Before getting to the finale, however, the show decides it wants to throw in as many curve balls as possible in regards to the SamAndDianeWillTheyWontTheyMelodrama. Throughout the season, Frasier has had to come to terms with losing Diane, which he seemingly ends up doing. Sam, meanwhile, convinces himself they are through but both he and Ms. Chambers exude a “never say never” attitude throughout the season.
Still, everything seems to be on an even keel. That is until a mysterious, never-before-referenced ex of Diane’s shows up in Boston. Before he comes by Cheers, the gang have some questions, leading to this exchange:
Diane: He's a man I dated for a bit in Europe.
Woody: Is that before or after you dumped doctor crane and sent him into an alcoholic tailspin?
Frasier (standing right behind an unbeknownst Diane): How long after?!?
The old flame, simply known as Jack, is a mature, bearded and manly fellow whom Diane spent time with in and around Europe, supposedly. Additionally, he’s the exact image I see when I think of myself.
Loud, boisterious, and jolly, Jack takes no time to meet everyone at the bar and challenge Sam to an arm wrestling contest. Within 20 seconds of him being on screen, Sam and the Fras bond over their mutual hatred for the guy.
Not only is this dude a world traveler, but he's also a pilot (again, the exact image of how I view myself). So, naturally, the episode focuses on this ex-BF of Diane's taking her and Sam up in his plane. He has the two handle the controls while he checks out something in the back. And, in the nature of things, he dies, leaving S and D scared, crying, and fearing for their lives as they struggle to handle the controls. In the heat of the moment, they admit to still being in love and vow to marry should they survive.
And, once more in the nature of things, Jack wakes up, pronouncing he was pretending to be dead so that Sam and Diane could realize what they mean to each other. Fair enough, I guess...
The next episode is the oddly titled "Banditos (AKA Diane Chambers Day)" in which Sam and Co. finally feel bad for not accepting Diane as "one of the gang" after four years of working at the bar. This epiphany comes about after Sam invites everyone but her over to his place to watch a movie, leaving Ms. Chambers to feel like an outsider.
To make up for the slight, the gang -- which should be noted does seem to officially include Frasier -- decide to plan a day around Diane's interests rather than sports games. The group struggles to get a plan together until Frasier mentions that Diane's favorite opera is being shown in Boston and he could look into getting tickets for everyone. Carla, naturally, doesn't attend, while Frasier for some reason doesn't go either. This leaves Diane to be escorted by Sam, Woody, Norm and Cliff for her night out on Diane Chambers Day.
As you can see below, the gang are seated in a balcony box. And, naturally, display their fish-out-of-waterness within seconds of the opera beginning as Norm cracks open a beer. (Alcoholism: Hi-larious!)
The episode ends back at the bar with a scene not unlike that in the season 1 and 2 finales. Sam and Diane close up shop, with Diane still belieivng Diane Chambers Day and the opera trip were Sam's ideas. She drops her purse and, as they both bend down to pick it up, the two lock lips.
It's a lot of the same ole, same ole to be sure, but what's redeeming about the scene is Sam's admission that the ideas were Frasier's, not his own. He's begun to grow as a womanizing, good-timing tom cat. And that's just the kind of character development that's made this season so interesting... and impossibly long to get through and blog about.