Say it ain’t so! This Sunday, March 3, marks the season finale of Enlightened, one of the best (and most under-appreciated) comedies on television. And already, fans are starting to worry: Will this be the end of the show?
“Last season, I was like, we’ve got to end this with as big of a cliffhanger as we possibly can, just so that people will want to see how it all plays out,” the show’s creator, Mike White, told EW before the second season began. “And I wanted to do that again this year. But I did feel like, if we don’t build our audience and there is a chance that this show won’t come back, I wanted it to feel complete. I was hedging my bets, I guess.” (This season’s premiere earned only earned 609,000 viewers over three plays, though that’s slightly up from last season. HBO has not announced whether the series will live to see a third season.)
Without spoiling anything, let’s just say that this season finale is all kinds of heartbreaking, and not just because the episode is so good that you won’t want it to end. As Amy (Laura Dern) and Los Angeles Times scribe Jeff (Dermott Mulroney) prepare to publish their big exposé about Abbadonn, everyone’s starting to get nervous. Abbadonn’s shy programming drone Tyler (Mike White) knows that his relationship with Eileen (Molly Shannon), the boss’s secretary, will be over as soon as the story breaks, and he wants Amy to stop the story from running. Meanwhile, a new opportunity comes up that makes Amy question what’s really the best way to save the world: by working within the system or by burning everything down.
There’s a moment in the finale where someone suggests that Amy should be grateful for the opportunities that Abbadonn has given her, and not drag the company down. Watching this scene, it’s hard not to wonder just how much White, who has fiercely defended his vision for this show, can relate. “I see that point of view,” he confesses. “I’m not Amy, but HBO gives me all of these resources to make this weird show — and they’ve been completely great partners along the way — and yet there are times when I’m so ready to bite the hand that feeds me. So I can relate to that thing where people say to you, ‘Look, these people have been good to you. This is who’s paying you! What are you doing?’ The way we live in this corporate universe, it makes everyone have to grapple with that. Some people are like, ‘We all have to dance for the man.’ But it’s like, shouldn’t the man be a better man? If we just dance for him, that’s not gonna make him better!”
Another loose end that the finale will address? Amy is still trying figure out where things stand with her ex-husband Levi (Luke Wilson), who has just returned from rehab, wanting to give their relationship another chance. Will they end up together? Wilson isn’t so sure. He says he loved playing Levi this season, especially in the episode that takes place in rehab. “Mike White and I both know people that have been in rehab, and people like Amy who have tried to get other people into rehab,” he tells EW. (White has talked openly about checking himself into a hospital after a breakdown.) But he isn’t sure what Levi’s future would entail. “As they talk about a third season, I’ve found myself wondering, where do you go with it?” he admits. “I just don’t know. I don’t know that I’d want to see what happens. In a protective way, I don’t want to see Amy getting burned out, or getting back together with Levi and seeing them both get burned out together. I don’t see Levi really changing that much. But hey, I hope I’m wrong.”