If you didn't watch last night's series finale of "Will & Grace," and you actually care to find out how things transpired on your own, then this post will be filled with spoilers aplenty. But I will bury all of those after the jump.
It seems a little hard to find more than a handful of gays who are genuinely mourning the passing of W&G. Many of the older ones feel, as I do, that its best years were long behind it; many of the younger ones simply ask, "Will and who?"
But even if we concede that W&G reinforced stereotypes or consigned gays to sexless, "nonthreatening" roles, it was still a groundbreaking series that brought needed messages to people who might not otherwise have heard them. And for that, we should be thankful that Will, Grace, Karen and Jack came into our lives at all.
That said, last night's episode was a bit of a disappointment on a number of levels. (What W&G episode hasn't been lately?) They tried to cram too much drama, reconciliation and convenient plot twists into a single 44-minute installment.
It felt as if it was a story arc all its own, rather than the conclusion of an arc that ran through the episodes leading up to last night.
The story picked up where it left off last week, with Will questioning where he would be in the life of Grace and her soon-to-be baby if she ran off to Rome to find Leo, the father of her child.
Grace has a dream about an unhappy future where she has a huge track-panted ass, Will has no hair, Jack is married to Kevin Bacon (the last of the pointless celebrity guest shots), and W&G are doing a terrible job of raising Grace's son together.
So when Leo later shows up on the doorstep of a now-awake Grace, the choice she makes comes as little surprise.
Flash forward two years: Vince is now living with Will. They are raising a baby boy, Ben, from a surrogate mother. It's Will's birthday, and he can't help hoping that maybe Grace will call him, even though they haven't spoken since Grace went away to Rome.
Across the city in Brooklyn, Grace and Leo are back together in Leo's old place. They had returned to the States a year prior and are raising their daughter, Lila (not a son, as in her dream). Grace also misses her old friend, but pride still prevents her from doing much about it.
Jack and Karen concoct a sitcomish plot involving a hospital patient in a full-body cast to get W&G back together. It works, and soon the gang is reunited.
In the B-story, Karen's divorce settlement from Stan apparently rested entirely on IOUs, and she's now broke. She forces Jack to become the diminutive Beverly Leslie's kept man so that Jack can support her lavish lifestyle, payback for the years he sucked from Karen's proverbial teat. Immediately after Beverly had made Jack his sole heir, Beverly meets an untimely if (again) convenient death out an open window.
But the wounds between Will and Grace are still too raw. They fight; they make up; they try to make plans to meet this week, or maybe next week, but they just can't seem to find the time.
Flash forward another 20 years: A dark-haired guy and a red-headed girl living across from each other in a college dorm meet for the first time. There is chemistry. They go to get coffee.
The girl's mom and the boy's dad enter, hidden behind stacks of boxes that they're moving into their children's rooms.
(This is where MalcoVision picks up, if you'd rather watch:)
Watch video – 9:04, WMV format, high bandwidth
Watch video – 9:04, WMV format, low bandwidth
They each speak and instantly recognize the other's voice: It is Grace, coming to give Lila her belongings, and Will, doing the same for Ben. The two old friends go out for a drink to get reacquainted.
Karen, Jack and Rosario are now all living together off Jack's vast fortune. For Jack, it is clearly a life of comfort and indolence; for Karen, it is a life of cosmetic surgery. Whereas the other main characters have aged, Karen looks the same as she did "20 years ago."
Jack and Karen move over to the grand piano to sing a song about destiny, friendship and the old days: "Unforgettable." It turns out to be a nice and touching version; I was surprised to find a bit of a lump in my throat. (Was Sean Hayes actually playing the piano?!)
The two decide to call W&G and go out for a drink together. They gather at a bar and enjoy a shot, and a toast to their enduring friendship.
The last scene (the picture at the top of this post) flashes back to their younger selves; the camera fades out to the strains of Queen's (how appropriate) "You're My Best Friend."
The show also included a clever promo for Megan Mullally's upcoming daytime talk show in which Megan and Karen, through the magic of special effects, enjoy one last day together.
UPDATE: Robbie has cobbled together some clips from the one-hour W&G retrospective that preceded the finale:
[Watch video – 13:00, WMV format, high bandwidth]
[Watch video – 13:00, WMV format, low bandwidth ]