when Val’s other successful former costar Chris (Kellan Lutz) arrives on the scene and relentlessly attempts to get Val to let him consummate his first big Hollywood crush. “Movie star with a mommy complex — next!” Valerie jokes to Jane’s lens, after she’s finally let down the bolder-faced (and far mor aroused) name more gently than he deserves. We know it’s because she truly loves her estranged husband, but hey, she’s up for a Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series trophy the next day — and that requires sleep, too.

* In a beautiful callback to the show’s pilot episode, we see Valerie in her kitchen, practicing a 30-second acceptance speech while repeatedly raiding the fridge. Is “I don’t wanna say that” the new “I don’t wanna see that”? Only time will tell.

* Val’s Emmy prep goes awry when Mickey’s new cancer drug causes another brutal nosebleed, with our nominee sweetly tasking her limo driver with getting him back home with a dinner from his favorite deli. Just as celeb stylist Brad Goreski arrives with Valerie’s Emmy gown, however, her sewage pipes burst, and he lands face down in her driveway, covered with fecal matter. This leads to an almost unwatchable — but truly magnificent — scene where Val introduces herself to her neighbor of more than two years, in an attempt to let her use his shower “and psychologically, have it rinsed off.” Hollywood being Hollywood, the outraged gentlemen finally caves, but Val’s conversational aside — “I guess after months and months of pressure [from her Seeing Red crew shooting in her home], it all just finally blew” serves as not only as an explanation of her septic issues, but also for what’s been plaguing her marriage.

* On the red carpet, Valerie — who, in my eyes, has always craved respect even more than success/money/fame — spies legendary director James Burrows, the man who famously directed the Room & Bored pilot and before you know it, she’s revealing the darkest secrets about her personal life, clearly wondering if he’d lost any key relationships on his own path. “This is one night. A great night, but only one night,” the sitcom sage tells her. “If you do win, hold onto that Emmy — and everything else.” For once, Valerie seems to be listening — even though her smile’s as frozen as ever.

* Indeed, those words must stick, because as the ceremony begins, Val gets a text from Mark that Mickey has collapsed at home — and has been rushed to Cedars-Sinai. Here the episode breaks from its “found footage” structure and takes on a more cinematic sweep: Valerie in her gown on the abandoned and rainy red carpet, making the decision that her collaborator of 25 years — a hairstylist who’s stayed in her corner even as her prospects dimmed to student films and infomercials — is more important than any trophy. When she arrives in his room and discovers he’s going to be OK — “You didn’t have to come down here,” he says. “Yes. I did,” she replies, for once, dropping their canned-ham banter and letting on that he’s more than just Best Supporting Player in Her One-Woman Show — it’s beautifully cathartic, a “release the floodgates” moment for true Comeback junkies. If that’s not enough, Mark enters the room seconds later, and realizes his wife, despite all she’s sacrificed for career, has not sacrificed her soul. As Valerie sits, flanked by her two best guys, she watches the Emmy telecast and (deservedly) takes top honors.

* Will her career keep flourishing? Will her marriage survive? And might Jane win some statuette of her own for her behind-the-scenes look at Val’s latest rollercoaster ride? We’ll only know if HBO gifts us with a Season 3 (whether it be in 2015 or even 2025). I’m hoping that, ratings be damned, it happens, but if not, it’s good to see Red come out on top — even for one night.

To quote Mr. Burrows on the red carpet (and he could’ve been talking to Ms. Cherish, Ms. Kudrow, HBO or the show’s entire creative team): “You really put yourself out there. Good for you.”

What did you think of The Comeback Season 2 finale? Take our polls below, then share your thoughts in the comments!


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37 Comments
  1. aa says:

    That was absolutely phenomenal. Bravo.

  2. diane says:

    Loved this episode. I cried at the end. This show is Emmy worthy and deserves another season.

  3. Steven says:

    This show has been so difficult to watch at times, but that ending made it all worth it. I was bawling at the TV.

  4. lkh says:

    Lisa Kudrow does such a great job, but this series always makes me sad. I watched the first season so many years ago and just felt bad for her (the character) all the time. Ms Kudrow is great, it’s easier for me to watch her in Web Therapy. Maybe a third season sooner than nine years.

  5. pantomin says:

    HBO. Netflix. Amazon. Hulu. DirecTV. I don’t really care. JUST.MAKE.THAT.THIRD.SEASON.HAPPEN!!!

  6. This was absolutely amazing. The acting by Lisa Kudrow completely blew me away. Watching the news of Mickey’s health scare sinking into her face. She lips quivering. Her voice cracking as she left the second message on Marks phone. When it broke away from the documentary feel, it was glamorous. And a perfect way to start season 3.

  7. Geo says:

    Hands down, that’s probably one of the best hours of tv I’ve ever seen. Amazing work all the way around, but, yes, please hand Lisa Kudrow an Emmy.

  8. lululime says:

    “Jean!”

    Kellan was really good in the door scene. In the five minutes he was on, he was better here than I’ve ever seen him in anything. The show’s tone is expertly zigzagged all over the place, but I love when it shows its heart. Lisa Kudrow is just something else, this season she was next level.

    • alistaircrane says:

      I thought the same thing about Kellan! That being said, I would have had a hard time turning down Chris’ offer. The finale was all around perfect! I just loved Mark’s reaction when he saw Val in the hospital. Great episode of a great season of a great series!

    • Derek says:

      Agree!!! Best acting by Lutz ever!

