If there was ever a series tailor-made for the Hawaii vacation episode(s), it has to be Cougar Town, right? Taking a band of goofballs who sit around drinking and playing stupid games in Florida and putting them in another beautiful, warm location doesn’t really change much, thankfully. “Something Good Coming” not only keeps the series grounded in its usual zany, but heartfelt antics, it also nicely wraps up the season’s biggest stories with nice finesse.
I don’t want to say I was “concerned” about how the series would handle both Travis’ heartbreak and the Jules/Grayson baby stories, but I was certainly hoping that Town kept the emotional stakes resonant, but under control. Yeah, I guess that’s the right phrasing. Even though the last stretch of episodes has done a tremendous job of presenting a more subdued, mature Jules, there’s always the chance that she could become the crazy, overbearing nut-case that she was for all of the first season and a good part of this one. Although that version of Jules is almost always funny in the most uncomfortable of ways, I was hoping that Travis’ eventual return to Florida had more to do with his own maturity than his mother’s pestering. And because I didn’t care for much of the Jules-Grayson “drama” earlier in the season (most notably, their struggles with “I love you”).
Thankfully, “Something Good Coming” didn’t explore any of those problematic possibilities. As far as these two stories go, I couldn’t be happier with the way the series handled them here. Travis moving to Hawaii was kind of ridiculous, but the hour didn’t overdo it. He certainly ran away, but Hawaii actually helped him start to turn his life and his feelings around. He might have been living in a hostel with Ted from Scrubs and working with his hands, but those 4-5 days went a long way in showing Travis what he should and should not be doing with his life. For a series with such a goofy DNA, Cougar Town handled Travis’ emotions with respect and care over these half-dozen episodes, which might be partly because he’s the most sane and normal of the characters on the series.
Moreover, “Coming” is yet another great episode for Jules. Once she figures out that Trav is in Hawaii, she decides to go there to help him/bring him back, but there’s not that insane, rabid-sort of look in eye that we’ve seen during much less dire circumstances. On the island, Jules makes her logical pitch to her son, recognizes that it doesn’t work, but doesn’t continue to pushing. Obviously, there’s a good stretch of the episode where she’s distracted by her issues with Grayson and her self-induced denial of all things bad, and that’s not particularly helpful. But the big point is that Jules doesn’t suffocate Travis, that’s actually a really huge deal for a character like this. This being a comedy that requires all the characters to be the butts of jokes, Jules’ odd parenting will resurface next season. However, I’ve really enjoyed the progress she’s made over this season. Her developed was arced at well and in the moment where she totally could have been at her worst, she was actually at her best.
On the baby front, Grayson and Jules finally have the conversations they’ve been ignoring for many episodes. I think this plot was less successful than what was going on with Travis, if only because it seemed like the series wasn’t totally invested in it, at least compared to Trav’s arc. The various recent episodes with Grayson talking about his baby-wanting ways with people other than Jules didn’t really stick (especially the one with him rollerblading), but I did like how this episode explained Jules’ side. Travis’ breakdown gives her a good example to point to as to why they shouldn’t have a kid, but also allows the series to button it off for now so that it can (probably) be one of the driving narratives of season three. I’m not especially looking forward to that, but I have a lot of confidence that their baby issues will be portrayed better than their “I love you” issues.
Those were the big issues that needed “handled,” and “Something Good Coming” did a fantastic job carrying out that task. It also found some time for smaller stories about Bobby and the possibility of a Travis-Laurie romance, both of which were very good. Bobby’s gone through a lot this season and it was surprisingly moving to see him upset over the fact that he’s alone. I hope the series gives him a love interest next season. And this was the first time the series seriously put the Travis-Laurie coupling on the table and it was handled well. Laurie was really the one that convinced Travis to come home and she’s intelligent enough to know how Travis feels about her, but there was real, honest feelings from her as well. Putting the two of them together would be compelling, if only because it would bring Jules’ crazy side and have her reaction be completely justified.
Of course, this episode was damn funny as well. I was very happy to see Ted from Scrubs, his musicianship is just hilariously depressing, or depressingly hilarious, I’m not sure. Some of the standout comedic moments: Ellie’s Hawaiian suicide, the three men coming out wearing the same shirt, Rock Coconut and Bobby and Andy’s door-knocking language. What a wonderfully enjoyable conclusion to really fun season of television. It’s going to be a long wait until November.