It’s been a busy last couple months for season finales. We’re right in the middle of that part of the year when television sits on a hinge, when all the Spring shows wrap up, and the Summer ones just begin to kick off. It’s those finales that really caught our attention though. It was a group that hit both ends of the “objectively great” and “oh my God why was this allowed on television” spectrum. For the former, we got surprisingly poignant end-points for shows like The Last Man On Earth and iZombie. For the latter, Legends of Tomorrow and New Girl were among the group of disappointments. But those are merely the honorable mentions.
Best: Lucifer, FOX
Lucifer was a risky idea in its early stages. Could a TV show really take the physical embodiment of evil and make him into not just a sympathetic character, but a nuanced one as well? FOX proved that this was entirely possible, buoyed by a stellar performance by Tom Ellis as the titular lead. The Season 1 finale brought Lucifer’s intriguing initial arc to a perfectly satisfying end, while subtly setting up the future of its story with a tease at next season’s big bad. All told, the series went from “questionable yet interesting” to “yes please I’ll do anything to get this renewed” in just 13 episodes.
Worst: Sleepy Hollow, FOX
Lucifer and Sleepy Hollow are in many ways two sides of the same coin. Whereas the former succeeded in the “old story made new for network TV” motif this year, the latter fell flat on its face. Sleepy Hollow used to be what Lucifer is now: a fun, exciting supernatural drama driven by the chemistry of its leads. Recently it’s devolved into a joyless chore, marked by the killing off of co-lead Abbey Mills (Nicole Beharie) in the Season 3 finale. It’s been renewed for a fourth season despite this, even if it’s unclear just how much longer anyone will stick around.
Best: Agents of SHIELD, ABC
Agents of SHIELD has managed to hit its prime as it finds its place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Marvel’s delaying (and possible cancellation) of its planned Inhumans movie kicked the door wide open for Agents to dive in to that story instead. It’s led to some of the best episodes the series has ever aired, and culminated in a stunningly emotional finale that saw the death of a major character, the vanquishing of Hydra once and for all, and a solid set-up for the future of the series.
Admittedly, Marvel has also stumbled in recent months in the realm of TV. Daredevil‘s second season on Netflix didn’t quite live up to its own high standards, and it’s a damn tragedy that Agent Carter was cut down in its prime. Compounding all that was the axed pilot for Marvel’s Most Wanted, leaving Agents of SHIELD as Marvel’s final bastion on network TV. Thankfully, it’s managed to measure up in a big way in the wake of shakeups at the studio.
Worst: Nashville, ABC
It’s never fun for a series when it gets cancelled, especially when word comes down from the network mid-season. Nashville found itself in that exact scenario, setting up a series of complicated conflicts and story threads in the early season, and then being forced to tie up all their loose ends in one finale. Bafflingly, the show still ended with a cliffhanger, with the showrunners vowing to shop the series around in hopes of finding a new home. That still doesn’t excuse the rushed wrap-up and unnecessarily open-ended closing moments, sending Nashville to a disappointing early grave.
Best: The 100, CW
Few shows on TV have been as consistently great as The 100, especially since the show really hit its stride last season. Season 3 was marred by an uneven first half though, giving pause to those of us who crowned it as the network equivalent of Game of Thrones. All those doubts were soon assuaged by an incredible second half, and an even better finale. The biggest criticism this year surrounded the killing of fan-favorite Lexa, something that was fixed by a final episode that brought her back for one last blaze of glory.
The return of Lexa wasn’t the only victory of Season 3’s finale. We were also treated to a subtle yet effective homage to The Matrix, blended effortlessly with the show’s own story arc. And as always, even when our heroes came out on top, it was a bittersweet end that reinforced the idea that in war, there are never truly any winners. Next season will pose a massive test to The 100 in maintaining its forward momentum, but given the way it successfully wrapped up this year, we’re confident it’ll be up to the challenge.
Worst: The Flash, CW
Not one of the season finales was more disappointing than The Flash‘s, wrapping up a messy season with an even messier last episode. In it, Barry deals with the grief of watching his father die at the hands of Zoom, and decides to take that as a cue to run back in time and save his mother. In the process, he undoes two seasons of story, and leaves us wondering what exactly the show will do next season when Barry returns to a future that’s infinitely different than the one we’ve resided in for upwards of almost 50 episodes. More than that though, it demonstrates the fact that our main hero completely lacks any semblance of decision-making abilities, while flying in the face of the show’s more light-hearted, gleeful approach to the superhero genre.
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