Unlike in previous seasons, the final season of Republic of Doyle plays out more like a miniseries in that it consists of ten interconnected episodes all focused on the same underlying story. Each episode has its own self-contained plot that is resolved in the standard sixty minutes, but there comes a point when each episode bleeds into the next.The above-named episodes fall together into one extended plot wherein Jake and his family are working for a gangster in order to pay back Sloan’s debt. Smash Derby is highly comedic in that it involves car crashes and men behaving like whiny schoolboys, although it also involves two murders. There is also a subplot wherein the Doyle menfolk are hiding what they are up to from Rose, who is none too happy when she finds out. Seriously, of all the women to try to hide something from, they try to pull the wool over on Rose? In six seasons, Rose Doyle has proven to have a strong instinct for detecting bull and for protecting her family, even if it is from themselves.
The Driver has the gangster’s moll (who proves to be just as wily and adept as her boss) treating Jake like a hired chauffeur and forcing him to do crimes to cover his own rear end. Again, we have more car chases, Jake acting like a simpering idiot around a pretty woman, and a ticked off Rose who has no love lost for Sloan. Sloan is trying to prove that she wants to turn over a new leaf, but only ends up deeper into trouble. This was an infuriating episode in that it did not seem to have any traction whatsoever.
In True Lies, it finally feels like we are in the final season. Guest appearances by actors formerly on the show number in the half-dozen. We are treated to a poker game of Jake’s buddies making many jokes at his expense – all of which are true, besides. It is a cute scene. Meanwhile, Jake’s new bail monitor is none other than his former high school nemesis whose life has taken a turn for the better again – and he cannot wait to lord it over Jake. On the one hand, as a viewer, I am sympathetic to Jake because I am following the plot from his perspective and his actions make complete sense in that regard. He is a desperate man and he has no time for delays. On the other hand, it is very easy to get tired of his rude and callous behaviour. There was no need to torment his former nemesis like teenager would.
Leslie Bennett spent these three episodes in therapy sessions with a doctor who really ought to be reported for sexual harassment. It is clear that there is a conspiracy of some kind in the constabulary and getting rid of Leslie (as well as running her reputation through the mud) is part of the plan. Her doctor not only tries to placate her, but he tries to flirt with her. Her boss runs her over the coals and reads the riot act to her, metaphorically speaking. Her partner tries to gently get her to lie low and avoid Jake for awhile. By True Lies, it was refreshing to see her out and solving crimes with Jake again – but the personal cost to her is still getting higher.
These two episodes are the relief episodes wherein we temporarily return to self-contained storylines while the main plot, that of Jake being on trial for murder, is shoved into the background. Again, more recurring characters make reappearances in what one assumes is their final appearance on the show.
In The Pint, a classic caper ensues when the Duke pub is double booked for a wedding and a funeral. The wedding is that of Jake’s elder brother, Christian, who has returned briefly to St. John’s to get married to a lovely young lady named Ruby. Ruby seems too good to be true, so naturally Rose is suspicious. The Doyles investigate her and dredge up more dirt than they bargain for when Ruby’s father shows up. A convicted con artist, Ruby’s father wants to make amends with his daughter, but Christian becomes convinced that he is merely a pawn in a father-daughter crime. Family drama aside, the ending sweetly leaves us feeling that Christian and Ruby will be happy together as they disappear again for good. This episode reminds us that the Doyles are still a loving family who are there for each other, and hints all the more strongly that Leslie belongs among them. Everyone knows it…and yet…well, I’m not sure what.
The funeral is that of an old friend of dimwitted, crooked bartender Ned Bishop. Ned convinces Jake that there is a missing will and that the children of the deceased are conspiring to steal money for themselves. Furthermore, the cops are looking for a criminal who has been hiding from them for years – unsurprisingly, the two incidents are related. As with the wedding, all is happily resolved and it is clear that the season has hit its high point. Everything further only builds to the climax.
Except that initially, When the Whistle Blows doesn’t seem to continue with the main seasonal plot. Wolf and Jimmy, two federal agents who have appears about once a season since Season 3, are once again in the middle of an incident that Jake ends up getting mixed up in as he takes piecemeal cases to earn a living. Our gangster from the earlier episodes makes another appearance, but the episode primarily features Jimmy being hotheaded and stupid, Wolf trying to keep him from killing himself or jeopardizing the mission, and Jake trying to solve the crime without going back to jail or getting anyone killed. They all succeed brilliantly and live to fight another day.
If one were to stop watching at the final commercial break, it would seem as though the story ended, case closed, drinks all around. However, the overall storyline takes a dramatic turn for the worse as Sloan reveals that she conned the Doyles all along – she was never really Jake’s daughter and initially only wanted their money, but she ended up loving their family and wanting to stay. While I breathed a sigh of relief, I also couldn’t help feeling that both Jake and Sloan were too hard on themselves. Jake was enamoured with the idea of having a daughter and Sloan was a great actor – he was hardly an idiot in thinking believing her. Sloan became enamoured with the idea of having a loving family that cared for her – hardly a crime! Her crime, rather, was stealing from them and taking advantage of all that they offered her. If she had genuinely wanted to be a part of the Doyle clan, she could have done so. By confessing the truth, she hoped that the family would be able to get their insurance money. She truly did a selfish act, only to have it undone by Jake, who refused to let her make her own life worse. I do hope that she takes his pardoning of her to heart. Both were acts of unselfish love.
And now, the Doyle clan is worse off than before…with only three more hours to go.