I try to plan my time well. Sometimes, I fail. And when it came to updating my reactions to season finales as they occurred, well, I totally kind of failed.
So here are some thoughts on just a whole bunch of season finales, some which aired last week and some which aired quite some time ago.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD, MATEY.
Legends of Tomorrow
Okay, seriously, I know. This episode was like two months ago, but it felt weird to talk about every CW superhero show except for this one.
No show has earned its Most Improved Certificate like Legends of Tomorrow has. It was a huge turnaround. There are still the occasional problems, like, ignoring Maisie Richardson-Sellers and Dominic Purcell’s natural chemistry in favor of a sudden Vixen/Steel romance, who are not only pretty boring together but are also sometimes actively terrible teammates, like that episode where they’re just busy have sex while everyone else is actively in harms way? No. Vixen is SO much better than that. Otherwise, though, the show has fully embraced how fun and silly its concept is. The Legion of Doom were great antagonists. And it helps that the show got rid of its three worst characters, too.
So, what the hell happened in the finale anyway? Right, Tiny Rip Hunter attacks Damien Darhk in his Itty Bitty Wave Rider, which, I think I can let Neal McDonough speak for all of us when he asks, “Isn’t that adorable?” The Legends go back in time, try to avoid their past selves, predictably fail the hell out of that, and somehow manage to both fix time and break time, all at once. One version of every team member dies, and while this was pretty much inevitable, the death scenes generally work anyway. Sara gets the Big Decision moment of using the Spear of Destiny wisely, which I loved. And Reverse Flash finally died, which was–well, kind of sad, actually, because I know he’s the bad guy who’s been kind of, sort of dying for years now, but . . . come on, he’s pretty awesome, right? Oh, and of course we end with dinosaurs. Everything is better with dinosaurs. Except Terra Nova. Even with them, it still sucked.
Last year, I wasn’t sure if I’d even give Legends of Tomorrow a second go. This year, it’s easily my favorite superhero show on CW and a serious contender for favorite superhero show on any network. (Its main competition? Luke Cage.)
Finale Grade: A-
Season Grade: A-
The 100 has its problems, but it tends to rock season finales, and this one was no exception. Instead of their usual setup, though (Clarke makes a hard choice that saves a bunch of people and gets a bunch of other people dead), this episode had a lot less murder and a lot more race-against-the-clock action, which was fun. I liked a lot of the small moments: Monty hugging Murphy, Raven and Bellamy looking down at the fire-swept Earth, Bellamy stopping Echo from killing herself (not to mention Raven’s reaction when she walks in).
I don’t think it was a big shock that Clarke got left behind, but that’s okay because all the surprises and questions were left for the last few minutes anyway. Like, the prison ship? WTF is up with that? Why haven’t Octavia and the majority of humanity come out of the bunker? Why haven’t Bellamy, Raven, and the others come down from space? Has anyone important died during this six-year gap? You’ve gotta assume someone has, right? I mean, this is The 100. People die on this show every two weeks. Also, Monty: does he have hands anymore? My money says he lost at least one. (He better not have died. Him, or Raven. I will be extremely displeased.)
I think my biggest concern for the next season is to make sure we really feel the time jump. Six years is a big gap: relationships are going to change. Some of my closest friendships are with people I met less than six years ago. That length of time really needs to be addressed. (Also, if we can continue avoiding Season 2 and 3 mistakes, where a previously reasonable character commits a massacre for totally BS reasons, that would be good too. Oh, and if Bellamy and Octavia reunite, just for one of them to get dead moments later? I HATE that kind of bullshit. That’s tragedy that’s just trying too hard. Don’t do it, show.)
Finale Grade: A-
Season Grade: B+
Agents of SHIELD
So, that was enjoyable. This has been, for the most part, a pretty consistently good season of Agents of SHIELD. Ghost Rider worked a lot better than I would’ve imagined, The Framework was fun, and Aida is just the fucking BEST. “World’s End” wrapped up things pretty well, not to mention gave us a time-jump cliffhanger that worked a lot better for me than last year’s. Like, um, Coulson’s in space. I mean, yeah, I wanna know how that happened.
