A TV Report Card: Season Finales – 2012-2013

Doing a report card for season finales is harder than it used to be, since — depending on the network — shows end basically whenever the hell they feel like it. Some of the programs I would normally want to grade (like Warehouse 13, for example, or Defiance) are still going on.

But here’s what I thought about at least some of them.

DISCLAIMER: There WILL be spoilers, some mild, some considerably less so. You have been warned.

Scandal

Screen Shot 2013-06-08 at 4.50.31 PM

Finale Grade: A-
Season Grade: A

My newest obsession: Scandal is a damn whirlwind of a show, and a veritable shitload of stuff happened in this second season. Between assassination attempts, secret government moles, secret identities, murders of Supreme Court judges, torture addiction withdrawal, election rigging, and half a dozen other top secret government conspiracies, well, it should have way too much going on to be anything but ridiculous. But this is actually a pretty tightly plotted show and has far less dropped plot lines than you might imagine. New mysteries emerge as old mysteries are actually solved, and there are interesting, morally ambiguous characters. So, yeah. I’m pretty impressed.

The finale is much of the same, and the main reason it’s getting an A- instead of an A is because the President going back to Mellie is the exact opposite of plot advancement and I think less of both characters for it. I figured there would be some horrible thing that would keep the President and Olivia apart, but I really thought Mellie would finally get to have her own story line, and I was looking forward to seeing her be an aggressive political animal vying for the next presidency.

Thankfully, everything else in the finale — from David’s moment of WIN to yet another twist that I didn’t see coming at all — is all really good stuff.

Person of Interest

finch

Finale Grade: A-
Season Grade: A-

This year, I started out watching a lot of procedurals — shush, it’s a guilty pleasure — but I eventually dropped every one of them except Person of Interest because, unlike most procedurals, this show keeps evolving every season like a show should. In the finale, we not only set up some super intriguing plot developments for season three, but we also finally found out how Ingram died and how Finch was hurt. (And by the way, Finch’s flashbacks? Infinitely more exciting than John’s flashbacks.)

The only thing keeping this finale from being a solid A is Carter’s storyline. Not that I don’t like it, but it’s not particularly well balanced with everything else’s that’s going on. Carter saving Elias and now stuck with a fugitive outside of prison? Not a B storyline. Somehow, I think this needed to be its own episode. And for Christ’s sake, where the hell is Fusco?

Still, if I may have one last bit of praise for the show as a whole? Person of Interest has some awesome sauce recurring female characters. Before she died, Kara was pretty badass, and her death — which was awesome, by the way, go Snow — did not leave us with only useless women hovering around. Carter is on the main cast, and Root, Zoe, and Shaw — all immensely kickass in their own ways— keep coming back.

I am very excited to see next season.

Game of Thrones

got

Finale Grade: B+
Season Grade: A

“Mhysa” is — like most — a pretty good episode of Game of Thrones, although how effective it is as a season finale, I’m still trying to judge. It wraps up most story lines, fairly well, I think, considering that there is still so much story left to tell. (Season three only covers about half of the material in A Storm of Swords.) Still, I feel like Tyrion’s story didn’t have much of a conclusion, possibly because he didn’t have much of an actual arc. And I might’ve liked to have seen a little more of Jaime and Brienne. On the other hand, who didn’t smile when Ygritte shot Jon Snow with three arrows? I love TV Ygritte, and I miss Book Jon Snow.

The only real problem I had with “Mhysa” is the bit with Summer’s head on Robb Stark’s body. It’s not a problem with bad taste, exactly — my issue is that it looks awfully fake, and for me, that takes away from the brutality of the moment. When I read about this in the book, I remember being horrified, and you don’t even actually see it: it happens off-screen. Here, I was just like . . . eh. It’s a small thing, I know, but it bothers me because it seemed so unnecessary to actually film it.

Still, this was a great season of Game of Thrones: the Red Wedding, Tyrion’s marriage to Sansa, Jaime and Brienne’s unlikely friendship, every single scene with Charles Dance, etc. I hate that I have to wait another YEAR for more.

To hell with you, True Blood. I want my show back already.

