And here it is, my review of the final season of Party of Five. I must say its been quite an experience watching this family drama and observing the ups and downs of the Salinger Family. Here I am at the final stage, bidding farewell to the moving drama and characters I’ve come to feel for and enjoy the company of. Be warned, spoilers will follow in this take on the last season of Party of Five.
We rejoin the Salinger’s as Charlie(Matthew Fox) and Kirsten( Paula Devicq)are about to tie the knot. After numerous slip ups and hiccups, they finally marry, overcoming much adversity and obstacles that have stood in their way. Though Kirsten never thought she could have kids, with advances in research she decides it is time to start looking into IVF. It will be a trying time for them especially with young Owen(Jacob Smith) and baby Diana to look after, but they are willing to ride it out in the hopes of a positive outcome. Daphne is still around and has employed the help of nanny Victor(Wilson Cruz)to help with Diana when needed, he soon becomes a close family friend to the Salinger’s. Griffin(Jeremy London) is also very much a presence in their lives, particularly when he is involved in a motorbike accident and they cover his insurance to help him out. Bailey(Scott Wolf) is busying himself with things and not communicating with Sarah(Jennifer Love Hewitt). The strain on their relationship since she turned down his marriage proposal in Season 5 grows bigger and ultimately Sarah breaks off their romance. She decides that she wants to find herself and promptly leaves behind their relationship once and for all. As he feels he’s got no one to rely on or something to fix( plus an intense and ill advised rebound relationship), Bailey’s desire for alcohol comes back. Thankfully he is aware of it and decides to sort himself out rather than spiralling out of control like the last time.
Julia(Neve Campbell) is offered a book deal that puts pressure on her to dig into her life and examine the painful times. She’s determined to do it, though it will prove difficult to assess all she has been through in such a short space of time. Claudia(Lacey Chabert) continues to grow into a mature young woman faced with the beckoning responsibilities and confusion of adulthood. She is nearly forced upon by a drunken classmate and it forces her to retreat into herself. It’s only with Julia’s help that she opens up again and tries to get back to her usual searching self again. In the end, the Salinger’s must decide how to move on with their lives and in what direction it is best to go in.
The main theme running through everything in this last season is moving on. Each of the Salinger’s has to contend with the possibilities of the future and what may lie ahead. More issues and moving moments ensue in this final season, rounding out the impressive arcs of the characters. There’s the peer pressure for Claudia, Bailey’s lapse into alcohol again and Julia’s journey of writing a memoir. Some story lines don’t quite add up or work(anything to really do with Daphne and Bailey’s relationship with a girl name Holly drags), but the vast majority of things compensate for that. Certain ones are hard to ignore, though we can still watch and be entertained by the various events the characters find themselves going through and their choices. What’s made the show one that I have enjoyed is the relatability. Every character is flawed and yet likeable in their own way and that’s been a consistent strength in Party of Fve during its run.
Major episodes that stand out are Griffin’s accident bringing everyone together, showing Party of Five at what it does best; emotional drama. The following episode gamely explores how the Salinger’s banding together to help Griffin in a way we are accustomed to seeing. One of the finest is titled What if and is a look at what life may have been like for the Salinger’s if their parents hadn’t died. It occurs following Bailey crashing his car and it examines the way in which lives can play out not according to plan or sometimes go another way. It’s a very strong episode that really reflects on how much they’ve all grown up in the years since their parent’s death and it’s neat seeing various ways that characters may have interacted if not for that one critical event. Season 6 may not be the best season of Party of Five( that honour goes to Season 3), but it signs off very credibly and emotionally in a way befitting of what’s come before it. What’s best about it is how it ties everything together and concludes the journeys of the Salinger’s in heartfelt fashion. The best episode is the last one that shows all of the characters letting go of the past, keeping their memories of good times and finally moving on with their lives. It’s a pleasing, emotional episode as Bailey, Julia and Claudia all accept scholarships, internships and a chance at college while Charlie, after reluctance, gives his blessing. What’s most moving is the selling of the Salinger home, which has experienced just about every event known to man. The episode finishes with the characters saying goodbye to the house and finally letting their wings fly. And if you don’t have tears in your eyes, there is seriously something wrong with you.
By this point, the main cast is completely in tune with the characters they’ve played for years and still doing a hell of a good job at. Matthew Fox is ace as the oldest Charlie, whose life has been eventful and a complete roller coaster just like his siblings. Fox has grown into the part and has shown the progression from slacker and selfish to mature and authoritative. He’s finally become someone selfless, hard-working, dependable and happy about it. Scott Wolf is fine once more, alternating between cheeky and fun loving and desperate to stay afloat. Bailey has beaten his demons before and with Wolf understanding it, that makes his recovery all the more well played and realistic. Neve Campbell’s mix of assurance and vulnerability is wisely kept intact with Julia as she matures and has to dig deep for some inspiration of what to do next in her life. In a similar vein, Lacey Chabert, with her combination of innocence and attitude, gets to the emotionally confused centre of Claudia in a time where she is confronting things she doesn’t want to, yet planning her future at the same time. Paula Devicq is supportive and caring as Charlie’s wife Kirsten, who more than anything would love a child of her own. It’s very nice seeing her and Charlie finally together for good. It’s been an extremely rough road for the pair along the way, but thankfully they have come through as they belong to each other and always have. Jeremy London appears as Griffin who is also looking to the future and grateful to the Salinger’s for everything they’ve done for him. Jennifer Love Hewitt, who appears only briefly before leaving is still effective as the conflicted Sarah, who needs some answers and assurance in her life. Scott Grimes returns again, playing Bailey’s best bud Will with a real enthusiasm and supportive nature in times of need for Bailey. Wilson Cruz is fine as the new addition of Victor, someone who is both fair and loyal to the family and little Jacob Smith is growing fast as the youngest sibling Owen.
A fine send off to a quality show that brought emotion and honesty to the issues faced by young people, Season 6 of Party of Five rounds things off in respectable and excellent fashion. I hope everyone has enjoyed my reviews of this show, as it’s been a ride of emotions for me and I’m happy I discovered Party of Five. I will definitely miss this show now that I’ve finished it, but I can bid farewell happily too.