Switched at Birth Season 3 Review “And Life Begins Right Away”

Switched at Birth Season 3 Episode 21 And Life Begins Right Away (14)

The promo for this week’s finale of Switched at Birth teased some kind of big twist and, up until the last five minutes, I thought it had been just that – a tease. But, no, Daphne has dodged yet another bullet, with her sister taking one for the Kennish/Vasquez team by confessing in Daphne’s place. It’s a melodramatic move at the end of a quietly poignant hour, and it will no doubt split audience opinion.

It’s a clever way of keeping absolutely everyone around for another year, which is something all teen shows have to do as delicately as possible in their characters’ senior years. Bay isn’t going to California with Emmett, who said he wouldn’t go without Bay, Travis is heading to Melody’s school and Daphne, well who knows with Daphne? It’s clever, but in a way that feels natural to the story they’ve been telling from the beginning.

Graduation episodes have a way of choking me up in the very best way, and I don’t think I’ve ever watched a televised ceremony without crying. This one, though, had a couple of gut punches that really got me going. There was Daphne’s speech about Emmett’s effect on her life, the dark cloud of Daphne’s imminent arrest hanging over the family on an otherwise happy occasion, and then the appearance of Travis’ mother just to top it all off.

It might have been a little rushed, but I thought Switched at Birth left the unresolved matter of Travis’ family up in the air for just the right amount of time to make that moment really land. It doesn’t diminish the hell he must have gone through for years, nor how much better off he was living with Melody and Emmett, but seeing him reconcile with his mother at such a high point of his life was no doubt the loveliest moment of the hour.

And, like Buffy before it, Switched at Birth decided to have this class be the very last that Carlton would see. It wasn’t quite blowing up the building (and the giant snake inside), but having the school close was just another way for the show to cement the finality of the moment. The reality is that Carlton was living on borrowed time, and it was the unwavering passion and belief of Daphne and her friends that kept it open for this long.

That unwavering passion seems like a distant memory when looking at what Daphne has become this season, however, and I hope that the show’s decision to have her avoid punishment yet again isn’t just an excuse to keep her this wayward and selfish next year. Bay, on the other hand, has thrived under the pressure of the last three seasons, and it says a lot that her move at the end of the episode doesn’t feel out of character.

No matter how many detours it takes, this show is about family first and foremost, and Bay’s decision to protect her sister from effectively ruining her future shows how close this little makeshift community has become. Crucially, the writers were careful to show Daphne making the right, mature and selfless decision before Bay stepped in, and this is a twist that should only bring them closer rather than tear them apart. That remains to be seen, of course, since I doubt John and Kathryn will be thrilled by the news.

This has been a mixed bag of a season, with frustrating storylines like Daphne and Toby’s contrasted with joyous moments for Bay, Travis and the rest. This summer finale leaves us in limbo for many characters but, with Carlton closing and the wider world about to invade these characters’ lives in a big way, season four will surely bring lots of opportunity for fresh drama.

What did you think of the episode? Should Daphne have let Bay take the fall? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.