Cougar Town

trav laurie

Finale Grade: B+
Season Grade: B

Maybe it was the change to a new network, but this season got off to something of a slow start for me, a little awkward in its humor, like it was trying to be more risque without quite knowing how. But it definitely picked up and was just settling into a nice, easy rhythm when the season abruptly hit its season finale. (Apparently, there were actually fifteen episodes, but it felt a lot shorter than that. I was like, What? Didn’t this season just START?)

That being said, this was a pretty good season finale. Cougar Town is apparently never going to get any love from anyone other than me, but one of the things it often does really well is manage to balance Serious Stuff with the gang’s crazy, wine-fueled antics, especially in their season finales. On one hand, Travis managing to set his arm on fire trying to get a perfect first kiss with Laurie was pretty hilarious. On the other, Jules finding out about her father’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis was appropriately sad and very well-handled. I’m not sure I can think of another show right now that so seamlessly mixes kooky and sweet.

Justified

winona

Finale Grade: B
Season Grade: A-

Justified’s fourth season didn’t initially feel quite as cohesive as the past three . . . which still leaves it being better than 98% of all other television out there. But by the end of the season, it mostly all wraps up really nicely, and I was pretty impressed by that because I wasn’t sure the finale would have enough time to tie everything together. In fact, the finale would have had a much higher grade if I wasn’t so annoyed by the conclusion of Ava’s and Boyd’s storyline. It felt obvious and weak . . . I still don’t understand how they didn’t realize they were walking into a trap. And the part where Ava’s all, no, I’ll go on my own? Bullshit. I hated this.

That being said, this season included Sheriff Bobby Singer, more time with badass Tim, some great moments of character ambiguity for Raylan, the hilariously sudden death of the snake charmer preacher man, and Art taking the time to acknowledge the awesomeness of Drew Thompson.

So, all in all? I still love this damn show.

Community

community

Finale Grade: B-
Season Grade: B-

Here’s the thing: I don’t think that this season of Community was as godawful as everybody else seems to. I get that the writers had a difficult damn job, and I appreciate that they tried to keep the spirit of the original show instead of rewriting it to be like any other sitcom. I know they failed, and they failed a lot, but I do appreciate the trying. There were also some bright moments in the season — notably, Jeff finally confronting his dad at Thanksgiving, and Abed and Rachel colluding on wacky sitcom shenanigans. And you know what? I kind of liked the puppets. There, I said it.

But it’s true that this season was seriously off-center. Troy and Britta were horrifically mishandled and many of the episodes, including the season finale, felt like weaker imitations of past shows. It’s not that they were all awful. It’s just that they could have been so much better.

Shockingly, MIRACULOUSLY, Community got renewed for a fifth season. Dan Harmon is also back on the job, and Chevy Chase is presumably gone for good, so it seems to be good news all around. But we’ll see.

The Walking Dead

carl bringer of death

Finale Grade: C
Season Grade: B

I’ve already discussed my disgust with the season finale of The Walking Dead at some length, so I’ll just sum it up briefly here: bullshit final battle, annoying villain still annoyingly at large, and Useless Beth (sadly) is still alive. On the upside, Andrea’s dead. Yay!

The first half of the third season was pretty awesome. The second half of the third season was, on the whole, poorly written and stretched far too thin with very little payoff. I’m still planning to tune in for the fourth season, but hopefully it will improve considerably because I was pretty disappointed with how this last one, ultimately, turned out.

Shows I Dropped Entirely:

Criminal Minds, NCIS, The Mentalist, Revolution, Elementary, Once Upon a Time (again), and Grey’s Anatomy (again)

Shows That Were Cancelled On Me:

Last Resort, Alphas, Fringe

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18 Responses to A TV Report Card: Season Finales – 2012-2013

  1. Brandon says:

    You missed out with Elementary. The last two episodes of the season were really, really good.

    • I heard. I could potentially give it a second go with season two. Unlike a lot of shows I drop, it’s not that Elementary started to suck more than I could bear. I just missed a few episodes, realized I didn’t really care, and sort of stopped watching.

  2. Claire says:

    I don’t like Revolution, but it had a very interesting final.

    • I read somewhere else that the finale was good, but surprisingly, I didn’t read what happened. Maybe if I continue to hear very positive things, I’ll try it again, but unless Charlie gets a personality transplant — or horribly murdered — I kind of doubt it. I found her incredibly annoying. On the other hand, Billy Burke and Giancarlo Esposito were totally awesome.

