Season 2B of Netflix’s friendship melodrama Firefly Lane has arrived. The story of best friends Kate and Tully is one with its ups and downs, and the way they have fought so hard for their friendship, it makes these final episodes all the more bittersweet. The end of Kate and Tully’s journey is marked by grief as Kate endures cancer treatment and Tully prepares her life without her best friend, and no tears are spared in these final eight episodes.
FIREFLY LANE SEASON 2, PART 2: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?
Opening Shot: Young Kate (Roan Curtis) lays the needle down on a record player in her bedroom. Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear The Reaper” starts playing, and she sits in front of her bestie, Tully (Ali Skovbye) to play a game of truth or dare. Alas, this is no flashback, this is all a dream playing out in adult Kate’s (Sarah Chalke) mind as she receives a round of chemo.
The Gist: It’s always something with best friends Kate Mularkey and Tully Hart (Katherine Heigl). Whether they’re fighting over Kate being an inattentive friend or fighting because Tully injured Kate’s daughter in a car wreck, or just unloading the 30 years of baggage between them, there’s always something that gets in the way of them just enjoying one another’s friendship. In season 2B of Firefly Lane, Kate, having been diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer, is desperate to reconnect with Tully, who she had cut off (on account of the aforementioned car accident where Tully drove drunk with Kate’s daughter Marah in the car, seriously injuring Marah in the process). Despite the fact that Kate has swallowed her pride and continues to leave desperate, earnest messages for Tully on voicemail, Tully never responds. But not because Tully is angry or spiteful, it’s because she’s literally at the edge of the earth, filming a documentary about the melting ice shelves of the South Pole. She doesn’t have cell service, and doesn’t even know Kate is sick. Kate assumes Tully is just ignoring her to have the upper hand though, so of course she takes the silence personally.
Over in the teenage Tully and Kate timeline, the pair find themselves with a new English lit teacher, a handsome young guy named Mr. Waverly (Chris McNally), who is totally one of those teachers who’s like, “But, please, call me Sam.” Tully has been, up to this point, an uninspired student, and when Mr. Waverly tells their class he’s staging a play of Romeo & Juliet, Kate is desperate to play Juliet, and Tully just rolls her eyes. Tully’s apathy is, of course, a cry for help to Mr. Waverly, who sees potential in her that no one else does and gives her the role of Juliet even though she doesn’t want it. Thus, he and this story line help create the origin story of Tully Hart, global media personality. (And Kate is once again, left in Tully’s shadow. At least she gets to play “Servant #1.”)
And in the ’80s timeline, Kate, having been fired from the newsroom where Tully and Johnny still work, is interviewed for a new job by a sexist male manager. Tully is enraged at the questions Kate has been asked and turns the situation into an undercover story where Kate and Johnny both pose as job candidates to see how they’re treated by the same interviewer. Of course the exposé is a success and Kate is even offered her old job in the newsroom, where she’ll now be able to rekindle a flame with Johnny, despite the fact that she’s met someone new, Theo (Oliver Rice), who proposes to her.
As always, it’s the past stories that inform the present and flesh out the history of not just these two friends, but their complicated familial and romantic relationships too, they explain why everyone is the way they are. If I were Kate and Tully’s English teacher, I would point out that Sophocles once said, “One must wait until the evening to see how splendid the day has been.” In this, the final chapter of Firefly Lane, evening is here, and Kate and Tully are finally discovering and embracing the splendor.
What Shows Will It Remind You Of? This season of Firefly Lane, with its cancer story line and the renewed, fierce loyalty of our two best friends Kate and Tully, harkens back to the last season of Dead To Me, which was also as much a meditation on grief as it was a show about unconditional best friendship.
Parting Shot: After Tully leaves Antarctica, she flies to South America and finally has cell service, so she can now listen to all 18 messages that Kate has left for her. In the show’s final moment, Tully shows up at Kate’s house and sees the shocking sight of her best friend knitting in bed, thin and frail, having lost all of her hair. Kate looks at Tully and sighs a hopeful, grateful sigh.
Our Take: Look, I don’t gravitate toward sentimentality. Give me cynicism and sarcasm any day! Party Down is more my speed. And yet – AND YET! – I have to admit that despite this season’s sappy, sad journey, I couldn’t look away. Watching Kate and Tully come together in the last moment of episode 10 choked me up for a lot of reasons; that moment emotionally, wordlessly marked the beginning of the end for the two. Their journey has been complicated, and even though the adult timeline is moribund, the point of the final eight episodes is not just to prepare us for a funeral. The show is giving us so much more to work with in the other timelines, more positive scenarios to offset Kate’s cancer. Kate is given a way to blossom by offering two new romantic partners, and the show effectively adds even more vulnerable layers to Tully’s persona. Yes, Firefly Lane has always been a story of friendship, but as it wraps up, the core message that prevails is one of hope.
Sex and Skin: Not much so far this season.
Sleeper Star: This season I’m intrigued by mysterious Mr. Waverly. He’s cool (he followed the Dead on tour from ’69 until ’72, man!) but since this was the ’70s and a different time, there’s something dangerous there, will he and Tully go full “Don’t Stand So Close To Me”? or keep things strictly profesh?
Most Pilot-y Line? When Kate runs into the mother of one of Marah’s classmates while shopping, the woman immediately takes a pitying, sad tone with her. “So…how ARE you?… You’re amazing. So inspiring,” she tells Kate, who is now sporting a hat to hide her hair loss from the chemo, and the entire interaction turns Kate into a pathetic victim she does not want to be.
Our Call: STREAM IT! Even though you know that Firefly Lane‘s final episodes are going to be sad, the show lets the characters and friendships flourish and live life to their fullest in the previous timelines. It’s a delicate balance, as all friendships are.
Liz Kocan is a pop culture writer living in Massachusetts. Her biggest claim to fame is the time she won on the game show Chain Reaction.