Monday, June 30, 2014

Crisis - And the Ending that Pissed Me Off

Spoiler Alert! 

I never thought I'd be writing this.  Up until recently I'm one of those TV watchers who will fight tooth and nail for shows where the whole season is a contained plot.  Series like Dark Angel, American Horror Story and even 24 and Lost were my favorites because there was a very specific plot that the show followed and none of the episodes could be missed or thrown away, everything was integral to the plot.

Now, don't get me wrong, I have nothing against the other formats out there where it's not so specific, I love those too.  Arrow, Supernatural, sitcoms and so on are good too but they're not my favorite.  There you know the basic premise and while there is usually an overarching plot, it's spaced out with 'filler' and 'daily monster' eps that are tied in with a simple small plot point to make it all work.  (Incidentally anime tends to do this too, so it's one I'm familiar with).  But the shows I'm talking about are different and not this style.

The show I'm specifically talking about is Crisis and the mess that was the ending.

Crisis is a action thriller that could have easily been made into a movie, but was instead turned into a tv show that allowed them to better explore the characters and ideas.  The premise?  At the elite school where all of the children of important people from the US attend, the children are taken hostage and the kidnappers aren't asking for money, instead they want these powerful parents to do tasks to get their children back. It's often said in the series "How far would you go to see your child again?"

In the beginning I loved the show!  It's action packed, smart and has quite a few characters that were well explored.  The main pair of agents trying to track down the children are played by a woman and POC, which gives great bonus points to the show, and it deals really well with the humanity of the situation.  You learn secrets about the characters and their motivations and there's a host of strong female characters that really make me want to hunt down a novelization or fanfiction to see them in action more.

I was all gung-ho about watching this series every week on Hulu, eagerly awaiting the next episode and it didn't disappoint - until the ending where the show seriously decided to kick all of its fans to the curb and abandon you there with nothing.

My first problem with the series was the main badguy: Francis Gibson.

In the series, Gibson is the mastermind of everything - and that's not a spoiler because you learn that early on.  From the beginning I was stuck on his story, watching him and his notebook as he played everyone around him like puppets on well crafted strings.  He had a plan for everything, he anticipated everything because he was ex-CIA and he was going to get what he wanted: his daughter.

In a long, convoluted plot that unfolded, Gibson planned this entire thing to get back the affections of his daughter, who doesn't live with him anymore and can't really stand to even look at his face.  In true teenager fashion she has better things to worry about, and those don't include her poor dad.  The evolution of his character and her being manipulated back into caring for him was actually masterfully written and part of what kept me glued to the show (along with the two agents tracking down the children).

Where the character and story started to fall apart was in the ending.  Gibson is shown as being two very different people, which I can accept.  He portrays a meek and unsure father in front of his daughter and an evil mastermind as he pulls his puppet strings.  The problem is, that toward the end of the series he couldn't decide who he was.  He had moments in the show where the writers started to portray him as having two separate personalities rather then two facades, and that felt awkward, especially since it was really only during the season finale.  I'm fine with a character having two personalities, but if that was the intent, then he needed to show more signs of that throughout the entire show, not just at the end.  It felt like a cop out, like some last ditch effort to make us care about the bad guy - which didn't work at all.  It portrayed him as an out of control idiot, which the rest of the show had clearly shown him not to be.

The other problem was the ending itself.  At the very end of the series, they discover Gibson is behind everything and get the children back.  But suddenly there's another scheme, because Gisbon's daughter is kidnapped by an angry parent and suddenly there's all this spy equipment that Gibson had under a floor and two guards that double cross him to go to Tahiti (never mentioned before) and text messages and another plot using the children instead of the parents... the show pulls out it's box of future plot ideas and they explode in your face on screen, all happening at once.   The result is a season finale in disarray, destroying the series, portraying characters in ways you would never expect them to act and an ending scene that leaves no one satisfied - whether the series will have a second season or not.

The point of the season finale is to tie up the loose ends from the season and then throw in a couple clues  as to what is coming next.  Cancelled show or not (and yes, this one was sadly cancelled halfway through first season) the ending episode should NOT be an orgy of half finished and rushed plot ideas that act as a middle finger to the network saying "Here's what we were going to do!  Your loss!", and slamming the door and walking out.

Something like that helps no one, and even makes watchers like me regret spending our time on the series.  Now, all the character building of these amazingly smart and intelligent characters is gone.  There's no closure, there's not answer to any questions and you've ended the movie by burning down the theater around the confused patrons with no warning or explanation.

Seriously, learn how to go out with grace like Firefly, or simply go out apologetically by sticking to your guns with a cliffhanger like Dark Angel.  Neither of those shows deserved to be cancelled, but they took what they were given and transformed it into something still awesome.  Firefly still has their fandom in tact (maybe more so) and has comics and the story continues.  Dark Angel got novel tie-ins that nicely closed up the story and left us with an ending that is satisfying, if not still tragically short.

In this day and age of binge watching, most new shows aren't lasting past a season any more and writers should take that into account.  Give your watchers an ending and a hook for next season.  Give them something small to make them want to petition Netflix to continue your series or at least write the fanfiction your series deserves.  Don't make the series explode at us, we don't appreciate it. Future seasons aren't guarantee, so please, respect your fans, because we can try our damnedest to bring back and continue the stories we care about.  Something like this... yeah, good riddance.  I'll happily watch something else next season and completely forget about you.

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