The 'Transparent' Series Finale Ending Lets The Pfeffermans Say Goodbye
Spoilers ahead for the Transparent: Musicale Finale. The Transparent: Musicale Finale is all about grief and death, as Jeffrey Tambor's Maura dies within minutes after the opening number. And without the series' original star to guide the action, the rest of the Pfeffermans are left to cope with their loss. As such, the Transparent series finale ending is about so much more than Maura — and that's a good thing.
Maura's death isn't too much of a surprise, as Tambor's character was written off the show after he was fired for his alleged sexual misconduct on set after Season 4 wrapped. The story in this final chapter mainly follows Sarah (Amy Landecker), Josh (Jay Duplass), and Ari (Gaby Hoffmann, whose character Ali came out as non-binary in Season 4 and chose a new name) mourn the loss of their moppa after Davina discovers Maura dead in her bed of ruptured aortic aneurysm. They're left feeling even more adrift when they discover that Maura has left their family home to Davina in her will.
Ulimately, though, the show ends on a positive note for the rest of its characters, showing how the Pfefferman children are in a significantly healthier space than they were when Transparent premiered in 2014. Their mother Shelly even displays some incredible character growth when she realizes she can show her children love in a way that they appreciate.
The finale also introduces Shakina Nayfack's Ava, who fills in for Maura in many ways, playing her in Shelly's play she's writing about her family. It also brings back a series of side characters from the show's run, with Kathryn Hahn's Rabbi Raquel, Trace Lysette's Shea, and Rob Huebel's Len making a comeback. Jenny O'Hara's Bryna, Cherry Jones' Leslie Mackinaw, Melora Hardin's Tammy, Tig Notaro's Barb, and Alia Shawkat's Lila also briefly return, as does John Getz's Donald (Maura's boyfriend at the time of her death), Jerry Adler's Moshe, and Ray Abruzzo's Sal.
The musical aspects don't really add to the emotional depth of Transparent and sometimes distract from the brutal discussions of feelings that the show excelled at depicting. But the Transparent: Musicale Finale gives the Pfefferman family and company the chance to say goodbye to Maura — and fans the confidence to know that these characters will be OK. Here's what happens to everyone in the Transparent finale.
Sarah finds herself having to explain the Holocaust to children Zack and Ella when they struggle to comprehend Maura's cremation and death. She also confronts her mom Shelly about how she has no boundaries.
At Maura's shiva, Sarah faces two of her ex-lovers — Tammy and Lila. While Season 4 ended with Sarah and Len sleeping with Lila again, it doesn't seem that Sarah saw Lila after that — and Lila says she took Plan B so she didn't become pregnant with Len's child. When Tammy and Barb show up and let Sarah know they are back together, Sarah appears to mean it when she says, "I'm with Len and I have everything I need ... I'm really happy."
Josh is still attending his sex and love addiction meetings, but Sarah pushes him when she says Raquel should be the rabbi at Maura's funeral. Hahn's character Raquel hasn't appeared since Season 3's "Off the Grid," and now she's the chaplain at Camp Kohenet. While Josh is reluctant to see his ex-fiancée, their reconnection after Maura's death turns out to be a good thing for his personal life.
While Raquel doesn't oversee Maura's funeral, Josh goes to her for help with throwing a surprise "bart" mitzvah (a non-gendered version of the Jewish coming-of-age ceremony) for Ari. This leads them to get back together, and a dreamlike sequence in the song "Crazy People" implies they'll get married. Josh also is a grandfather now, since his son Colton shows up with a child of his own.
After choosing to stay in there in the Season 4 finale, Ari has been in Israel for six months serving as a priestess (because while she's non-binary, "Judaism is so binary"). Now, she's thinking of becoming a rabbi — something Raquel encourages her to do. And Josh helps her take one step closer to that goal by throwing her the bart mitzvah she never had.
Ari is the one who is shown to be the most distressed by losing Maura. Yet, she comes to a revelation when she gets high. "I always thought that I was sort of a mess and then moppa would be there to save me. But now I'm starting to wonder if I was a mess so that moppa could save me," Ari tells Davina. "So what's it going to be like now that she's not here?" From the looks of it, it seems like Ari has gained a true sense of direction and more agency.
After Season 4, the relationship between Alexandra Billings' Davina and Maura continued to be close, since Maura left her house to Davina. Maura's will stated the profits should go to the trans community and while Davina tells Shea she doesn't know what to do with those instructions, she quickly figures it out.
Davina goes to the LGBT Center and while there, she meets with young trans people who are struggling with finishing school and finding jobs. In the end, with the Pfefferman kids' support, she honors Maura's wishes by having the younger generation move into the family home with her.
Shelly gets inspiration from younger versions of herself and Maura as ballet dancers. "I waited too long to do all the things I wanted to do. Don't let the same thing happen to you, Shelly," the young Maura tells her. So she lets her artistic spirit soar again by writing a play about her family. She casts her improv group to play her children's "doppelbängers" and Ava to play Maura.
After Sarah tries to explain how Shelly doesn't respect their boundaries at the beginning of "Your Boundary Is My Trigger" — and Ava sings from Maura's perspective in "Your Shoes" — Shelly cancels the play. "It's not important. You are," Shelly tells Sarah, Josh, and Ari. She acknowledges that she now knows the difference between holding her children and "holding onto" them.
Shelly is also responsible for the final song, "Joyocaust," since she suggests there should be an "equal and opposite reaction to the Holocaust." The point is to demonstrate "six million people feeling joy all at the same time." The boundary-pushing final song will not leave every viewer feeling joy, though. Like the series itself, the finale is flawed. But in the end, Transparent leaves the Pfeffermans able to cope with losing Maura and having something to still sing about.