George Bailey prayed to be allowed to live again, and it started snowing and his mouth started bleeding and Zuzu's petals came back and scary (or awesome, depending on how you see it) Pottersville receded into the mists, never to be heard from again! What does George think of all this?
"YAY!" he screams, seeing the sign welcoming him back to Bedford Falls. (Who actually shouts "YAY!"? Not says, not squeals, but actually, full-throatedly shouts it? Try screaming that word at the top of your lungs sometime. You will be stared at.)
It's close to midnight on Christmas Eve, and Potter is still in his office, alone. George, on his joyous spree down Bedford Falls' main drag, wishes him Merry Christmas, and Potter crabs that George can have a happy holiday in the clink. And that's the last we see of Potter outside that SNL sketch - a sad old man working alone on a holiday and taking bitter pleasure in being the cause of another man's misfortune. An unrepentant Scrooge. Good riddance to him.
Off George runs home, where some stern-looking men are waiting for him. "I'll bet that's a warrant for my arrest," he enthuses. "Isn't it wonderful? I'm going to jail!" (And, in fact, he probably is, even in light of what happens next.) George is happy to see his kids and all, but who he REALLY wants to see is Mary. Which is fitting, because while he was wrestling with life, the universe and everything, Mary was out saving his sorry butt.
She's back now, and you know what happens - the entire town pours in, and just as George once gave away nearly every dollar he had to give Bedford Falls some measure of freedom, they empty their wallets so he's not taken away from them. Everyone tells him how they dug even deeper for him: Martini broke into his own jukebox; Gower called in all his charge accounts. Violet Bick comes in and returns the money the B&L had lent her earlier that day: like George, she's going to sacrifice for the town, because George is the town now.
And then comes a telegram from Sam Wainwright, who is in Europe and whom George failed to reach in his earlier desperation. Luckily, Gower was slightly more persistent: "Mr. Gower cables you need cash STOP My office instructed to advance you up to twenty-five thousand dollars STOP Hee-Haw and Merry Christmas Sam Wainwright."
There's pandemonium in the Bailey house: Mr. Bank Examiner even tosses a few bills onto the pile, and the sheriff tears up the arrest warrant for some reason. The entrance of Harry Bailey, football star and war hero, is almost unnoticed. And tonight, he's OK with that. "To my big brother George - the richest man in town!"
(Aw, jeez, here are those pesky tears again!)
Also, Clarence leaves George a note: he got his wings! Now he can watch home movies of George Bailey whenever he wants! Do you think he can also watch alternate-reality versions - not just It's a Miserable Pottersville, but, like, It's a Wonderful Steampunk Life or It's a Wonderful Life (Even Though the Confederate Army Won the Civil War)? Man, being an angel sounds awesome.
And before Mary can ask who the heck this "very dear friend" of George's is whom she's never heard of even though he only knows people within a 10-mile radius of their house, Zuzu says something cute and the movie ends.
And so has this little series! Thanks for indulging me for the duration. (Thanks also to Mike and AE for their regular comments and helpful links - the script was especially invaluable, Mike.) Happy Epiphany, everyone!