So it looks like midseason finales are a thing now—thanks a lot, AMC. But as so often happens, our crankiness at adapting to change is overwhelmed by our delight at the shiny new stuff. This year, we got some neat cliffhangers and not-so-neat story arc endings, so we’re setting this post to FULL-ON SPOILER ALERT. You’ve been warned.
Read on after the jump!
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Rob: I think the show has finally hit its stride. The midseason finale was fucking bananas and definitely evoked the wild sci-fi shenanigans of the best classic Marvel stories. Killing off the black guys felt a little shortsighted, though I suppose one of them might not be quite all the way dead. The Inhumans stuff is great and seems to slot the show into the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, though god help us all if Chloe Bennet spends more than a few minutes on screen with, say, Mark Ruffalo. But holy hell is Kyle MacLachlan a breath of fresh air. He and Clark Gregg are so much fun I want them to spin off into an Odd Couple-esque buddy comedy.
Mary: Wow, S.H.I.E.L.D. really pulled it together this season! Are you kidding me with Kyle MacLachlan? So excellent. (I would totally watch a buddy comedy with him and Clark Gregg!) And while I’ll miss the quiet evil of Reed Diamond’s Whitehall, I thought the anticlimax of his death was perfect. I’m annoyed they killed Trip, but I guess a good guy’s gotta die, too. Anyway, this show has grown from being solid filler between Marvel films to being an exciting story all on its own.
- American Horror Story
Rob: The season is nearly finished, so there’s no big pre-Xmas moment (or at least nothing bigger than the show’s already titanic aspirations). I think Freak Show may be the end of the line for me, as the rare moments of triumph (like the sweet revenge scene) are overwhelmed by my feelings of obligation toward the rest of the show. Each new season feels more and more like homework to me, sadly.
Mary: Ohhhhh I totally fell behind on this. I can’t figure out why exactly, but it felt like a chore to watch it. And it’s weird because I love the individual elements! But somehow I couldn’t quite get around to watching it.
Rob: Well, jeepers. That was unexpected. (Actually, I let Mary spoil the end for me because I thought I was all grown-up but I WAS WRONG.) Arrow definitely knows what kind of show it is, and the long slog toward Oliver’s final defeat and presumed death shows the thought and care that goes into its plotting. Side note: I’m loving the Ray Palmer/ATOM business, though I can’t imagine where they’re going with it.
Mary: This season came with many all-caps texts to my other Arrow-watching friends. Like ‘OMFG THEY KILLED SARA!!!’ and ‘OMFGWTF OLIVER CAN’T BE DEAD?!?!’ Also: ‘WTF is that Iron-Man suit?!’ and ‘OH SHIT Oliver just figured out Thea can fight!’ and ‘OLIVER GIVES SHITTY DATING ADVICE.’ The crossover episodes with The Flash were absolutely charming: Oliver’s constant exasperation at everyone as well as his literal stabbing Barry in the back was hilarious. As for the finale, that climactic fight scene was fantastic, and it was interesting to see Oliver so easily bested during the fight up until the horrible conclusion. I’m very curious to see if the popular theory that he’ll be resurrected in the Lazarus Pit is correct. It has to be, right?
Mary: I mentioned that the first episode was like a better-than-expected first date: there weren’t sparks, exactly, but I decided to see what happened. And I like the show well enough, though I do think it suffers for being on network as opposed to cable, but the casting especially makes up for any shortcomings, and the special effects and general feel are solid. Most of all it made me want to dig into the comics, so that’s great.
Rob: I was deeply skeptical going in, and while it still can’t handle exposition with any finesse at all, I’m warming to the actors and the stories they’re trying to tell. This might be as good an adaptation as we’re ever likely to see of an excellent comics series, and the midseason cliffhanger (John shot and left to die at the claws of an impossible monster) was nuts. And it looks like they’re bringing Zed’s comics backstory to the forefront, which will be fun to watch unfold.
- The Flash
Rob: This has been getting better and better all season, and the end-of-the-year payoff was well worth the first few rough episodes. The Yellow-Suit/Reverse-Flash/Professor-Zoom guy showed up and caused all kinds of trouble, including what I think was laying the grounds for his own creation. (I know, time travel is wacky.) We met Firestorm in a rather sweet subplot that sadly emphasized the limited range of the show’s supporting actors, but still: Firestorm! Barry got smacked around by his limitations and finally shared his feels with Iris. We’ve got a lot to look forward to.
