This Brockmire review contains no spoilers.
“We’ve got time. We’ve got time…”
When Brockmire first started, surely nobody expected—not even the people in charge—that the final season of this simple “baseball comedy” would deal with a dystopian world that hints at a Skynet-level infected future. Yet, at the same time, this is also a strangely perfect development for a series that has prided itself in its ability to be different and challenge itself.
It would have been far too easy for each season of Brockmire to embrace Jim’s ornery, curmudgeon habits as he continues to drink himself into oblivion. That was a fun show and a fun character and it easily could have lasted four seasons, but what’s so impressive about Brockmire is that every season of the show mixed up its formula and re-invented Jim Brockmire.
Some serious risks have been taken, both in terms of Jim’s mental and emotional states, as well as the disparate places that baseball has taken him, but every year these curveballs helped the show evolve into something even better and more special. These fearless, creative tendencies have never been more present than in the show’s final season, which somehow whips baseball, the apocalypse, and family values together into a powerful cocktail that Jim Brockmire greedily knocks back without a chaser.
Each of Brockmire’s seasons has chronicled Jim’s reluctant efforts to both better himself and better the sport of baseball, but the show’s final batch of episodes really go for broke. This year features an extremely surprising and ambitious story that utilizes chaotic pacing that helps the season feel even more crazy and extravagant. Sometimes multiple decades are covered in a single episode, others will methodically span just one evening, while some will then flashback to years in the past. It’s a structure that not only guarantees that Brockmire’s final season is more unpredictable than the others, but that it also feels more epic.
Previous seasons have examined pivotal moments from Jim Brockmire’s life, but this season covers entire lifetimes of events. It almost feels like these eight episodes equate to multiple seasons of the show or some new “reboot” that works as a satisfying lengthy epilogue. It makes for a radical change, but one that effectively meshes with the nihilistic feeling of Armageddon that brews throughout these episodes.
As Brockmire attempts to acclimate to the changes that he faces, the introduction of Beth (Reina Hardesty) makes for a successful approach that looks both to the past and the future as Jim determines what’s most important in his life. Previously, Jim Brockmire has been eager to push people out of his inner circle as he feeds his own ego, but this season reduces the presence of Brockmire’s various support systems as it takes a more concentrated look at him in his most stripped down state. Much of this final season sees Brockmire prepare for a future where he may have to tackle the world alone and how he’ll cope with such a transition. Jim’s put his life all back together, but now the hardest thing is to actually live it.
Reina Hardesty faces a difficult task as her new character gets thrown into this series and Jim’s life, yet she manages to feel like she’s always been around. Hardesty is so damn incredible as Beth and her character is forced to tackle a multitude of challenges and extremes. Some of the most emotional scenes from the season play out between Beth and Jim and they’re powerful, nuanced moments. Brockmire has always largely been the “Hank Azaria Show,” but Hardesty shows phenomenal range and holds her own against Azaria. The only shame is that she wasn’t around for longer.
This swan song of a season concentrates on Brockmire’s future, but it still leans on the show’s supporting characters when there’s an opportunity for rich emotional resonance.
Brockmire’s final season deserves respect for its restrained use of Jules and Charles. Amanda Peet and Tyrel Jackson Williams get to have a lot of fun as their characters also get to experience significant change and consider the paths that they’ve taken over the course of this series and what they’ve all meant. As much as this final season is a thorough, complete look at Jim Brockmire’s existence, there is also extensive closure provided for the people who have been important to him through the formative times of his life.
One of the most impressive things about the final season of Brockmire is how it positions baseball to be such an effective metaphor for society as a whole. Brockmire season 4 attempts to answer feelings of ambivalence with delirious optimism. It looks at the struggle to enact change in a failing world and how to still feel relevant beyond your prime. A fresh coat of paint or some fancy new bats aren’t enough to save either baseball or Jim Brockmire, but these characters are dedicated to some real change that will hopefully leave them with a future.
This season of Brockmire covers more ground and has more to say than the show’s previous seasons, but its humor has never been sharper. Jim Brockmire and the world have grown up in many ways, but its sardonic, dark comedy is still very much present. Major character drama is still the focus, but the literal end of the world gives the series a lot more ammunition for its comedy.
Arguably some of the show’s biggest and most ridiculous visual gags and jokes take place in this season and there’s some very unique apocalypse humor to play around with. This heightened universe works for Brockmire, which has never been afraid to take risks or get weird.
Something that the final season of Brockmire is constantly saying is that “there’s life after baseball.” Jim may initially have his doubts about what such a life may look like, but these concluding episodes confirm that there is more out there and that Jim Brockmire is finally ready for it. This season, and these four years as a whole, paints an elegant picture of a man who is able to successfully rebuild himself.
This series proves that anyone—even a selfish, alcoholic, derelict of a human being—can be an inspiration and figure of change. Every season of Brockmire has been a home run, but this concluding year is an epic grand slam that solidifies this series’ place in the comedy hall of fame.
Brockmire season 4 premieres Wednesday, March 18 at 10 p.m. ET on IFC.