      • Claire says:

        My husband watches shows on his computer while we both play video games (his computer has three screens) and I usually ignore it, because the Revolution protagonists.are annoying. But the time the Revolution finale had gotten halfway through I was completely sucked in.

        I also annoyed him when he was watching The Walking Dead by only watching when “evil hot guy” was on the screen, whose character name I still do not know.

  3. Teacups says:

    Will you be doing the Warehouse 13 and Defiance finales when they arrive? I’d be interested to hear what you think of Defiance* and recent W13, but if you don’t want to, that’s cool too.

    *Some of it is cliched, or clumsy (The last one I saw was the razor rain episode, and *yeesh*.) and I don’t feel most of the characters are as interesting/likable/whatever as they’re supposed to be. I think there are a bunch of interesting ideas, though, and I like Nolan and Irisa’s troubled relationship.

    • I might. I guess it depends on how interesting the finales are, but if I don’t do an actual blog post, I’ll try to remember to come back here and comment on them, at least.

      Also, I’m a couple episodes behind on Defiance. I’ve had mixed feelings all season, but first seasons can be rough, and I do feel like it’s been improving. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure that razor rain episode you disliked so much is next on my queue. So, we’ll see. 🙂

      • Teacups says:

        Thanks!

        If you’re two episodes behind, then you would be correct. Maybe you’ll like it more than I did?

        • Just watched “Razor Rain.” (I’m behind cause I keep marathoning twenty-year old shows on Netflix instead of watching my current TV shows.) Eh. Wasn’t that into it. The rift between Nolan and Irisa kind of bores me. Also, I’m just a little disappointed the rain wasn’t made made up actual razors. 🙂

      • Teacups says:

        I concur that Defiance improved as it went along. 1×10 and 1×11 were especially well done, and finally got me off the fence regarding the show. They even got me invested in the myth arc. The finale itself was fine, if not as good. Mainly, something about the whole climax just felt really cheesy and off to me, even though I like the idea of parasitic technology which is capable of using its host’s beliefs, interests and loved ones (in this case, Sukar and religion) to manipulate or appeal to them. I.. think that’s what was going on there? But I really liked the Tarrs’ last scene, Nolan and Irisa’s relationship is lovely, Doc Yewell is awesome and I’m pleased she’s gotten a more central role, the show has likely killed off one of the more problematic characters (Kenya, that is) and it looks like next season will be more story arc driven than this one was. That’s good, because I don’t think an episodic, or even semi-episodic, format suits this premise at all. One of the things I really liked about 1×10 and 1×11 was that they tied the astronaut and Sukar-goes-crazy-and-stuff storylines into the rest of the show, as foreshadowing for the twists surrounding Nicki and Irisa. Otherwise things like that just felt sort of like distractions to me. Which is weird, because it wasn’t like I was super interested in most of the longer running storylines either.

        It took me ages to watch the Warehouse 13 finale, as I haven’t really enjoyed this season, and the penultimate episode seemed to drag on for fucking ever. When I did watch it, it convinced me that I probably shouldn’t be back for Season 5. I don’t really like the cancer storyline, the amount of bad greenscreen was killing me, and the retcon about Claudia’s sister was bullshit. Why didn’t they just make it a surprise to her that she had a sister at all? Sure, it would still be just as soapy, but at least the audience reaction would be the intended one. As it was, they were going for “Whoa, Claudia’s sister is alive, and she’s evil or something!” and instead got “Wait, Claudia has a sister? Since when?”

        Then the heartrending goodbyes between her and the rest of the team (one-by-one, at that) just went on way too long, considering the Warehouse was seriously about to collapse around their ears. They needed a better balance between sentiment and practicality. Focusing on how they simply didn’t have time to properly say goodbye before leaving their friend to her possible doom would’ve actually been much more effective anyway, I think.

