Not able to actually sit down and write anything at the moment, there’s a lot of writing stuff happening in my head. Today I was thinking about cliffhangers and how I love books where each chapter leaves you with a cliffhanger, and what a skill that is in structure and pacing–one I hope to achieve with a cheeky idea I have. Plus, I had a pretty rubbish day at the office which is probably going to last a few months and I needed the feels to be massaged, so I sat down and thought about my favourite season finale’s–the ultimate cliffhangers.
If you haven’t seen Babylon 5, Battelstar Galactica (remake), Twin Peaks, and Alias you don’t want to read on because ‘That’s no moon, that’s a spoiler’ doesn’t even cover it…
Okay–my first encounter with a cliffhanger, and probably the worst to have. Twin Peaks. It was intended to be the season 2 finale, but then the show was axed and it became the end. This massive cliffhanger became the END of the show. I remember being so twisted up about this show. I was the right age to lap up the teeny angst of the younger characters and the moody melodrama of the adults, but it had strange and spooky running right the way through it. Perfect for me, needing all my TV to have sci fi and/or horror in it at the time. This ending though, it left me with a love hate feeling for the series as a whole. Only last year on a rewatch was I able to appreciate this as the ending. If this were to be a planned ending for a show, then how gutsy would that be?
FBI agent Dale Cooper, the stiff, innocent and quirky protagonist of the show has set out to rescue the girl he loves. She’s been kidnapped by his old enemy Windom Earl, and taken into a dangerous otherworld called the black lodge, a place inhabited by demons like the lank grey-haired killer, Bob, who has tormented the town for the last 2 seasons. Coop rescues his Annie… It’s all set up for a happy ending…Except the music tells us something different.
Just how two words; ‘How’s Annie’, can send chills down my spine shows how effective this scene is. Cooper isn’t what he seems to be–Bob has escaped the Black Lodge through his body. That’s it. The end. Well, until now, that is. Twin Peaks is set to return to continue the story. Now I have a love hate thing going at the thought of that.
Next up. Babylon 5. The season 3 finale is pretty much edge of the seat viewing for the whole episode. Captain Sheridan and Delenn have led a coalition of races in making their first big full scale attack on the Shadows–the big seemingly all powerful bad of the series. It should be a high point–but Sheriden’s dead wife Anna arrives. Turns out she’s not been as dead as he thought, which throws a real spanner in the Sheridan and Delenn love interest worka as Delenn kind of knew there was a chance she could have survived, but would almost definitely be a Shadow agent as she ‘died’ on Z’ha’dum–the homeworld of the Shadows. Sheridan flies off with Anna to Z’ha’dum as the Shadows want to talk. Sheridan was warned that ‘If you got to Z’ha’dum you will die’ by a Vorlon–and when a Vorlon isn’t cryptic or vague you damn well pay attention.
Around the same time Sheridan left Babylon 5 some nukes are found to have gone missing from the station… Sheridan knows it’s a trap, the creepy-ass Shadows are glimpsed–always a thrill and a chill–and they reveal they don’t want to kill him and create a martyr, but with him off Babylon 5 they can destroy it and remove his support. Shadow ships appear all about the station. Sheridan was ready for a trap though, having confirmed his Anna was being used, and with a hidden gun he shoots his way out…
This was a truly epic end. And if this wasn’t enough, the Shadows retreated from Babylon 5 as soon as they detected the nuclear explosion on their homeworld and they took Garibaldi with them. Season 3 is the peak in the show and the finale is the best it delivers.
Next up, the Battelstar Galactica reboot. Cylons look like us, and some Cylons don’t even know they are Cylons. Nothing like that set-up to turn up torment, fear and paranoia to 11. Poor Boomer. She knows she’s a Cylon. We know she’s a Cylon. But it looks like she’s her own person–she destroys a Cylon baseship to save the Galactica. She and another pilot are whisked up to the bridge to be thanked for their efforts. And within the last couple of minutes, when it looks like there might not be much of a cliffhanger–this happens…
She plugs Adama. Before we had ‘Game of Thrones’ and the Red Wedding, we had this for reaction TV. It came out of nowhere. No muscial cue. No quick cut edit. With Boomer’s reaction at the Old Man’s pride in her barely off her face, she just fires away. I remember the shock of that and having to skip back and watch it again to take it all in. Absolutely evil cliffhanger. In hindsight it’s easy to see Adama as an untouchable character, but it wasn’t a show that felt that comfortable and safe first time around.
And finally, the cliffhanger I needed to see after a rough day at work. The Alias season 2 finale. Sydney suddenly realises that Francie, the best friend who lives with her, isn’t her best friend but a deep cover agent who has been surgically altered as a replacement. Sydney gets home, and not knowing the truth, snuggles on the sofa with her friend and takes a phone message whilst digging into ice cream. The message is from their mutual best friend, Will, who has found out Francie isn’t who she should be and has called to warn her–only for him to get cut off. Sydney decides to test Francie–with ice cream. The tension in this scene, with Sydney knowingand having not to show it, and the high energy movie quality fight that follows Francie’s line is just AWESOME…
Not only is the fight BRUTAL, but she discovers Will’s apparently dead body in the bath in the midst of it all and after this wakes up two years later–putting a serious crimp in her love life as the man is now married to someone else… 😦
I’ve had a couple of part cliffhangers in ‘The Darkwood Mysteries: The Wrath of the Dragon’ but one day I’d love to create something as effective and memorable as these.
So, do you feel the love for any of these big moments–any geek season finales you think I should be considering?