Some random notes on the finale itself:
A. When Talbot got shot in the head, I was immediately all, “NOOOOO! NOT ADRIAN PASDAR!” But then he had a pulse, and I was like ” . . . huh. What are you doing with that, I wonder?” Cause while people obviously can and have survived being shot in the head, it’s not usually the kind of thing that happens in a movie or TV show unless there’s a very specific reason for it. Survive a shot to the gut or chest, okay. Survive a shot to the shoulder, whatever. But a shot right to the noggin? That speaks of A Plan. Will Talbot turn out to be an Inhuman? Was he an LMD? Is the real Talbot dead somewhere, or will we return to discover he has plot-relevant brain trauma? Adrian Pasdar is a huge scene stealer in this show, and I find I’m very curious about this.
B. Dude, Coulson is (temporarily) the Ghost Rider! AWESOME. That was a great little twist. Also, what exactly is this secret deal Coulson made? Oh, the intrigue.
C. Mack reassuring Hope that he’d never leave her, and Hope disappearing in the middle of that reassurance? That was sad. It was a really nice scene. That being said, I still and forever can’t take “hope” seriously as a name. I’m sorry, all you Hopes out there. I’m sure you’re wonderful people, but lines like “Hope is dead” or “Hope was never real” kinda make me wanna claw my face off.
D. Radcliffe’s “death” scene was also nicely handled, especially the part where I didn’t have to hear him finish quoting T.S. Eliot. I mean, I get it: it’s all kinds of thematic, it’s where the episode’s rather literal title comes from, etc. It’s just that this particular bit of “The Hollow Men” is awfully overused.
E. “Robot May was way more supportive.”
F. I really like the moment where Daisy is nice to Fitz, not just cause she’s summing up the theme of the season, but because I’ve always liked their friendship moments. Like, when he was there for her back in Season 2 when she found out she was an Inhuman. More Daisy & Fitz moments!
G. Finally, the diner scene managed to be both cute and creepy. I was like, oh, shit, we’re not heading into some crazy Sopranos bullshit, are we? Thankfully, everyone just got frozen. And somehow Coulson goes to space. As you do.
Finale Grade: B+
Season Grade: A-
Santa Clarita Diet
“Baka, Bile, and Baseball Bats”
Okay, so, this is even worse than Legends of Tomorrow. I think Santa Clarita Diet aired all the way back in February, but I pretty much just binge-watched the whole thing last weekend, so, here it goes.
Ultimately, I enjoyed the hell out of it. There are times when the humor feels a bit uneven to me, like I get it, zombies in suburbia, it’s funny . . . but you’re leaning just a little too hard on that joke. There are also times where I find myself thinking Drew Barrymore could be a bit stronger. Not always. She has a lot of moments I like, actually, but there are times it doesn’t quite feel natural. This could be because Rose McIver from iZombie has spoiled me for Outstanding Actress in a Zombie Comedy. (I mean, it’s not Highlander. There can totally be more than one. It’s just that when the comedy does feel a bit stilted, I usually notice it the most from Barrymore.)
That all being said, I laughed a lot while watching this show. Seeing Timothy Olyphant continuously on the verge of total hysteria after watching him play stoic Raylan Givens for six seasons on Justified is just the gift that keeps on giving. He is spectacularly well cast. I’m also a huge fan of Abby (Liv Hewson), and her dynamic with . . . well, everybody, actually. The satire sometimes gets a bit on the nose, sure, but the show does a surprisingly awesome job addressing relationships within the family. The character work never gets forgotten, which is kind of great. The dialogue is often witty as hell, and some of the cameos are AWESOME.
I don’t have too many specific thoughts on the finale itself. It was decent, though I think I enjoyed the episodes leading up to it more. Although it did have one of those awesome cameos I was talking about: Portia de Rossi. I actually haven’t seen her in quite a while, and I liked her in this. And a-ha, we’ve left on a cliffhanger, I see! You bastards. Here’s to hoping that Abby badasses her way into saving the day. And Eric helps by science-ing the shit out of the not-cure. (I’m super relieved we’ve already addressed that the not-cure won’t actually turn Sheila back into being a human. Cause that sort of kills the show, and yeah. No one wants that.)
Finale Grade: B+
Season Grade: B+
“Hurt Me, Hurt You”
I liked this finale, even if I totally guessed the brain tumor (or whatever) twist because, yeah, that woman was absolutely not real, and dude, Sherlock don’t sleep. I like that we finally got DarkJoan!, something that’s been hinted at a number of times but has never really gone anywhere until now. Dead Mom might have been a bit obvious, but I do have something of a soft spot for Sherlock’s mommy issues, so, you know. I’m okay with it. And Aidan Quinn’s pinky swear line was just the best thing ever.
