When you know this is your last season, it gives you room to pull some big moves. If your end date isn’t set, maybe you don’t want to pull the trigger on certain romances, or maybe you need to stretch a character arc out further to avoid painting yourself into a corner, or maybe there’s a popular character you can’t kill unless the end is nigh.
The character you choose to kill varies. Maybe you want to hit hard by killing a major, beloved character, like Arrow ending with the death and legacy of Green Arrow, or Alias giving a heroic end to one of its core cast in the finale. Maybe that feels like too much of a blow to your intended happy ending, so you kill off a more recent, less vital or popular character just to give the appearance of high stakes. Buffy killed Anya, Gotham opened its final season by killing Tabitha Galavan, literally the only series regular not from the comics still standing, Smallville killed Lex-Luthor-replacement Tess Mercer. And Lost killed… I want to say everybody? I never actually finished Lost.
Boston Legal certainly called up as many former cast members as a) were available, and b) were at least somewhat memorable (David E. Kelley threw a lot at the wall in the show, not all of it stuck). Arrow managed to get nearly every recurring character of note (save for most of the villains) into the series finale, if not earlier. Preacher only managed one, one of the angels from season one, but that’s fine, there was lot happening that year, like a lot, no time for old familiar faces.
And of course the nigh-perfect series finale of Scrubs, whose sole flaw was not technically being the series finale because the spin-off of Scrubs also called Scrubs was technically season nine, pulled this classic scene:
Lucifer and Supergirl were both prepping intentional final seasons. Well, Lucifer sure was; there has, on occasion, been speculation about how far into breaking season six the writers were before the producers, network, and Melissa Benoist made the call to end it here. Because, well… let’s examine.
Not that Lucifer had most of the classic options available…
Lucifer: “Wait another one? Dang it…”
See the thing is, Lucifer had also thought season five was going to be their last one. Netflix saved them for season four, it went well, so they said “Okay do one more to wrap things up.” Then while they were breaking the season, called back and said “Oh but make it six episodes longer? Thanks.” And then by the time they were filming, Lucifer on Netflix Mania was at full strength, so they called back and said “No wait one more, we want one more season after this.” Which meant Netflix had now ordered three seasons of the show, which for Netflix is just a lot of seasons, so they could be confident that season six was “the final season for reals this time.”
Thing of it is, they’d already pulled a lot of the stuff you expect from a final season. They’d brought back popular former cast members (Tricia Helfer as Goddess/Charlotte and Inbar Lavi as Eve, nobody was crying out to see Malcolm or Cain again), they’d finally introduced God and resolved Lucifer’s character-defining father issues. “Will they/won’t they” became “They sure will!” They’d tied a perfect bow on their four-season running gag of Lucifer’s run-ins with petty criminal Lee Garner, aka Mr. Said Out Bitch (in a way that stealthily set up the actual endgame of Lucifer’s character). And yes, they’d killed a main character. But this is a show where the afterlife exists and anywhere from one to three characters can just go there on a whim, so… they weren’t gone from the show for long.
So… what was left.
For starters, some fun callbacks to season one. Unable to start a fifth consecutive season with a Mr. Said Out Bitch bit, they instead went all the way to the beginning, as Lucifer opens the season premiere by getting pulled over by the same motorcycle cop that pulled him over in the very first scene of the very first episode. Shortly thereafter, in an attempt to see if Lucifer can learn to care about all of humanity as much as his close friends (or even Dan), a requirement of being the new God, he and Chloe pop down to Hell to visit Jimmy Barnes, the killer from the very first homicide they worked together. More on that in a bit, but it’s important to note that while in Hell, Chloe finds herself drawn to a Hell-door, from which the sounds of a piano playing “Killing Me Softly With His Song” are playing. Astute viewers will spot this as a callback to a key season two episode, recognizing it as the door to Lucifer’s own personal Hell-loop. The rest of us will need to look it up.
They do pull what few story triggers they have left to pull. Lucifer and Amenadiel find their true callings, the last of the human characters finds out the truth about their celestial friends (okay last except Chloe’s kid Trixie, but her half-sister is half-angel, so… clock is definitely ticking on that one). Eve’s still around, and her story with Mazikeen hits its end point (an endier end point than season five), which involves finally meeting Adam. They didn’t stunt-cast Adam like they did Lucifer’s parents, but he’s about perfect for the dude-bro Adam they wrote.
My only grievance? There was a moment, won’t say where, but it comes up, a moment where it would have made perfect sense for Malcolm Graham to show up as one last season one callback. I had no desire to see him back until the moment hit and I thought “Oh, this, this was the time.” They had a very good callback in that moment, sure, but it would have been neat to include Malcolm. Maybe the actor wasn’t available, maybe they realized nobody’s favourite season is season one*, so nobody’s favourite villain was Malcolm, so why bother digging him up, I don’t know. Maybe I’m just being swayed by how Legends of Tomorrow managed a perfect and hilarious return of their unpopular first-season villain, because again, zero desire to see Malcom again until the exact moment we should have.
