There’s nothing better than discovering a new TV show; a series to become obsessed over, eagerly awaiting the each episode every week. You feel for the characters, love the settings, are fully immersed in the storylines, then the unthinkable happens; they announce the final season.
What are you going to do without your weekly does of your fictional best friends? Probably binge the entire series over and over again when it inevitably appears on one of the many available online streaming services.
But before that can happen, you have to get through the final episode. You grab your provisions; snacks, your libation of choice, something or someone to snuggle up with, and plenty of tissues. Oh the tears you are going to shed.
So there is nothing worse than getting to the highly anticipated moment, the end credits are rolling, and you sit up, completely dry eyed and say, ‘what the hell was that?’
If you have ever written anything, or been privy to a conversation about story structure in any capacity, you will have heard someone state that a good beginning is vital, the most important part. They’re not wrong. Without a decent start you don’t have a hope of gaining an audience, but one sure fire way to kill any chance of continued love after the cast have said their last lines and the sets have been dismantled, is to screw up the finale.
Look at Game of Thrones. Could I really discuss endings and not mention quite possibly the worst one in the entire history of television? What were they thinking?
Game of Thrones, in case you happen to live in a cave and have only recently installed the necessities to join the modern world, became one of the biggest shows to ever grace our television screens. With each episode being shot in the style of, and most likely to the budget of, a major motion picture. Even if you didn’t watch it, you will have definitely heard about it. It was everywhere.
When the final season was announced the buzz was palpable. The writers, editors, and directors had one job; give us the conclusion we deserved, and boy did they not deliver.
The fandom pretty much died overnight.
That is the power of an ending.
Thanks to a certain world wide pandemic I, much like most of the planet, became very invested in my Netflix account. I used this forced free time to catch up on several series I had yet to finish. The three I watched in their entirety, and finally finished for the first time, were The Vampire Diaries, Teen Wolf, and Reign. Yes, I like teen fantasies, especially if you throw in a large dollop of the supernatural.
Now, I love each of these series, almost equally, but I had very different reactions to their final episodes.
The 2nd ending; Teen Wolf
When MTV began promoting their new teen supernatural drama I wasn’t interested. As an avid fan of The Vampire Diaries, and vampires in general, and as a person who hates pretty much all movies produced during the 80’s, I saw the tittle and said, ‘nope.’
It wasn’t until I watched The Maze Runner and experienced Dylan O’Brien’s acting chops that I decided to give Teen Wolf a chance.
And boy was it worth it. It became the first series I ever binge watched. Unfortunately, being in the UK, it wasn’t always available on the TV, and UK Netflix is ridiculously behind their American counterpart.
Eventually, last year, I was craving a dose of Stiles and watched the entire show, through to what I believed to be the final episode.
I knew that O’Brien had had to take some time out of shooting after his accident on the set of The Death Cure, therefore when Stiles was missing for a good chunk of the episodes it make perfect sense to me. As the story should go, Lydia, Scott, and their friends rescued Stiles, bringing him back into existence. They graduated high school, Stiles gave his jeep to Scott, and the best friends drove off into the sunset. Beautiful.
Everyone was safe and back where they should be. Lydia admitted her feelings for the best character on the show. Scott and Stiles cemented their bro-ship through the passing of the jeep.
They cried, I cried, it was a great ending.
But it wasn’t the end. I don’t understand why, but UK Netflix only made the first half of the series available at that time; a fact I wasn’t aware of. So you can imagine my surprise during lockdown when I reach the end of that moving episode and the ‘next episode’ box pops up. What’s going on?
Of course I click on the mystery episode, only to discover that I had another ten episodes to go. I hand’t actually finished yet.
I was pissed at Netflix for the error, but a show I thought I’d said goodbye to suddenly had more to offer. Yes!
I’d already experienced what I thought to be a brilliantly done finale, but boy did the show play me when it came to the real one.
Don’t get me wrong, the actual episode was epic. Characters I’d missed were back, and as exactly the people they should have always been. It was kickass, awesome. But they didn’t win. They didn’t technically lose as they survived, but the psychotic bitch Monroe is still out there.