Sadly, I just really haven’t been into this season of Elementary at all, which has been pretty disappointing after how much I enjoyed Season 4. I’ve been trying to figure out why it hasn’t worked, and I think maybe it’s because the whole season has felt out of balance. I liked the idea of Shinwell, and Nelsan Ellis did some awesome work, but at a certain point it seemed like the show forgot about his relationship with Joan and only focused on Sherlock’s relationship with Shinwell, which I found frustrating. The finale is mostly solid, but does feel a bit rushed, particularly in regards to Sherlock’s medical crisis. I kind of wish Shinwell had died at least three episodes before he actually did; then we’d have time to really build Sherlock’s memory problems, not to mention give Joan a story arc that lasts more than two episodes.
Also, did the cases seem even more convoluted than normal this year? Admittedly, I’ve never really watched this show for the procedural aspect, but still. A clown got murdered and it ended up being about, what? Tainted water supplies and trying to shake down the entire city of New York, or something? The hell? I may not generally watch for the procedural stuff, but this is the first year I started actively tuning it out.
Finale Grade: B+
Season Grade: C
“Nevertheless, She Persisted”
So, this was okay. It felt a little unbalanced to me, maybe because it was so focused on Supergirl and Mon-El that other characters just seemed to be twiddling their thumbs in the background, especially Alex. (James too, though.) I really assumed the show was writing Mon-El out (I always got the sense that he was a one-season character, and that Happy Times dream sequence near the beginning of the episode only seemed to strengthen that hunch), so I wasn’t surprised by his departure . . . until we hit that last shot, where he seemed pretty freaked while heading into that wormhole (The Phantom Zone?) or whatever. So now he kind of has to come back, right? (Which I’m actually glad for: I always rather liked Mon-El, despite not always caring about his storyline. Maybe he’ll just have to wear, like, an EVA suit or something? It’s funny how aliens never really seem to think of that . . . although, to be fair, I’m not sure I’d wanna try and conquer a planet that would literally turn me into dust after ten seconds of exposure, either.)
Still, there were some cool moments in that finale. Supergirl’s and Superman’s fight scene was fun. (So much punching!) Winn mouthing the words “I love you” at Superman. And Cat Grant knows Kara is Supergirl! YES! Also, I see we’re setting up our next Big Bad, which is cool but also kind of unintentionally hilarious. I can’t help myself: anytime anyone sends a Baby Rocket off from Krypton, my eye twitches a little and I’m like Okay, SERIOUSLY? Why do you only make infant-sized spaceships, you lunatics? I don’t know a whole lot about Reign, but considering how subtly they dropped the word, it wasn’t too hard for Mek to do a quick Google search and find her.
I sometimes struggle with Supergirl (usually with both Kara’s completely baffling understanding of journalism and her frustrating tendency towards petulance, something she and Barry Allen really, really have in common), but overall I thought this was a much stronger season than the first one, despite the tragic lack of Cat Grant. Alex’s self-realization and coming out storyline was great. I really like Winn and James’s friendship/partnership, and I’ve been very happy with Lena Luthor so for. I’m all about her friendship with Kara, and I’m happy to see more of her next year. Gotta be honest, though: if they do ultimately go down the ‘All Luthors Are Eventually Evil’ road, I’m gonna be extremely disappointed, and y’all are gonna be the ones hearing about.
Finale Grade: B
Season Grade: B+
For the most part, I thought this was a pretty decent season finale . . . although I’ve gotta admit, Slade’s whole “the mirakuru burned outta my system ages ago, so sure, I’m totes sane and on your side” thing? Yeah, I really didn’t buy that. (Also, I didn’t remember Digger Harkness at all–well, except as That Awesome Guy From The Expanse–so when he showed up on the island, I was like, wait, what? Who the fuck is this dude?)
But the action was enjoyable enough, we officially wrapped the island (by blowing it to hell, natch), and best of all, Adrian Chase is finally dead! YAY!
Unfortunately, I had a lot of problems with this season, as I almost always do with Arrow. I don’t want to give it up because I’ve been watching it since the beginning and, well, crossovers, but unless the ratings take a dive or Stephen Amell wants out, I doubt Season Six is going to be its last . . .and I kinda think it should be.
I will watch the premiere next season to see how that dubious cliffhanger shakes out; I don’t know, maybe it’s the optimist in me, but I’m thinking Arrow probably didn’t just blow up almost its entire cast. That being said, I think someone at least semi-important should probably die, cause otherwise that cliffhanger is gonna end up feeling a little cheap. Not really sure who I’d want it to be, though. Thea, maybe? I mean, I doubt it after Malcolm apparently bit the big one saving her life, but after five years (in Hell) this show still doesn’t know what to do with her. (I know, though! Ship her to Legends! She’d be so much more fun there! Why doesn’t anyone listen to me?)
