The Silver Lining | Season Finales

I’ve been terribly busy the last few days and haven’t had much time for blogging. I really am trying to get a bunch of reviews up from recent reads. Hopefully I can get that up tomorrow. Since I’m not ready for that yet and I’m low on writing topics (and haven’t had a chance to prepare the next book trailer tutorial), I’m going to give some thoughts on season finales and endings since that does kind of pertain to writing, even if it is in a different medium.

Stories all have beginnings, middles, and endings. I usually rock beginnings and have no problem coming up with something hooky. And for some reason, I rarely suffer from the middle of the book sag. It’s endings that are a pain. I usually rewrite mine several times from various angles until I get one that works. All this means that I pay very close attention to season finales, trying to study them and understand how they recap endings.

Now, a lot of finales are judged by cliff hangers. The previous seasons of LOST, for example, have twisted things up in a surprising way most viewers didn’t see coming. Each of these twists led to a major plot game changer that revealed a story arc for the upcoming season. For example, the season 3 twist where Jack was actually in a flash forward instead of a flash back led to the story of the Oceanic six and how they got off the island and what happened there. Game changer. Before that, we had no idea they would get off the island. This season, however, I found the end rather predictable. I mean, they basically told us the bomb would go off and so it wasn’t really a game changer for me as much as something we were all expecting. Not giving us a glimpse of what would happen next is a let down since I had already known the bomb would go off. That all being said, the bomb did cap off the season-long arc nicely. The season was split into three acts.

Act 1: The Oceanic Six try to get back on the island while the remaining castaways jumped through time
Turning point 1: Locke to spins the donkey wheel, the Oceanic Six get on the Ajira flight.
Act 2: The middle arc answered the question–where in time would the castaways land once they stopped jumping through it? Then it showed us how the castaways adjusted to being thrust into 1970s Dharma ville and also showed how the Oceanic Six had to finagle their way in it as well.
Act 2 turning point: Sayid kills Ben, forcing Kate to make a decision that compromises the castaway’s cover
Act 3: The Dharma people (and the weird shadow-of-the-statue people) discover the castaways don’t belong and the castaways scramble to survive and get out of there. This obviously lead to a finale in both story arcs. I think one timeline had a better ending. Locke killing Jacob wasn’t a story arc we’d watched evolve all season long. It was an entirely new story designed to propel us into the next season (I presume) since it really only came about in the last two episodes. The dharma story line did have an appropriate ending. Whatever the bomb did–it ended their time travel. Either they will die, they will rewrite history, or the white flash indicates they’ve time traveled back to the present. It wrapped up the season long story. So as disappointing as the finale was to what I had expected, it did cap off the storytelling.

The interesting thing about Lost to me is each season really feels like a separate novel in a series as much as each season of say, Buffy the Vampire Slayer centered on defeating one specific bad guy while each season of Veronica Mars centered on a season-long mystery that needed to be solved. Both those shows are defined by their arcs. Lost had the same thing. Season 1: the island’s mysteries plus what is the hatch. Season 2: the hatch. Season 3: the others. Season 4: the freighters plus getting off the island. Season 5: Time travel plus getting back to the island. And season 6 seems to be about Jacob vs his anthithesis and the war (between Widmore and the losties? Between Jacob and Anti-Jacon? We shall see).

Desperate Housewives is another that does a good job of wrapping up all their existing storylines while still giving a hint of new ones. I’ve found their season-long mysteries weak each year, but the draw for me on the show is premise of housewives doing desperate things to get out of their predicaments. So I’m always willing to overlook the mysteries since its the smaller weekly-storylines I’m invested in.

Gossip Girl – To me this season was about Chuck and Blair. I vastly preferred the first half of the season where they teased each other with a will-they-or-won’t-they game of cat and mouse, reversing each time. In the second half of the season, they tried to distract the characters from this plotline so it wouldn’t get stale, but mostly I noticed its absence. Last year, I felt like the characters had taken a step back from growth, particularly Chuck, when he abandoned Blair and reverted to his male slut ways. I had wished it went the opposite–that Blair had abandoned and he was left in the aftermath of finally admitting feelings only to be turned down. This year the story went the opposite way, he finally did admit his feelings and Blair returned them wholeheartedly. I had wished Chuck would have said "I Love you" first this time, but I still think he’s finally grown as a character and I hope he stays this way. So the season finale really did wrap this story line nicely.

Grey’s Anatomy — The twist with George really caught me off guard, and when someone surprises me since I usually try really hard to figure out future storylines or mystery solutions, I’m always very impressed. Some red herring spoilers had leaked and I think I got distracted by those (I was expecting Shannon Lucio’s lovelorn victim of George’s heroism to actually turn out to be Izzie’s long lost daughter). I wasn’t crazy about the Izzie/Denny ghost sex this season, nor about Izzie herself, but I have to admit this episode capped a season long arc that really changed her as a character and everyone around her. I’m not surprised by the cliff hanger of who-lived-who-died, but I think either way, the characters will be forever changed by this episode’s event, paving the way for a new season story arc.

And last but not least…I just want to point out that back in February, I totally called Kris as the final two contestant. I know the tween girl audience well and knew they would be hooked by his smile! Sadly, I’d predicted that Adam would be an early boot because I thought people might not like his theatrics. Wow, was I wrong. Turned out he mesmerized me all season long! Anyway, if Adam wins tonight, I actually will win a lot of money since I’m the only one who had Kris leaving in the final #2 and I’m already in 1st place out of over 100 people with my excellent predictions. In the weekly eliminate contest (where we pick the boot on Wednesday night after they sing each week), I am not doing so hot. Vote For the Worst always sways me in the wrong direction as I tend to think they are an unstoppable force and will always get their pick through to the next week. Doh! So good luck Adam.

What finales did you like best? Worst? Which wrapped up the season long story arcs well and which were a let down?

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2 Responses

  1. I was so, so pleased with the Battlestar Galactica finale. Even if you’re not a sci-fi fan, you can’t beat the character arcs, storylines, amazing writing and amazing acting in that show. Without giving any spoilers, I thought the finale did a stellar (pun intended) job of wrapping up plotlines–including something I was SURE they had forgotten about–answering questions, creating a few more questions for the viewer to leave with, etc.

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