Tag Archives: Finale

I Have Been Broken and Humiliated

Can I see your spine trophies?

Can I see your spine trophies?

Illyria’s a hard character to write about, given the relatively short time we’ve had to get to know her.  It’s tempting to try to chart some continuity between her and Fred and while I don’t deny that this might be there, it isn’t really how I understand the character.  It’s equally tempting to simply slot her into Angel’s redemption paradigm; she’s a being who once did incalculable evil and, after some mystical intervention, doesn’t anymore.  But Illyria’s crimes don’t seem to weigh on her in the slightest and there’s no design for vengeance or punishment in her fall; it’s simply a consequence of her existing in this place and time.  Why then, does she fight for the good guys?  There are multiple possible explanations (see Fred continuity) but, for me, Illyria speaks to the transformative (rather than moral) aspect of redemption; Illyria must become something other than what she was not because it’s “right” but because it’s the only way to live in this world.  That’s certainly present in the rest of the characters’ quests for redemption but, for Illyria, it’s the only reason.  Her motives aren’t moral, they’re a desperate search for agency. Continue reading


… Effulgent!

Take that, 19th century bullies

Spike’s slice of “Not Fade Away” is probably its most disappointing one.  Things are fine as far as they go, and I’m certainly pleased about the way he chose to spend his last day, but there’s not a lot of insight into the character here.  That shouldn’t be too much of a surprise; Spike’s arc stumbled once he got his body back, staggered once Lindsey’s deception was revealed, and stalled completely in his bogus journey to Italy.  Expecting <1/8 of an episode fix that is unreasonable.  We need to settle for confirmation of what we already knew: much as Spike’s grown, he’s still figuring out who he is. Continue reading

What If You Found Out That None of it Matters?

Vampires don't provide as much security as you'd think

Vampires don’t provide as much security as you’d think

I’ve said for most of Angel’s run that Charles Gunn was a good character in need of a good story.  Ever the valuable supporting playing, he also invariably stumbled anytime the spotlight found him.  I’d say “careful what you wish for,” but Gunn’s pain this season is our gain.  Like most great stories (and great Whedon stories in particular), Gunn’s involves making the protagonist suffer; not that Gunn hadn’t suffered before, but a vamped sister we never knew and a failed relationship we never cared about weren’t the most resonant of threads.  All of the “just the muscle” whining finally paid big dividends this season and it was fitting that the finale brought the character back to his roots. Continue reading

I’m Cookie Dough

The more things change...

The more things change…

Where it is the task of the season finale to put an exclamation point on a single arc, a series finale must do so for an entire show.  That’s a tall order for any series, but it’s particularly difficult for one as diverse and innovative as Buffy.  How do you sum up a show that so often defied classification, even by the conventions it built for itself?  “You don’t” is the simple answer.  This episode wisely cuts through the extraneous elements and puts its focus on the show’s core themes.  This was, fundamentally, a show about growing up and while that’s a pretty nebulous concept to pin your exclamation point on, “Chosen” succeeds admirably in showing us just what it means for Buffy. Continue reading

I Pray to Myself for Myself


For all the improvement this series has shown in its latter half, it still hasn’t managed to elevate itself beyond “pretty good” and, sadly, that label also needs to be applied to the finale.  The execution remains at the same high level we’ve come to expect, but the expected sense of inevitability is also still there.  Finales, particularly to stories that style themselves political thrillers, need to be suspenseful in order to work and while Chapter 13 does its best to make us think things may all come crashing down around Frank, it never really succeeds.  Worse, it holds back its alleged trump card for next season which may make sense in terms of getting us to tune in again, but it does leave this season feeling like kind of a cheat.  I’ve tried really hard to be fair to this show but, given that this is my last chance, I think I’m just going to dive into the negativity.  Feeling free to stop reading if you’re a fan. Continue reading

We’re all liars here

Hit Me!

“Valar Morghulis,” much like last year’s “Fire and Blood,” is more about lining the ducks up season next year than it is about paying off what we’ve seen in this one.  Compared to a newborn dragon’s roar, it’s a far quieter promise of things to come but, given the spectacle of the penultimate episode, that’s the right decision.  After a season characterized by the inevitability of great events, the denouement let the characters be defined by their choices and these more personal moments are enough to carry us through the episode and into next season. Continue reading

Is this just horribly wrong?

Daddy learned about love this season, or something

Well… I’m not quite sure how to react beyond being glad this season of Dexter is over.  “This is the Way the World Ends” wasn’t as unwatchable as last week’s episode but it’s a bit like having ice cream after five courses of crap; nothing against ice cream, but you really just want the meal to be over.  Actually, I really like ice cream, better to call this episode a mint; not “bad” per se, but far from satisfying.  The cat-and-mouse game between Dexter and Travis was good, with DDK entering Dexter’s home as the episode’s highlight.  So I could, if I felt so inclined, take this as a kill of the week with unusually high stakes and enjoy it on that level… except for the fact that the writers did everything they could to undermine what should have been the biggest moment of the series thus far.  Deb found out, and I don’t care. Continue reading

There are no men like me, only me

Well, that was epic.  One of the advantages of consistently undermining fantasy tropes is that, when you actually play them straight, they can generate astonishing impact.  “Fire and Blood” hits a lot of the beats we expect from epic fantasy but, coming from this show, they all land as seminal moments in history rather than clichés.  It feels as though the characters and the show came into their own in this episode, which is saying a lot as they already felt fully realized.  Continue reading

… but I believe in justice

Nothing this good should be called a letdown, but “Because I Know Patty” is substantially less intense than the two previous episodes.  There are still plenty of twists in the way everything plays out, but the episode falls into the trap of many season finales Continue reading

Trust No One

I’ve had some difficulty getting into mythology driven episodes throughout the first season of The X-Files but, for the most part, I think I’ve been successful in just sitting back and enjoying the ride on the road to nowhere.   Continue reading