I’d believed the story was all wrapped up in a wonderfully emotional bow, to only have it torn to pieces with a major threat still lurking in the shadows.
Something I’ve never dealt well with, due to soul destroying personal experience, is the bully getting away with it. I am more than happy for the cliche of the bad person getting their comeuppance; preferably with the head detached from their body. It really is the only sure fire way to guarantee death, though not necessarily stop them from returning *Peter Hale*.
With Monroe getting away with her deplorable behaviour, it left me depleted after the awesome return of so many characters, Deucalion’s death, and the movie poster pose of the gang back together. To me, the story is simply not finished.
A whole lot of history; Reign
If you like artistically licensed historical teen drama, then Reign is for you. With the strangely familiar soundtrack, incredible locations, gorgeous costumes, and a brilliant cast, it isn’t hard to see why it was a show I fell for. I will admit, I did spend a lot of time googling the genuine history as the plot didn’t seem quite right for the life of Mary Stuart, but historical inaccuracies aside, (it was a fantasy show to be honest) it’s inevitable ending only had one way to go. Mary had to die. This character actually did lose her head, though I secretly hoped the writers would go off on some fantasy tangent and save her, Francis too. Spoiler alert, he dies.
Mary’s actual final scene was as it should have been, bringing her back to Francis. It was wonderful, and yes I cried a lot.
This isn’t where my issues lie however. The final episode let me down. Though I knew the show didn’t follow recorded history accurately, it did to a point, and I was somewhat left shocked by what they changed, or left out entirely.
To start, they cut out Mary’s marriage to Bothwell. Considering they had the pair fall in love, you’d have thought they would have let them be officially married.
Next, her half-brother James. The show depicted the siblings as caring for one another, yet in reality James began to change his allegiance when he showed support for John Knox, and being against Mary’s marriage to Lord Darnley. He was a major part of her eventual downfall. The show left him as a good brother, there to help with baby James.
Then we have the mess that was the story across the Channel. The house of Valois’ plot came to a somewhat sudden end, and in a way that didn’t feel concluded in the least.
All in all I found the final episode a rushed mess. The story lines that should have been closed over a number of episodes were crammed together and cut up as though a deadline had suddenly been brought forward. If it weren’t for the reunion scene between Mary and Francis, I
don’t think I would want to revisit the series. Once again, Mary and Francis saved the day.
The good, the bad, and the idiot; The Vampire Diaries
This finale was actually really enjoyable. I liked the storyline, even though the Katherine inclusion seemed a little thrown in, but it worked out alright. I was left satisfied.
That was until I discovered the delightful folks at the CW don’t appreciate their British audience, as Legacies isn’t available in the UK, with no announcement of a planned date of release.
That major disappointment aside, the only actual issue I had with the ending to the series that started me on my teen fantasy journey in the first place, was Stefan’s death.
Dude, you didn’t need to die.
I get the whole, ‘I’m willing to sacrifice myself to save the world’ bit, but he literally didn’t need to.
As Damon was fine, unconscious (well, technically dead) mere inches away, Stefan could have simply stabbed Katherine with the bone blade, left her body in the tunnel and watched her final, final demise by hellfire, safe by his brother’s side. And yes, I understand that by giving Damon the cure, he was going to die anyway, but he didn’t need to do that either. Whether Bonnie managed to wake Elena up then, or she woke when Bonnie died however many decades later, Damon could take the cure from Elena’s blood then. All Stefan had to do was knock Damon out. He’d already used vervain on him, why not do it again and not kill himself? The idiot could have lived.
Part of me thinks that even though he genuinely loved Caroline, he wouldn’t have survived living as a human; the perks of vampirism were to ingrained in him. Nevertheless, he broke his new bride’s heart unnecessarily.
Enough of the hero complex Stefan.
Though each finale left me with mixed feelings, I will, and may have already started, to continue to rewatch these shows. A last episode doesn’t have to be perfect, but it must be the final reason for revisiting. That is what a decent ending should do.
I just hope Jeff Davis can get a production company to give us the Beacon Hills conclusion we deserve.