Zena’s Worst TV Finales
The actual final episode of Prison Break was fine. ‘Killing Your Number’, the 22nd episode of the fourth season, was a satisfying finale. The Company gets taken down, the Fox River Eight’s names are cleared, and T-Bag is put back behind bars. It wasn’t too convenient a conclusion though, with one scene suggesting that Kellerman never manages to fully redeem himself, and a twist at the end revealing that Michael dies not long after defeating The Company. The most satisfying thing, however, was seeing that after 81 episodes of running from the law, The Company and each other, Lincoln, Michael, Sucre, Sara and Mahone are finally free. The producers could have left it there, but for some reason they felt the need to keep going. With one final hour of Prison Break, they ruined the sense of closure that came with ‘Killing Your Number’. In Prison Break: The Final Break, the TV movie which aired after Season 4 finished, Sara is randomly arrested for the murder Christina Scofield. That in itself is completely implausible – Sara spends almost four years helping take down a corrupt secret organisation run by murderers in suits, but she is still imprisoned for killing its leader. Another ludicrous thing about the plot of The Final Break is that Sara, the wife of a man who breaks out of two maximum security prisons in the space of two years, is not put in some kind of impenetrable fortress guarded by dragons. Obviously she was going to get broken out! And when she does, it renders all four seasons of Prison Break entirely pointless. Why did Michael & Co. work so hard to take down The Company and clear their own names when they were just going to be on the run forever anyway? And why should we believe that this breakout (the third breakout, by the way) is going to stick? None of the others did. Even if they never do end up in prison again, they will still always be on the run. The Final Break basically brought us back to where we were at the end of Season 1.
To be fair, the finale was never going be completely satisfying. There were way too many unanswered questions and loose ends for a proper resolution to even be possible. The writers had dug themselves into a hole long before the finale, but ‘The End’, the last ever episode of J. J. Abrams’s drama, was shockingly bad. The producers refused to answer any of the questions they had been building up to, which was frustrating. A lot of viewers had waited patiently for six years to find out what specifically made the island so special, what the flash sideways were, and what was up with Walt. ‘The End’ provided answers to absolutely none of these questions, and the writers thought that they could explain everything away with love and magic. Apparently, if you have enough love in your heart, then you can make polar bears appear on tropical islands. The show appealed to sci-fi fans, so “it was magic” is just not an acceptable answer. It proved that the producers never understood the show’s core fan base. People were expecting something logical like electromagnetism, which seemed like the direction the show was heading until random Egyptian statues started appearing on the island. Equally frustrating were the disgustingly sentimental closing scenes, which showed the characters weeping and hugging each other in heaven. It added absolutely nothing to the plot, and if fans wanted a show which was about how much the characters loved each other then they would have watched One Tree Hill or something else sickeningly romantic. The finale was so unclear that it left people wondering if the characters had actually been dead the whole time. A lot of fans just thought that the island was purgatory, despite the fact that the producers had always insisted, and continue to insist, that this was definitely not the case. The final episode of Lost just proved that the producers never knew where they were going, what they were doing, or how they were ever going to answer the hundreds of questions they’d asked. They might as well have just aired 60 minutes of troll face.
Tom’s Worst TV Finales
I’ll admit I’d started to go off How I Met Your Mother in the final few seasons. The characters began to grate on me, the plot started to feel stale and I suddenly and rather dramatically became aware that the whole thing reeked of excessive sentimentality and syrupy sweet wisdom bites of a “the thing about life is…” vein. Not to mention the way in which the show became bogged down by the kind of indulgent, self referential in-jokes which signaled that it had gone on for far, far too long. I still came back for the finale though. I wasn’t particularly worried that the ending would anger me, with How I Met Your Mother having, as I say, long descended into a saccharine farce. I was basically expecting to see a painfully cheesy, feel-good finale and be done with it. It wouldn’t have been world changing, but it would have been both appropriate and logical considering the kind of show that Carter Bays and Craig Thomas had been making for the last nine years. In case you haven’t guessed, that isn’t what happened. I’m not going to spoil, because some readers may not have seen it who still wish to, but suffice to say that whilst the ending admittedly was drippy as all hell, it wasn’t even faintly consistent with a show whose key themes were a defence of lifelong love and romantic optimism, themes which the final episode more or less threw straight out of the window. It was almost as if the producers discovered tragically too late that they weren’t at all clever, and feeling the pressure of the seemingly unwritten rule of modern television that you must have a twist ending, did the actual first thing which came to mind, essentially doing an ending that was depressing, but pointlessly so. It was depressing for the sake of a twist that was so obvious that people started predicting it about midway through the pilot episode. It occurs to me now, in hindsight, that How I Met Your Mother could have actually been one of those chain messages which were pretty big online a few years ago, where the boy gives the girl his heart via transplant so she can live and leaves her a note saying “I told u mi heart was yours forEvar”. The only difference is that those are only a couple of paragraphs long whether as this show went on for NINE FREAKING YEARS.
Ashes to Ashes
The ending to popular BBC police drama Ashes to Ashes is terrible for two main reasons. Firstly, because its predecessor, Life on Mars, had an ending which was considered next to perfect. Secondly because “they were dead all along” is one up from “it was all a dream” in the list of bullshit ending clichés. While a large number of critics seemed to praise the Ashes to Ashes finale on the basis that it did resolve the core issue of why 21st century detectives kept being transported back in time after being shot, I felt they were rather missing the point. The reason the Life on Mars ending was so good is it gave its fans exactly what they wanted. Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes were both in essence, funny shows with a good deal of heart, and while I can’t strictly think of a better way to explain the key mystery of the show, it would have been ultimately better left unexplained. The whole time travel business mainly just served the purpose of ensuring the show didn’t turn purely into a nostalgic remake of The Sweeney, while at the same time acting as a comedic set up for most of the series’ best jokes. Showing us through the modern protagonists that whilst the time periods that the two shows were set in were both highly recognisable, they were completely alien to us watching on flat screen TVs in our 21st century living rooms. That, for me, was quite profound enough without the show having to resort to a hackneyed, quasi-religious ending which flew seemingly out of nowhere. Ultimately, the show’s producers probably should have gone out on the high of Life on Mars, but even the obvious ending to Ashes to Ashes (i.e she just wakes up) would have been better than what we actually got. It puts me in mind of a Fry quote from Futurama where he says of TV audiences that “clever things make them feel stupid”. Well, the ending of Ashes to Ashes certainly wanted to be clever, and it made me feel stupid for wishing it hadn’t tried to be.
The thing about the ending of Firefly was… oh no that’s right, I remember now. There was no grand finale of Firefly because it got cancelled after one season. I’LL KILL YOU, FOX! I SWEAR TO GOD, I’LL KILL YOU!