Finale Grade: B
Season Grade: C
Oh, The Flash. I have lots and lots of thoughts about The Flash.
This has been a very rocky season with significant ups and downs, and I think the finale suffered because of that. On one hand, there were a lot of things that I really liked: Iris killing Savitar, Cisco not forcing Caitlin to take the cure, Caitlin saving Cisco and taking off for a journey of self-exploration, not quite Caitlin Snow anymore but not quite Killer Frost, either. These are all good things . . . that all feel rushed in this jam-packed finale.
I’m especially disappointed about Caitlin, because that scene where she turned on Savitar could have been such a Big Moment . . . but it just feels like the show ran out of time. (Caitlin’s been something of a mixed bag all season. On one hand, I never truly bought how they handled her whole ‘my powers cause my evil split personality’ or whatever. On the other hand, it’s still a remarkable improvement over last season because it finally gave her something to do, and didn’t wrap up as easily as it could have.) Honestly, even Barry going to the Speed Force Prison feels a little rushed to me. I’m glad he’s going because a) consequences and b) every other speedster already has, like, dude, it’s totally you’re turn, bro. Still, the cliffhanger feels a little tacked on to me. And, c’mon, it’s not like he’s gonna stay there.
HR’s death didn’t really work for me, either. I didn’t mind him dying; hell, I predicted it months and months ago, and the idea that I might finally get Harry back in some meaningful capacity makes me grin from ear to ear . . . but I also wanted to have some emotional reaction to HR’s sacrifice, and I had zip, zero, nada. It’s not just because I prefer Harry, either; HR has, surprisingly, grown on me, and he’s had some nice moments this season. I should have felt something. Instead, his death scene actually struck me as pretty corny. This may in large part be due to how ridiculously rushed his romance with Tracy is, like, c’mon, these two have know each other, what? 20 minutes? (I do, however, like that the show acknowledge that every version of Harrison Wells has a connection to Cisco. I’m curious to see how that will go next season, assuming Harry does stick around . . . which he better, goddamnit.)
Hey, and you know what else didn’t work for me? Barry extended his hand to Savitar. I wanted to like it. I really did. If he had tried a couple of episodes ago, I might have. Or if happened several episodes after HR died, maybe. But Barry trying to make nice with our Big Bad, like, seven seconds after he murdered a member of Team Flash didn’t ring true to me at all. I want Barry to be a compassionate hero. I totally agree with Captain Cold on this one: The Flash oughta be capital ‘g’ Good. But come on. Would this have happened if Savitar murdered Iris? What about Joe? Or Cisco? Would he really be trying to offer an olive branch then? I think not, which makes HR’s sacrifice feel even less important, like he was always basically disposable. And if he was disposable, how am I supposed to take Team Flash’s grief for HR seriously?
Finally, Iris. Oh, Iris.
Candice Patton deserves so much more than this show. The entire back half of the season was about saving Iris from her foretold demise; how many episodes, then, do you think focused on how Iris felt about that? Right, one. ONE. Iris has, once again, become little more than The Woman Barry Allen loves, and it’s so fucking frustrating. For one thing, I just know from the dark, murky depths of my soul that if this “I’m doomed to die” story had been handed to any of the male characters, they’d have been given so much more time for interiority. But my anger also stems from the fact that Candice Patton does so much with the very few badass moments she gets; she could have rocked this storyline, and they gave her no opportunity to do so.
Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker, and Willa Holland really need to have their own superhero show. Shit, they could be Gotham City Sirens! Patton could be Catwoman, Panabaker could be Poison Ivy, and . . . well, while it’s kind of hard to picture Holland as Harley Quinn, I’d be willing to see her try it! After all, it’s hard to know how much range an actress has when she’s conveniently out of town for five episodes per season.
Finale Grade: B-
Season Grade: B-
“The Sweet Hereafter”
For a while, I was super into Riverdale. I loved, in no particular order, all the absurd campiness, Betty and Veronica’s friendship, scheming Mrs. Cooper, Cheryl and her insanely gothic family, MAPLE SYRUP, etc. Also, lines like “I’d love to stay, but I’ve got to shake down an evil adventure scout,” those were gold.
