THE SHOW: Chasing Life
THE PAIRING: April Carver (Italia Ricci) and Leo Hendrie (Scott Michael Foster)
THE EPISODES: “The Last W,” “As Long as We Both Shall Live,” and “The Ghost in Me” – aired August 10, 2015, August 17, 2015, and August 24, 2015
THE MOMENT: The epic love story of April and Leo leading up to their wedding and then tragically his death, which then leads April on a scavenger hunt in search of his final letter.
The romantic relationship between April (Italia Ricci) and Leo Hendrie (Scott Michael Foster) on ABC Family’s Chasing Life has been a whirlwind from the start. April is diagnosed with cancer only to cross paths with Leo, an adventurous larger-than-life spirit who helps her learn to live life even though she may be dying. Like her, he has cancer – a brain tumor. But, after a dangerous surgery, he makes it out alive, cancer free and healthy (seemingly anyway). Soon after, Leo proposes and April accepts even though she still might die. These two come together faster than most TV couples, but as Leo explains [they] “might have to do things faster than other people.”
With season two came wedding plans, cancer treatments and best of all…more epic Leo speeches (trust me, if you haven’t seen this show, watch it if only for the amazing Leo speeches. Well, that and the awesome female-driven show that it is. Leo is like a walking, talking, inspirational and very romantic guardian angel). Unfortunately, season two also brought the tragic death of Leo in last week’s all new episode “As Long as We Both Shall Live.” I promise, however, that even though Leo dies it’s better to know him as a character than not.
There’s something about Leo and his bright aura that makes you fall in love with him as much as April does. The Leo/April relationship may, in fact, be one of the best TV relationships to grace the small screen in many years. While still little known, April and Leo are epic in the way Logan and Veronica are epic. Or Scully and Mulder. Or Mick and Beth.
That said, you kind of know from the start Leo is not long for this world. There’s something other-worldly about him. In a way, he’s written to be kind of like April’s guardian angel (even though she too helps him fight his own demons) helping her to keep fighting and to actually chase after life. Still, you watch Chasing Life hoping you’re wrong. Sadly, he dies tragically a month after April and Leo’s wedding in his sleep. Side effects from his surgery.
ROMANTIC MOMENT OF THE WEEK: A TRILOGY OF ROMANCE AND TRAGEDY
When discussing the April and Leo relationship, it’s hard to pick just one romantic moment between them as there have been many. For this week though, I want to talk about a few important moments between April and Leo that occurred in the past three episodes “The Last W,” “As Long As We Both Shall Live,” and “The Ghost in You.” This includes the wedding, his death and then the aftermath. A romantic trilogy of tragedy if you will. It’s hard to talk about one without talking about the other two.
These episodes also include three different epic speeches (I did tell you Leo gives the best ones ever) Leo gives April to show his love as well as a letter written before he met her that makes April (and the audience) love him even more. They also encapsulate and define their relationship in a way I never could.
The romantic moment of the week, in other words, is a tribute to the wonderful character of Leo Hendrie and the amazing love story between April and Leo.
THE LAST W
There are a few romantic moments in the wedding episode that stand out, but I’m going to focus on Leo’s dying wish – which is to marry April.
When April collapses at their wedding, she’s afraid she has spoiled everything. She’s in the hospital while they run tests. Not to mention, she’s still not sure why Leo wanted to marry her in the first place. What if he had proposed to her just because she was dying? Well, Leo sits down next to her and tells her this:
Epic Leo Speech Number One
“You asked me today if I proposed to you because I thought you might be dying. I want you to know the answer to that question is, ‘yes, I did.’ We might have to do things faster than other people, but I’m so madly in love with you, and I knew from the very beginning that I wanted to marry you someday. Someday just came sooner than I thought…Marrying you is my dying wish,” Leo says with tears in his eyes. They kiss happily without her knowing that Leo has something bigger planned up his sleeve.
That something is their wedding. Since she’s too sick to continue their wedding at the church, he moves everything to the hospital – what brought them together in the first place.
During their vows, he says this:
Epic Leo Speech Number Two
“When I first met April, I had a death sentence that I accepted, because it was easier than trying to fight. But then I spent some time with April Carver and every day she finds new ways to show me how special and important and absolutely mind-blowing life can be. Why would I not want to spend the rest of my life with the person who taught me why it was worth fighting for? I love adventures. And I can’t think of a better one than life with you.”
