Schmigadoon! season 1 finale review: The hope of change

The season finale of Schmigadoon! shows how far its central characters have come in a sweet musical finish.

Picking up right where last week’s episode left off, Josh and Melissa have the love of Emma and Doc Lopez respectively but have rediscovered each other’s literal rock hearts they lost when they first entered Schmigadoon, leading them to reconsider their relationship.

As they find their way back to each other, the mayoral election is heating up, and things don’t look good for the incumbent Mayor Menlove (Alan Cumming) after his coming-out declaration.

But everything changes when Josh and Melissa find each other in the town square. She apologizes for her perfectionism. And for the first time in the entire series, Josh sings.

Schmigadoon! is the kind of show that makes it very hard to stick the landing, and we knew Josh would have to sing at some point. It was the show’s emotional trump card they’d been holding until the last moment.

But it works nonetheless thanks to Keegan-Michael Key and Cecily Strong’s powerful, grounded performances. Schmigadoon! loses much of its humor in this last episode and instead goes straight for the heart. It’s sickly sweet but if you’ve watched this far, you’re likely here for the schmaltz and romance.

It works because it’s true to the show’s themes and characters. Josh and Melissa were changed by their journey in Schmigadoon and they also changed the people in the town.

After they finish their song, the townsfolk begin to clap, but Mildred Layton (Kristen Chenoweth), the other mayoral candidate, quickly shushes them for applauding the sinners.

But a chorus, led by Emma (Ariana DeBose) refutes Mildred and proclaims they’re happy Josh and Melissa came to visit as everyone shares their truths.

It’s a typical flourish of a musical happily-ever-after: Menlove wins the election and kisses the Reverend; Mildred has a change of heart; and Emma shares the truth that she’s Carson’s mother, not brother.

With everyone freer and lighter, Josh and Melissa head to the bridge once and for all, guided by the citizens of Schmigadoon, and it fades to black as they cross. Whether they make it across is a leap of faith for us and for them.

Thanks for watching Schmigadoon! with us this season. We hope you found your true love.