But unfortunately, the show really lost steam for me as it went on, and the finale was no exception to that. I’m glad we wrapped up Jason Blossom’s murder, even if I’m disappointed that it was ultimately Clifford Blossom who did it, but the show faltered pretty hard when it strayed away from the mystery aspect, and it did that way too often. No one cares about Archie’s singing, okay? NO ONE.
And, look. Sometimes I struggle relating to criticisms about queer baiting, not because I don’t want to see more canon queer relationships, but because I thrive on stories that center on platonic relationships, and sometimes find it difficult when people want to turn those relationships romantic. It feels like people are saying these relationships that I find so significant don’t really matter because they’re Just Friends. Intellectually, I know that there’s so much more to it than that, but instinctively, I struggle a lot.
I’m bringing this up now because for as much as I love its maple syrup and murder, Riverdale is the rare show where a sense of queer baiting did hit home for me, only it wasn’t really the moment in the first episode where Betty and Veronica kiss. (I took that as a joke that didn’t quite play the way show intended it to, critiquing teen movies in the 90’s and early 2000’s that tried to be “edgy” by having two women kiss for, you know, one scene.)
No, my problem was with Jughead’s sexuality. The creators said Jughead wouldn’t be asexual . . . but then they also said Season 1 was an “origin story” and implied the teens would learn about their sexuality or lack thereof as time went on. Then Cole Spouse talked a lot about how he’d argued for the character to remain canonically asexual, but while he’d lost the battle for this season, who knew for future seasons down the road? Which, hey, that all made sense: sexuality isn’t static and not everyone figures this shit out right away, so there’s hope, right? And Jughead and Betty’s relationship was important, but not exactly hot and heavy (at least, not until the finale), and often their romance felt more like a friendship punctuated with occasional kisses–so I could easily see a story about how an aromantic Jughead doesn’t know exactly what he’s feeling for this friend who’s been with him through all this crazy murder shit and confusing it for romantic love.
But after the season finale, it just feels so clear to me that Riverdale never had any intention of doing anything like that, and I was like, Goddamn, I didn’t realize how much I wanted this until a brief hope was offered up and then snatched away again. It’s funny, too, because before I’ve always laughed at CW’s cheesy “Dare to Defy” slogan (especially in that promo where Stefan has his arms stretched out like Jesus, like, OMG, the giggles), but whenever I heard it while watching Riverdale, all I could think was Please. Exactly what are YOU defying these days?
Other random thoughts on the finale itself:
A. Wait, there’s another high school? Seriously? This town is big enough for a second public high school, one where all the poor kids go? I call bullshit, sir.
B. I’m not exactly sold on the kids’ critical thinking skills. It’s too dangerous to go out on the ice to save Cheryl, except that when she goes under, they ALL go out there . . . but mostly just to stand around while Archie does all the work (first time for everything). Like, come on, guys. You could have done that from the shore. Then, defying all sense of logic, reason, or common sense, our young heroes don’t take Cheryl to the hospital (cause sure, she only drowned in freezing water in a suicide attempt, but whatevs, she’ll be fine), and somehow making matters even worse, they leave her ALONE, even allowing her to go back home to The House of the Damned?
Nope, not having it. These kids are the worst.
C. Loving Josie’s hair in the finale.
D. While I’m not deeply interested in Betty and Jughead’s impending Trouble in Paradise (and while I’m really not interested in restarting the Betty/Archie/Veronica love triangle), I am kind of into Jughead becoming one of the Serpents. That moment felt earned.
E. No, they shot Luke Perry! Actually, I kind of don’t care that much, although I generally enjoy him on the show, even if he didn’t end up being the murderer like I’d foolishly hoped. I just know that this is going to fuel Archie’s Angst, and while this hopefully means Archie will end up doing something more interesting than singing angsty songs at talent competitions . . . I don’t know. I have the sneaking suspicion Archie going to get Kara and Barry levels of petulance with his angst.
F. Seriously. Did they just burn up Nana? (Maybe she’s a fire-witch, or otherwise immortal. Seriously, these fucking show runners. They teased and teased and teased that Sabrina the Teenage Witch would make it on the show, only to give us some bullshit Easter egg comic in the finale. How awesome would it have been if the last episode switched genres on us? I mean, it’s not like there hasn’t been some buildup for it. I’m completely bummed by what will apparently be a supernatural-free second season, to the point where I’m starting to wonder exactly how invested I am in checking the second season out all.)
Finale Grade: C
Season Grade: B-