Mary: The Flash’s finale also wore out my caps-lock. I won’t post the lengthy discussion, but suffice to say there was a lot of swearing and re-watching clips and comic-ignorant speculation. Was the accident at S.T.A.R. Labs even responsible for Barry’s powers? Because that initial blast passed right by him and it was the lightning that transformed him. And obviously the Professor has way more involvement than Barry knows. And Reverse Flash! And that one dude is totally on fire. And is the Professor from the future? Is Barry’s dad from the future?! Our conclusion can be summed up by this image from Comics Alliance and more swearing.
Rob: My early skepticism lies dead on the ground in Crime Alley. This is my favorite new show of 2014, thanks to killer performances by Donal Logue, Robin Lord Taylor, and Sean Pertwee, among others. While the midseason closer was pretty low-key compared to the rest of our roundup (Gordon gets a demotion, Bruce lives a little, Alfred raises holy hell, and Penguin gets scared), it was satisfying and moved every storyline along nicely. I’m starting to wonder if the show could be a victim of its own success—what in the world will it look like in five years? Ten? Yikes. (Not that I won’t be watching.)
Mary: I wound up liking this show even more than I thought I would. I know I talked a lot about this during the podcast episode about Gotham, but I love this iteration of Alfred, he and the Penguin were both pleasant surprises. It’s true that the midseason was pretty low-key (my caps-lock remained unpushed), but it was a satisfying stopping point… sort of like the end of Empire Strikes Back .
- Sleepy Hollow
Rob: Well, good heavens, that was a bit of excitement. In a show that already ratchets up tension on every episode, the writers forced our heads into the icy water of the Apocalypse. I loved quite a bit about the last episode, including the frantic but clever mythologizing, Henry’s lovely betrayal, and Irving’s stunning badassery (I’m not so sure he’s out of the picture yet and am fearful/hopeful that he’ll come back as a new Horseman or maybe even War II).
Mary: YOU GUYS. My favorite thing all season is Irving wielding that badass sword. (Yes, more caps lock.) Also, is Irving dead?! And is all his soul are belong to Henry? Or does that not matter now that Henry killed Moloch? Also, I’ve felt all season that they were gearing up to put Ichabod and Abbie together, but they needed a way to put Katrina aside where she was neither a martyr nor abandoned. Now, Ichabod and Katrina are taking time apart, and then there’s the scene where Ichabod holds Abbie back when she finds out Irving is dead and tries to go to him and you can see Katrina blurred in the background… it all solidified my suspicions. Pretty sure there’s a lot of very happy slash-Tumblrs right now.
Mary: Wow, you wouldn’t think a show in its tenth season could still be this great, but after all the trips to Hell and back (literally) and the loss of souls and lives and comrades, this show is still so much fun. The unsatisfying conclusion of the demon story is actually okay because it wasn’t really a conclusion: while Dean is technically not a demon anymore, but he’s still struggling with the Mark of Cain, as shown writ large (and in blood) in the finale. That dude hunting Dean was a let-down, but how great is Crowley’s mom?! The best episode this season was the very meta-episode ‘Fan Fiction,’ which was not only the 200th episode of the series but a loving tribute to the rabid fan base. Sam and Dean wind up at an all-girls high school that’s putting on a musical based on the Supernatural novels penned by the prophet Chuck Shurley (who makes an appearance at the end of the episode! Is he ALIVE?!) The episode is as good as ‘The French Mistake.’ Maybe even better. Other great moments this season included Cas attempting to reconnect with the daughter of his host, Jimmy, and generally being more human than he’s ever been. Best quote all season: ‘Now I realize that there is no righteous path, it’s just people trying to do their best in a world where it is far too easy to do your worst.’
- The Walking Dead
Rob: The midseason ending has been controversial, but the show is pretty well dedicated to killing its characters at a regular clip, so they have to throw a fan favorite into the meat grinder now and then or you end up with zero stakes (compare Star Trek TOS vs. TNG). I loved Beth too, and her growth over the last season has been lovely to watch—but it made the episode even more powerful. Even the manner of her death felt right—so stupid, so unnecessary, so brutally sudden—though I understand most of the internet disagrees with me. The show itself has been killing it with focused storytelling and dynamic characterization. More, please!
Mary: I’m still not caught up, but I know about Beth’s death, which is sad. But I would have been sadder if it was Carol. Carol’s still alive, right? Isn’t she? Wait, don’t tell me…