It goes without saying that the last episode of Dispatches From Elsewhere is going to be one of the most polarizing finales of the year. It’s a bold and ballsy way of finishing a show, one that perhaps takes a little too long to get to the point but otherwise has a decent message and a unique perspective.
Those looking for definitive answers to the big mysteries of the show will almost certainly be left disappointed but in an age of cliffhanger endings, cookie-cutter tales and rushed final episodes, there’s enough here to leave satisfied enough that Dispatches From Elsewhere has been a very different small-screen experience.
We begin the season 1 finale with a brief introduction to the young boy in clown make-up we saw last episode. He takes to the stage for an audition and wows the judges, who use him to churn up profits at the expense of his livelihood and well-being, making him tired despite all the chocolate milk he’s given.
Realizing this is the end, the boy takes to the stage for one last show but it’s not good; he flops spectacularly and lands flat on his face. He’s given a bag of money for his efforts, dropped off by a man called Octavio (certainly not our Octavio) and left to stew in the what-ifs.
This brings us back to our familiar crop of characters, where Peter follows Simone to the Barn of Beautiful Things where she happens to be living. After admiring her belongings, she hands over a postcard and tells him to take a chance. He decides to take her advice and heads to a hotel called Divine Nonchalance where he’s greeted as Jason Segel and given keys to the Jejune Suite.
After receiving a strange call, he follows a whole string of clues that lead him to a strange diner and an arcade machine after chasing a milkman. Playing the game labelled as “Dispatches From Elsewhere”, Janice arrives and they talk on the roof.
Soon after, he heads back home, where we see the little clown boy is a personification of himself – putting on a brave face and needing to “grow up”. Seeing himself as a self-indulgent, selfish mess, he admits to his mistakes and it’s enough for the little boy to leave.
Peter takes to the stage and discusses his weird idea with Fredwynn, including how we’re different but also the same. As Fredwynn agrees to get him some help, the camera pans out to show Peter watching himself, where it’s revealed it was all a big movie. Peter talks to the others about these ideas, including Fredywnn mentioning that Lee was Clara all along and the Clara we saw was just a facade.
Peter goes on to talk about how they made something together and experienced a strange journey as a team. The camera pans out, showing the cast and crew, before Octavio jumps back for the final epilogue where he tells us that we’re unique. Change comes from community and finding one another, and as Octavio tells us, the game and everything else doesn’t matter. Instead of the “you” we’ve heard so much about this season, that’s replaced by “we” because we’re in this together, which is where the episode ends.
The 15 minute black and white segment to open the episode is a bold way to start the finale but also one that takes a little too long to get to the meat of what’s happening. It’s intriguing no doubt but also something that feels a little ill-placed for the final episode after last week’s cliffhanger ending.
Unlike Game Of Thrones, Dispatches From Elsewhere lifts the veil and completely subverts expectations with a story that’s actually about community and coming together. The game, all those mystery box elements and everything in between doesn’t matter; if we have each other then we can do anything.
This has been shown time and again through the series as our foursome have looked out for one another and overcome every challenge thrown their way. The final reveal of this all being a big movie is something that could have felt like a cheap cop-out but here, it actually works surprisingly well.
While the message is a little on-the-nose at times and the clown segment telling Peter to “grow up and stop being so selfish” feels more like a personal jab made by Jason toward himself, there’s a lot to like about this show.
It certainly won’t be for everyone and Fredwynn’s comment at the end about Lee being Clara perhaps could have been demonstrated better in the episodes prior but as a unique way to end a TV show, Dispatches From Elsewhere certainly delivers a very different, polarizing ending that’s unlikely to be trumped by anything else as unusual this year.