Sumner Sloane, the man who jilted Diane at the altar in the series premiere, returns to inform her that she has been given an advance on her unfinished novel. He wants to give her a second chance at a literary career but is upsets that she’s wasting her time slinging brew at a saloon. She declines, citing her upcoming marriage as the primary reason, but now she’s beginning to have second thoughts. Sam proposes postponing the wedding, but Diane takes this as him having cold feet, and suggests having the wedding that night, in the bar. While contemplating his answer, he visualizes their future in fifty years, when he asks her if she has any regrets about missed opportunities, and she rejoins in the negative, assuring him that he’s all she ever wanted. He agrees, but later at the wedding (which everyone has bets on whether or not they’ll go through with it), a phone call comes in informing Diane her book will be published. She insists on proceeding, but Sam still believes she’ll regret it, so she says, “I do,” in response to his question, “Do you believe we shouldn’t get married?”
As she leaves Cheers, Diane says that she will return after six months, and takes issue with Sam’s farewell, “Have a nice life,” which she takes to mean goodbye for good. He tells her he says it because a lot can happen in six months – perhaps one of them will feel like there’s more out there – but she seems to disagree. As she trundles up the steps, Sam watches her go, and again, this time in grave seriousness, says, “Have a nice life,” her final words to her.
Before the credits roll, we flash back to Sam’s dream of him and Diane in their old age, slow dancing to “What’ll I Do?”
Shelley Long’s last show as a regular cast member is an episode perfectly written by the Charles brothers, who evidently didn’t want to repeat the tumultuous breakup scene that ended season two. In many ways, this breakup is even more poignant, as it shows the characters wiser, more weathered, and more mature. And there are some great implicit understandings here, as both characters know they’ll never see each other again, but the six-month goodbye is easier for them to deal with, and the buried emotions are far more dramatically effective than expressed ones. And the music coda at the end: beautiful.
Long becomes the first, and last, actor to voluntarily leave the series, and it creates what most people consider the halfway point of the show. It’s appropriate, too, that she goes back to Sumner to write, as she left him in her first episode. Nice bookending! This will also be the last Charles brothers-penned episode until the series finale.
Cold open: Sam explains to Carla why he’s marrying Diane: she gives him that “swooshy” feeling.
Norm’s opener: (During Sam’s dream, when he’s elderly) Sam: “What’s up, Norm?” Norm: “Me, about 30 times a night.”