In the end, the same thing that brought down the Chanels was also the major letdown with Scream Queens as a whole: the need to be right. The exact smugness that doomed the crew of blonde psychopaths at the center of this story was the season itself’s main misstep, and one that was doubled down upon rather than made more subtle as it progressed.
In the crushing aftermath of Chuck’s betrayal in last weeks penultimate episode, the season finale moves at a surprisingly quiet pace, working mainly as a character study for the man who will one day be known as Saul Goodman, while filling in some of the blank marks of the time line as established thus far.
The decisions Togetherness makes in its season finale are poignant and borderline tragic not just because of what they mean for these characters’ futures, but because the entire season has been leading up to some manifestation of these confrontations. The slow sense of foreboding that has surrounded Michelle and Brett’s marriage or Alex and Tina’s friendship allows the audience to marinate in the anticipation of a catastrophe, making the end points of each of the four in “Not So Together” much more gut wrenching than if they were to arrive completely out of left field.
The entirety of the Agent Carter finale feels like the writers’ room looked at their board of index cards cataloguing ongoing storylines and realized they’d bitten off more than they could wrap up effectively in eight quick episodes. In these last hours, ignored relationships fly back in (literally and figuratively) as quickly as they were scrapped half a season ago, the climax is kept decidedly small-scale and simple, and multiple shortcuts leave everything a bit un-factchecked and everyone a bit out of character for the sake of squeezing in the most important beats. The worst part about these shortcuts is that if some superfluous scenes had been removed, those wasted minutes could have been spent filling in details elsewhere. For example, the only true reason that the “6 months earlier” cut scene with Dottie and Howard Stark is important is because Bridget Regan looks gorgeous in that black evening gown. It doesn’t offer up any new information or insight into the characters; even Howard’s memory fails to get jogged about that earlier weekend once he’s in the hanger. Instead of inserting unnecessary tidbits such as that one, the finale would have been better off fleshing out more of the underserved specifics of the resolution.
While Gracepoint hasn’t packed the same emotional wallop of Broadchurch, its source material, it has maintained a consistent level of intrigue, melancholy, and family drama, all aided by strong performances from a number of its central actors. For the majority of its ten episode run, the show has been exciting but it has struggled towards the end of the season.
The first season finale of Kingdom, appropriately titled “King Beast”, is more interesting for what it doesn’t do than what it does. Namely, that the episode contains no overreactions to the events of fight day. There is a complete lack of build up to the fights both Ryan and Jay have been working for months for which to prepare. Both fighters are loose at Navy Street during final preparations, if not totally relaxed. Jay is his usual sarcastic self throughout the entire day, keeping everybody around him in good spirits as the fights inch closer. Even in the stew room, surrounded by nervous family and friends, the tension doesn’t overwhelm the excitement of the battle. Ryan is visibly coiled up inside ready to burst but not in a way that overwhelms his chances in the ring, it is clearly just the way he prepares compounded by the nervousness brought on by his return after so long away.
Hell on Wheels’ fourth season has been complicated. While mostly disappointing, it has featured moments of great emotional depth and viewers have had to say goodbye to Elam (Common) and Ruth (Kasha Kropinski) in episodes that were deeply effecting and have changed the course of the show and its main character Cullen Bohannon (Anson Mount) indefinitely.
Hold on. This episode was promoted as the season finale, and all research online confirms this to be true. But this is not a season finale episode of television. It would’ve been much more effective in the middle of the first season, and even then it would’ve been a rather middling hour. Was anyone really hoping to find out in the season’s last episode whether Eph would relapse and drink again? Was that a payoff someone was counting on? Truth be told, that could almost be considered one of the peaks of the episode. Strap in, guys, this is going to be depressing.
Orphan Black season two comes to a close with one of the more predictable twists this season could have brought, expanding the world of the Dyad Group and introducing a whole new slew of possibilities for season three. Unfortunately, the limited scope of the Dyad Group was not an issue this year, and further complicating it does not help rectify the largest problem still plaguing the series. At the end of two seasons, Orphan Black does not have any meaningful antagonists.
