TNT’s Men of a Certain Age brings its second, far too short, season to a close with “Hold Your Finish.” The men all face new challenges. Joe (Ray Romano) competes in the Senior Golf Tour, and after a bit of luck, makes it to the next round. Terry (Scott Bakula) quits his job as a car salesmen to pursue directing as a new career path. Owen (Andre Braugher) is disturbed to learn Owen Sr. (Richard Gant) has decided to sell the dealership, after Owen has been working so hard to dig it out of the debt his father left it in. What is next for these guys?
Poor Owen keeps getting set back over and over again. He tries to do things his own way when taking over the business, but the nasty surprise of deep debt that his father leaves him prevents him from doing much. Then Owen embarks on a new marketing strategy of cheesy commercials and free car washes to lure potential customers onto the lot. He even comes clean with the staff, letting them know exactly what is going on with the company. Owen Sr. doesn’t approve, but Owen knows he has to be his own man and do something, or it’s not likely Thoreau will survive. It is too early to tell if it’s working from a business stand point, but Owen has certainly made a positive difference to the people working for him.
Then Owen Sr. decides to sell to their biggest competitors. It’s a huge blow. A personal insult to Owen, a sign that his father does not approve of what his son is doing, and wants to protect his name from any further mistakes. It’s a vote of no confidence against Owen’s business strategies. It ignores how hard Owen is trying; the long hours put in apart from his family. It’s a genuine slap in the face, pulling the rug out from under Owen’s career. And Owen Sr. telling his son he will make sure he is taken care of financially is even worse, an extra insult implying that Owen cannot provide for his wife and children. Owen may choose a different path than his dad, but his decisions are just as valid.
It’s not fair. The growth Owen has shown as a man and a professional over the two seasons of Men of a Certain Age is phenomenal. Owen once didn’t care about selling cars, but now he does. He proves to his father that he is worthy of taking over the business, and now that he has, he gives his all to keep it going. Even the final confrontation of “Hold Your Finish,” when Owen calmly goes to his father and lets him know how much he wants to keep working on the business is an improvement over the earlier, hot tempered fights the duo enganged in. Owen has matured, even if Owen Sr. has not. It’s unclear whether it’s enough for Owen Sr. to allow his son to keep the business, but signs are hopeful as the episode comes to an end.
There is Emmy talk for Braugher, and how can there not be? His performance is nuanced, with much depth, and plenty of growth over the series. It isn’t a showy part, but it does allow for some heavy drama and deep pathos. It’s easy to forget that Owen is not a real person, with the level of art and realism Braugher commits to him. It’s worthy of any awards anyone would like to give. There are others doing as well on television today, but few, if any, who are better.
Terry has undergone just as dramatic a shift, himself. When introduced, Terry is lazy and has trouble holding a job. He says he is an actor, but he rarely gets any work in that field. He sleeps with a variety of women, mostly far too young for him, but that works, because he’s looking for sex, not love. This season, that all changes.
Terry reconnects with Erin (Melinda McGraw), a woman he did a series of commercials with many years ago, who is now a school teacher. Terry feels all kinds of feelings for a girl that he never has allowed himself to have before. It’s a bit of a rocky adjustment, and they take a break, but soon enough Terry is asking her to move in, and she accepts. They have a really nice emotional bond, and she makes Terry want to be a better person. Suddenly he sees the value of hard work, and what pay offs it can bring. He fully, sincerely commits to her.