Okay okay, I promise I’ll move beyond the TV show posts, just have to get down these thoughts that have been haunting my mind lately.
Note — This post/article/rant/younameit contains spoilers for the following TV shows: The Walking Dead, Hannibal, How I Met Your Mother, Dexter, Lost, Parks and Recreation, Suits, and Breaking Bad. If you’re not caught with them and you do not want spoilers, please locate the shiny red ‘x’ button and fly away somewhere safe.
It is my opinion that a TV show’s strongest potential lies within the finale episodes. Assuming that the first few, or even just the premiere episode of a season captures your interest, you’re likely to stick with the season hoping what you saw at the beginning will get even better. Taking Hannibal as an example, the season 2 premiere starts with a showdown between Hannibal Lecter and Jack Crawford, it can’t get better than that! Of course you soon realize this is just a glimpse of the future, we move back to previous events right after that scene. But the point is, you’re shown what you can expect by the end of the season, and you’re practically hooked for the rest of it. Not that I needed any more reasons to watch Hannibal, but it definitely works in their advantage.
However, whether or not I’m satisfied with the season would depend on that actual finale that features said scene I’ve been waiting for all that time. You’re showing me the candy you have in store, and I’ll gladly pay the price, but if that candy ain’t no good, you might not see me back for more. Hannibal’s season 2 finale takes place tomorrow, on the 23rd, so I can’t comment yet on whether or not it will be as fantastic as we all hope it will be, though the whole season has been great. But, again, if the end goal is not good, it would lower the value of the whole walk to said goal. The Walking Dead‘s finales, for example, are simply mind-blowing, and are probably the main reason I still watch the show. I find quite a few of the episodes to be rather boring with no progress whatsoever (and no, they’re not character development episodes, they’re simply filler material since those specific episodes do not contribute to the story or the characters at all — I still strongly believe the show could have less but stronger episodes if they just cut off some of the watching-grass-grow elements), but they keep doing these finales that ensure I come back next year for another season.
The finale of finales, the ending episode of a show, has that same impact multiplied by 10. I can still feel the disappointed some great shows have left me with their ending whenever I think of them. A rather recent example would be How I Met Your Mother‘s final episode. You know, where in the first half we got everything that the show was working toward through all their seasons, and then in the second half we see it all crumble down and we get the complete opposite. I keep seeing “it was logical” in defense of the ending, which makes no sense really. HIMYM was never logical, no episode was fully logical, it is a comedy and it had only one goal — to show how Ted met the mom. Somewhere along the way, they realized they’re making big bucks so they decided to have a full season leading to Robin and Barney’s wedding, in addition to showing the kids’ mom and having the fans become closer with her. And all that was undone in several minutes when the mom dies, the kids show absolutely no emotion regarding that, and they push Ted to go to Robin who divorced Barney (who went back to his old slutty ways but got a girl pregnant and he “fell in love” with his daughter) because her work was too important to make any sacrifice.
I’m well aware that they had this ending filmed back when the show started. However, that is no excuse for going along with it. The show went longer than planned, had a lot more content that initially planned, obviously, so that “old ending” no longer fit there. Ted and Robin kept going back and forth that them being together in the end is absolutely the last thing I wanted to see.
A similar case, but on a smaller level, took place with Dexter‘s finale. After realizing that he cannot change who he is and that those around him would always be in danger, he has Hannah and Harrison leave the country while he disappears with his boat. That would have been an average ending, leaving up to our imagination on what actually happens afterward. But they decided to show him working as a lumberjack, apparently living with the consequences his actions left him. The issue with this? Well, if he managed to become a peaceful Buddha lumberjack, that means he can go back to Hannah and Harrison. If he still posed danger to those around him, then why wasn’t he shown doing the oh so lovely deaths he used to do? Shake my head in disbelief.
A complete opposite of the Lost ending, which added more questions than resolving the plethora of mysteries we already had going. Yet I cannot decide which one was worse. It’s not about closure, giving us something that says “well, this show is over”, but rather about finalizing the story you told, the story the fans have so faithfully followed for years. You owe the audience at least that, a proper ending. It doesn’t have to be anything Disney-like (heck, I’m all for the harsh, cruel endings), but something that will truly complete the tale.
I feel like Parks and Recreation just schooled every other show on that front with their season 6 finale. Yes, it wasn’t even the actual last episode of the show, but I can guarantee you if that was in fact the last episode, 99% of the fans would have been satisfied. Leslie met Michelle Obama, the Mouse Rats reunited for the Unity Concert which also featured a Lil Sebastian hologram, Tom finally has a good business going thanks to all his friends, Leslie accepted the National Parks job but managed to find a way to work in Pawnee thanks to Ron who was fixing the third floor throughout the season, and we fast-forward in time to actually see this. If that wasn’t enough, we see Leslie’s triplets, and a cameo from Jon Hamm (Mad Men) being fired by Leslie because he was apparently worse than Garry, Jerry, Larry, Terry. Seriously, the episode had everything (with the exception of Ann and Chris) that a fan would want from the actual ending, it was that good!
They might yet screw up the actual ending, but the writing is so brilliant I doubt that’s possible. Let’s move to something that’s already over though — Breaking Bad. It kept going better and better and I was rather worried that moving up the ladder all the time would lead to an inevitable downfall with the ending. Oh boy, was I wrong. And I’ve never been that glad to be wrong. The highlight, and likely the best episode on TV ever was definitely S5E14 – Ozymandias, but the two following afterward, Granite State and Felina, provided a rather bittersweet yet satisfying ending. I kept imagining possible scenarios for the end and I didn’t like any of them, so thank you Vince Gilligan for providing that unique one that felt just right. Heisenberg manages to pull a final mastermind act to save Jesse, while losing his own life. But obviously ensures that the money he worked so hard to obtain will eventually be given to his family. There’s a reason why everyone was, is, and likely will still be talking about Breaking Bad for a while.
Last, but not least, I’d like to give some credit to Suits. I feel like it’s this baby show that no many are aware of but it will eventually have its BOOM because they deserves it with the outstanding writing and acting. Its finales never disappoint, are full of twists and misleading plots, and they make the impossible quite possible — I don’t believe I can ever sit down and watch full seasons of any other lawyer show. Might be because it is not your typical courtroom lawyers, but still, season after season even when I think the show might start losing its juice and will likely end soon, they spin things around and bring enough freshness for me to crave at least a few more seasons. These lawyers have some tricks up their sleeves, and they know how to use them.
So, to sum up, if you’re going to do a finale for a season or for the end of a show, make it bloody count. Because it will have an impact on who continues to watch your show, and who praises or curses your show after it’s all done.