Nip/Tuck Goes Out with a Whimper

By Louis Peitzman

Mar 04, 2010

For a show that's become known for pushing boundaries, Nip/Tuck went out not with a bang, but with a really lame whimper. Wednesday night’s series finale offered no cringe-worthy surgeries, no surprise hook-ups, no sudden deaths. Instead, we got a weak, rushed final hour that left me shrugging.

What did I expect, really? Season 7 was undoubtedly Nip/Tuck’s driest. Often criticized for its overuse of shock value, the series devolved into any other sub-par TV drama. All the “holy crap” moments were replaced with fights that'd been played out years before. Characters that we’d grown to love became shells of their formal selves. And Nip/Tuck’s final scene, Christian hitting on a Kimber-esque blonde at an airport bar, proudly proclaimed, “Hey, we’re back to square one!”

I don’t think that was the intention. I think the episode, which brought the McNamara family together (before splitting them apart) and offered that last homage to the series premiere, was designed to please fans who've stuck with this show from the beginning. And I have, sometimes against my better judgment. The quality has wavered over time, but even when Nip/Tuck wasn’t good, it was compelling. This season (and the finale in particular) felt like Nip/Tuck on tranquilizers, a collective “whatever” from the writers.

Am I being too harsh? Maybe. I know the show was never high art. Still, it was depressing to see these characters fizzle out so quietly. Where was the drama? And, on a larger scale, what was the point of this journey?

Let’s take a look at where everyone ended up, shall we? Matt, the perpetual screw-up, ditched his bride-to-be and ran off with the comically evil Ava. Julia, whose brief lesbianism seemed a great step forward for an often dull character, decided to flee to England with some rich guy she met off-screen. And alas, Sean and Christian: After all the growth, the struggles, the homoerotic subtext, they’re basically the same two guys. We even got a scene of the pair snorting coke and macking on Japanese porn stars. My, how far we’ve come? (And lest you think that sounds interesting, there wasn’t even any nudity. Poor form, Nip/Tuck.)

I’m not a fan of the phrase “jumping the shark,” because lots of shows take nosedives and then return with quality episodes. Nip/Tuck had a habit of being crappy one week and exceeding my expectations the next. I learned to live with it. But I thought we were getting somewhere—I was waiting for that big final explosion. Kimber returning from the dead! Matt and Ava literally killing each other! Sean and Christian admitting once and for all that they’re more than just friends!

What did I get? Some hugs. Some parting words. Some meta. It’s amazing I can muster this much anger over such a non-event finale, but I suppose one should never underestimate the passion of a disappointed fan. There will always be a place in my heart for Nip/Tuck, but this finale—and the episodes preceding it—will take some time to repress.

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  • parhamkn Mar 08, 2010

    actually i think it wasn't that bad.i myself been a fan since season 1 but i believe sometimes a quiet closure is better that a twisting end

  • RogerMarket Mar 05, 2010

    (Sorry, fixed the language)

    People keep bringing up the flashforward episode from season 4, but as someone already said, that episode was just a dream. Who REALLY thought that Matt would end up a doctor? And Annie was just plain ridiculous in that episode. Personally, I'm GLAD the show didn't end that way.

    That said, I LOVED the finale. There have been plenty of episodes that didn't rely on "shock value," which people are saying was lax in the series finale. I didn't NEED shock value. I needed a sense of closure, and that's exactly what I got, for the most part.

    The relationship issues that have been building for years came to a head. Julia finally moved far away from Sean and Christian, taking the kids with her. She escaped their ridiculousness, their love affair with her.

    Also, if Sean and Christian ended up professing their love for each other, as some suggested, I would have been SOO annoyed! They are not gay and that is incredibly clear throughout the show. Indeed, after 20 years of seeing each other every single day, they needed a break from each other, and as flashbacks have shown, Sean needed something meaningful (helping kids in third-world countries, rather than Hollywood plastic surgery). Sean used to be a good guy (in college), then he became a jerk right along with Christian. LOL. Now, Christian has forced him to redeem himself because Christian knows that Sean can be better, while he (Christian) cannot. It's actually very tragic and kind of profound.