        But that was all nothing compared to Pete’s conversation with Anthony Stewart Head. I don’t mind if characters act stupid, provided it’s believable. But nothing about his thought process in that scene made any sense at all. Why does he need ASH to look into artifacts to cure cancer? (For that matter, why the fuck didn’t he and Myka look into it before, instead of going to a Muggle hospital right off the bat?) Call Dr. Vanessa and ask about magical cancer cures, that’s what she’s there for. Call the Regents and ask about them. Talk to Artie, he knows many of the Artifacts they have, and would be pretty invested in preventing Myka’s death. (In fact, a few people pointed out that they definitely have an Artifact that could cure cancer – Typhoid Mary’s knife. Use it to transfer Myka’s cancer to ASH, he’ll heal from it ‘cause he’s immortal, and boom, done.) All of whom are way more trustworthy than the evil, imprisoned genius.

        Apart from the multiple people he should’ve been talking to about this before ASH, there was literally a living lie detector upstairs. Since he didn’t trust that ASH wasn’t conning him, why didn’t Pete just bring in Jinx? Again, that’s exactly what Jinx is there for.

        But okay. Pete decides to just set ASH free instead of trying out any of the other options, even though ASH is totally evil and is probably duping Pete somehow. So Pete takes the precaution of making him mortal again, relying on ASH talking him through the procedure.

        For fuck’s sake, Pete, did you have a bowl of stupid for breakfast? Why the hell would he tell you how to make him mortal again, when he doesn’t want it to fucking work? (My grandma watched the episode with me, and got a 20-minute rant to this extent at the time. Nothing brings out the nerdrage like a show you’re a fan of disappointing you, I guess.)

        Everything else was kind of meh. Although I was pleased to have a Claudia/Artie teamup again and basically no Jinx. IMO the show would’ve been better off just leaving him dead after Season 3. He’s just kind of bland and boring compared to the core four, who all have somewhat loud personalities. I feel sort of bad for Aaron Ashmore though, because I think he’s likable and charming, but have ended up disliking each of the three major characters I’ve seen him play.

        • SPOIILERS FOR DEFIANCE, WAREHOUSE 13

          I think I might have been more disappointed with the Defiance finale than you were. I’m sort of glad they killed Kenya, if only because I think she was spectacularly miscast, but I didn’t love how they did it. Stahma was such a bigger badass in the episode before, and I didn’t understand what the HELL Kenya was doing there with her, anyway. And the climax, ugh. I thought the whole thing was kind of a letdown, honestly. It definitely felt cheesy to me, too, and predictable, and I’m not sure if I’m going to keep up with it or not. I like a few of the characters — Doc Yewell, Rafe, and Stahma, mostly — but I’m not sure if that’s enough for me at this point.

          I agree with you on some of the Warehouse 13 problems, but they didn’t bother me nearly as severely as they bothered you, although that’s probably not surprising because I liked this season a lot more than you did, I think. My biggest problem with the season finale — and the last few episodes — of Warehouse 13 was that it felt rushed, like they were cutting out scenes in the middle that really needed to be there. Like when they introduced Myka’s cancer storyline, I was originally really into it because I felt they set it up with everyone getting physicals and yet still left me completely blindsided. But while I initially liked her reaction — particularly her fear — they sped through the sickness in a ridiculous fashion. I think the story required her actually getting visibly sicker over time and for the surgery to be much more built up than it was. It would have helped when Pete made the incredibly dumb decision to free Evil Giles. And if they had even a couple of quick shots of him not being able to reach the rest of the cast — ESPECIALLY Jinx — that would have helped a lot too. I buy Pete being the kind of guy who would make a horrible decision based out of love and desperation, and I really buy all his scenes with Myka in them, but I needed to feel like he had no other option, and he really, really did.

          But I completely disagree with you, and I mean vehemently, on Jinx’s character. I absolutely adore Jinx — his character is quieter, yes, but I don’t find him bland at all. I think his own sense of humor adds a nice balance to the show, his friend chemistry with Claudia is awesome, and I would have been really disappointed in Warehouse 13 if they left him dead.

          Oh, and I didn’t really mind the goodbye scene with Claudia at all. I mean, I get what you’re saying, but I didn’t really find it to be a serious problem. I’m really looking forward to seeing her square off with Anthony Stewart Head, and I’m disappointed that I only have six episodes left before the whole show is over.

      • Teacups says:

        I agree about them rushing the cancer storyline. They seem to be playing up the possibility of Myka dying during the surgery or not long after, and I just can’t feel the danger when she was diagnosed like, a few weeks ago, because my impression of cancer is that it isn’t nearly that fast. Although maybe some kinds are. I’m lucky enough to not know much about cancer outside of what I see in anti-smoking ads.

