The job of a season finale is to wrap up the season’s story arcs and establish new ones for the next season. I felt that this finale did three-quarters of the job.
Penny & Hugh—I’ll start my review with them as the finale kicked off with them. The finale picks up where the previous episode left off—Penny’s car accident, with Penny, blood pouring down her face, getting out of the car, calling an ambulance, and going to assist the other driver. She manages to pull three kids out of the other driver’s car as the ambulance and Hugh arrive. She collapses and loses consciousness in Hugh’s arms, shortly after the other driver’s car explodes.
After Penny, the other driver and the other driver’s kids are taken to the hospital, Jarrod arrives from his trip to Melbourne to see Penny, and informs her that he has been offered a job in Broome, which he seems to have accepted without consulting her. He asks her to leave her job and go with him straight away, as he has to start on Monday. Although she is initially reluctant, she agrees.
While Penny is getting ready to move with Jarrod, Hugh discovers that Phoenix, one of the other driver’s kids, has compartment syndrome in his arm and has to perform surgery. Penny goes back to the hospital when she finds this out and Hugh informs her that he has agreed to sign a three-year contract and replace her as hospital administrator, which horrifies her. She later sees Jarrod and tells him about the fact that she was on the phone to Hugh discussing his declaration of love for her prior to the car accident. Jarrod asks her flat out if she wants him to end their marriage, Penny says no and that she loves him, he tells her that he’s leaving and he’s not coming back, whether she comes with him or not.
Later, while she is packing her desk, she debates her conflicted feelings with Betty. When she finishes up, Hugh offers to drive her to the airport, while she initially refuses, she relents due to a lack of time.
When they get to the airport they have a heart-to-heart, their first true one throughout the show’s run on their complex dynamic and feelings. Penny asks Hugh if he meant what he said or whether he was just drunk, he admits it was both. She then asks him why he couldn’t keep his feelings to himself, he admits that he does but sometimes he gets drunk and they slip out. She then asks why she would spend her life with him when he’s not going to change. He admits he won’t. Hugh then calls Penny out by asking her how she feels, and she finally admits that she loves him too. She then asks Hugh why he leaves discussions like this with her until the last minute, his answer isn’t seen and then she leaves.
In the final moments of the episode, we see Hugh sitting at Penny’s empty desk, ready to take the helm as hospital administrator.
I wasn’t that surprised by Jarrod’s job offer in Broome as it provides yet another obstacle for Hugh and Penny, although I felt the progression was a little rushed. However I am happy that Hugh and Penny finally admitted to their feelings for each other and truly put their cards on the table for the first time. I’m also looking forward to seeing Hugh as the hospital administrator next season.
Meryl, Ajax and Hayley—At the beginning of the episode, both Ajax and Hayley admit to each other that they don’t want to split up, however Hayley tells Ajax that they need to make major changes for their marriage to work. Ajax still wants Hayley to give up her job, which she still refuses to do. Hayley reminds him that they are living in a paddock as he got upset with Meryl, and he needs to take a breath and think through his decisions more. Later, when Hayley is praying with the girls at work, the girls, through revealing their own bad experiences, tell Hayley how lucky she is to have Ajax.
Meanwhile Meryl has to deal with Rod’s desire to get a 24-hour operating licence for the Pretty Titty. She has a coffee with him in town, telling him that she has become a pariah in Whyhope because of it and she actually doesn’t want him to have a 24-hour licence. Rod tells her that he made her Mayor of Whyhope and he can take it away from her. Meryl then goes to see Hayley, planting the idea in her head that a 24-hour licence will mean the girls will be providing “special services” to the Pretty Titty’s customers, which unsettles Hayley.
Later, Ajax asks Matt and Charlie to look after Jimmy and Eliza while he goes camping to think things through. Meanwhile, Hayley’s religious ways are alienating her girls, with things coming to a head when Cherry is given $50 by a miner and Hayley, jumping to conclusions, takes it away from her. Cherry and the other girls call her out on her “holier than thou” attitude and walk away from her.
Later the Pretty Titty is seen burning to the ground by half the town, during the fire, Ajax comes to see Hayley. They go to a nearby café, where Hayley makes Ajax swear that he had nothing to do with the fire. He didn’t as he explains he was camping and “talking to Jim”. He tells her that talking to him led to him realising he wants to be a farmer and a dad, and that he has decided to go to Ag College.
Later when Meryl, Ajax and Rod meet Glen in his office, it’s revealed that the Pretty Titty fire was caused by a sandwich grill and a faulty electrical socket. Meryl then proposes that Rod and Glen jointly purchase Ajax’s cemetery business, so he has the money to go to Ag College, which they accept.
At the end of the episode, Hayley is seen running The Brewery in Matt and Charlie’s absence (which I’ll get to) with her girls working there, and Ajax is seen making plans to build a house for himself, Hayley and Jimmy.
Overall I felt that Ajax and Hayley resolving their problems was an obvious outcome, however how they got there was an unexpected but pleasant surprise. They didn’t compromise on their dreams, rather they found new ones that work well together.