    That Matt ended up with Ava (Eva?) was a little surprising. I kind of hoped they would do that, actually, and then it seemed like they weren't going to, and THEN, low and behold, they did it! I really liked that. Matt highlighted the TWISTED nature of the situation himself: He knows Ava doesn't love him, but he wants to be with her anyway because he adores her and has a kid that Ava can love. THAT is pretty tragic and screwed up right there. Matt found someone he loves but won't ever get the same in return. I've always thought it was very interesting that Matt could deal so easily with the love of his life being a transsexual. I think that fact right there is a love letter to the fans, from a show about plastic surgery, appearances, etc.

    Next, I thought the closing scene was perfect. Because while everyone was moving on with their lives (Julia was finding new love; Matt was finding old "love"; Sean was moving on to something he has always craved, a meaningful career, without Christian by his side; and Liz was becoming partner with Christian), we really saw that Christian just CAN'T change. He has no capacity for it, and that's his tragic flaw. He even says that they've always used the phrase "tell me what you don't like about yourself" to make people THINK they can change, "but they can't." That's Christian's view of the world, based on his own unchanging self-concept. I think it's okay that Christian didn't develop all that much throughout the show. That's just the kind of character he is, and we've ALWAYS known that. Sean has always had the potential for development, because we've always seen his resistance to, essentially, everything Christian did and stood for.

    Finally, I didn't WANT to see a ton of surgery in this episode, and I'm glad I didn't. I thought that what they did with the surgery in this episode was great. The old man's story is one of underlying concepts behind the show, especially when he says, "Old or young, appearances still do matter." Then Ava's, "You're the high priest of conformity. You dance around the golden calf shouting, 'How you look is who you are.'" These are the issues that plague the show, the people in it (as well as the real world), and Sean and Christian. ESPECIALLY Sean, because he is not entrenched in the same business as Christian. Rather, he doesn't WANT to be. He wants to do something worthwhile, for people who NEED it. Not WANT it.

    Great job, Ryan. I loved it. The series finale was low-key, in some respects, but I think taking some time to get these messages across was important.

  • CharmedOneP391 Mar 05, 2010

    Yeaa i agree with like everything you said. I think every niptuck fan will agree.
    I didn't HATE the finale...but most parts i didnt enjoy. I guess i agree with Murphy about making sean and christian go their seperate ways in the end.

    But i was hoping that Kimber wasn't really dead. because there was ZERO PERCET shock value. there was no shock value at all in the final 9 episodes for that matter.

    I thought matt was going to die. I was hoping for it. He just screwed up his daughters future...I was hoping that since they were all at the airport that Christian and Sean would find them with Ava and take the baby away..but nope.

    it was a strange finale...just seemed kinda bland. but i didn't hate was ok. 7.5 out of 10

  • MarioConte Mar 05, 2010

    In the end, that's life, you don't always get a happy ending. And for a show as out there as Nip/Tuck episodes like this bring us back to reality and not the usual escapism that Hollywood offers.

  • MarioConte Mar 05, 2010

    I think the whole point of the episode is not to make us feel that it's the end. We get so used to the twists and turns on some shows that we expect that every show has to be that way (think Heroes, The Sopranos) that when a season or series finale comes on, we get disappointed.

  • ursinism Mar 05, 2010

    I saw this show the first season and just a couple of episodes from the 2nd. I honestly got tired of the characters being the same thing without evolving. Then I whenever I saw another part of an episode in other seasons they still were the same. Of course the stories and problems were different but they were always hunted by the same ghosts.
    And since I usually don't see things like these (I mean this lack of evolution), when I see it I think it might be a huge.
    Of course I'm not gonna judge the show without watching it. Just that thing about the characters.

  • forensicsfan108 Mar 05, 2010

    I was disappointed with the way the show ended. So I have to agree that watching it was a waste of time.

  • mgfish Mar 05, 2010

    I hope to borrow all the seasons from a fan. I hear good things. Too bad it ended the way that it did. Now I know not to be too built up for it.

  • TylerA46 Mar 05, 2010

    "Sean and Christian admitting once and for all that they’re more than just friends! " - No, thanks, you don't have to see homosexuals on every corner.... But I missed he shock too. Maybe Ava and Matt or rather Julia dying.

  • amlad Mar 04, 2010

    Agreed. I felt I didn't get a good closure at all. I did like the idea of Christian breaking up with Sean (for his sake), but I'm angry that the writers didn't write it properly (they didn't write anything to be exact). I missed the twists, the shocking scenes, the interesting dialogues. And the ending that they created for Matt really pissed me off. One nice thing about the finale: Matt won't come back and he won't be forgiven once more. Fresh air.

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