Thursday, May 31, 2012

What Season Finales Teach About Series Writing (Part Three: HIMYM and Revenge)

Quick Update: SCHOOL’S OUT FOR SUMMER! Yep, it’s been my first week of summer break and…I’ve done absolutely nothing extraordinary. Even the video-game I’m playing is one I’ve finished before. Pathetic, I know.

Song Stuck In My Head: “Home” by Phillip Phillips. And “Volcano” by Phillip Phillips. And “U Got It Bad” by Phillip Phillips. And “Time of the Season” by Phillip Phillips. Etc. What? This is the first time I picked a favorite from the audition, and the first time one of my favorites WON AMERICAN IDOL! Let me celebrate, even if it’s a week after the finale.

Well, continuing from last week’s series, SSF is exploring all the wonderful things that not-so-wonderful season finales can teach us about series writing.

Today, we tackle HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER (the reigning queen of funny twist endings) and REVENGE, the dark, murder-filled prime-time soap that people watch from guilty pleasure alone.


As all HIMYM fans know (and non-fans will learn now so, er, *spoiler alert*) this past season began almost swimmingly. Our hopeless romantic hero Ted, who just can’t seem to get a girl, was at a wedding. A wedding where the groom happens to be Ted’s womanizing second-best friend, Barney. Say what? We know. Well, according to Ted, who tells the whole show in flashbacks, that was the wedding where he met THE MOTHER. Oh yeah.

So what did the first episode of season 7 do? Why tease, of course. Ted was going to the unidentified bride’s room to talk with her. Oh yes! Viewers everywhere think. We are making good progress! Viewers everywhere think. Then, after promising to reveal all very soon, the rest of the season is plagued by every other plotline in the world except flashbacks to Barney’s future wedding (yes, all very confusing, try to keep up).

But the season finale didn’t completely disappoint. After Barney proposed to stripper girlfriend Quinn, Ted finally made it to the bride’s room…oh wait, that bride’s Robin? Throw out the party celebration banners everyone, it’s time for another HIMYM-style mindfuck. But hey, at least HIMYM did us one favor: it finished what it started. After raising one question at the beginning of the year, it answered it. Congrats.

Harry Potter translation: Let’s take…Goblet of Fire. At the beginning, we get a variety of questions. Why is Harry having dreams of an old gardener getting killed? Who were those creepy masked guys at the Quidditch World Cup? Who made Voldemort’s mark appear in the sky and what the hell is his problem? At the end, all of those questions get answered…we just may not like the answer.


REVENGE teaches us to be badass!!! Just kidding, it teaches us to NOT LEAVE STUFF THE SAME

Ah, Revenge is its own  brand of mindfuck. In one episode, it manages to make us believe that three villains are dead, two heroes are in trouble, one annoying girl is pregnant, and that break-ups aren’t so bad after all. Once the finale is over, we pause and say, “Hey, wait just a second, are you just messing with us? That chick’s not really dead, is she? And she’s not really pregnant! IT’S ALL A SCHEME! A HOAX! THIS SHOW ISN’T EVEN REAL! WE’RE ALL DREAMING RIGHT NOW, AREN’T WE?


Anyhow, Revenge does like to keep us guessing. It also makes sure that nothing is ever the same. At the beginning of the season, “Emily” was a mysterious outsider who had murder in her eyes for a small group of prissy elite. By the end of the season, Emily’s emotions kept her from cold killing and it turns out she can’t blame her problems on these rich people because there’s a whole bigger, badder conspiracy at work.

The other subplots have their fair share of changes, but this change is the only important part. The character shifts, the antagonist shifts, the motives shifts, and the whole entire story takes a step up. What else could we could ask for? Season two is bound to drop some jaws too. For now, we’ll just keep guessing.

Hunger Games translation: At the beginning of book one, we got a tough, independent girl who avoided the idea of government/the Capitol and whose only concerns were food. Once the first chapter’s over, we got a crazed yet admired girl whose only concerns are making sure the government/Capitol feels her wrath. Really, Katniss is still as strong-headed and determined as always…but now she has I-killed-people baggage to carry around and her fair share of mortal enemies. AND NOTHING SHALL EVER BE THE SAME!!!

Okay. All for today, boys and girls.


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