On the “I Am Cait” finale Sunday, Caitlyn Jenner opened with her past, closed with her future and filled the middle with a few healthy dollops of Boy George.
Carrying over from last week, the episode opens with Caitlyn sitting down for a talk with ex-wife Kris Jenner. The lovely cheese plate remains untouched.
Kris says she’s good, really good, “just workin’,” but Cait is not thrilled. “I haven’t heard from you in forever ... it’s been at least six months?”
Kris says she felt thrown under the bridge, which is at the very least better than being thrown under the bus. She says she felt blindsided, especially by Cait’s now famous Vanity Fair article. She didn’t want to talk to her ex while she was angry -- though Cait can’t imagine what Kris possibly could have been angry about.
Kris points out that most divorced people don’t do lots of things with each other, so the lack of phone calls (couldn’t Caitlyn have picked up the phone sooner too?) wasn’t really that weird.
But! What about daughter Kylie Jenner’s graduation, to which Caitlyn was not invited, even after years of carpooling. “I was so disappointed in everyone ... a slap in the face when you don’t even get invited,” Caitlyn says.
Kris notes that she felt the same way when Caitlyn said in the Vanity Fair article that she’d been mistreated by Kris.
“What happened to the life we had together? You just threw that away,” says a tearful Kris. “How much fun we had and the kids we raised and Christmas Eves and just every single thing we did. It’s very difficult to hear when you feel you ... gave your whole life to somebody, that the sum of it all is you were a distraction.”
Cait comes back to their breakup being 80% “the way you were treating me” and 20% gender issues. She says she didn’t leave Kris thinking she was going to transition, and then refuses to acknowledge that the Vanity Fair article may have legitimately hurt her family’s feelings -- everyone’s just overreacting, she says. “What did I say that was so terrible?"
“You’re sensitive and amazing to all these new people in your life,” Kris says. “You’re just not so sensitive and amazing to this side of the family that you’re leaving behind.”
Cait scoffs. “A phone call would have been great. Unbelievable.”
Now Caitlyn’s getting really ticked off, as Kris tells her she had been struggling with her ex’s transition and with Cait leaving the family “in the dust.”
“Nobody’s leaving you in the dust!” Cait protests, agreeing that everyone handles things differently, but dismissing Kris as “playing the martyr” when the Kardashians momager says her feelings don’t seem to matter anymore. Kris says she’s trying to understand what Caitlyn’s been going through, but notes that it hasn’t gone both ways.
“You just are more stubborn,” Kris says, “and won’t try to see my point of view in that. Why that was hurtful.”
Caitlyn totally disagrees, saying she figured that the amicable nature of their divorce meant it would be easier to have a relationship down the line.
“Some days are just -- hard,” Kris squeezes out. “And I know you say you haven’t gone anywhere and you’re still the same person, but sometimes they just miss having Bruce around. We all do.”
But Caitlyn clearly doesn’t get it. “One of the most difficult things to deal with is that sense of grief that my family seems to be dealing with about this transition,” she says in a separate interview. (Gee, ya think? Seems to be dealing with?) “I wish that my happiness could be their happiness,” she says, slapping together a bunch of platitudes about patience and hope.
Kris says it’s important for Kylie and Kendall Jenner to have Caitlyn in their lives. She can come over for a drink, Kris says, but she draws the line at Caitlyn’s suggestion that they shop together. They agree that they should share celebrations.
This being Kardashians territory, Kris wants to know the dish on whether Cait is dating Candis Cayne, and then it’s time for a selfie, where Caitlyn plants a surprise smooch on Kris’ cheek, plastering her with lipstick.
“One of the things I always used to notice was that Bruce wasn’t as sensitive as I wished he was,” Kris says in a separate interview that touches on something that’s been evident throughout the docu-series. “I think I just used to chalk it up to the fact that he was a guy. But I’m kind of realizing now that maybe that’s Bruce-slash-Caitlyn’s personality. Both of them, if you will. It’s just the way she is.”
Over lunch with Candis, Caitlyn touches on the chat with Kris -- describing it as “a hard talk” -- and then moves back to her pink cloud, asking if Candis celebrated her name change back in the day. No, she didn’t! But Caitlyn thinks her own name change should be celebrated with a ceremony that can serve the purpose for all the trans woman on the guest list.
“It’s amazing to me that more girls didn’t celebrate their name change,” Cait says incredulously in a separate interview, noting that the bulk of trans women “just got their new driver’s license, new name, new gender marker, and kind of just went on with their life. Why shouldn’t it be celebrated?”
