Party Down, “Constance Carmell Wedding”

I’m sad. I’m sad because this could be the very last time I write about a specific new episode of Party Down, considering Starz still hasn’t decided on whether or not to give the barely-watched series a third season. But I’m also sad because although I knew the production team didn’t write “Constance Carmell Wedding” as a series finale, it still kind of feels like one — and a disappointing one at that.

Party Down took a similar approach with its first season finale, where a number of the characters found themselves in completely new positions, whether it was at work or just in life. I liked that approach for that time because once we came back in season two and most of those positions had been failed attempts at moving up in the world, it again nailed home the idea that for these people, Party Down Catering might be all there is. So obviously, the series should be able to make that claim again with Henry’s desire to act again, Ron’s possible promotion and Roman’s newfound genius and I should like it. And for the most part I do. But I guess I can’t get the “series finale” blinking lights out of my head and judge this just as a season finale. That’s on me.

This episode also felt off because so much was going on. Usually, I’m happy to see every member of the catering team have their own story, but with Constance’s return and the heightened stakes of a finale, the half hour did seem a little busy. Perhaps this is also the case because each character was off in their own individual stories — aside from Casey and Henry — instead of fully interacting with one another. We had Kyle and his band, Roman and the pot, Ron and his lady friend, Lydia’s meta attempts at proving she is a good replacement for Constance and of course, all the zaniness that came with her decision to marry a guy that’s nearly dead. On their own, each of those stories was enjoyable to watch, but they didn’t quite come together in a way that the great episodes of Party Down do.

But I guess most importantly, Henry’s story is the most effective. This season he’s been obviously responsive to the possibilities of getting back into acting — most notably with Guttenberg — and then to hit him with two big emotional moments in Constance’s speeches about following your heart/never giving up and Casey’s breakdown after finding out her scene in the Apatow movie was cut means that his decision to take an audition makes sense. It proves that Henry is tired of living a static life and all the speeches Casey’s given him about taking a chance on something more substantial have had an effect. Plus, it’s almost a way of him sticking up for her and proving that he cares enough about her to know what it’s like to fail so they can marinate in misery together, I guess. If the series were coming back for third season and Adam Scott was around for all 10 episodes, Henry wouldn’t get that part. But with Scott’s availability being limited to three episodes, the possibility that Henry regains some fame and an actual acting career seems more likely.

But if this it, I’m okay with that, too. I don’t like this is the most fitting whole episode ending, but Henry’s arc has had some great movement all season long, so if we finish on him translating from a quitter ready to just avoid any risk-taking to a guy who does what we wants, no matter the risk, that’s a nice, 20-episode arc. And it’s been a hilarious ride.

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