Written more as a feature film than a television episode, the series finale of Republic of Doyle began with Jake Doyle being found guilty of murder after what appeared to be a shoddy show-trial. He is sentenced to prison, but is given two days reprieve. The judge insists that Jake use his last 48 hours of freedom to solve a case. Reluctantly, Jake and Malachy agree and take on the mystery, digging deeper and deeper into the gangs of St. John’s’ criminal underworld. Leslie is fired from the constabulary and so joins them in their rogue investigation. The rest of the Doyles also try to help out, but they are all being watched – especially Tinny.
Not surprisingly, they discover that the judge is sending them on a wild goose chase that will assist the Chevalier gang in taking over further business. They also find that the gang has video evidence of Jake’s innocence, but they will only hand it over to Jake if he goes to prison for three years and does dirty work for them on the inside – to say nothing of what they will expect of the Doyles in the meantime – and then continues as an operative for them after he is released. As the episodes continue, the search for the kingpin who planned everything leads them to last week’s grumpy police inspector from Quebec. By sheer bad luck, Leslie ends up confronting him unarmed.
Like both Malachy and Des, who get severely beaten by the Chevaliers over the course of the episode and appear to be likely to succumb to their injuries at each commercial break when said beating occur, Leslie finishes her scene in mortal peril, echoing how all three of them also ended the first, third, and fifth seasons (respectively) near death. All three said scenes are also testaments to these characters’ arcs over the course of the series. Leslie, in particular, goes from being a by-the-book cop to being a rogue fighter for justice. The corrupt inspector underestimates her and she chases him uphill on foot in a gun fight, all the while suffering dizziness. As it turns out after the commercial break, she wins. She may have a bullet to the arm, but the inspector is dead, and the Doyles have found the evidence to prove his corruption.
Everyone gets to be heroes in the finale, including Jake’s ex-wife Nikki and Sergeant Hood. Kathleen Doyle, Tinny’s mother and Jake’s sister, is back to support them, although their brother and his new wife seem to still be on their honeymoon. (This is just as well, as their appearance would probably be a case of too many cooks in the kitchen.) Even Des and Tinny, who spend most of the episodes dealing with their romantic subplot, get their chance to take down the gangsters. Tinny arrests the judge who decided to find her uncle guilty personally.
Overall, however, this is still a humourous and fun show. It has always been an adventure with lots of antics and jokes. It maintains that sense of fun, even as the tension and drama mount. Because of this, viewers could be assured that it would work out all right. Yes, there were clichés. The ending was not all that surprising. However, it was not supposed to be. The show has always been an homage to older buddy-cop or private-investigator-action series. It is all in good fun. That makes the dramatic tension work – you know the tension should resolve itself by the end of the episode, but you have no idea how. Because this is the series finale, there will be no cliffhanger. The audience will be sufficiently entertained and go home happy.
It was fitting that the last scene of the series oddly mirrored the first. The opening sequence of the series premiere was Jake Doyle chasing Des Courtney after the latter spray-painted graffiti onto Jake’s prized GTO. The final sequence involved Jake standing as Des’s best man as Des officially joined the Doyle clan on paper – although he had long since become a fixture within the family in his own right. It was a scene about Jake, but not really focused on him. It was about the Doyle family. They were joyful, strong, and victorious. Long live their republic!
Season 8, Episode 9 (The Keystone Constables)
How to combine marital drama, female empowerment, murder, and slapstick comedy and turn it into an endearing and entertaining episode?
Despite the unlikely mix, The Keystone Constables manages to pull off the above. We are treated to romance both new and ongoing, as we see Crabtree continue his blossoming romance as well as Murdoch and Ogden getting used to married life. We get an ongoing debate about whether women are as funny as men (or funny at all), the usual murder of the week, and a showtroupe of slapstick performers and cheap vaudeville tricks. We get our favourite funny-guy constables, Crabtree and Higgins, going undercover as vaudeville performers and imitating Brackenreid and Murdoch – who are none too pleased with the portrayal. We get a mystery based off of a joke that becomes a riddle that is key to solving the weekly murder.