(Perhaps they were too busy dealing with the realities of gender transition that happen when you don’t have millions of dollars to tap into to smooth the process? Nah, Caitlyn addressed all that in the first few episodes.)
Caitlyn explains that she’s always been a person of faith, and that her ceremony is going to be a religious one, with a trans woman Baptist minister running the show. “We’re going to mark a moment,” the Rev. Allyson Dylan Robinson explains. This is what so many of our religious rites and ceremonies are about anyway. We’re going to acknowledge the journey.”
A discussion of faith for transgender people ensues, with Allyson welcoming Caitlyn “to the club,” where she’s joining “a long line of people like us who have been on the receiving end of that kind of hostility and condemnation. I wear it as a badge of honor.”
Allyson manages the Baptists’ serious take on biblical text by taking it in the broader context of history, she says. She says she also believes God doesn’t love people in spite of who they are, but because of who they are. Driane Juarez, who helped Caitlyn with her legal name change and noted that her own name-change process was “lonely,” says she wishes she’d found an accepting church when she was younger, because her faith might have been much different.
Speaking of heavenly things, remember the interior-decorating overhaul that started last week? To replace the decor selected by Kris? That comes to fruition with a truckload of new furniture and doodads being hauled in and placed by professionals. “Feminine! I like that!,” Cait says.
But before the girls show up for the name-change celebration, they hop in a van and head to the Greek Theatre, where Caitlyn has been invited to introduce Boy George, who’s been gender-bending for decades and is a role model for many of the people in Cait’s posse.
After Caitlyn fangirls all over the singer, George explains that he’s only now, with the consciousness that comes with age, enjoying the effect he had back in the ‘80s, when he was an accidental LGBT hero. And then it’s showtime.
Now the bond with Boy George has been set, and in the days after the Greek show, as Candis struggles with nerves while prepping with the Gay Men’s Chorus of L.A. to sing at Caitlyn’s celebration, the “Karma Chameleon” shows up to add his panache to the production. Candis and the choir will perform “Amazing Grace,” and then George will pop in with a tune about a God who surely must want him to be himself.
At the ceremony, held around Caitlyn’s pool on the Malibu hilltop that’s almost been a character in the series, everyone is wearing white except for the minister and Boy George.
The event serves as a tool to take viewers down memory lane as it flashes back to earlier episodes in which Chandi Moore, Jenny Boylan and Candis Cayne called Caitlyn out on her trans-newbie failings before the women get to gush all over their new friend.
The skating rink, the road trip, the various lunch and dinner parties, the night out on Broadway, the visit to the camp for trans kids -- all are revisited.
Candis sings, and tears are shed, and the entertainer says her time with Caitlyn has changed her life forever. One thing to note: Kris Jenner and the girls do not appear to have been invited to this celebration.
The minister does her thing, noting that names are symbols that can honor the past or point to the future.
“We’ve known her most of her life by another name,” Allyson says of her “sister,” “but today at this moment she chooses to set that name aside. Will you join me to receive for us your new name?”
Caitlyn steps up, clad in white with flowers and hills in the background. “So here we are, daughter of God,” Allyson says. “What shall your name be called.”
“Caitlyn Marie Jenner,” Cait says, and a round of applause ensues. Those assembled affirm the name change, and then it’s time for a little Boy George.
“I am so blessed in so many ways,” the former Olympian says in a voice over. “And at this point in my life I feel so unbelievable comfortable with the decisions I have made.”
There are more flashbacks from the course of the series -- the off-road biking, the bathing-suit reveal, the debut at New York Pride. “I knew nothing when I started. The transgender community, this is my place, and this is where I belong, and it’s a good feeling,” Caitlyn says.
To her assembled guests, she says the last few months have been “the most amazing” of her life, and she thanks those who’ve helped her on her way during the course of the series.
“Thank you for being so good to me. Thank you for helping me into this community. I feel at home, and I have a family.”
Cue the shots of Kylie, of mom Esther and Caitlyn’s sisters, of Kim and Kanye -- and then cue up the comment about how much better things are post-transition than they were before:
“I’m in a great place in life, and for the first time I feel like I fit in someplace, being my authentic self.” The ceremony section closes to a round of applause and hugs and Jenny Boylan hoping that by Caitlyn sharing her story -- “You can’t hate anyone who’s story you know,” Jenny’s mom always said -- other transgender people will benefit.
Caitlyn then closes the series as she opened it, talking solo to what appears to be a webcam, sans makeup, sans glam hair.
“We have a long way to go,” she says, “but at least we got a really, really, really good beginning. And that makes my heart feel good.”