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S03E12: The Good Parts
Showtime  ·  28 minutes  ·  Original Broadcast: June 20, 2011

Directed by: Craig Zisk  |  Written by: Dave Finkel, Brett Baer

Official synopsis: In the series finale, Tara finally confronts her last surviving alter, Bryce. After jumping off the bridge, Tara has a confrontation with Bryce in her mind and “kills” him. Max wants Tara to go to the institution in Kansas City, but she convinces him to let her go to the doctor in Boston that Hatteras recommended. Tara tries to get everyone to have one last family dinner before she goes. The dinner does not go as planned-Marshall is still angry with Tara and Max flips out when they ask him to make a speech. He screams and hurls the turducken at the wall. Kate tells Evan that although she would like to be with him, she must stay home in Kansas with Marshall while Tara and Max are in Boston for three months. Meanwhile, Neil eases Charmaine’s fears about Houston, and she proposes to him. After jokingly refusing, he accepts. Marshall finally forgives Tara and visits a memorial for Lionel. As Tara is about to get in Max’s pickup truck to head to Boston, she sees T, Alice, and Buck silently sitting in the bed of the truck, battered and bruised, but definitely still alive. As Max and Tara drive away, Tara embraces the future. On a more subtle note, Tara sticks her head out of the window to enjoy the warm sun and moving air. She transitions (she does the long blink) into Buck, then Alice, then T, and then herself, letting all of her alters “embrace the future” so to speak.

Episode Recap
Please note that recaps feature spoilers on the individual episode.
This recap was written by Matt Richenthal for TV Fanatic, June 21, 2011

I first watched “The Good Parts” months ago, reacting to the season finale with frustration. After such a tremendous season, one in which United States of Tara shed almost all comedic aspirations and left viewers hanging each week with a darker and darker tone, the concluding episode felt rushed and anticlimactic.

That was it?!? I thought. Tara just offs Bryce, within her own head, 30 seconds in?!? And the rest of the half hour is spent getting the family’s affairs in order? However, following the announcement that Showtime has canceled the series, the finale makes a lot more sense.
I have to believe the writers were given a heads-up that odds were not favoring a fourth season. Therefore, they were forced to tie up various storylines and characters in an efficient manner, likely sooner than they had originally hoped. In this context, “The Good Parts” was a success. Yes, the immediate way in which Bryce was killed (repressed?) was confusing and unsatisfying. But we had to spend the series finale with Tara herself, not any alters. We had to see Charmaine and Neil mature as a couple to the point where we actually believe they’d make solid surrogate parents to Marshall.

We had to see Kate finally find a direction in her life, even if it involves spending a lot of time with a manic eight-year old. And, most of all, we had to see Tara actually want to seek help, with Max – as always – the calm, steady, loving presence in his wife’s life. With the knowledge that this was the show’s final episode, I couldn’t have asked for a better concluding scene. Tara has been trapped by her disorder for as long as we’ve known her. But now she’s, literally, on the road to recovery. The Gregsons have been a dysfunctional, humorous mess for three seasons, but they weren’t ruined by Tara’s unusual influence. In many ways, it made them stronger, closer.

Our last shot of the group on the front lawn made it clear that everyone will be okay. They have all evolved since we first met them, which is the same thing we can say about the show itself. United States of Tara started as a quirky comedy and concluded as a fascinating, suspenseful character study, with dynamite performances all around. I’ll miss it.

Guest Cast: Patton Oswalt (Neil), Michael Hitchcock (Ted Mayo), Keir O’Donnell (Evan), Kevin Brief (Neighbor), Sean Donnellan (Cop)