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Staged Series 2 Episode 8: Their Endgame Was All About Friendship
And it's the battle's over. Staged Series 2 has reached its endgame. It's been a rollercoaster of bad faith, bad decisions, and really bad behavior on the parts of David Tennant and Michael Sheen, or at least their fictional avatars. The fight over the casting of the US network remake of the show is over. David and Michael were never going to be cast if everyone else dropped out – the network never wanted them. The network wanted a duo more famous and bankable and they have them: Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Cate Blanchett. The real scalp David and Michael have collected is writer-director Simon Evans'. The network has agreed to let Phoebe Waller-Bridge, hot screenwriter on top of A-list actor, take over the rewrites for the US remake. After all, she rewrote the new James Bond movie (still unreleased). Simon is toast. Because he can't write women. Even Georgia, Anna, and Lucy (Lucy Eaton) completely rewrote his script for their charity scene together. Because he can't write women. And the real Simon Evans wrote and directed all this.
The clouds have opened for David and Michael. David is heading off to Cardiff to film his new job. Michael is all set to fly to New York to be the best man at his friend's wedding. Never mind that their prospects in Hollywood are in tatters by now next to Simon's career, normal life is resuming! David and Michael, who spent weeks hating the zoom calls that dominated their lives, can barely tear themselves away from their computers. Their friendship has been shaped, tested, and defined by the zoom. His bags are packed, Georgia (Georgia Tennant) is going spare with the car waiting outside, but David can't tear himself away, and, aw bless, Michael doesn't want him to go. Eventually, he has to go. Normal life, normal work must resume.
Life is the memories and the friends you make, especially if the two of you bond in battle and ruin careers along the way, including your own. Later, David is still zooming with Georgia from Wales when Michael and Anna call in. Michael has decided not to go to New York after all and attended his friend's wedding via zoom. He has decided to go to Sweden with Anna and the baby to visit her parents instead.
This final episode is all epilogue. The final scene has Georgia driving up to Cardiff to meet David on the backlot, and Michael and Anna showing up to meet them on the way to the airport. This is the first time they all meet in person to say goodbye. The pandemic is still upfront and personal – they have to put on masks to talk face-to-face. All's well that ends well – they get what they wanted: David gets to work, Michael gets to travel. It's the end of the series and the final shot has David and Georgia breaking character and the 4th wall as they check if they filmed the final shot properly. Did they get the sound? Did the camera record? This is what DIY filmmaking is all about. David's final "good luck" could be to all of us as well as the editors.
The biggest irony here is that the UK has gone back into lockdown because of catastrophically high infection rates and deaths. This series was probably shot at least two or three months before broadcast and at the time, everyone was feeling optimistic about things gradually returning to normal. Should there be another series? The show has been a modest yet vast epic of raging egos and emotions and may have reached its natural conclusion. There is such a thing as narrative exhaustion, where the characters are still around, but their story has been told. Unless there's something new to explore, to bring them back would just be repetitive. Simon Evans has said he might like to try a one-off special to wrap it up for good if the BBC is interested. To this day, the actors still haven't met him in person.