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Spring: The Season of Finales

By Bert Ehrmann
2006-06-20 – Every spring, supporting actors on dramatic series must take a collective breath as they read the season finale scripts for their respective shows. Generally, the television season finale is characterized by a sensational cliffhanger ending, meant to entice viewers back next season to “see what happens.” The more supporting characters shot, stabbed and/or possibly dead (and written out of the show forcing the actors to look for new work) in the finale, the better.

If you’ve yet to watch the finales of the series The Unit, Veronica Mars, Lost and The Sopranos stop reading now. Major plot and story spoilers follow.

Lost, “Live Together, Die Alone” Parts 1,2
The season two finale of Lost promised to answer many, if not all, of the fans nagging questions about the series. In reality, though, only one of the questions was answered: why did the castaway’s airliner crash? It turns out that shipwrecked-turned button pusher Desmond (Henry Ian Cusick) didn’t enter the numbers fast enough into the bunker computer, causing a magnetic pulse release which made the passing jet break-up in flight and crash. So, Desmond decides to deactivate the whole button system with the turn of a key and releases enough light and sound to make an a-bomb explosion look quaint. But for every question answered in Lost, three more are asked. Like did Desmond survive the energy release, what happened to Locke and Mr. Eko and what of Jack, Kate and Sawyer captured by The Others?
Payoff factor – 3/4

The Unit, “The Wall”
In the season finale episode of the surprise CBS hit The Unit, Special Forces team members lead by Jonas Blane (Dennis Haysbert) are sent to capture a former Yugoslav general wanted for war crimes. Things go bad and the general’s wife is shot and killed by French UN peacekeepers. Worse of all, after Blane and his men manage to capture the general, they’re forced to surrender him to those same sloppy French troops. The general manages to escape and makes his way to America where he attacks the team members and their wives at a wedding party. The episode ends with Blane shot and quite possibly all of the men’s wives dead.

One question, though. How does a wanted Yugoslav general sneak into the U.S. with his men armed to the teeth without anyone noticing them at the border?
Payoff factor – 2/4

Veronica Mars, “Not Pictured”
Veronica Mars travels even grittier territory than the first season. Veronica (Kristen Bell) spent this season investigating the cause of a bus-crash that killed several students while also testifying at the Aaron Echolls (Harry Hamlin) murder trial of Veronica’s best friend Lilly.

The short of it was that fellow student “Beaver” (Kyle Gallner) set off a bomb on the bus to silence two students who were about to reveal a past molestation on the group by Woody Goodman (Steve Guttenburg). And when found-out, Beaver lures Veronica onto a hotel rooftop where she watches him detonate a bomb on a passing aircraft carrying Woody. Logan (Jason Dohring) comes to Veronica’s rescue and Beaver leaps to his death rather than face the consequences of his actions.

Oh, and Veronica graduates high school as well. A busy week for the teen detective!
Payoff factor – 4/4

The Sopranos, “Kaisha”
In what seemed to be the start of an excellent season a few months back, turned into just another “ho-hum” second-to-last season of The Sopranos. With Brokeback-gangster Vito murdered by the rival New York Crew, Tony retaliates by firebombing one of their establishments. And things get worse for Tony when his nephew begins sleeping with his latest female conquest as well as Tony finding out that his son has begun dating a Latina woman with a kid. “At least she’s catholic.” Tony says.

But that’s about it. There’s no real tying up of loose ends or closure of any sort to the multitude of stories going on throughout The Sopranos. It almost feels like the writers treated this season of The Sopranos more like the first half of the last season of the show, rather than a season onto itself. And, quite frankly, I’m beginning to care less and less about how The Sopranos is going to end.
Payoff factor – 1/4