10. Friends, 10×20, “The Last One”
Friends… probably went on too long. I mean, ten seasons? When they started trying to hook Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) and Joey (Matt Le Blanc) up when Rachel was having Ross’s (David Schwimmer) one-night stand baby, that was a sign they were probably running out of ideas or some such. But Friends was a big, big part of my youth. I remember watching parts of it when I was little and my parents changing the channel when it got too sexy (and then, rewatching those same episodes later – I’ve seen most of the earlier Friends episodes about seven times each – I’d go “really? This isn’t even that bad”) and I remember when it ended. I was in eighth grade, and it was a big deal. I was bidding farewell to something I’d grown up with. Not the toughest farewell I’ve endured over television time, but still farewell.
9. The Tudors, 4×10, “Death of a Monarchy”
It wasn’t as if it could have gone on longer. The series was always going to last as long as Henry’s (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) life and wives did, and it wasn’t a particularly heartwrenching end since I knew that. (I’m still hoping they do something with Mary [Sarah Bolger] and Elizabeth [Laoise Murray in her oldest incarnation] later, though adult Mary is a bit craycray – I absolutely adore the Mary & Elizabeth drama, though.) They did a very good job with the end, though. It was a good use of “ohai dead wives” and such things. And that’s good, as I’d been worried that would be too cheesy.
8. Gilmore Girls, 7×22, “Bon Voyage”
Gilmore Girls is probably the first television program I felt seriously emotionally invested in (‘cause Sailor Moon doesn’t count) and I was genuinely sad when it ended. My mom definitely cried; I didn’t, but I was sad nonetheless. It was something we did together, Gilmore Girls every Tuesday (or sometimes whichever night we could once we had TiVo) and the end was upsetting. I was in high school by that point, getting to the place in life where I started thinking about the rest of my life, and though it was a not-entirely-fairytale ending, I was happy with it. (Rory [Alexis Bledel] had been a hero of mine when I started watching the show, being very much like me in a lot of ways, but I felt like I didn’t know her as she grew up; her decision to put career over Logan [Matt Czuchry] and the fact that she didn’t change her mind to make for a happy romantic ending was one that made me feel like maybe there was a bit of my old Rory in there.) A fitting ending to the show’s impressive seven season run.
7. United States of Tara, 3×12, “The Good Parts”
Tara was my favorite kind of comedy: quirky, occasionally morbid, quirky again, and dark as hell. The finale didn’t disappoint in any of those regards. We’d all been saying that yes, Tara (Toni Collette) needed to seek some very serious help after everything that went down this season. She was definitely in a downward spiral. But everyone’s lives were just spinning farther and farther from each other, between Charmaine (Rosemarie Dewitt) and Neil’s (Patton Oswalt) baby, Marshall (Keir Gilchrist) trying to figure out what to do with his life, Kate (Brie Larson) getting in touch with her grown-up self, all of Tara’s mess and how Max (John Corbett) had to deal with it. They wrapped it up as best they could, and their decision to start “killing” alters when they got their cancellation notice was both writerly gutsy and fitting, in a way.
6. Dollhouse, 2×13, “Epitaph Two: Return”
Again, I didn’t cry. I don’t cry. But I was this close to crying while watching this episode. The last three episodes of Dollhouse are this endless parade of everyone I love most (Bennett [Summer Glau], Mellie [Miracle Laurie], Topher [Fran Kranz]… well, and Paul [Tahmoh Penikett] too, which was sudden and upsetting, though he was never on the tippy-top of my I love you list like the other three) getting killed in not particularly pleasant ways. And I’ve always been of the mind that the “Epitaph” episodes of Dollhouse are some of the best ones: doing the first one with another season left, setting up that there’s this endgame that’s going to happen, was a brilliant, brilliant choice. It made season two quite ominous, and I’m a fan of ominous television. One of these days, I swear I really will do my giant love letter to the “Epitaphs,” but until then… just know. This is a perfect finale in my morbid, weirdo opinion.
