Bess’ feelings for and about her newly returned mother roil mightily in Little Voice‘s Season 1 finale, but she keeps a tight cap on it all… until a sharply troubling moment puts everything into clear focus.
The bad news? Bess’ mom, Mary (played by Katrina Lenk, of The Band’s Visit on Broadway), slaps Louie during a particularly stressful moment. They’re filming his vlog in public, and he starts belting “Maybe” from Annie while wearing a red, curly wig. He says he and Bess used to sing the song when their mom was gone, and they had no idea where she was. Everything — the sad memory, the loud singing, the people staring — eats at Mary, and eventually she demands that Bess stop filming her brother. And when Louie loudly protests, Mary slaps him.
Obviously, Bess is horrified. In a diner afterward, Mary tearfully apologizes to her kids and explains that when Louie was young, she realized she didn’t have the patience or “inner calm” to parent a child on the spectrum. And the way that she came to that realization was that she hit him a few times, then made him promise never to tell anyone — and he didn’t.
Still, Mary presses forward with her offer to have them both come live with her by the lake for a while so she can show them who she is when she’s not stressed out by New York City. “Show us what? That with nobody around for a 20-mile radius, you’re not a monster?” Bess spits, adding that she’ll never forgive her. Louie says he does forgive Mary, but still, he leaves with Bess.
After a sweet interlude at the senior living home and a chance encounter with singer/songwriter/Broadway musical composer and star (and Little Voice executive producer) Sara Bareilles on the streets of New York, Bess realizes that she wants to take the stage at open-mic night. It’s exactly one year to the day after the performance that traumatized her, but sometimes, she tells Prisha, you’ve gotta do something purely for the love of it.
So Prisha — who earlier had a rough coming-out to her sister, who wasn’t supportive — joins Bess at the club. Louie and his friends show up, too. Samuel is there to back her up, and the pair of them smile goofily at each other while waiting to go on stage. Just before they’re up, Samuel decides the time is NOW: He grabs her and kisses her, and she kisses him back.
They perform “Little Voice,” and it’s going well… until the storm outside knocks out the power. But Bess hardly misses a beat: She steps to the edge of the stage and continues, a capella, until Samuel can grab an acoustic guitar and join her. The crowd is into it, Bess is killing it, and a few minutes later, the electricity comes back on.
That’s when Ethan walks in.
But it doesn’t seem like Bess sees him as she finishes, to loud applause. Even better: The record-label rep sitting at one of the tables writes her name down on a cocktail napkin. (It’s no multi-album contract, but hey, it’s a start!)
Then, during the credits, Louie and his friends re-enact part of Hamilton‘s “Aaron Burr, Sir,” and it’s great.
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