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(Editor's Note: Spoilers ahead for the season one finale of Trial & Error.)
Beginning in the early '90s and extending through the turn of the century, NBC and its "Must See TV" lineup was the clear king of comedy — it wasn't even close. But with series like Friends and Will & Grace all having ended more than a decade ago, and Seinfeld concluding nearly 20 years ago, NBC's grip on such a title has loosened considerably. But the network is certainly not down and out, and that was on full display Tuesday night during the season finale of Trial & Error.
While replicating the success of series like Friends and Seinfeld may seem like an impossibility, the peacock network has found critical acclaim with mockumentary series like The Office, Parks and Recreation and now Trial & Error, which has been a downright hilarious spoof on the true-crime genre.
What makes Trial & Error even more interesting than some of the other mockumentary series, is that in addition to the constant hilarity — and you better believe it is constant — the writers have created a genuine mystery that is interwoven through all the absurdity. And it is a mystery so complex, not even a well-put-together murder board can clear things up.
Much like Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap, Trial & Error kept audiences guessing the killer's identity until the very end. Larry Henderson, the eccentric poetry professor with an (unhealthy?) appetite for rollercising, remained the prime suspect throughout series, and Trial & Error's season finale began with what probably should not have been a shock: He is convicted of first-degree murder. This comes after only 11 minutes of jury deliberation — not a good sign.
While the conviction itself is not inherently funny (it's more sad), Larry darting for the exit of the courtroom brought an early start to the laughs — he was subsequently labeled a flight risk for trying to make it to the airport. Of course, with the verdict being announced in the first few minutes of the finale, there was plenty more to the story. And despite a four-month jump forward, Larry's attorney, Josh Segal, played by Gotham's Nick D'Agosto, does not give up on clearing his client's name — even though he has moved back to New York.
A break in the case — Dwight discovering a missing piece of evidence — brings Josh back to East Peck, South Carolina, where most of the team has already moved on. Dwight is now back on the police force (though not field-ready), Anne has embarked on a new career as a realtor and Summer is dealing with the realization that her father may never leave prison. But when Josh returns to town, each of them quickly resume their prior roles, with Anne so excited she runs straight through Larry's recently repaired glass window (she was fine).
The series finale even mixed in one more suspect: the creepy taxidermist, Dave, who shares an office with Larry's legal team. But moments after Dwight bursts into the wrong house, guns blazing (he also leaves his firearm behind), we learn that Dave was not behind the murder, but rather was in Larry's home to steal an owl to stuff. And so we are left to believe that Larry may actually never leave prison. But wait! There's more.
Summer is finally able to unlock Margaret's phone after after realizing that she may have suffered from dyslexia, and thus did not spell Larry's name properly. And the first thing on her phone was an unsent video to Larry. The video, showcased exactly how Margaret, revealed to be played by Andie MacDowell, met her demise. And it wasn't Larry who killed her. No, not Dave either. Not even Rutger Hiss was to blame. Rather, it was an owl. Yup, you read that right.
In the middle of the video, an owl swoops through an open door and hits Margaret on the head, sending her through the now-infamous glass window. And so, Josh is able to take this new evidence to the judge, and Larry is released from prison, much to Carol Anne Keane's dismay (she wishes she executed him when she had the chance). The season ends with one more tragedy, though. There is another murder in East Peck! Of course, this is great for the fans.
Should Trial & Error be renewed (and it should), this means we will see the team go through it all again, this time with a new — hopefully hilarious — client. Here is a final truth: Anyone accused of murder in East Peck has only one firm to go to: Josh Segal & Associates.