If you thought ABC’s Private Practice would go off gently into the night with its Tuesday series finale, you underestimated Shonda Rhimes.
Because while all indicators suggested a light-and-fluffy final hour about Addison’s wedding to Jake and pretty much nothing else, the prolific storyteller had a last twist or two up her sleeve.
Here’s a spoiler-filled rundown of what final drama(s) awaited each character in the finale:
AMELIA and JAMES got the shortest shift during the finale, primarily just looking lovey-dovey into each other’s eyes at one wedding or another (at the second of which he hints that one day it will be their turn, heh).
COOPER labored to handle his Mr. Mom duties, per his agreement with CHARLOTTE, but in the end — after five days of no showers, no wardrobe changes and at least one sleep session in a closet — he insisted they needed to hire a nanny. The alternative, he warned: “Do you want me having sex with the moms in the park, just because we’re on the same feeding schedule?!”
When JAKE wasn’t getting married or wondering why the heck Sheldon and Sam just up and walked away from their conversation, he was dealing with daughter Angela’s ongoing romance with 50-year-old Eli. In the end, before she left for Europe where Eli had landed a teaching gig, he offered his blessing, saying he’d be proud to one day give her way to a good man. But she will always be his little girl.
VIOLET opened the hour commencing work on a new book, then spent other scenes meeting with a patient named Holly (Parenthood‘s Sarah Ramos) who, like Private Practice fans, was having trouble letting go and ending their time together. After Holly got accepted to the Cordon Bleu in Paris, Violet convinced her to make the leap — a whole ocean and a continent away from her shrink. “You saved me,” Holly shared. “Thank you.”
SHELDON brought Miranda as his wedding date, but after the time jump, her Stage IV cancer started getting the best of her, and she tried to push Sheldon away. “No matter what they do…. I’m going to be in so much pain, drooling… I’ll forget your name and 100 other horrible indignities. The bad leg is starting, and I don’t want you to see this, so walk away and don’t look back.” Sheldon, though, did look back soon enough, finding Miranda in the park. “You showed up on my road,” he argued. “I’m happy to be with you, and I’m honored to take care of you. You deserve to be loved until the very last moment, and I deserve the chance to love you.” Miranda came around, and they set out to planning the rest of her life together.
NAOMI didn’t just return to carry a bouquet at Addison’s wedding. Far from it. No, she also impetuously got busy at the reception with ex-husband Sam. Flash-forward 13 weeks later, and Nay is paying a visit to — and feeling dizzy in the halls of — Seaside Health & Wellness, where Addison confirms that her bestie is pregnant. Naomi divulges that she and Fife never tied the knot, that he was too wed to his work. Later, after spying an awkward run-in between Sam and Nay, Addison gleans that he’s the father. “Sam walked out on our marriage,” Naomi argues. “It can’t mean anything. And I can’t sit around hoping it does.”
SAM then got a visit in his office from Addison, who asks point-blank: “Do you love Stephanie?” As he hems and haws (and realizes that Addison knows about the exes’ hook-up), Ad reveals that Naomi and Fife never wed and that she still loves him. Armed with that information, Sam breaks things off with Stephanie, then flies to NYC to crash a meeting of Naomi’s and attest, “You’re the only woman I have ever loved.” When Nay accuses him of just feeling an “obligation” because she’s pregnant, he’s all, “What?!” He then affirms, “I’m here because I’m in love with you.”
ADDISON opened the episode with a “to the camera” piece where she reflected on her first, “very large, fairytale wedding” to Derek, whom everyone deemed “the perfect man…. He just wasn’t perfect for me.” She shared how she was “really angry with him for messing up my fairytale and taking my 30s… and making me feel like a failure…. But slowly, over time, you don’t believe in fairytales and ‘perfect’ isn’t in your vocabulary. And then suddenly, there’s this man….” Cut to Addison’s wedding day to Jake, which goes off with not a hitch. Ad spent much of her other scenes fostering the Sam/Naomi reunion. Then, in one of the very final moments, we discover that the video Addison was recording wasn’t for her own wedding day, but Sam and Naomi’s. And we get a second ceremony.
The finale ends with the Seaside group (one very pregnant Naomi included) gathered in the kitchen as Violet unveils her newly published book, which she titled Private Practice. “That title sucks,” Sam opines, to which Addison counters, “Hey, it’s a good title!” The others all chime in as the camera takes one last ride down the elevator, and a “sad heart” version of the Shondaland logo comes on screen.