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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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