The end of Nip/Tuck

It won’t be as big as when Lost ends in May. It’s nowhere near the level of a Seinfeld or Friends finale.

It won’t even be as big as a Two and a Half Men series finale.

holy crap these three have aged

holy crap these three have aged

But when Nip/Tuck ends tonight after six tumultuous seasons that redefined how TV — cable stations specifically — could construct a primetime soap opera, you know one thing: It’s going to be weird.

Weird because the story will be goofy, most likely. Weird because of the sloppy way it’s tried to wrap up some of the bigger story lines over the last few weeks. Weird because it’s introduced new ones at the last minute that can’t possibly have a fitting resolution. How can they possibly end the Matt and Ava thing in one hour and still dedicate the last 15 minutes or so to a rousing, suitable conclusion to the Sean and Christian fiasco of a relationship? And is that 15 minutes really enough for them to get into bed finally?

Mostly, it will be weird because it won’t be around anymore. The show that peaked years ago and hasn’t been the same since 2004 — when it won the Golden Globe for best drama — has been a mainstay of the FX schedule since it premiered in 2003 and personally, has been a big part of my TV-watching life. As fans, we’ve put up with every conceivable — and inconceivable — plot twist and ridiculously sublime problem the characters have dealt with. We’ve seen every one of the seven deadly sins 10 times over, and even dealt with incest, threesomes, foursomes, murder, serial scarring … forget it, it’s too long a list. Fans have dealt with EVERYTHING following this show.

We’ve put up with it because every now and then, the show still knocks one into the upper deck. We put up with it because like Terence Mann said, it reminds us how good Nip/Tuck was, and it could be again. So here are the best Nip/Tuck episodes we’ve seen during its run, a run that deserves to be mentioned in the best shows of the last decade:

Cara Fitzgerald, season 1: If you didn’t know by now after seven episodes that this isn’t the normal, run-of-the-mill TV show, then after this one, you knew for sure. Not only would it constantly push boundaries to places and feelings no other TV show would touch, but it would do it with heartfelt emotion, great acting and superior scripts. This wasn’t just for shock — it had heart and long-ranging ramifications for the characters involved. Christian is forced to deal with his inner-most past traumas as an abused foster child in this episode, confronting a priest in a confessional about the priest’s penchant for molesting young boys. This is probably Julian McMahon’s best work on the show.

Agatha Ripp, season 2: One thing Nip/Tuck always has done well, no matter what state the show was in, is melding the B-story plastic surgery portion of each episode with the overall tone of what was going on between the main characters at the time. It was never so deftly done as in this episode, where Sean must come to accept Agatha Ripp’s claim of stigmata, only to have his final belief crapped on when she admits she made it up. Moments later, he’s confronted with the news that Matt is not his biological son, and his beliefs and values are crapped on again. It leads to the most tense moments of the show’s history, with Sean first attacking Julia, then attacking Christian with “You were my brother!” a year before Obi-Wan used the same line in Revenge of the Sith. I think it’s obvious George Lucas copied off Nip/Tuck.

Rose and Raven Rosenberg, season 2: Back-to-back episodes! The fallout from Julia’s revelation leads Sean and Christian to New York City to help separate a pair of conjoined twins — see where this is leading? But the tension between the two is gut-wrenching, leading into one of the show’s all-time best sex scenes — a threesome between Sean, Christian and a hooker played by the smoking Jennifer O’Dell. In a weed-induced haze, both imagine the girl is Julia to the perfect merging of the Todd Rundgren diddy Can We Still Be Friends. As much as Sean wanted to break it off with Christian forever, he realizes he can’t. And even though they’ve done this whole plot line to death this past season, fans know from this scene that they’ll never leave each other.

Joan Rivers, season 2: The finale of what always will be, to me, one of the best seasons of TV ever. And this was the show’s complete and utter peak. A 90-minute special with guest stars Alec Baldwin — now dead, according to Ava last week — and Joan Rivers (duh), the show has never reached this incredible apex again. It’s not fair to say it set the bar too high, because this was just one of those lightning-in-a-bottle moments that made the show what it was. It got even better in every fan’s mind when it took FX a ridiculous 13 months to air any new episodes, only making its legend grow. Yeah, I’m piling on season 2 episodes, but they were that good. It’s also the episode that started the show’s impressive run on A-list guest stars. The last five minutes of this episode is some of the best TV that’s ever been made:

Quentin Costa, season 3 finale: The most anticipated episode of the show, we find out finally that Quentin is the Carver, and that he had help from his secret sister Kit. Just hearing that, it doesn’t sound like much. But the episode epitomized the future of Nip/Tuck for its next four-plus years — a fast-paced roller coaster ride that requires some of the biggest leaps of faith in TV history, but ultimately it’s disappointing. That doesn’t mean this isn’t a good episode, it’s great. It makes your head spin when they intersperse Sean and Christian’s torture scene with Matt’s torture scene. I remember watching it and thinking, “I think I need to throw up. But in a good way.” Like how you throw up during an all-day drinking session just so that you can drink more. Oh, c’mon, I can’t be the only one who does that. Er, I mean did that.

ba ha! whatever.

ba ha! whatever.

Dr. Griffin, season 6: And so goes the dark ages of Nip/Tuck, when nothing was off the table. No plot was too ridiculous, no scheme too stupid. It lasted for about four years. It was still entertaining, but you couldn’t defend it to people who weren’t fans anymore on the argument that it is great TV. When Matt announced he had become a mime and he started robbing stores in full mime garb, we just shrugged, even though it would have sent most people running scared from any other show. We’d become immune to it as Nip/Tuck fans. But every now and then — very rarely — the show makes a comeback and approaches its former greatness. The last evidence we have of that is the couples therapy episode from a couple weeks ago. Apparently, the show’s creators don’t think we ever got the hint that Sean and Christian not only love each other like brothers, but are closet homesexuals who were meant to be together intimately. So instead of beating around the bush any longer with things like wedding cake tastings, the writers just threw caution to the wind and put them in couple’s therapy. It easily could have been the hackiest idea in the show’s history — but a brilliant script and some exceptional acting from all involved made it one of the best ideas and best shows the series ever produced. If we’re lucky, the finale will approach the quality of this episode.

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