The job of a season finale is to conclude the story arcs and subplots of the season, and establish possible story arcs and subplots for the next season (if there is one). This finale closed off this season perfectly but didn’t establish anything for the next season, which makes me wonder if this was the series’ swan song.
The episode kicks off at a shipping yard, much like the season premiere did (although possibly not the same shipping yard), where a shipping container with antique furniture inside is being opened for a routine Customs inspection. The Customs Officer remarks that antique furniture shouldn’t smell bad, when the Customs Officer and the yard’s employees go inside, they find the body of a dead man.
After the opening credits, we are brought back to Fern inside the trashed house. She hears footsteps and arms herself, only for the reveal that Callan has just walked in. Fern tells him that Mila has James and seconds later, Mila’s henchmen (which includes the ‘delivery woman’ seen in previous episodes) show up and break into the house, but Fern and Callan manage to escape by the skin of their teeth.
Callan asks Fern what’s going on, Fern tells him that she and James used Harrow’s email to get James’ phone back. Mila calls Callan using Fern’s phone, he asks her if she has James, she says she does. Callan asks Fern to show him James’ phone and he takes it out of her hand. After Fern refuses to go to the police and Harrow, Callan takes a taxi to find Harrow taking James’ phone with him.
We then see Harrow lying in bed, ignoring a call from Callan, and discovering that Tanya has disappeared. Harrow’s phone rings again, this time the Institute has called him in. When he gets to the Institute, he tells Fairley about Tanya, but is stopped from divulging further details as the Institute’s alarm bells ring to let them know a body has come in. Nichols informs them that the dead man was found in a shipping container that came from Africa.
Before Harrow can join Grace and Fairley in doing the post-mortem, Renae asks Harrow to come to her office. She asks Louie to go to the tea room and Harrow to close the door. Renae hands him an envelope with his severance package, informing him that he is fired. When Grace sees him leave, she confronts Renae, telling her she’s making a big mistake. Renae tells her to get back to work unless she wants to follow suit.
Grace goes to the exam room and informs Fairley that Renae has fired Harrow. Fairley tells her that they’ll do their job and talk to the Deputy Coroner later. They start the post-mortem, with Fairley finding puncture wounds on the man’s left hand. Fairley starts to open up the man, only to discover that Louie has snuck in, announcing his appearance as fluids from the man fall into his eyes. Grace calls Fairley over and he looks into his body. Fairley then presses an emergency button, sending the Institute into lockdown. Grace informs Renae that the man found in the shipping container appears to have died from a virulent haemorrhagic fever and his organs were all but dissolved, Louie snuck in and some of the fluids got in his face. Renae tells her that Louie needs to get to hospital, but Fairley tells her that they need to follow emergency protocol until they figure out the cause of the man’s death, so they can’t let anyone in or out. Louie is immediately starting to show symptoms.
Meanwhile, Callan tracks Harrow down at a bar, showing him James’ phone and tells him the truth about Fern and James getting the phone. Harrow tells Callan to look after Fern and that he’ll deal with Mila and James. Harrow gets into his car and calls Mila. When Harrow asks for proof that she has James, she FaceTimes him, showing James bound and bloody. Mila tells him to come to her place in an hour.
Back at the Institute, Harrow calls Grace back, she informs him about the dead body, the Institute lockdown and Louie. Harrow asks Grace to describe the man’s body. Harrow tells her that based on the symptoms, he couldn’t have been infected before he embarked on the ship, which means something inside the container infected him with the disease. Grace tells him Biosecurity are an hour or two away, but she thinks Louie doesn’t have that long. Harrow says he’ll get on to it. Harrow calls Mila back asking for more time, but she refuses.
Meanwhile at police headquarters, an officer informs Nichols that the evidence box with James’ phone has been switched. He shows Nichols the surveillance footage showing Fern pick up the evidence box with James’ phone. Harrow arrives at the shipping yard and examines the container.
While Grace and Fairley are tending to Louie. Ben FaceTimes Grace, she asks him if he can come to the Institute and he says yes, while Fairley instructs the paramedics where to take Louie’s blood as soon as Biosecurity allows them to, and what viruses to test for. After Fairley finishes speaking with the paramedics, Renae begs him to let her in but he refuses. She threatens to fire him but he tells her he doesn’t care if she does. She admits that Louie needs her, and he apologises to her and walks back to Louie. Harrow calls Grace back and asks if the man had any bite marks, as he thinks the man was smuggling more than birds into the country.
Harrow then views the surveillance footage of the shipping container being opened, where it’s revealed a monkey escaped from the container. When Harrow informs them about the monkey, Fairley says it doesn’t make any sense as primates are just as susceptible to fever as humans, so Harrow rules out Zaire Ebola and Marburg. He suspects an aggressive new strain of an RNA virus. Harrow asks Grace if Ben can access Cyanovirin, but Fairley says that they can’t give it to Louie as it’s too allergenic and if it’s an RNA virus, it won’t work anyway. Harrow counters that it could buy them time. Harrow also says that if Louie’s brain swells, which is one of the symptoms, Grace will have to open his skull to relieve the pressure on his brain. She tells him that Fairley is right about the Cyanovirin, but to have it ready, while he checks the animal for symptoms. When Harrow sees one of the shipping yard’s employees leave, he confronts him and literally twists his arm to get the other employee, Andy Spiro’s, address.
