We now find ourselves at the last episode of the 2003 Tarzan television series, with the episode titled The Beginning of the End. The show’s abrupt cancellation, after only eight episodes, didn’t even allow the show a chance to go out with a bang, but instead it went with a sad little whimper. The title of the episode could even be considered a little prophetic as it was The End, but unfortunately not in the way they had hoped.
At the end of the previous episode For Love of Country Jane decided it would be best if she and Tarzan returned to the city to face the music, confront Tarzan’s uncle and the murder chargers. So the fact that this episode begins with Tarzan (Travis Fimmel) and Jane (Sarah Wayne Callies) running around the streets of New York City makes absolutely no sense. What exactly was her game plan here? Does she just hope to wander around Manhattan until Richard Clayton (Mitch Pileggi) renounces his claim on his nephew, and that the police just throw in the towel on the murder investigation of Detective Foster? She should have contacted her partner Sam (Miguel A. Núñez Jr) and had them both brought quietly in, but instead the two of them are running down alleys from the police, while Sam is in danger of being charged with aiding and abetting.
Eventually the cops catch Jane, because she isn’t as good at climbing alley walls as Tarzan is, and she is thrown in jail. Tarzan’s brilliant plan to help Jane is to then go to his uncle and offer himself up, that is if Richard will make all the problems go away. This of course just allows the villainous uncle to drug and strap Tarzan to a bed, and then have a shrink declare him legally insane.
Jane eventually is released from jail, when Kathleen Clayton (Lucy Lawless) posts her bail, and she then immediately enlists her partners help in discrediting the Donald Ingram (Tim Guinee) false testimony, the one that claims Tarzan killed Detective Foster. That Sam continues to help Jane is way beyond the realms of a believable friendship, and is basically about a guy focusing on career suicide. Eventually they do get a testimony from Ingram’s doctor’s nurse/receptionist (would that even be valid) that Donald was off his meds at the time, and that could have hallucinated the whole thing.
Most of the episode deals once again with Tarzan trying to escape Richard’s care, and he adds being able to fake his death as one of his tools – apparently he can lower his vitals to mimic death so good that even the monitors in an ambulance can’t register them – and he escape out of an ambulance with Jane. Tarzan doesn’t believe the “world of rules” that Jane lives in will ever let this end, so he takes off. Strangely enough this doesn’t land Jane back in jail, you know, for the whole helping a mentally unstable murder suspect escape…again.
Tarzan decides the only way to end this is to kill his uncle – a very Hamlet thing to do but at this point I’m all for it – and Kathleen tries to warn her brother that he is in danger, but Richard relishes this primal game that he and his nephew are engaged in. Well he relishes the game right up to the point Tarzan takes out Richard’s limo driver, his bodyguard, and then throws Richard off a bridge.
Jane shows up in the nick of time to prevent Tarzan from becoming the murderer the police believe him to be, saying, “I’m not asking you to trust my rules. I’m not asking you to trust my laws. I’m asking you to trust me.” This somehow works, even though nothing I’ve seen in this series would have me believe Jane could successfully beat a traffic ticket let alone a murder wrap. Yet with the discrediting testimony of the receptionist *sigh* the case is thrown out and Tarzan is free to go. The End…wait, what?
Isn’t Jane still in trouble for the numerous crimes she committed? The covering up of the death of Detective Foster, the kidnapping of a material witness, the assaulting of several police officers, and the aiding and abetting of a fugitive, to name just a few. Sure the show was cancelled mid-season, and thus they can pretend those problems were going to be addressed if the show had continued, but I doubt it. The premise of the show was about police officer Jane Porter solving crimes with Tarzan as her jungle aid, which would be out the window now because the best case scenario would be Jane only losing her job, and not going to prison.
Creator Eric Kripke has stated that, “I’ll stand behind the pilot. It has a beginning, middle, and — the problem — it ends. I was hungry to have anything in production, so I wrote a 50-page story that ended. Then it got made and I had something in production, and it was all my dreams come true. They said to me, ‘Let’s do 12 more.’ I said, ‘Uh, wait! What’s the story?’ So, Tarzan was a hell ride in every way, and we only did eight before they wisely put us out of our misery.”
So even the show’s creator didn’t have a clue as to what they were going to do for a long running story arc. This was clearly a case of a show that was doomed from the start.
But what ever happened to our two lead actors? Sarah Wayne Callies is probably best known for playing Lori Grimes on The Walking Dead, and as for Travis Fimmel well he went from the “Me Tarzan, you Jane” model turned actor in Tarzan to playing the badass Ragnar Lothbrok in the awesome series Vikings.
You can read all my reviews for this show here: Tarzan: The Complete Series.
This last episode wasn’t the dumbest of the eight produced but it is probably the dullest. That it was cancelled was most likely a relief for all involved.