Finale Fever


In the land of network television, the month of May can mean only one thing. Say it with me kids, ‘Season Finale!’ Good or bad, season finales are always an interesting proposition. The fact that a creative team attempts to encapsulate an entire season of plot lines into one episode is impressive. Unfortunately, the 44-minute format seems to best even the most skilled and determined productions. Keeping this in mind, the 2010-2011 gave us a quite a few duds but also managed to squeak out some interesting season-enders.

Castle


I can honestly say that Castle is one of the most fun hours currently on network television. It’s an engaging police procedural infused with a very healthy dose of humor. The cast has a genuine dramatic and comedic chemistry AND Nathan Fillion is aces as the title character. So far, the series-long mystery of the murder of Beckett’s mother has been the least interesting aspect of the show. The fact that Stana Katic, while beautiful, is the least compelling actor on the cast has hamstrung that part of the show. Making the vengeance subplot seem meaningful has been difficult until this season’s stellar finale.

The revelation of Captain Montgomery as a part of the Beckett Conspiracy was a stunning twist. To see brothers-in-arms, Esposito and Ryan, nearly come to blows over said revelation was heartbreaking. But, more than anything, the Last Stand of Roy Montgomery was by far the highlight of the season. Yes, he made some mistakes, but in the end he stood by Beckett and Co. The closing moments of the episode were a clever way to lead into next season, but nothing beats the passing of a flawed hero like Captain Montgomery.

House


I won’t mince words, I was very disappointed by House. The finale lacked cohesion. It began with a fascinating premise of a performance artist using House as her latest endeavor. Art imitates life…as a mystery? It would have been a fitting way to end a season that seemed to meander after a strong start. What bothers me the most is that it could have ended on a high note with last week’s brutal episode. Houses attempt to perform surgery on himself to remove tumors in his leg was a brilliant metaphor for his general situation. Try as he might, House won’t ever be able to fix himself unless he acknowledges and accepts the unconditional (and imperfect) love of his make-shift family.

To see the season end with a ridiculously staged car stunt was a letdown. Were the producers going for a ‘cathartic release’-moment? Maybe simple loss of self-control? No, it felt like David Shore and his writing staff have run out of ideas. House has faced down every challenge possible and still stands. He’s been shot, committed (to Cuddy and an asylum) and survived a bus crash. In the end, he snaps and lashes out like an emotional teen? No, it may just be my opinion, but this is where the character development has gone off the rails. The procedural aspect of the show has grown stale, but House has remained a vibrant and fascinating character. This completely undoes all of the character-building of the last seven seasons. I’ll tune in for next seasons premier, but the creative team has a hell of a challenge if they want me to continue watching this train wreck.

The Office

“There is no such thing as a product. Don’t ever think there is. There is only sex. Everything is sex.”

Fringe


Yes, I have gone on record as saying that this was one of the most lackluster television seasons on record. Yes, our fearless Editor-in Chief went so far as to declare, ‘I honestly have nothing to say about this shit ass season.’ Yes, Fringe was relegated to the Friday Night Death Slot. But I will unleash a resound and defiant ‘NO!’ to anyone who tells me that Fringe is not one of the best shows on network television.

The finale answered a lot of questions while giving us one major mystery to solve. Where/When/How is Peter Bishop? When the two universes merged, Peter ceased to be. How? Why? Was this a story point put into place just in case the show didn’t get a fourth season pick-up? Was it a way to leave things open ended or, through judicious editing, tidily end the series? Who knows? Regardless, it was one hell of a ride. Sharp writing. Clever concepts. Stellar acting. Beautiful, simple direction.

It’s not LOST but it’s as close to it as possible.

The Mentalist


Patrick Jane vs Red John

From the outset of the series, the relationship between the wily CBI consultant and the super villain-like serial killer was superbly engaging material. But the season finale gave us a concrete image of Red John besides his creepy calling card. As he stood revealed, he wasn’t a deformed, escaped metal patient. He wasn’t a slick, Patrick Bateman-style murderer. He wasn’t even a physically imposing bruiser in the vein of Sabretooth. No, Red John looked like any middle-aged white guy you might see walking down the street.

Jane set the trap and Red John fell for it. But the tables were turned with Red John subtly brandishing a revolver full of hollow points. Words were exchanged. Promises were made. Taunts were bandied about. Finally, Jane got confirmation that the man who stood before him truly was the killer of his wife and children…and then he shot him. I was slack-jawed. I remember Jane proclaiming his need for vengeance but I never thought he’d go through with it. Regardless, it’s a game changer. I know that term gets bandied about a lot, but this turn of events turns the status quo on its head and spins it around.

So, what were your favorite finale moments?

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