Note to reader: this blog contains a few spoilers to various series – almost all of them over ten years old. Read on at your own peril.
For a while, I’ve disliked closure of the last episode of a series that I’ve particularly enjoyed watching. I don’t like the feeling that it’s over, that the chapter is closed, that the characters don’t continue.
I think it all started when I watched the last episode of Blackadder Goes Forth, the one set in the trenches during the First World War. An excellent comedic take on a particularly tragic period of life, with senseless losses on either side. I’m not very good at reading war books or watching war movies. It makes me too sad. So when, at the end of six episodes’ banter and escape from going over the top, they line up for the last time… well, I cried. I think I’ve watched that episode twice ever, and I’ve watched all of the others many, many times.
Two years ago, I accidentally went through a patch of accidentally watching the last episode of a whole tonne of my favourite series, all in one go. Well, more like over the course of a few months. Inspector Morse, JAG (don’t laugh, it was a legendary procedural with excellent soapie vibes), and even Friends. That’s right, despite having watched every single other episode multiple times, I didn’t know whether or not Rachel actually got off the plane.
When I reached the last episode by mistake, I used to text Alex and tell him that I had done it again. Another series was over, and couldn’t carry on forever in the slack space of my brain.
I don’t really know why, but this year, I decided that I would watch some series to completion – ones that I like, ones that I have watched lots of. I think watching them all the way through was one way of gaining some comfort from a familiar cast of characters, while also gaining some certainty in seeing how their stories were completed.
I started with Modern Family, because earlier this year it came to its end. I watched it all from the beginning, because while I had watched quite a few episodes, I’d not watched it consistently to appreciate the character growth. It was delightful. I think the earlier seasons are stronger than the later ones, but I think they gave the Delgado-Pritchett-Tucker-Dunphy clan a good send-off after eleven years.
Next on the list was my all-time favourite spinechiller of gross crime-scene stuff: Criminal Minds. I didn’t watch from the beginning because I’ve already watched the first five or six seasons more than once. I think the show as a whole has been through some tough cast changes (due to various actors leaving for punching producers, etc etc), but managed to maintain a sense of tight family with the core crew of Supervisory Special Agents. Having watched some of the characters grow up (especially JJ, Reid and Penelope), it’s good to see how their more mature takes on the world shape the later scenes. I was not a fan of the implication of the JJ/Reid love thread that they brought in – it felt like bending to the will of fanfics, more than the actions of the rounded characters they had built up. Ultimately, I think this one didn’t finish as strongly as it could have, if it had ended a season or two earlier… or maybe even earlier than that. I enjoyed the last few episodes’ flashbacks, seeing Jason Gideon and Hotch strutting their BAU stuff. It would have been good to bring Morgan and Hotch in for the very last episode for proper closure. But they got the last big bad, and that’s all that really matters.
Now, which you may have guessed from the writing song, I’m watching my way through House MD. I watched it AVIDLY when I was younger and it was just coming out. We had it burned onto rewriteable DVDs and I think I watched season 1-3 at least four times. Obviously, the medical parents could not suspend their disbelief, and my mother-in-law who is a rheumatologist assures me that sometimes, it is Lupus… but hey, I enjoyed it. Now I’m watching it with a little more critical thinking, I have to admit that they don’t adhere to the occam’s razor House proposes in the very first episode, and his trademark asshole persona is increasingly grating on my sensibilities. But I am carrying on. I have vague memories of some of the things in the later seasons, but I don’t think I’ve ever watched beyond the middle of season 5. Until now. I’ll probably finish it during my week of leave, which will be good. I’ve heard that some bits are not as good, and I’ve also heard that they bring it to a satisfying and apt closure.
Do you like the series ending moments?