Season four of Louie has been an unusual one, even compared to the other seasons of this unique show. After seasons of standalone shorts and only a couple multiple-episode arcs, Louis C.K. dove in head first with three large-scale stories, “Elevator” (parts one-six), “In The Woods”, and “Pamela” (parts one-three). While each is distinct, these three pieces all explore connection and communication, both verbal and nonverbal. “Elevator” sees Louie pursuing and enjoying a relationship with Amia, with whom he is unable to verbally communicate, but it also shows him becoming involved in the lives of his neighbors and confronting the lingering damage of his divorce, to himself as well as his ex-wife Janet and their daughters. Throughout “Elevator”, Louie assumes. He’s so wrapped up in his experience and his fears that he projects all of his onto the women in his life, reading his insecurities in their silence. He attempts to overcome communication barriers by speaking louder and more emphatically and in the process, doesn’t listen to what those around him are trying to say.
There couldn’t be a better song choice to open The Americans’s second season finale than Golden Earring’s “Twilight Zone”. Not only does it add atmosphere to the situation unfolding, but it speaks metaphorically to every running plot of the season, right down to the most important question it asks over and over: “Where am I to go now that I’ve come too far?” Every character has to face this question at some point during the events of “Echo” (and for characters like Emmett and Leann, even earlier) – and as “Twilight Zone” so succinctly points out, “soon you will know/when the bullet hits the bone.”
The greatest achievement of From Dusk till Dawn: The Series is that it is so magnificently weird and bizarre. It has managed to take all the best things from the film, that gonzo over-the-top bloodbath gorefest that was funny and self-aware all at once, and translate it to TV while also making its own way.
The Good Wife is a show that exists constantly with about a dozen different balls in the air, seemingly figuring out midstream which will work and which are better discarded. The show’s fifth season is among its best in part because it quickly figured out which stories to discard (Marilyn and her baby, Damian and his crime ties, etc.) and because it started to more regularly work that juggling into Alicia’s life, as she struggled to keep control of work, her personal life, and all of the political machinations she gets caught up in. She never lost control, because Alicia Florrick never loses control, but season five danced her closer to the edge than ever before. And in the process, she learned to like, at least a little bit, the idea of letting go. More than that, though, she liked feeling like she was finally, at least a little bit, in control.
Glee’s “The Untitled Rachel Berry Project” feels more like a series finale than a season than a season finale. Even though there are 13 episodes left to go before the show’s real end, I’m sure most of that time will be spent tying up loose ends. As the New York crew is going there separate ways and there is a growing hole where that rambunctious glee club used to be.
“Blond Ambition” ends Grimm’s third season atypically, without the now expected “To Be Continued” “Witty Phrase” title cards. Instead of the cliffhangers of the previous finales, we leave Nick and crew in a holding pattern: Capt. Renard is on his way to the hospital and a lengthy recovery, Monroe and Rosalee are presumably off to their wedding reception and honeymoon, and Nick’s no longer a Grimm. Unlike last year’s zombie infection, there’s no ticking clock—it’s likely when we return for season four, Nick may have spent the summer as a normie, make that Kehrseite-Schlich-Kennen. The only lingering, time-sensitive question is Adalind. How long will it take her to realize that Viktor doesn’t have baby Diana?
Arrow’s exciting second season finale really likes to hit the nail directly on the head with its main character in a number of scenes – so it’s no surprise the most effective moment of the entire season is when Arrow stops explaining Oliver’s transformation from vigilante to hero and just shows it to us. The scene inter cutting Arrow and Deathstroke’s fight in the present with their altercation on The Amazo is a defining moment for the show’s hero, and the series as a whole: it brings the two big story lines of the show together in epic fashion – and more importantly, defines just how different Oliver on Lian Yu, differs from the hero we see saving Starling City throughout “Unthinkable”.
I’m a fan of Ocean’s Eleven. Ocean’s Thirteen, too, though we shan’t discuss the muddled wreck that was Ocean’s Twelve; and besides, that’s besides the point. The point is, both of these hustle films were required to con the audience by disguising their primary twist as part of their very makeup. But when a novel shortlisted for the Man Booker employs such a twist with no particular narrative reasoning, or a piece of long form television does the same, it comes as a bit of a slap in the face.