Matt and Charlie—Matt and Charlie got little screen time in this finale. Ajax comes to see them to ask them to look after Jimmy and Eliza while he goes camping. While they are looking after them, they address their past issues (including having children), with Charlie saying she wants things to be different this time. Later, when they are at a café, Matt proposes the idea of their marriage being a life of adventure and to travel, dubbing the opportunity “a post-divorce honeymoon.”
At the end of the episode, they are seen leaving Whyhope to go on their “post-divorce honeymoon.”
Overall while their screen time was short it was used well. They finally addressed their issues and put them to rest and set on a new chapter in their marriage, which will ultimately lead to much-needed and overdue character growth.
Season 4 as a whole:
Overall I feel that this season was Doctor Doctor’s worst. I feel that making Hugh a “bad boy” again in the first half of the season, unraveled years of writing and character development, and if I didn’t know any better, made it look like the writers had run out of ideas of what to do with him (at least at first). While I didn’t enjoy Hugh reverting back to being a bad boy, I did enjoy him being put in the role as Tara’s supervisor and seeing himself in Tara, when Tara was presented as “Hugh 2.0” to the viewers. However there were only improvements in the writing for Hugh once Tara left. I am happy that the writers decided to make Hugh the replacement hospital administrator as it’s a natural progression from him being on probation, to Tara’s supervisor and from next season, running the hospital.
I also haven’t enjoyed the Penny-Jarrod relationship, mainly as we all know that Penny and Hugh will eventually end up together (or at least I hope so, we know they love each other) and with the time jump at the beginning of the season, it was revealed that Penny and Jarrod had already been together for eight months. So the viewers weren’t given a proper introduction to Jarrod and didn’t see their relationship begin and evolve to get to the point where it was at the beginning of the season. I personally found it hard to be invested in or care about their relationship as, due to the time jump at the beginning of the season, it feels like their relationship is a book I started reading in the middle. I felt their elopement was rushed and out of character for Penny, and that Jarrod slowly became a more unlikeable character as the season progressed. I was hoping that their relationship would end in the finale, however Penny leaving provides the perfect opportunity for Hugh to step into her role.
On a positive note, with Matt and Charlie, I felt that their reunion was predictable, however the way their reunion came about wasn’t predictable and was in fact played out beautifully and realistically. Although Charlie was actively trying to sabotage Matt and April’s relationship at first, when that relationship ended, Matt and Charlie didn’t rush things and they actually addressed and resolved their past issues in their marriage. They also allowed themselves to explore and expand their marriage by leaving Whyhope to travel.
While I felt the addition of the Pretty Titty bar was a little unrealistic for a town like Whyhope, it did provide opportunities for character development in Ajax and Hayley. Hayley had already experienced character development through learning how to pole dance and do something for herself for once, the addition of the bar and Hayley getting the manager position tested their marriage. While I felt it was out of character for Ajax to act like a caveman about Hayley’s job, I felt that the testing of their marriage was good for their characters as it matured them. They are childhood sweethearts who married and had their first child young, with the relationship sailing smoothly for the most part, without any real challenges. They came out of it stronger, developed and ready to embrace a new chapter with running The Brewery in Matt and Charlie’s absence, with Ajax going to Ag College, and building their own home.
While Meryl wouldn’t be Meryl without her pursuing her political ambitions, especially aiming for the Mayor role, which she eventually gets again, I felt her selfish ways to pursue these ambitions made her an unlikeable character. This is shown perfectly when she plans and cooks a celebratory dinner that she invites the family to and no-one attends. I actually enjoyed seeing that her tenure as Mayor was bumpy, and she becomes more selfless as the season progresses, especially with offering to raise Eliza like she raised Ajax so Hugh can pursue career ambitions outside of Whyhope, and proposing that Rod and Glen buy Ajax’s cemetery business so he can go to Ag College.
On smaller notes, I felt that Betty and Ken weren’t utilised as much as they could and should have been this season. They barely got any screen time in comparison to previous seasons and at the beginning of this season, Ken came across as a bit of a whinger as his relationship with Mia ended.
Overall I feel that this season was the show’s worst due to the inconsistent and bumpy writing, and inconsistent character development. I’m hoping that Jarrod and Bad Boy Hugh is gone next season.
Final thoughts on the Season 4 Finale
Despite my criticisms of this season, I felt that the finale was good. The Pretty Titty subplot was brought to a close and there are many story arcs with potential for next season with Hugh being the new hospital administrator, Ajax going to Ag College, Matt and Charlie travelling, and Hayley and Ajax running The Brewery in Matt and Charlie’s absence. I’m also intrigued to see how Penny and Jarrod’s move and relationship will play out in Broome, when she eventually and inevitably returns.
I’m looking forward to seeing improvements and reviewing season 5 when it eventually airs.
-Jarrod bought Penny overalls to go home from the hospital in, apparently in consideration for her busted rib.
Best one liners and interactions:
- “You know I’m rubbish with kids.” “A school teacher, yeah right!” (Charlie-Ajax on babysitting Jimmy and Eliza)
- “Apparently I’m turning Whyhope into the red light district of the Central West.” (Meryl to Hugh on the Pretty Titty)
- “Was she just too much an angel to survive in this ugly world?” (Rod to Meryl on the Pretty Titty burning down)
- “Ajax, swear to me you had nothing to do with setting fire to the Pretty Titty.” “Hails, this is a menu.” (Hayley-Ajax)