You should start to smell something fishy about Nick Skolka (The O.C. dad Peter Gallagher) — brand new billionaire husband to Grace and Frankie’s titular Grace Hanson (Jane Fonda) — before the end of the Netflix comedy’s sixth season. You might notice Nick is off doing “business,” whatever it is, a little too much. You may find yourself asking, “Where is he, and why isn’t he ever at home with Grace?” And what is his actual industry, and why can’t that supposed billion-dollar business fund Grace’s newest venture, the Rise Up toilet?
Finale “The Change” reveals all: Nick has been lying about his business and his finances. Nick is going to jail for now, and could be heading to prison for good. It’s a twist that changes everything for the final season of Grace and Frankie (Netflix has already confirmed the upcoming seventh season will be its last).
The sitcom sets up its biggest change yet in the final act of, well, “The Change.” Earlier in the episode, Grace realizes she doesn’t exactly want to be married to Nick. Instead, she wants their relationship to return to how it was when they were just dating. Grace returns to her penthouse with Nick to share this revelation, but he has his own surprise to divulge: He is a criminal. The FBI arrives at the Hanson-Skolka residence to arrest Nick for felonies like securities fraud and tax evasion. Nick even knows the federal agent handcuffing him, and a no-nonsense woman named Karin.
Nick has been lying about his shady business dealings since he married Grace, if not longer.
All of a sudden, much of Nick’s bizarre behavior makes sense to Grace. Chief among those lightbulb moments is the reason Nick sold the sculpture Grace had been using for elaborate leverage to get off of the toilet as an octogenarian. At the time, Nick claimed he was trying to get rid of an art piece he believed his wife hated. In reality, he needed the money. That is the same reason Nick’s ex-wife and business partner Miriam (Gallagher’s Zoey’s Infinite Playlist wife Mary Steenburgen) was selling off paintings from the Hanson-Skolkas’ art collection earlier in the season — the money.
The freezing of Grace’s credits cards, which is an earlier and initially unexplained gag in “Change,” is to blame on the FBI operation. The cards were likely canceled by the government to ensure a billionaire like Nick couldn’t flee the country. Nick knew he was about to be arrested, and that is why he kept calling Grace during her early episode interactions with Frankie. Nick wanted to explain to Grace what was going to happen before he was officially charged and carted off to jail by Karin.
Grace’s world has been completely rocked, and not even in the way she wanted. Still, the loss of Nick may be precisely the stepping stone Grace needs to get everything she wants. With Nick is jail, Grace has secured the marital space she so desperately wants by the midpoint of “Change.” Then, when Frankie realizes Nick dropped a clue on his way to jail, Grace has the lynchpin to the Rise Up toilet’s success.
“Sit on that couch you hate, and you might just figure out how to rise up,” a cuffed Nick obscurely says in the elevator out of the building. When Grace relays this information to Frankie, her BFF decides there must be something hiding inside of the impossibly hard sofa. Frankie is correct. Frankie takes a box cutter out of her bag — she thought it was a pack of gum — and tears into the furniture piece. Frankie finds piles of $100 bills inside of what should be a regular old cushion. No wonder Grace hated sitting on the couch so much — she was perched on $50,000 in cold hard cash.
Grace and Frankie now have the money necessary to fund the Rise Up.
However, this win leads the best friends to an inevitable outcome that is six seasons in the making. As Grace and Frankie head to the beach house to while away their days as Nick is behind bars, they find their respective ex-husbands, Robert Hanson (Martin Sheen) and Sol Bergstein (Sam Waterston), waiting for them. The Rise Up flooded their home, forcing the men to live in the beach house for the foreseeable future. Although Grace and Frankie moved to the beach house to escape their cheating spouses, all four parts of this — now settled — romantic mess will have to cohabitate. To make matters worse, the men believe Grace and Frankie should reimburse them for their Rise Up troubles.
Nick’s betrayal has left Grace and Frankie on the perfect road to making their dreams come true in the seventh and final season of their comedy. If only the other men in their lives don’t ruin it all for them.