Freed From The Cage
After 7 episodes of drama it all comes down to this. The finale Of Little Fires Everywhere caps off a dramatic season of melodrama, entangled issues and a whole slew of interesting juxtapositions into a highly enjoyable and satisfying final episode. While some may bemoan the open ended and slightly ambiguous way this finishes, Little Fires Everywhere bows out on a high with a really good episode.
After a brief flashback in July 1991 with Izzy saving a bird and feeling isolated from her family, we jump back to the present as Elena comforts Lexie over her break-up with Brian. Mia meanwhile, has issues connecting to Pearl after Elena dropped her bombshell reveals last time.
In court, Bebe Chow’s lawyer goes after Linda and talks to her about Mai Ling’s Chinese heritage. She brings up the fortune cookies and her race, trying to use that against her. After the different witnesses we’ve heard over the past few episodes, the Judge adjourns for now to reach a final decision.
Pearl meanwhile heads into Mia’s studio and sees her project first-hand, including the pictures of her burning Elena’s face. She immediately confronts her Mother and tells her to phone her biological Father and admit the truth.
Tripp and Moody fight over Pearl but the aftermath of this leads Elena into the kitchen to reveal that Pearl had an abortion. Only, it’s not actually her because Lexie was the one who put Pearl’s name down instead. Given this is news to Moody, he immediately suspects the worst while the verdict from the Judge comes in – Linda keeps her baby.
Izzy confronts Lexie over her abortion, finally realizing it was her not Pearl and that the various times she saw her sister being sick now make a lot more sense. Getting nowhere and realizing there’s no way Elena will believe her, she instead heads off to speak to Mia. They discuss Bebe Chow’s pain and moving past that sorrow to something better – a talk that once again reaches Izzy in a way no-one else has been able to in her life.
Back home, Bill and Elena fight over her secrets and he hits some hard home truths about their family set-up. She blames him for pushing her to have a fourth child but he incredulously walks away, telling her she can’t blame a child for her issues. In the aftermath of this, Elena confronts Mia and tells her to leave in the morning. She goes on to venomously spit shade on Pearl but Mia laughs bitterly, admitting the truth about Lexie being the one who was actually pregnant.
After speaking to her birth parents, Mia finally speaks to Pearl back home and reveals the truth about her family. Grateful for what Mia’s done, Pearl tells her she’ll always be her Mother and as the two embrace, Mia shows her what she’s been working on in her studio. After snapping some photos, they pack up their things and leave as a distraught Izzy watches their car go from her bedroom.
As the kids confront Elena over what happened with Mia, the facade is lifted and Elena’s true self is revealed. She fights with Izzy and as she tells her siblings about Mia and Pearl leaving, Izzy looks set to burn everything in her room. Elena screams at her that she never wanted a fourth child, right infront of the others who watch her in shock.
Izzy packs her things up and leaves as Elena decides not to go after her, instead shutting herself in her bedroom. On the back of this, Lexie rallies her brothers and they all decide to burn the house together. Grabbing Elena, they head outside as Bill returns home and finds the house ablaze.
From here we cut forward to the opening section of the first episode as Elena is asked who started the fire. She admits it was her, protecting all four children and finally doing something nice for Izzy. Izzy however, runs away while Mia drives Pearl up to her birth parents’ house. While they do, Linda gets up in the middle of the night and finds Mai Ling has been taken by Bebe Chow, who takes her away.
Pearl hands Mia her diary and tells her to read parts of it. She reads out a beautiful poem, one that talks about a cage and breaking free from restraints. As Mia stands outside and watches Pearl go into the house, we cut across to Elena who sees Mia’s art project with a symbolic cage standing atop a hill. Within that cage is a feather, one that seems to be the same as the one Izzy had all those years ago, which is where the episode and series comes to a close.
With her world crumbling around her, both literally and figuratively, Elena’s truth is finally revealed as the perfect life she tried so hard to make comes undone. Her resentment toward Izzy is something that’s been bubbling up throughout the series and the horrid truths she drops at the end finally allow her kids to see her for what she truly is. Given Lexie has spent so long embodying Elena’s traits, to see her push back and decide against following that path is a really empowering message and something that sees her character grow so much across the season.
Quite what happens to Izzy now remains a mystery but she finally feels freed from her bird cage, something that’s shown quite literally with the bird cage at the end. The Bebe Chow saga is a fascinating comparison to Mia’s situation too, with her similarly snatching up her child and taking off for a better life. All of this, combined with the issues of race and class thrown into the subtext of the show, make Little Fires Everywhere a really solid drama. While there have been times where the episodes have been a tad overlong, the finale more than makes up for that with a really solid ending.
Yes there are unanswered questions but in a way, I hope this one isn’t renewed for a second season. Some of the best stories are those that leave a note of ambiguity at the end, keeping you invested in the story while closing up the character arcs that have been built across the show. It won’t be for everyone but for us, Little Fires Everywhere extinguishes its flames in the best possible way.