  9. Et al says:

    That was one of the best episodes of television I have ever seen.

  10. Joni says:

    The season 2 finale was perfect. When Valerie got the text about about Mickey I was so afraid she would stay. Instead we finally saw the real Val, gotta love her for that.

  11. Johnny Woo says:

    I’m crying right now. That was the best episode I’ve ever seen on television, drama or comedy. Now who needs an Emmy is Lisa Kudrow. Please!!

  12. Jss0058 says:

    The finale was an amazing hour of TV. Both Kudrow and the show deserve attention come Emmy time.

    I’d love to see a third season of the show but if it doesn’t come this episode was probably the most perfect series finale I’ve seen.

  13. Atlantic says:

    A season made for the show’s true fans. I was uncertain (though excited) when the season began, but Kudrow and her supporting cast outdid themselves. I love the way they went about this season – moving into new territory but still bringing out favorites from last season (I was dying of laughter to see Gigi, still at it in every sense of the term). The acting was phenomenal. The writing was excellent. The commentary was incisive. This is one of my favorite shows, so much smarter than a lot of other stuff on TV. I just hope our small fan base is enough to support it for another season, although this extra one was already good enough.

  14. Para says:

    It was so difficult to watch I am crying in the last part.

  15. Para says:

    lisa in the red umbrella… god

  16. CJ says:

    As a die hard fan of this show for a decade, every episode of season 2 has been icing on the cake. This finale was everything I could have hoped for. I would love a third season but I also think this was the perfect ending to this brilliant show – I have loved peeping into Ms. Cheerish’s life for 21(?) episodes. Every time I rewatch an episode I discover something new and amazing.

  17. Frankee says:

    That season 2 finale was in one word: perfection. Lisa Kudrow showed every range of emotion and some more. I laughed, I cried and I adored this whole season. The show is underrated but I hope that when award season comes that Lisa (and the show) doesn’t get overlooked for their brilliant work. The way the show ended from the choppy Behind The Scenes footage to the glamorous shots was a perfect way to end this season. I applaud everyone involved in this show… and now let’s hope we get a season 3!

  18. cindyloo says:

    The finale was great but uneven. I could have been spared the entire Juna/Chris hot for Val first part and had gone right into the day of the Emmys. “Give her another take!”

  19. Stanislava says:

    BEST SHOW OF THE YEAR!!!!Lisa Kudrow is a genius!HBO renew it immediately,Emmys TAKE NOTICE!

  20. webly3 says:

    Amazing.

  21. ken levy says:

    I was never a Friends fan and don’t think I’ve watched more than 10 minutes of an episode. I discovered Lisa Kudrow on The Comeback first airing and I’ve been a fan ever since. The season finale shows how brilliant she truly is (also on Web Therapy) as an actress and producer. I think she is in the same company as Lucille Ball and that’s saying something. I hope we see more of her talent and more of Valerie Cherish.
    I hope the real Emmy voters are watching.

  22. hipster says:

    Once the show broke the documentary format and we see a full shot of Valerie in the corridor in her dress, it was nothing short of be beautiful.

  23. Leah says:

    Brad falling in fecal matter. Tears when Valerie heard Mickey’s treatment was working. Every emotion in one short hour. Perfection!

  24. Danny says:

    Great season finale! Be hard to work Jane into a 3rd season. Great song from The Association ended season 1 & 2. If the show doesn’t come back, I think it went out on a high note with a satisfying ending.

  25. Derek says:

    Kudrow deserves an Emmy! And she needs to do more dramatic roles. Her scenes when she s contemplating what to do, and then in the car on the way to the hospital were exceptional!!

  26. Network says:

    I never cry watching anything on TV (or movies ) I made it through the agonizing taxi ride to the hospital but when she goes in Mickey’s room, the way he was so happy to see her and vice versa, I broke. As much as I would love a season 3 I think this ending is perfect for anyone who watched the 1st season wayyyy back in 2005 and wanted a satisfying conclusion.

  27. Gail says:

    Great episode. Really felt like a series finale as they completed all the storylines and I don’t know where they can go from here. An Emmy win would seem to indicate that Valerie’s comeback is complete.

  28. If there isn’t a third season, I’ll be able to rest easier after an absolutely perfect season finale. I’d love to have more time with Valeria C. if only to witness Lisa Kudrow’s mastery of this character, but the ending was so moving and beautiful and gave a sense of closure that few finales give.

  29. DJ says:

    Random thoughts
    I like when her humanity is on display

    The cab ride and hospital scene
    Explaining to Mickey that everything is going to be alright

    & with her neighbor – explains in detail her problem.
    (I think that was Babu Bhatt from Seinfeld)

    I agree with most postings that this ended with everything in its place
    like the cutaway shot of of Jane & Billy at the Emmys looking for Val.

    • Mike says:

      Loved the shot of Jane and Billy frantically looking for Valerie. One review said they had become the “villains” by the end, and I agree. That shot confirmed it for me.

      • Mickey D. says:

        I agree, that was a great shot of them together as they each had agendas. I also like Jane giving shoulder poses from off the Red Carpet to Val & Billy moving Val away from Ron on the Red Carpet. I think the season ended beautifully.
        Comeback Completed!

  30. Mike says:

    I loved this finale so much. One thing no one has written about is the fact that Mark was at the hospital with Mickey. That showed me that Mickey was part of their family, and Mark cares about him too. I found that moving. Such a wonderful finale.

  31. danin says:

    I just could not get past Lisa’s voice.And could not hang at all w/the series.