It's been over seven years since Ryan Murphy's beloved medical drama, #NipTuck, aired its heartbreaking finale. As the staff of McNamara/Troy bid their final goodbyes, a series antagonist from Season 2 made her return, and in doing so, further set in motion a chain of events that would lead Ava into becoming the worst nightmare the doctors could never have prepared for.
But is some of that hate and perceived villainy projected at Ava's character a little misplaced? During #FamkeJanssen's arc on the former FX drama, she infused her character with the powers of intimidation, seduction, and overwhelming intelligence to mold the show into what it became from Season 2 onward. It is because of Ava Moore that the show was able to evolve and continue to thrive in some of the best ways possible, so time to recognize that Ava Moore may have actually been the hero of the surgical drama series.
Despite Everything, She Was A Good Life Coach
Introduced in Season 2 as a life coach, Ava was recruited by Dr. McNamara (Dylan Walsh) to aid his wife in overcoming struggles he couldn't understand and she couldn't explain without destroying him. With a no-holds-barred attitude, Ava took to the challenge and within a matter of a few episodes, completely immersed herself into the ongoings of the McNamara/Troy family dynamic.
In terms of character development, I'll turn to Joely Richardson's Julia McNamara first to further elaborate. When we met Julia, she was this guarded imitation of herself who'd let time and remorse mold her into something she never wanted to be. Ava came in and broke free the beast trapped within, giving Julia meaning and purpose, forcing her to unburden herself from a damning secret she'd kept for almost 20 years. As Julia said to Ava later on,
"If it wasn't for you and the truths you forced, I wouldn't be able to stand up to you today."
Ava opened Sean's eyes to lies he'd been living, breaking him free of Julia and her of him, which was the best thing that could've ever happened for both characters. They all loved one another, but they no longer had to pretend to be in love with each other.
As for Christian, for a long time, he was a coward. When faced with certain obstacles, he would most often choose the easy way out. In his final confrontation with Ava, she forced him, maybe a little unorthodoxly, to conquer her, to overcome this power she'd held over his head. In doing so, he was able to reclaim some of that fire to do what needed to be done.
Secrets Have A Way Of Breaking The Surface
It didn't take fans long to figure out the truth Julia was hiding. Christian's paternity of the MacNamara's son was confirmed later on when Julia took a sample of her son's DNA to be tested, to suss out her own suspicions of who Matt's real father was. Though Ava would end up using this secret later on to blackmail Christian into silence, it proved to be quite effective at breaking the family free of the self-imposed prisons they'd locked themselves in.
These characters evolved to be more independent, free of emotional restriction, and open to the possibility of finding some semblance of peace in a world wrought with turmoil and chaos. She showed them that they can have happiness, but they must be willing to acknowledge and accept themselves as they really are, not what society thinks they should be.
The Gray Area Is Much Deeper Than We Know
As depressing as it is, the world is not the well-maintained and perfectly structured place we all envision. In Nip/Tuck, many of the characters were just coming out of their rich, suburban, fantasy lives to see the world as it really was, as it had been when they were in their youth. For Ava, there was never any illusion about how the world really worked. In the series, as the main characters attempted time and time again to regain this sense of normalcy and put their blinders to the real world back on, because of Ava, it just wasn't possible.
Her life was a mess. She married a man she loved that could never love her back. She slept with her own adopted son and then Matt, another teenager, later on. For her, there was much indecency in the world, so much that had set a path in motion, it would ultimately end up becoming the only road she'd ever know. Before transitioning to a woman, as a young gay man in the '80s and '90s, life's cruelties were never more evident, so she made sure everyone else saw this too.
In the series finale, as she reemerged to once again shatter what remained of characters' false world views, tearing down lies everyone was built to believe, some since childhood. Ava told Sean the story of the bird handler who painted the strongest of his birds a different color. The bird returned to its flock and they immediately killed it. She explained to be different is to lead a life of pain and persecution. When Sean disagreed, she put the mirror right to his face.
"Look at this place, you're the high priest of conformity. You dance around the golden calf shouting how you look is who you are. Different is just another word for ugly. I'm not the monster, Sean. I'm just one of its victims."
Ava broke characters down so that they might be able to rebuild themselves. As her husband, played by Alec Baldwin, once remarked, she was the ultimate creature of transformation transforming others. What's remarkable is that it took us six seasons to see just how true that actually was.