The Tiger Who Came To Tea
Briarpatch has been quite the twisty turny affair over the weeks. From those early episodes with the shocking car bombings across to the middle slew of episodes that saw our mystery grow and evolve over the weeks, Briarpatch has been one of those slow-burns that’s saved the best for last. This explosive finale not only ties everything up with a crooked, twisted bow but it also gives closure to every single character, bowing things out with the perfect curtain call and doing so in a very stylish and clever way.
The opening scene of the episode feels inconsequential but plays a big part late on in the episode. The opening to the season 1 finale of Briarpatch begins with Gene Holder smashing open a vending machine and stealing a can of drink from within.
Allegra and A.D. meanwhile, prepare their plan after showing their recording to Jake. She tells him that the recording is her ticket to finding Gene but Jake is not so sure – he wants them to use it to exonerate himself so the police won’t keep sniffing around his estate. Allegra ignores him though and divulges the details of her plan, which involves giving Brattle the tape in exchange for bringing Holder back.
As part of this deal, Allegra tasks Jake to visit Eve and tell her immunity is off the table and that he won’t be going ahead with the deal. Unfortunately Jake is too weak and reveals the truth to her about what Allegra is doing.
A.D. heads into prison and tells Lucretia the truth about Gene and what he’s been up to. She implores A.D. to make sure he sees justice but in order to do so he wants something in return – and plays the original Felicity recording to her down the phone receiver.
Allegra rings Brattle and tells him the Senator is about to turn on him. Giving him the time and terms of her deal, Brattle ignores Sydney’s pleas not to go through with this and hurries over to the warehouse.
At the same time, Eve visits Tony and blackmails him – telling the sleazy Mayor to pack his things up and get back to selling used cars. There’s going to be a new Mayor in town now and her name is Eve Raytek. In her pursuit of this, she approaches Gene and tries to strike a deal with him, knowing what Allegra has planned and ironically becoming the very corrupt thing she tried so hard to overthrow in the first place.
The meeting goes ahead and Brattle arrives to conduct business. Only, Gene unexpectedly shows up too and shoots Brattle in the chest. As he talks to Allegra about Felicity and what happened, pleading with her to stop, Jake takes the initiative and shoots him in cold blood.
On the ground he calls out for Eve, who arrives after agreeing to be his back-up. As she walks into the warehouse, the truth is revealed as Eve admits to being the one who set off the second bomb. Smiling, Eve shoots Gene in the head as Allegra discusses Eve’s past, which involves experience in dealing with demolitions.
As we see glimpses of the past, the duo sit at the table with a dead Brattle as a gorgeous rotating shot gives this entire scene an artistic edge. Eve relays her side of the story – which involves Felicity coming to her and admitting she made a mistake by sleeping with Gene. Felicity figured out the entire game pretty early on but Eve used her, Jake and everyone else to get into the Mayor’s office, which happened to be her plan from the very beginning.
Allegra berates them both, telling Jake and Eve they used Felicity and both of them are guilty. Disgusted, she walks away after telling them they deserve each other. After wrestling with Jake, Eve laughs and steps into her car but when she shuts the door, a bomb explodes as Eve spies a crushed can sitting on the dashboard – a reminder that Gene Holder was the one who planted this third and final explosive.
Jake walks away from the warehouse beaten and blooded, but very much alive. Allegra asks Cyrus to leave her alone and tells her he quits, packing her things up and preparing to leave. Only, Sydney is very much alive and chokes out Allegra in the hallway. Suddenly, the infamous tiger – the one we’ve heard about being on the loose way back in the first and second episode – pounces on Sydney and starts mauling the man, allowing Allegra time to escape.
Allegra checks out of her hotel and says goodbye to A.D., telling him that for the first time in her life she’s leaving without a clue of what she’s doing next. Before she leaves town, she heads back to her family home, where Jake arrives to greet her. Jake happens to be the one Felicity phoned to help her all those months ago as she trusted him. He decided not to get involved and instead, told Eve about Felicity and got himself mixed up in this sorry state of affairs.
In his desire not to be the bad guy, Jake ironically caused more issues and as the two talk, Allegra gives him home truths about how selfish they’ve both been regarding this issue. Allegra walks away but Jake holds a gun up to her head, telling his friend she can’t leave with the tape. Allegra ignores him though and walks away, heading back out on the road.
As the episode ends, Cindy signs a Quitclaim Deed for her apartment while Cyrus burns any evidence that may implicate him. Allegra drives away into the sun while Jake wallows in his own greed-fueled grief; allowing the darkness to consume him. While he ends the series alone in his mansion, Allegra now finds herself free from what’s been holding her back all this time.
With the full picture now there for us all to see, there’s a lot going on in Briarpatch that makes the reflective nature of this finale all the more powerful. Eve Raytek has always been a woman looking for justice and trying to turn the horrid fate of the town around. Only, in doing so she lost sight of herself and became the very thing she swore not to be – corrupt.
It’s a fascinating character arc and it’s matched by the juxtaposing fortunes of both Allegra and Jake. Jake began the series as the all-smiling, all-laughing new-money in town and with plenty of eyes on him as the killer, it turns out Jake’s facade was just that – a facade. The real man is a weak-minded fool who ended up causing more problems by not doing anything.
By comparison, Allegra began with a dark cloud of regret over her and a serious chip on her shoulder. It’s only now, through that symbolic final shot of the sun beaming down and a smile crossing her lips, does she get her much-needed closure after solving the murder of Felicity. It’s ironic then that she wasn’t the one who pulled the trigger; a final act of mercy perhaps from Jake to prevent Allegra falling down this hole of regret.
There’s a lot of themes in this show around greed, loyalty and revenge but encapsulating this delicious murder mystery are the clever bits of foreshadowing with the slow-burn tiger and that plate of rotting meat early on. A metaphor around how the town is rotten and the inhabitants are fighting over the scraps, the satisfying manner this has a pay-off with Sydney at the end is one of the highlights of the entire series.
The show hasn’t been perfect, with such an exhaustive list of characters taking a while to warm to and the middle portion of episodes sagging a little, but on the whole Briarpatch bows out with a really satisfying and surprisingly well written finale, one that enhances the entire story and makes the journey well worth taking.
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