‘The Conners’ Ends Its First Season with 3 Shockers — Including Breakdown Over Roseanne

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“The Conners” wrapped its inaugural season and made a strong case for a second as the “Roseanne” spinoff dealt with some heavy emotions and left fans on a huge cliffhanger … or two.

Technically, this is already the second season for the Conner family, revived two years ago under original title “Roseanne” and becoming a ratings juggernaut. And though ratings were down for this continuation/spinoff series, they’re still quite strong for network television, making a renewal likely.

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In the meantime, the writers made sure that they ended this inaugural season on a strong note, wrapping more emotional beats in this one half hour than we’ve seen since the premiere, including major beats for Darlene, Becky and Jackie, while Dan had a quiet moment that hinted at deeper feelings.

Laurie Metcalf made her Emmys case (again) with a towering performance after she uncovered Peter (Matthew Broderick) cheating on her and went on a drunken bender to the diner she used to own with Roseanne. And it is there, in front of the frightened patrons, that she finally processes the monumental loss of her sister.

Honestly, it was a gut-wrenching and powerful moment, totally raw and totally believable, even as they injected moments of humor to lighten the tension here and there. The same was done for Darlene’s big moment, though Becky’s was left loose and raw to close the season. Check out the three biggest moments of the night below:

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Jackie’s Breakdown

While it’s not a surprise to find out that Peter was cheating on Jackie, considering Broderick has been playing him as a dirtbag sleazeball since the beginning, their relationship may prove to be a key moment of growth for Jackie, which was a bit of a surprise.

Jackie as a mess while Roseanne had it more together has been a staple of this family since the beginning, but this week saw Jackie taking some ownership of how she handles distress so poorly and showing actual signs of personal growth. “I just gotta work real hard on why I always look outside myself for happiness,” Jackie told Darlene the next morning.

Plus, how cathartic was it when she whipped Peter with a towel right out of her apartment after he admitted to the affair and still tried to blame it on her. “Don’t let your insecurity drive away another man,” he told her sincerely. We wanted to do far worse than she did.

Her breakdown in the diner was catharsis for her, and in some ways for the show. “Me and my sister, we owned the place, we called it the Lunch Box and it was the last place I was happy,” Jackie said to the confused patrons.

It hearkened back to a simpler time for her, for the show, and for the viewers, but it was also a statement that as difficult as the transition has been, there is still joy in this world, and Jackie is ready to find it. By the same token, it is inviting viewers to do the same with the show.

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Darlene’s Decision

It was inevitable that things weren’t going to be as easy as Darlene just packing the kids up and heading to Chicago with Ben. After all, this show takes place in Lanford. Sure it’s only an hour from Chicago, but you don’t give your characters their happy ending until the ending, and this show is clearly not ready to end just yet.

Instead, Johnny Galecki’s David turned up to make things infinitely complicated. He’s broken up with Blue and selfishly asks her to do the same by dumping Ben and taking him back.

“I did everything I said I was going to do. I got a steady job, I’m in my kids lives now,” he told her. “There’s no reason we shouldn’t be together. Tell him no. Are you really gonna bail on me to move in with some stranger? I love you and you said you would love me forever.”

It was a totally unfair attack, and to Darlene’s credit she didn’t just dump Ben and fall back into David’s arms. Like her Aunt Jackie, Darlene has experienced some personal growth through this season and gained some sense of her self-worth. But that doesn’t mean David is easy for her to quit.

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We don’t exactly know why she made the call she did, but she rejected Ben’s offer to move to Chicago, opting instead to commute to work. This is going to make it far harder to rebuff David’s inevitable advances in the future, considering Ben will be an hour away.

And, with “The Big Bang Theory” ending this season, Galecki will technically be available for even more appearances in a second season of “The Conners,” should he be so inclined. He seems to enjoy this character, having shown up a few times since the revival despite his busy schedule, so never say never.

She did get the blessing of her family for the move, maturely talking to both Beck and Dan individually about the decision. But while Becky was instantly supportive, Dan held back some of his true feelings.

On the surface, he was all for this move for her, but when Darlene walked away, he mouthed a silent “damn.” Once again, we’re left with no clear answers as to what he meant.

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Becky’s Loss

But the biggest question was left for Becky, who like her sister and aunt, has been on a trajectory of personal growth and maturity throughout the season. Finally, she’s come to accept that Emilio is a nice guy and wants to be a part of their child’s life, but his fate was pretty inevitable.

“The Conners” has continued “Roseanne’s” tradition of dealing with hot-button political issues, so Emilio’s status as an illegal immigrant in the United States was a giant red flag that we were looking at a deportation storyline, and the closing moments of the episode gave it to us.

Dan came in with the news that there was an ICE raid in downtown Lanford, but Darlene thought he was being insensitive to the plight of the immigrants just because of their status.

“I have a big problem, I like the guy, my daughter’s about to have his baby ad he may be getting dragged out of the country. You think I want that?” he shouted.

Beck then checked her messages, and it was the news they feared. “”They’re taking me to Texas and then turning me over to the authorities in Juarez. I will find a way back to you and our baby, after a short time in Chihuahua — the city, not the dog.”

Once again, a moment of humor to defuse a tough situation, which was played beautifully by Lecy Goranson, who has really grown as an actress through the course of this season as she’s been asked to step more into one of the lead positions in the absence of Roseanne Barr. No such love for Michael Fishman.

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The Conner’s Future

And that’s where they left us. Darlene is staying in Lanford where David is, so we expect that to get more complicated. Jackie seems like she’s ready to start working on herself, and taking her work as a life coach seriously. And poor Becky is pregnant and now again without a man, just when she started giving him a chance to be a part of her life.

All three women have shown tremendous growth throughout the season, and been there in support of one another, with Dan as the rock in the center of it, even as he’s dealing with his own grief. The dynamics of the show shifted dramatically with the loss of Roseanne, but they have definitely found their footing now and have grown into a strong and confident ensemble piece even in her absence.

But it was appropriate that as part of those growing pains they again paid tribute to the monumental impact she had on the family and the show, which was portrayed beautifully in that diner scene with Metcalf, Sara Gilbert and John Goodman.

“The Conners” has proven it has a voice of its own, and while it’s not exactly the voice of “Roseanne,” it is nevertheless the voice of strong women empowering one another to be better and find their self-worth.

Even though it’s been on for eleven seasons (between both shows) over more than 30 years, it really does feel like they’re just getting started.

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