Season Finales

Spoilers are inherent. If you haven’t watched these season finales yet, don’t read this. I have ranked them from awesomest to not very awesome at all.

“Veronica Mars.” Not that I watch every TV show on the air, but of the ones I do watch, this was hands-down the best season finale. It solved the season-long mystery in a way that was unexpected and surprising yet still logical. (Of COURSE it was him! How could we not have seen that?!) And it also had a pleasant cliffhanger, something to keep you waiting till next year, but not something that by all rights should have been answered in the season finale. This is a fantastic show — part “Buffy,” part “O.C.,” all very intelligent — and it ended perfectly.

“24.” We’d been promised that “24” would end in a way that totally changed the direction of the series, and it certainly did: Jack is now a fugitive from both the U.S. and the Chinese governments. Interesting how the actual crisis was solved early. They killed Marwan and disarmed the missile with 40 minutes left to go. That left time for Jack to be betrayed by his country and handed over to the Chinese, except he faked his own death before they could get him. Awesome how they made us think Michelle would kill herself when she thought Tony was dead. Awesome how the show ended with Jack walking forlornly next to train tracks, carrying a backpack, just like Bill Bixby did each week at the end of “The Incredible Hulk.” I imagine Jack wandering from town to town, quietly fighting injustice, maybe falling in love with a waitress at a diner, until next season, when for some reason he is called out of hiding by a national crisis. Until then, godspeed, Jack Bauer. Godspeed.

“Alias.” After an up-and-down season, “Alias” delivered an excellent finale, answering most of the year’s major questions and serving up a good cliffhanger, too. (“First of all, my name isn’t Michael Vaughn.” KRRRUNCH!) Russians turned into zombies by something in the water? That’s good TV, my friends — delicious, unbelievable TV, which has always been this show’s specialty.

“Desperate Housewives.” I don’t think I’m coming back to this show next year. By season’s end, the series was a burden to me, a sometimes-funny, but usually just soapy melodrama that I was tired of. I care about Lynette and Bree; the other characters are all just cartoons. The spelling-out of Mary Alice’s past was almost unnecessary, since we’d pretty much been given (or guessed) all the details already. Rex’s death? Meh. Tom quitting his job? Meh. The “cliffhanger” where Mike walks in and we don’t know if Zach is going to shoot him? Meh. Because he’s not going to shoot him. If Mike were going to be killed, they’d have killed him here and ended the episode that way. If it’s being dragged out, it means he’s going to live. I’m just sayin’.

“Lost.” A terrible finale. Two hours of nothing happening, all leading up to … nothing happening. OK, so Sawyer gets shot, and some bad guys take Walt, and the raft gets blown up. Those are dire things, yes. But they’re also extremely random. They might just as well have had a pack of monkeys emerge from the jungle and begin firing pistols in the air. It’s not like the season had been leading up to these developments, or hinting at them. It was pure, random “Let’s come up with a cliffhanger to throw out at the last minute!” TV-making. The REAL question everyone wanted answered is, “What’s in the hatch?” And we STILL don’t know. That’s inexcusable, really. They ought to have shown us something — at least given us a hint, maybe something that could be interpreted several different ways — to keep us talking all summer. But now the summer discussion is, “What’s in the hatch” — which, guess what, you “Lost” jerks, is what we’ve already BEEN discussing! So TELL us already! I love this show, but the last few episodes of the season decreased that love several notches. (P.S. I did love when the science teacher blew up, though. That was awesome.)