It’s over and done, but aren’t you glad it happened?
On Schmigadoon! Season 2 Episode 6, Josh and Melissa get their Finale Ultimo, which turns out to be a “Happy Beginning.”
The singular sensation Ariana DeBose is back, opening up the episode with a fabulous tribute to 1981’s R&B musical Dreamgirls.
DeBose hasn’t been featured as prominently in Schmigadoon! Season 2 as she was in Schmigadoon! Season 1, likely due to her career taking off after her Oscar win — but this is a beautiful way to showcase her doing what she does best.
DeBose delivers dramatic, dynamic vocals with elegance and glamor. The number sets the tone for the rest of the episode perfectly.
Once again, Cecily Strong proves what a marvelous actor she is. We know there will be a happy end, but her commitment to the proceedings is admirable. Patrick Page’s Kratt somehow remains both dapper and dastardly. His evil knows no bounds!
Oh, no, don’t you dare sing to me, you sicko! I shut down a dream ballet, I will shut down this!
We, as an audience, were robbed of what would have been his “Johanna”-like a ballad, but Melissa has every right to cut him down to size.
It’s great to have Jane Krakowski’s Bobby Flanagan back after a few episodes being absence, bringing her incomparable line delivery to the proceedings.
Ten dollars? Girl, be corrupt but have some pride.
Ann Harada, too, gets some beautiful moments as Madame Frau. Her speech to Melissa about Kratt echoes Fraulein Schneider’s resolution in Cabaret. It’s genuinely sad, and it tells you a lot about people who are forced into lose-lose situations.
It’s so satisfying to see Frau take control of Kratt’s enterprises in the end, giving room for Sergeant Rivera’s Frank-N-Furter (from Rocky Horror) act! How amazing was that? Did anyone expect that from Jaime Camil?
The only issue was that it was so short — such a tease! It’s a time thing, but again, it would be amazing if these episodes were even 10 minutes longer. We want more, more, more, more!
Sergeant Rivera gives us another example of what would have happened if a character from Sweeney Todd had a change of heart (Rivera feels evocative of Beadle Bamford, at least in his relationship with Kratt).
Camil sold Rivera’s internal struggle, even if we haven’t spent much time with him this season.
Have you heard the parable of the guy who helped the other guy, and it worked out for both of them?
Josh’s buying of time with fake parables (including a retelling of The Goonies) was inspired. Keegan-Michael Key has always felt like the most “outside world” part of the show, and it’s always funny when he uses that outsider knowledge in his favor.
As I mentioned in my Schmigadoon! Season 2 Episode 1 review, Dove Cameron doesn’t always get her due for being ridiculously funny.
Jenny gave us so many laugh-out-loud moments here, from her scene in bed with Topher to her response to Rivera’s reaction to the flower. Even when facing the barrel of a gun, she still maintains her brand of quirky poise.
Topher: Do you think there’s even more for me to learn about lovemaking?
Jenny: Yeah, definitely. It was great. But, you know, even Picasso kept taking lessons.
Also, way to be humble, Topher. That’s some healthy masculinity you’re showcasing.
Cinco Paul wrote the script for this episode, and he knows the strength of these actors and how to make them shine, making sure everyone gets their moments. He also brought all the characters and plotlines together in a believable way (as much as Schmicago can be believable).
The chandelier was totally unexpected and hinted at what might be involved in a potential Season 3. Kratt’s death suggests that Patrick Page will not be back for Season 2 unless he is a ghost… of sorts?
The chandelier drop will always be associated with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1986 musical The Phantom Of The Opera. Will we be entering the mega-musical era next? How will that play out? What will the town be called?
It was fun to have reprise of “Kaput!” led by Josh and Melissa, with a rousing, final “I’ll drink to that!” from Karin Konoval, who wasn’t Daisy, after all, but she was still my favorite running gag from the season.
The other reprise was “Something Real,” which gave Josh and Melissa the clarity they needed. It was deeply moving, as any good musical finale should be.
We’ve watched Josh and Melissa learn and grow together, and throughout Season 2, their love has remained strong and consistent. Their decision to return to their imperfect lives after their Schmicago adventure was poignant.
The magic wore off. Magic always does.
It’s hard to forego the magic and accept real life sometimes (as any musical lover will admit), but it’s an important lesson.
It felt like a beautiful blend of the endings of The Wiz, Company, Cabaret, Pippin, and even a little bit of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. “Happy Beginning” is simply perfect songwriting.
And hey, you can’t go wrong with Martin Short singing a duet with himself!
Happy endings don’t exist
But here’s a pearl you may have missed
Every day can be a happy beginning.
Oscar & Stephen
We still don’t know the truth about these magical cities that materialize to give Melissa and Josh life lessons, but the fact that the Narrator didn’t want the job anymore suggests that he’d been doing it for a while.
Maybe the residents had all been like Josh and Melissa once, and if those two had agreed to stay, they’d be stuck “performing” in lessons for newcomers.
The final sequence paid homage to the end of the filmed version of Godspell. And by some miracle, Melissa is pregnant. That’s the definition of a “happy beginning.”
It’s a little too perfect, but they deserve their win. Let’s hope that their kid will be part of a subsequent season.
Fun Facts/Easter Eggs
Look at the lyrics from “Tribulation” in Schmigadoon! Season 1 Episode 5, and you’ll find that Mildred Layton (Kristin Chenoweth) described the city of Schmicago!
Ariana DeBose was a replacement on Broadway for the Leading Player (Patina Miller) in the 2014 Pippin revival.
The leprechauns are named Stephen (after Schwartz and Sondheim) for Schmicago and Oscar (after Hammerstein) for Schmigadoon!
Eagle eyes will spot creator Cinco Paul walking down-screen right in the final New York sequence.
The name “Daisy” is an ode to Daisy from the 1966 musical On a Clear Day You Can See Forever.
Josh references Air Bud while he’s trying to buy time with Rivera, just as he used Air Bud to explain loophole exploitation to Carson in Schmigadoon! Season 1 Episode 5.
When Blight says, “God, that was good!” after Codwell kisses him, it’s a reference to the song “God, That’s Good!” from Sweeney Todd.
Let us rejoicify, for the Schmicago soundtrack has been released today! We can relive the Schmagic over and over, discovering clever touches hidden in David Chase and Doug Besterman’s brilliant orchestrations of Cinco Paul’s Broadway-worthy tunes.
Given the acclaim this series has received, we should have a Season 3 to look forward to — somehow, someday, somewhere!
Did you find the finale satisfying? What did you love about it? What was your favorite number, moment, or character? What do you think is in store for Season 3?
Share your thoughts in the comments!
Mary Littlejohn Mary Littlejohn is a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She loves television, cinema, and theatre (especially musicals!), particularly when it champions inclusivity, diversity, and social justice. Follow her on Twitter.