The most important things that make this episode work well are the following: the realistic portrayal of marriage between Murdoch and Ogden, and the way in which the hilarity of the vaudeville stage (and the laughs that they inspire) is contrasted with the darkness of the vaudeville circuit and business. The setting itself is uncomfortable. Like most theatres of the time, it is dark, shadowy, and full of fire. The performers are portrayed as willing to kill each other over ownership of a joke. Performers have to compete with each other for bonuses based on audience appreciation even though the show is rigged – and even though certain acts are inherently more entertaining than others.
All of this is disquieting and not entertaining for Murdoch, but (much to his surprise) Dr. Ogden laughs hysterically. By the end of the episode, it is clear that Murdoch was somewhat performing himself – acting as though he was unamused because he thought that his wife would have expected that of him. On the other hand, very few marriages involve spouses who find the exact same things funny to the exact same extent. Part of marriage is figuring out how to compromise on one’s entertainment tastes so that both spouses are sufficiently entertained together.
It isn’t easy. One spouse may get a joke while the other doesn’t. One spouse may find a joke hilarious while the other is only mildly amused. One spouse may love slasher-horror films while the other is terrified past enjoyment of them. Sometimes, this is a caused by a lack of mutual reference points and can be remedied by someone studying the topic at hand, but other times, this caused by lack of mutual experience (not growing up in the country, not playing varsity sports, not travelling abroad, etc.) and this is not so easily fixed. Other differences are simply due to comedy being subjective. Entertainment is just that – about being entertained, not tortured or confused. Because of this, spouses especially has to determine how to both fulfil their own entertainment requirements while still trying to experience as much as they can together. This episode highlights that reality. Now that they are married, Murdoch and Ogden are able to spend their time outside of work together. They can do more than solve mysteries. They also do not have to pretend in front of each other.
In contrast to the dark, uncomfortable theatre, the scenes of Murdoch and Ogden at their home are warm and cozy despite being equally unlit. We see them enjoying being together and finally able to let all of their guards down. We are left with joy and laughter as the proverbial curtain falls on the first half of the season.
Cue the orchestra for the bouncy, uplifting entr’acte!
After all, we know we’re getting a dead body on the stage when the curtains reopen.
Season 7, Episode 10 (Bad Santa)
An uplifting Christmas special this is not. While it is funny and charming, it is a dark story involving the mafia and Castle taking too many risks that ultimately cost him his trust with the NYPD. (This should not actually alter his position much – after all, Beckett is his wife. She is bound to ask for his assistance in the confines of their home. When has being told not to do something ever stopped either of them? Furthermore, Castle could always hire himself out as a private investigator.) Also, Lanie and Esposito decide that their relationship is not marriage material, despite having to pretend to be engaged for the duration of a visit by Lanie’s parents. Awkward comedy moment…that fell flat when it made the two decide that they really didn’t think they would get married. Was it meant to be dramatic? When we were already getting the gut-punch that Castle has been terminated from police consulting? Were we meant to laugh and think “Haha, they’ll get married eventually.”? After all, they are a very good couple together – it was not as though the writers were pairing an odd couple who were entirely pretending to be engaged for the benefit of the parents. Esposito is Lanie’s boyfriend, not a random co-worker pulled in to play the part (which would have been hilarious). Did the writers think that it was clear to the audience that the couple was just realising that they were not ready for marriage quite yet, but were still thinking that they would get married? Honestly, the subplot as the writers set it up should have resolved with them actually getting engaged. It was a cute, comedic subplot meant to offset the drama of the main storyline. Unfortunately, it fell very flat. Sweet, yes, but flat.
Castle’s adventure with the mafia was quite intriguing and entertaining – with an ultimately romantic end thrown in. It was perfect for Christmas. In fact, the main storyline was very well done. While I thought that everyone seemed to be taking the plot less seriously than Castle and the mobsters (Esposito and Ryan were actually excited and jealous of Castle? Seriously?), having this new angle for Castle was refreshing and could set up the rest of the season in a new direction. I look forward to finding out what they do next week.