5. Rome, 2×10, “De Patre Vostro (About Your Father)”
Rome is one of those shows that just ended too damn soon. I try not to be too angry about this, because HBO may pull things too quickly at times, but then they produce other amazing things too. It’s a bit of a trade, but it’s one I’ll deal with. Rome, though… they kept saying they were going to make a movie, but the most recent articles I could find online were from more than a year ago. I’m not holding my breath, even though I’m pretty sure I’d shriek with delight if such a thing did come to be. “De Patre Vostro” is my favorite kind of finale: it, too, is an endgame. There are plenty of places a movie could go, but the series wrapped it up as best it could, and with a lot of death and sadness and a lot of people feeling the effects of the terrible things they’d done. And Titus Pullo (Ray Stevenson) with his son that was allegedly Caesar’s, uttering the titular line of the episode as the credit music starts to roll and they walk off… perfect.
4. Firefly, 1×14, “Objects in Space” / Serenity
We Browncoats are lucky to have the follow-up in Serenity that we do, though a lot of people still have unanswered question angst. (I’ve mentioned the Mal [Nathan Fillion] and Inara [Morena Baccarin] thing a thousand times, I’m sure, and I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing more of Simon [Sean Maher] and Kaylee [Jewel Staite] as an item; but really, a lot of peoples’ unanswered questions, like Shepherd Book’s [Ron Glass] history and the potential existence of a Wash [Alan Tudyk] and Zoe [Gina Torres] baby, can be answered in the various Serenity comics. That’s my not-so-subtle way of begging everyone to read them.) But, though there would have been much frustration had “Objects in Space” been the end end, I’m still of the mind that it’s a pretty perfect television episode in its own way. For a hundred different reasons, between River (Summer Glau) being River and the manic but excellently written evilness of Jubal Early (Richard Brooks) and the amazing use of everyone’s being everyone and just… everything about it. I’m glad that Serenity (and the comics) could wrap things up for us after the untimely departure of what I’m fairly sure is my favorite show of all time by now, but “Objects in Space” is a genius episode.
3. Deadwood, 3×12, “Tell Him Something Pretty”
Deadwood was supposed to have two movies made to wrap the series up, but HBO axed that plan. Still, though, articles can be found online saying that there’s always an outside chance, and I think that, too, would be brilliant. I have no idea what would happen, but I want to see what they come up with. Again, I don’t expect it, but I can pray. This episode is an endgame in a way as well: not a lot of people die (but… sob, Ellsworth [Jim Beaver] – sob) but a lot of people’s lives as they know them end. Alma (Molly Parker) and Sofia (Bree Seanna Wall) leave the camp, Trixie (Paula Malcomson) and Sol’s (John Hawkes) relationship changes, Seth (Timothy Olyphant) isn’t going to be the sheriff anymore. Changes, man. Beautiful, heartwrenching changes… it doesn’t entirely feel complete, but it’s fairly perfect nonetheless.
2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 7×22, “Chosen”
We’ve all gotten to read my rant about the potential Slayer business before, so I’ll spare everyone that again. Though there are the season eight and now season nine comics (which I desperately need to get, and nobody’s railing against them can convince me otherwise – I don’t care if Dawn turns into a centaur and Angel’s calling himself Twilight now, I just… I need to know for myself, okay?) “Chosen” is a pretty definite end. It’s the end of Sunnydale, it’s the end of a lot of characters (and as much as I love Spike [James Marsters], I was… surprisingly a little sadder about Anya [Emma Caulfield] – I think it’s sudden deaths that get me more, not necessarily knowing, semi-premeditated sacrifices… though, y’know, those can be devastating too
and I’m totally not just thinking about my Topher, nope), it’s the end of a plotline and a two-season set that a lot of people questioned. I’ve heard it said that the show might have been better ending with “The Gift,” and I can see that, but I trust that Joss knows what he’s doing with his worlds, and when he has more time, I’m not gonna complain. Even if more time means more heartbreak and angst both for the characters and the viewers.
1. The Sopranos, 6×21, “Made in America”
From what I’ve seen and heard, the reactions to this episode were extremely mixed. Some people loved the ambiguous ending; some people were outraged. But I tend to side more with the “love it” camp. Ambiguous is the name of the game with these people. A sense that maybe it’s not all real, that maybe anything could happen, that maybe the family (James Gandolfini, Edie Falco, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Robert Iler) going to die tomorrow or maybe they’re going to live to be a hundred and two years old… you don’t know. They don’t know. They can’t know, it’s the nature of their lifestyle. And I feel like this episode celebrates that: the last few episodes of the series feel like they’re building to something terrible, that doom is going to take place in twelve different ways, but building to nothing is almost more foreboding, in my opinion. That’s how they live, and it’s brilliant.
–your fangirl heroine.