The Art of the Season Finale: Smash, Hart of Dixie and Nikita.

22 May

Well the time has come, it’s the end of ratings season and I have watched at least 7 season finales in the last 2 weeks. The season finale is a hard beast to get right. You don’t want to leave your audience too satisfied but you don’t want to leave them too irritated either. In my opinion a great season finale is a mix of tantalizing questions and satisfying answers.

Many writers underestimate the benefit of a good answer. A show like ‘Lost’ for instance just kept asking questions and rarely gave an answer for anything but season finales are the perfect time to give answers for lingering questions and close some doors. If this isn’t done I would argue that audiences become unsatisfied and may lose faith in the show and turn off. A writer must never lose sight of the fact that viewers are watching for answers not for questions and it you don’t give them what they want sometimes, they will stop watching.

Nikita  gave us plenty of answers in its finale, Division was shut down, Birkhoff got the girl, Alex got together with Sean and Nikita had finally been seen as a legitimate hero in the eyes of the government. In fact Nikita answered so many questions it had to change the game entirely in order to keep the story going, it’s a risky move but I think it paid off.

Smash still had plenty of questions still in the tank but managed to give us a few answers of it’s own. Karen finally became the star of Bombshell. Ivy’s evil ways caught up with her and Dev was exposed for cheating on Karen. Ahh the satisfaction of a secret being exposed, this is the season finale bread and butter.

Now Hart of Dixie was perhaps the slimmest of them all on answers, but it did provide a few. George called off his wedding admitting he was in love at least partly with Zoe and Zoe and Wade finally worked out their differences and slept together. And George admitted to Zoe that he loved her. That last part was more of a question than an answer as it created a whole lot of trouble that as a fan of Zoe and Wade I could have done without. This show is doing the love triangle very well at the moment, confusing it’s audience at every turn. It could even give Vampire Diaries a run for it’s money.

Now for the questions or the cliffhanger. The cliffhanger is the reason viewers come back but don’t make your cliffhanger too bleak other wise you’ve got a Grey’s Anatomy situation on your hands. I found it very tough to start watching that again after last years depressing cliffhanger and this years season finale was even worse. I prefer cliffhangers that have the possibility for good as well as bad.  For example Hart of Dixie, who will Zoe choose? The beautiful Wade, whose abs would make icebergs melt or the country good boy George whose name should tell you how boring he really is. It could go either way.

Or Smash, the love of Karen’s life has cheated on her with her worse enemy and the emotionally bankrupt but super sexy director is making his move, again who will she choose. I like this one because even though you know Derek and Karen would be a disaster together it’s a disaster you would really like to see.

Or changing it up Nikita has finally taken down Division, the shady ex government agency that made her life hell and has been offered a job as it’s new leader, will she go into the belly of the beast and make it a force for good. What does the future hold? Very positive but with a dark underbelly of foreboding lurking in the future.

Now while all three of these season finales were very enjoyable I would have to say that Nikita was the best. Having seen many season finales I know or can estimate where Smash and Hart of Dixie will lead in the next season but the best season finales are the ones that change the game entirely, leaving the audience in a completely new place with no idea what will happen next.  It’s risky but Nikita’s season finale changed the rules of the show and as a result, it blew the others away.

What was the best season finale you saw this ratings season?

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