Back at the Institute, Renae again begs to be let in and Ben arrives. Grace relays Louie’s condition to him and informs him and Renae that she needs to perform a craniotomy on Louie. While Harrow is making his way to Andy’s house, Nichols calls him and tells him the call is being recorded. Nichols informs him about Fern taking the evidence box, and that he is at the end of his tether and asks for the truth. Harrow tells him the truth about James and his involvement in Max Zoric’s death, and apologises for lying to him.
When Harrow arrives at Andy’s house, he breaks in to find a pet carrier and other stolen items. He then sees Andy run out of the house, with the body of the dead monkey in a sack. Harrow chases Andy to a nearby park, Andy knocks him down and tries to dispose of the body. Harrow tells Andy that the monkey is diseased, that Louie has been contaminated by the dead man, and he too has the disease. Harrow tells him he needs to know how it died so Louie can be saved. Back at the Institute, Grace performs the craniotomy, and Lyle has to perform CPR on Louie when he stops breathing. Harrow calls Grace and tells her to give Louie the Cyanovirin shot as the monkey was a carrier but didn’t die from the disease. Ben gives her the Cyanovirin, she gives Louie the shot, and he wakes up.
Meanwhile Harrow goes to see Mila. Despite her timeline well and truly passing, James is still alive. Harrow tells the henchmen to let him go, but they dangle him over Mila’s balcony. When he says he has the phone, he shows it to her but dangles it off the balcony. He points out that if she wanted revenge, she would have killed James already, she wants James’ phone as the money is on there. The henchmen put James down.
Harrow asks James for his phone pin so he can show Mila the footage from the night of Max’s death. He sends the footage to Mila’s phone and it’s revealed that Max tried to kill James, and when Max took another swing at James, he fell off the ship. Meanwhile, Nichols is informing the Police Superintendent about the situation, when Brookes shows them the surveillance footage that Harrow sent them and a message, “MIKKS”, which Nichols deciphers as “Mila’s.”
Back at Mila’s, James tells Mila he diverted the shipping yard’s surveillance footage to his phone as an insurance policy, as he thought Max might turn on him. Max attacked James, tried to kill him and fell off the ship, but he lost his phone as the police towed his car, so he put Harrow’s name and the note in Max’s fake passport. Harrow deduces that James was also planning on leaving that night. When Mila threatens to dangle James off the balcony again, James tells him that Mila will take the money and kill them both. Harrow manages to figure out James’ pin and transfer the money. When Mila and James try to unlock the phone they can’t as Harrow locked it, and Mila tells her henchmen to throw both Harrow and James over, but Mila and the henchmen hear the police sirens and run. Just as they make it out of the car park, the police arrive and arrest them.
Back at the Institute, Louie is taken to the hospital for treatment, and the DNA results from James’ comb have come in. While Nichols reveals to Harrow that Fern gave him the access card that Callan found, which allowed Nichols and the police to search her warehouse. Harrow asks Nichols to let James go as he didn’t murder Max. Nichols asks Harrow if Grace has called him, when he says no, Nichols informs Harrow that Callan brought in the comb with James’ hair to be DNA tested, and James isn’t his son.
Later in his car, Harrow checks his voicemail and Tanya has left him a message telling him the truth about James. She tells him that she should have told him the truth earlier, but was scared that if he knew James wasn’t his son, he wouldn’t help him. Harrow goes back to the Institute and runs into Renae. Renae hugs him and thanks him for helping save Louie, when he asks if he’s still fired, she says yes but she’ll fix it. He then goes to talk to Grace, she tells him he could have told her about James at any point. He tells her that she deserves so much more than him, and that he can’t change, Grace tells him that she doesn’t want him too. Fern texts him, asking him to meet her at The Bettie.
When Harrow returns to the pier, he finds Nichols and Fern arriving at the same time. Nichols tells Fern that he needs to talk to her about her actions, she says she knows and she’s not going anywhere. When they get to the pier, they find The Bettie gone. Harrow shows them the note that James left him. James says Tanya told him the truth and he took The Bettie as Harrow took away his money, and encourages him to make a change without it. Nichols offers to inform the Coast Guard but Harrow tells him to let James go. After Nichols leaves, Fern thanks Harrow for the money, revealing that he transferred Mila’s millions to her. Fern suggests giving it back, but Harrow suggests using the money to buy a boat and go to Bora Bora (a callback to the pilot when they planned on going to Bora Bora together), making travel plans as they walk by the river. The season ends with a shot of the city before fading to black.
So, what do I think of this episode as a finale?