(*If you’re reading this and your favourite season is season one, the only one without Ella Lopez, then get your life right.)
And now over to…
Supergirl: “Oh right we should do that.”
Okay gonna spoil one big thing here if you care about that.
So they did, for the very first time in the show’s history, kill a credited regular. Sure plenty of regulars have been written off (I wanna say, seven?), but none were killed, even the two who were season-villains that only came back once for the 100th episode. But of all the SuperFriends, the writers chose to kill… William Day.
I’ve already mentioned him by name a couple of times but you probably still don’t know who he is so I’ll explain. William Day was a famed reporter hired by CatCo after Andrea Rojas bought it and tried to make it more of a tabloid. He and Kara initially were rivals, until she found out he was secretly investigating Andrea (until Crisis on Infinite Earths changed the entire first half of the season, undoing Andrea’s overt villainy if not her powers, and now he was investigating Lex), and they became friends! Rivals to friends, both pretty people on network TV, we all think we know where this is going… but, as previously mentioned, the writers refused to commit to a romantic interest for Kara that wasn’t Lena Luthor (while also refusing to actually do anything with that potential pairing), so once Kara was out of the Phantom Zone they mentioned William was seeing someone else now and that was dropped. And then he just hung around, embedding himself in the SuperFriends for CatCo, until Andrea did something she shouldn’t have, pissed off Lex, and got William killed.
Which, sure, was sad. I’d gotten to like William. He was okay, tried his best, he was great with the kid they shoehorned into the crew so Alex could speed-run having a family. Although I suspected William bonding with the moppet over Great British Baking Show was a last-ditch effort to make him as loveable as they could so when they killed him at the end of the episode it would have impact. But it still felt like the second safest choice for a character death, after Andrea.
As for other finale flexes… in the last half of the last episode, they clearly thought “Huh, we should do some early-series throwbacks,” and then put literally all of them into the final fight with Lex and Nyxly. Having lost most of their magic, Lex summons up a bunch of former one-off villains: Parasite, Red Tornado, Red Daughter… the ones that are CG or fully masked and don’t require a specific guest star. It looks bad for the SuperFriends, but in come a bunch of old allies to turn the tide: Mon-El, Winn “Toyman” Schott, Jimmy Olsen in full Guardian regalia, even Alex’s mother, played by Helen Slater, with one last wink to the audience about how she was Supergirl back in the 80s. It also involved this moment, which… yikes. Not good.
Honestly even without the painfully on-the-nose line it’s just so obvious she’s dodging nothing, terrible shot.
Most of the returning players stick around for the wedding, save for Mon-El because he had to dip back out to the far future for ever and ever so no SuperCorp fans flipped out (I guess Karamel ‘shippers can go screw themselves, shoulda harrassed more people on Twitter), which gives Kara, Jimmy, and Winn, the OG SuperFriends, a nice moment to remember where it all started. As mentioned, Cat Grant phones in, and while it’s obvious Calista Flockhart was never on a set with any other cast member, it was still wonderful to see her back, and this meant the entire season one cast was back, which is exactly what I like in this sort of series wrap-up. Might have been nice to get it started sooner, or less abruptly, and if season one antagonist/ally Max Lord had returned after five seasons of not being seen or spoken of to say “Life is good… but it could be better,” I’d have forgiven a lot of this season’s flaws, but I’ll take what I can get.
The only regular cast members not seen or mentioned in the finale are, like Lucifer, mostly villains, and not villains who’ve remained relevant like Lex Luthor, his mother Lillian, or his absolutely insufferable henchman Otis Graves. Yes, I get it, he’s a reference to Ned Beatty’s character from the Donner Superman movies, but I audibly groaned or said “Oh for God’s sake” every time he was still in the show.
So we’re missing Odette Annable’s Jeckyl/Hyde friend/nemesis Samantha Arias aka Reign, but her time as “close friend” ended as abruptly as it started and she hasn’t been mentioned since episode 100; Sam Witwer’s Agent Liberty, who also hasn’t been around since 100 and they dropped “Supergirl vs Systemic Racism” as a theme so we don’t need him; Andrea Brooks’ repentant Luthor minion Eve Tessmacher, who was still in the final season at least; April Parker Jones’ Colonel Haley, the army officer who brought “systemic racism in law enforcement” to the Agent Liberty season; and Floriana Lima’s Maggie Sawyer, who… okay, as awkward as it might have been for Alex’s ex to show up at her wedding, it’s nowhere near as awkward as the fact that by the time the final episode aired, a re-cast Maggie Sawyer had turned up on Batwoman. So… Crisis got Floriana’s version of Maggie, I guess.
In short… no one we missed. Except maybe, maybe Sam Arias, there was a time she’d have warranted a wedding invite.
So yeah… they did the Final Season stuff I love… in one big clump at the very end. Practically an afterthought that led to the almost hilariously blunt wrap-up to Kara and Mon-El. Not ideal, but I can’t say I didn’t appreciate the effort.
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