        I liked Steve for a while – I cried for like, twenty minutes when he died – and there have been some really terrific exchanges between him and Claud. Plus, their rather quick bonding seemed to be at least partially based on him viewing her as a replacement for his sister, and on him being the first proper “Best Friend,” candidate she had. I liked that aspect of their friendship, it was sad but interesting.

        But it just seemed like the frequency of the terrific exchanges went down during Season 4 (although them tag-teaming jokes about Artie’s age and Claudia’s subsequent pride was one of my favourite gags of the season) and the metronome storyline felt poorly paced and went nowhere. I don’t hate him or anything, but between all of that I just started thinking that Jinxy’s screentime would be better spent on other characters.

        • Cancer definitely seems very different per person — I think it all depends on how old you are, what type you have, how advanced it is before you notice symptoms and/or seek treatment for them, etc. There really are people who get their diagnosis and are dead less than two weeks later, although I don’t believe that’s the norm. But I do think Warehouse 13 mishandled it, which is a shame because I really liked aspects of the storyline. Particularly Pete’s emotional stuff, actually — I rarely buy Eddie McClintock’s anger, and I don’t think I would have ever thought he was a marine, but lately when he’s been pulling out the tears . . . I don’t know, man, I’ve been feeling them.

          I can kind of see what you mean about Steve, and I’ve always wanted him to have more screen time, but I’m still glad they brought him back. The one character I thought was a waste of time got killed off in season four, so in that way, the show actually improved for me. (Sort of. Don’t get me started on the ghost thing. UGH. I’m still annoyed about that.)

      • Teacups says:

        I was just baffled by Leena, writing-wise. She mostly seemed to exist in case another character needed someone to talk to (or someone to do research from the Warehouse) and everyone else was busy or not suitable. There were very few attempts to even try to develop her beyond that. So I agree that getting rid of her was a good move.

        Although yeah, the whole ghost thing is just… silly. I groaned when she showed up again in the finale, but it was kept mercifully brief.

        • See, I actually wanted the ghost thing to be longer. I mean, if it was going to be there at all. When Pete saw her, I assumed there was going to be some kind of, you know, story reason for her to be there, and maybe now Pete would be able to see auras like Lena did or, I don’t know, SOMETHING. But then there was nothing, and I was like, “WHAT?”

          And yeah, I didn’t get the writing for Lena at all. I figured after season one they’d attempt to develop her at least a little, but nope . . . she was just there to occasionally sense that somebody was in a bad mood, or something. I’ve seen forums where people are like, “OMG, I miss Lena. She was my favorite character!” And I’m like, “What are you talking about? She didn’t have character!”

      • Teacups says:

        You’re right, that would have made the whole thing make more sense. I just didn’t like what we got of that not-quite-a-storyline to begin with, and so didn’t really want to see more of it.

        To each their own, but I don’t know why Leena would be anyone’s favourite character, unless they disliked everyone else on the show and so she won by default. It’s not that she was unlikable, so much as she wasn’t *anything*… There was nothing about her which raised strong feelings (or weak feelings) in any way. About the only things I can say about her are that she was there, and she was serene. Oh, and she had great hair.

  4. As a good counter-point to Elementary, you should give BBC’s Sherlock a go. There are only six episodes total so far, along with a HELL of a cliff-hanger, but I think it does a much better job at modernizing Doyle’s canon. The showrunners are Stephen Moffat, of Doctor Who fame, and Mark Gatiss, both brilliant writers and huge Sherlock fanboys. Their attention to detail is astounding. Also, Benedict Cumberbatch is one of the -best- actors I have seen, ever. He completely steals the show as Sherlock and his deducing monologues are brilliant. And with such short seasons (three a piece), they are much easier to consume and hold your attention. Though it will still take a good 12 hours to watch the entire series, since the episodes follow the BBC 90 minute format.

    • Oh, I’ve watched Sherlock. It’s an awesome show. I was completely obsessed with the first season, although for some reason, I didn’t love the second one quite as much. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure why — especially when the weakest episode was IN the first season. I don’t understand my own mind, sometimes. Regardless, it’s great television.

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