The Old Man season finale twist leaves fans itching for more

The Old Man — Jeff Bridges and John Lithgow
The Old Man — Jeff Bridges and John Lithgow (Image credit: FX)

NOTE: This post contains major spoilers for The Old Man season 1.

Summer TV has had its fair share of big-name shows, including Obi-Wan Kenobi, Ms. Marvel and Stranger Things, but one of the surprise hits has been the Jeff Bridges’ series The Old Man. The show is a rich, performance-driven, slow-burn spy thriller that has many hooked. The Old Man season 1 finale did not disappoint in delivering a satisfying capper to its first seven episodes, with a twist that has us all begging for season 2 to get here as soon as possible (yes, The Old Man season 2 is on the way).

When things ended in The Old Man season 1 episode 6, there were a number of questions that still needed to be answered, but at the forefront was could Chase (Bridges) and Harper (John Lithgow) work together to save Emily (Alia Shawkat)? Despite only learning who she really is, Harper feels a fatherly connection for Emily from their years working together just like Chase and they’ll both stop at nothing to keep her safe.

This first leads to Chase agreeing to hand himself over to Faraz Hamzad (Pej Vahdat) in exchange for letting Emily go. With this, Chase also says goodbye to Zoe (Amy Brenneman), who he hopes can go back to living a "real life."

While traveling to an airfield to surrender to Hamzad, Harper wants to know why the information about Chase and Abbey/Belour’s (Leem Lubany) flight to escape Hamzad. He knows there’s something else there and thinks Chase owes the truth to Emily, particularly about her mother. Chase hems and haws but before he can say the truth, Harper gets a call from Raymond Waters (E.J. Bonilla), who with Julian (Gbenga Akinnagbe) took Emily hostage on Morgan Bote’s (Joel Grey) orders, but now tells Harper that they are surrounded by opposing forces. After receiving their location, Harper turns around and he and Chase agree they are all in to protect Emily.

Julian, Waters and Marty (Tai Bennett) devise their plan to get Emily and themselves safely out of the hornet’s nest they are in. Julian shows his tactical skills off, taking out just about every enemy and giving Waters the ability to safely drive out of their hiding spot; he tells them he’ll see them on the other side. Unfortunately, the car doesn’t get very far, as a woman steps out in front of it and when they stop, she shoots both Waters and Marty.

Chase and Harper arrive (after having to fend off the local security forces that turn on them) but are too late to save Emily, she’s gone. It’s only now that Chase reveals that on the flight all those years ago he and Abbey debated about whether to ask Harper for three tickets instead of two, the third being for Hamzad and Abbey’s daughter, Emily/Parwana, who was a toddler at the time. 

In the final moments of the episode, we are back in Hamzad’s village in the present day. The man behind it all (the older version of Hamzad played by Navid Negahban)  says in voiceover that even though he has let himself believe that his long-lost daughter was a ghost to ease his pain, he admits he hoped to be haunted by her once again. His wish comes true as Emily arrives and sees her biological father.

The Old Man has been so much about father figures, as Emily has struggled to balance her feelings for the two men she views as her father. Well, now she has another dad to add to the equation. Will she turn on Chase and accept Hamzad now that she knows that she has been lied to her entire life?

There’s a lot to ponder with the ending of The Old Man season 1 and a lot to look forward with The Old Man season 2, not least of all the promise of Bridges and Lithgow working together consistently after being apart for most of the first season. Have to take a second to praise the final shot of the finale that sees Chase and Harper walking off side by side on an airport tarmac in the desert, a clear and fitting reference to the ending of Casablanca — a pat on the shoulder standing in for "This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship." Let’s hope the sentiment is right.

Here are some fan reactions to The Old Man season 1 finale:

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The Old Man season 1 finale highlights and questions

  • Was Emily's true parentage the thing hiding under the door in her dreams? Or is there more mystery to unravel?
  • Julian is a one-man wrecking crew (which makes it even more impressive that Chase took him down one-on-one). Hopefully they'll hook up and work together in season 2.
  • How is Morgan Bote going to work into it all in season 2? (we need more Joel Grey)
  • Guess we're not going to be seeing Dave and Carol any time soon... unfortunately.
Michael Balderston

Michael Balderston is a DC-based entertainment and assistant managing editor for What to Watch, who has previously written about the TV and movies with TV Technology, Awards Circuit and regional publications. Spending most of his time watching new movies at the theater or classics on TCM, some of Michael's favorite movies include Casablanca, Moulin Rouge!, Silence of the Lambs, Children of Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Star Wars. On the TV side he enjoys Peaky Blinders, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Saturday Night Live, Only Murders in the Building and is always up for a Seinfeld rerun. Follow on Letterboxd.