April says her own vows in return which are just as amazing:
Epic April Speech – Because She’s Awesome Too
“I’m so happy the wedding’s in this room. It’s in this very place that I tried to hide from my fears. When things got too hard, I ran away. I ran here. And right here is where you found me. And you taught me that courage isn’t about being unafraid. It’s about giving yourself no other option than to face your fears. A brilliant woman once told me that the foundation of marriage is love, but the reality of it is commitment. I’m so lucky, and so thankful that I get to commit myself to someone who makes me happier, more courageous, and more excited about every new minute of my life.”
The two marry in a beautiful moment that will continue to be a wonderful TV moment to remember for many years to come.
AS LONG AS WE BOTH SHALL LIVE
Everything isn’t easy after April and Leo exchange “I Do’s.” They have some bumps along the way. Leo wants to talk about starting a family in the future while April doesn’t want to talk about a future she’s unsure of. However, the two make up by the end when April puts together an amazing Italian dinner with decorations at their apartment to match (since they can’t go on their honeymoon to Italy). Still, she’s frustrated and tired because of her sickness. Leo, in his final night alive (not knowing this of course), gives April one last epic speech to comfort and inspire April:
Epic Leo Speech Number Three
“April, I know there are some promises you can’t make with full certainty, but people make promises every day not knowing what the future holds. All I’m saying is, we’re no different. I hope, one day when we’re in a rocking chair, I’ll remind you of this conversation, and we’ll laugh about what a waste of energy it was, because in the end…
…we had it all!”
It’s a perfect moment and a perfect ending between the two. It’s also heartbreakingly tragic to have this happy memory lead into tragedy the next morning. Leo will never get to be an old man in a rocking chair. They will never be able to have children together. April will have to go on without him. However, it will always be Leo who taught her to love and live life. And if she ever makes it to live as an old woman, she will rock in that rocking chair alone or with another husband and remember him.
The next morning, still on a high from their perfect evening, April brings him the Italian dessert they never ate that’s still in the fridge.
“Life is short. Let’s have dessert for breakfast,” April says.
But she quickly discovers something’s wrong – he’s not breathing. She cries over him with flashes of memories running through her mind as she calls 9-1-1. But it’s clearly no good. He died in his sleep.
THE GHOST IN YOU
After his death, the heartbroken and inconsolable April uncovers a letter “To be opened after I die” in his belongings. The letter sends her on a scavenger hunt – one last attempt from Leo to keep April alive and out there in the world.
The scavenger hunt leads her to his boat, to the hospital and to the hospital’s roof (where he loved to go all the time) which gives her the final clue. To “go to where [Leo’s] journey will end and climb the boughs of the tree of life.” But April isn’t ready for the final clue, because then that means this adventure – her last adventure with Leo will be over. So she stops and goes home to hide in her room.
In fact, since Leo’s death, April’s been imagining his ghost. The ghost, however, wants to keep her inside to be with him. The exact opposite of what the actual Leo was like. This helps her come to an important realization – “You’re not Leo. The guy who had me out traipsing all over the city today, that was the real Leo…And he’s gone.”
From there, April takes a risk and goes to the “tree of life,” to reach the end of Leo’s scavenger hunt. There, in the tree, she finds one more letter written by Leo.
Leo’s Epic Letter Addressed To The Future Woman He Loves
“If someone is reading this letter, it means a few things: One, I’m dead, which, writing those words I gotta say is a little tough. But, I hope that with this last little bit of time I was able to live every moment to the end. I also hope I touched some people’s lives in a positive way, which might bring me some good Karma because given some of the stuff I’ve done in my life, I’m gonna need it! Lastly, at the time of my diagnosis I realized something – my greatest regret – never knowing what love was. Real love. My hope is that if someone is reading this letter, then that means I did. And if you’re reading this letter, then thank you for being that person, whoever you are.”
In the end, Leo got his dying wish – to know love and to marry the love of his life – April. Now, April will have to move forward, and as tribute to Leo, will need to live and chase after life with everything she’s got. It’s what Leo would have wanted.
In all, if the story of April and Leo isn’t about real, true love, I don’t know what is.
Do you watch Chasing Life? What did you think of the April and Leo relationship? How did you react to Leo dying? Let me know in the comments.
Photo Credit: ABC Family
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