bittah.com!~ Favourite season finale/cliffhanger & series finale
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Favourite season finale:
The Best of Both Worlds (Part 1) - Star Trek TNG Season 3
Having run into the Borg only once before when Q teleported the Enterprise way off into the unknown to show the humans how much scarier things can get, they've finally reached Federation space and the Enterprise squares off against them. What makes the cliffhanger so great is in the final scene it is revealed that after Picard was captured by the Borg he has been assimilated by them and named Locutus, and is now being used as a spokesman for the Borg to assist with an easier assimilation of humanity... and the final moment is Commander Riker giving the order to fire the main deflector dish with the intention of destroying the cube, with Picard on board.
The second half is concluded in season 4 which is an equally memorable episode.
Z'ha'dum - Season 3 finale of Babylon 5. Babylon 5 was best between Seasons 2-4 and this was a great cliffhanger.
Favourite Series Finale:
...Tell Our Moms We Done Our Best - Series finale of Space - Above & Beyond
There's a huge amount of nostalgia factor at play in all of my choices, and obviously a massive sci-fi bias - it's been twenty years since this episode aired which means I'd have been 15-16 at the time. This show just really struck a chord with me. It was basically WW2 in space, often more comfortable with the WW2 style story elements than the sci fi parts. The show only got one 23-episode season but had many really strong episodes throughout... although I'm sure some will be quite dated by todays standards.
There was no question when they were filming the finale that they knew they weren't getting another season and as such by the end of the episode half the regular cast were dead, presumed dead, or crippled. The first half of the episode is set up as to believe the war may be over, perhaps peace could be achieved... the second half it all goes bad. I think the impact on me of having the fate of all these characters I'd really enjoyed watching being left so open stuck with me a long time... the series ends in a very depressing way... I almost think it will be bad to go back and rewatch them again now as it may tarnish the memory a bit. I'm sure I will at some point though...
Honorable mention: The Time is Now - Milliennium Season 2 finale
I'm cheating a little bit here... this was to be the finale of Millennium, however it was granted a 3rd season after this episode aired. This will always be the true Millennium ending for me though. This finale also ends in a massive downer (and was also written/directed by the same duo who did Space - Above & Beyond, they must like unhappy endings!) where the lead characters wife has died to a virus which is infecting the world, with only a small handful of people having the vaccine - they were forced to choose between her and their daughter (he had been given the vaccine unknowingly). The last scene is of the lead character with severely greying hair (which has happened overnight) as he is cradling is daughter, aware of the virus causing the collapse of society.
They have to undo a lot of this in Season 3, in a very unsatisfying way.
While I haven't watched six feet under I know how it ends. I don't feel knowing that would detract from watching it though.six feet under
was the first "serious" tv show i subscribed to and the last ~5 mins destroyed me. can't think of an series finale that comes even remotely close. it was perfect.
Lost had a lot of cliffhangers.. at the time it was good, but I feel as the show went on and you realised each cliffhanger was being used a bit like a gimmick with minimal payoff afterwards you didn't care as much after each one.
The interesting thing is not *how* you rescue Picard, it's what you do with him after. IMO, the second episode of S4, Family, is the better open to the season, and the better episode overall. Probably a top 10 TNG ep for me.
Also agreed with you on Millennium, that was a very memorable should-have-finale.
I've always liked The X-Files s2 finale. Mulder is stuck in a train car, full of what we guess are alien corpses, and is molotov-cocktailed by Smoking Man. All at once we have apparent confirmation of aliens, Mulder's likely (but impossible) death. Scully is almost killed by a botched assassination, and Mulder's father is killed by a successful one (Alex Krycek). All in all you've just got the conspiracies converging, everyone almost dying, and the mythology is pretty much at its peak at this moment.
Imagine if you were a fan and waiting a whole summer to find out what happened, if those were really alien bodies, etc.
Of course, gradually in the following seasons the mytharc becomes an over-convoluted mess that only barely makes sense.
It's not a happy ending. Seeing Randy become an angry and violent boy when he was once a budding entrepreneur is an especially hard hit, not to mention seeing Dukie shooting up. But you do have the success stories sprinkled in. Bubbles is rehabbing, Cutty successfully gets out of 'the game', and Namond, who was never about that life, has a stable home with Bunny as a surrogate father.
But then we're left with a montage telling us that 'the game' never ends, and the marginalized will continue to get caught up in it, and the police will still continue to do street-level rips and crack heads because it satisfies quotas and political agendas. We get a glimpse of Nick Sobotka, still fighting for the docks because he's stuck in the past, because his entire identity revolves around being a worker in an industry that has left him behind. You are left with this distinct impression of running in place.
For all of season 5's flaws, and the on-the-nose journalism arc, the finale is a bittersweet watch that really sticks in your mind.