Overall I felt this was a solid finale as the James story arc came to what I felt was a satisfying conclusion. We finally found out what happened to Max Zoric and it was revealed that James was telling the truth about not killing James and needing his phone to prove his innocence (at least his innocence in regards to his death). James wasn’t an innocent character by any means, but I felt him murdering Max was too simple as this case was always complex. Callan’s assessment of both Mila and James was accurate as they both turned out to be as greedy as each other. While James certainly wasn’t likeable, he wasn’t a murderer, while Mila ordered her henchmen to kill both James and Harrow without hesitation, so I appreciated that she got her comeuppance with not getting the money but getting arrested.
While James didn’t get the money either, he did get away with Harrow’s boat. While stealing Harrow’s boat is in line with James’ nature, I still didn’t see it coming. While a few viewers on Twitter guessed that James wasn’t his son, a part of me didn’t see it coming. I honestly have mixed feelings about this reveal, as I commented in my review of the season premiere that it seemed out of character for Harrow to know about having a son and never mentioning him in the previous seasons, and it is in character for Harrow to help James whether he was his son or not, a part of me felt that this reveal meant that the story arc was a bit of a waste because he wasn’t Harrow’s son.
In regards to the case of the week, this perhaps had to be the most unique one of the series due to its execution. It wasn’t a murder, it involved an animal, and put a recurring but important character in danger. Gilshenan’s (Fairley), Anderson’s (Grace) and Smith’s (Renae) performances were outstanding throughout the case of the week subplot and lockdown scenes. I also felt that the characters were at their best, especially Grace, who put her neurosurgeon skills to use for the first time in the series, and not only that, but on another child, a throwback to the previous series where it was revealed a bad outcome on a child’s surgery stopped her neurosurgeon career in its tracks. I felt that this case of the week was an appropriate one for a finale as it was fascinating and raised the stakes for all of the lead characters. On a smaller note, I’m also curious as to why Edwina didn’t appear.
In regards to Season 3 as a whole, I felt that this season was the show’s weakest. While I feel the case of the week in each episode was always well written and fascinating, for me what made this season weak was the execution of the James story arc. I stated in my reviews of previous episodes in this season that the pace of the story arc was too slow, and the arc only gained momentum in the last three episodes. While each season’s story arc has always revolved around Harrow’s past, and this one indeed did as well, I felt the reveal of James not actually being Harrow’s son completely undermined the story arc itself. Whereas the previous season’s story arcs didn’t undermine themselves.
On smaller notes, I felt that the camping trip episode was the highlight of the season as it enabled the show to explore its comedic side, and that Callan as a character really came into his own as he took a much-needed stand against James’ inappropriate behaviour when Fern and Harrow refused to, due to their blind faith in him. I also felt that Gruffudd made a solid directorial debut in the second episode.
In regards to Harrow’s future, it’s obvious that it is uncertain. Generally, when the writers know there is going to be another season, they will write possible story arcs and subplots for the upcoming season. With this season finale, no possible story arcs or subplots were provided, and the final moments of the episode provided a “happily ever after” of sorts with Fern and Harrow happily planning a sailing trip to Bora Bora – a trip that they planned on taking in the show’s pilot episode when their relationship was at its most strained – with Mila’s money, which technically wasn’t hers. I honestly feel that if Harrow isn’t renewed, these final moments provide the perfect ending, as the circle from the show’s beginning to the season’s final moments is complete.
While I don’t know for sure if Harrow is being renewed or cancelled, I would like to thank Ioan Gruffudd, Darren Gilshenan, Jolene Anderson, Ella Newton, Damien Garvey, Hunter Page-Lochard, Faustina Agolley, Miriama Smith, Harrison Gilbertson, and Diana Glenn for their fantastic performances this season.
Episode title translation: Ab Initio – From the Beginning
-I thought the title ‘Ab Initio’ seemed familiar. Season 2, Episode 5, had the same title.
-Steph didn’t make an appearance at all this season.
-Harrow refers to Renae as ‘Lizzie Borden.’
-Continuity error: Grace speaks to Renae through an intercom, but throughout the rest of the episode, she just speaks through the doors.
-Factual error: Fairley removed his mask to give Louie mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. As he and Grace thought Louie was infected with an Ebola-like disease, a doctor in this situation most likely wouldn’t remove their mask and give mouth-to-mouth. They most likely would have just given chest compressions.
-Possible factual error: Was Louie given anaesthetic for the craniotomy, or did Fairley and Grace just hope that Louie stayed unconscious the whole time? I’m just wondering as Louie came to, seconds after being given the Cyanovirin shot.
Best one liners and interactions:
- “Is this about my use of departmental sugar? I am trying to cut back.” (Harrow to Renae on why she has called him into her office)
- “James Reed is a liar and a sneak and a charmer, so he certainly fits the bill as Harrow’s son.” (Nichols to Fern on James)
- “What people deserve and what they want are not always the same thing.” (Grace to Harrow)
- “Dear Dad, well mum told me the truth, so I guess Dr. Harrow. It’s a shame, I think you’d have been if not a good dad, a very interesting one. Except for the phone thing. So, with that in mind, I hope you understand why I’ve done what I’ve done. Maybe it will be good for you too, change can be good right? Take care of Fern. James.” (Fern reading out James’ letter to Harrow and Nichols)