With “The Wrath of the Lamb”, Hannibal wraps up its run, at least for now. While all involved have been qualifying the episode as merely the series finale on NBC, the show has yet to be picked up anywhere else and several key figures have moved on to new projects. Creator Bryan Fuller has mentioned the possibility of the team reuniting for a film at some point down the line, but for the foreseeable future, this is the series finale of Hannibal, and given its bloody, spectacular climax, that feels appropriate.
During its five seasons of television, Six Feet Under managed to craft a narrative that was evocative and emotional, heart-rending and humorous. Alan Ball’s funeral home drama was a show that had a very unique voice, one that spoke to the splintered facets of the heart and mind with equal weight and power. So when the time came for Six Feet Under to take its rightful place in the dirt and dust for good, it was with a finality that echoed into eternity.
After six seasons, Parenthood walked off the field with its head held high, its finale a joyous celebration of the series’ core principles. Much of the final season has felt like a series of foregone conclusions, character beats and plot points easily foreseeable by fans who know the Bravermans well enough to have a strong sense of how they’ll react to their current struggles. That doesn’t mean the journey hasn’t been a satisfying one, however. When Joel and Julia get news of Victor’s sister, everyone watching knows they’ll adopt her, because they’re Joel and Julia and this is Parenthood. Yet their conversation on the dance floor is no less sweet and stirring for this fact. The series has always been one about the messiness, challenges, and rewards that come with family. By the finale, everyone watching is just as much a part of the Braverman clan as the characters themselves, aware of the show’s foibles and maybe a little tired of hearing the same stories repeated at every family function, but holding it in a special place in their heart nonetheless.
Some of the strongest and most wrenching material in Sons of Anarchy’s history came in the early seasons when Jax was actively, and believably, attempting to reroute the aims of the club towards a direction to match his father’s vision. From Jax sitting on the roof of the club reading the elder Teller’s parting manuscript to his frequent visits to the cemetery to gain strength at the foot of his father and brother’s tombstones, the importance of the club’s overarching goals not only supplied some of the best story arcs but the best Charlie Hunnam performances as well. The pre-credits sequence of this week’s episode, the end of a show that has long overstayed its welcome, mirrors those potent early scenes in interesting ways, allowing Jax to once again revisit his earlier choices as the audience follows along. The burning of his father’s papers isn’t overwrought enough to pull the audience out of the moment, and his gentle placement of his rings on Opie and Tara’s graves is true to character and a genuinely tear-worthy moment. In advance of an assumed mayhem vote by the club, Jax’s goodbyes to the symbols of the ones he loved is an important piece of his final journey and the show nails it.
After such a solid final season, True Blood’s finale is almost a disappointment. Too many storylines feel forced or rushed, and the ending, though happy, rings a little false. Of course, the show didn’t exit without releasing a few more shocking surprises–including a pivotal moment that involves the death of a major character since series’s beginning.
So much for our heroes getting stranded miles away from the scene of a genocide then. Despite our belief that Miles and the gang were far away from the room where Truman is about to pour mustard gas onto unwitting Willoughby residents and the Texas president, the crew uses its cunning (and a steam train, presumably) to make it back and derail Truman’s plan. This gives us one of the best one-two punches of the finale: Miles throwing down the very last spit of swordplay we’ll get from this series, and one more classic, resigned Milesism: “Run, you idiots,” he implores to the masses gathered to hear from the Texas and U.S. presidents, while firing a rifle in the air.
It’s easy to search for meaning in a Community episode: given the show’s uber-meta construction, it invites critical dissemination of itself in a very unique way. This includes episodes like “Basic Sandwich”, a story so bare-bones and un-Community, it almost feels as if Dan Harmon and company are teasing us, presenting us what appears to be a lot of loud, anti-climatic nothing, then simply dropping the microphone and walking off-stage. Yes, “Basic Sandwich” technically completes the season’s journey of Saving Greendale – but as “Basic Story” went out of its way to point out, the Save Greendale Committee had already saved Greendale. We knew Greendale wouldn’t become Subwaydale – and having that knowledge from the beginning casts both parts of the finale in a very different light.
Treme finished its four season run this week with “… To Miss New Orleans”, an appropriately reflective and celebratory hour. Unlike last year’s potential series finale, “Tipitina”, this episode focuses on each character’s journey not to a specific place, but forward in their life. Surprisingly, and happily, this episode leaves each character in a good place. Not everyone winds up in New Orleans, but they’ve all made positive motion in their lives and are surrounded by people who understand and support them. Davis has a responsible job he’s good at, but still finds time to still write a new Godzilla vs. MLK single. Antoine may still be fooling around on Mardi Gras, but he’s involved in his sons lives for the first time in the entire series. Terry and Annie leave town, but Terry gets to be with his children and Annie continues to blossom as an artist. Everyone gets a win in some way or another this week and this fond, perhaps overly sunny farewell is more than most viewers will have hoped for.
Homicide: Life on the Street was created as a show about “thinking cops” with actors who didn’t fit the typical mold for network TV. They were overweight, balding, and dressed like real cops. The landmark television series was highly influential and set the stage for captivating shows like The Wire and The Shield. By the time it reached its seventh season, Homicide had changed dramatically from its original format. The basic model of investigating murders remained, but the cast was younger and prettier. Even so, original cast members Clark Johnson (Lewis), Kyle Secor (Bayliss), Yaphet Kotto (Giardello), and Richard Belzer (Munch) kept it from feeling too much like a departure. The final season was its most inconsistent and had low points that you wouldn’t expect. The killings were more sensational, and action scenes became more commonplace.
In the television world there is a very important concept that every show must consider if it wants to be taken seriously: verisimilitude. Simply put, verisimilitude is the appearance of being real. The audience very well knows that the characters that appear on the screen night after night are make believe and the stories are made up, but it’s essential that the creators of that television show make the audience believe.