Congratulations to Billions (a show I’ve written about before) for “sticking the landing” in an entertaining series finale.
It felt a little like Lord of the Rings with 12 endings...but it seemed to be a sign of how much the creators cared for their characters. (They discuss it at Deadline.)
It reminded me, of all things, of The Sopranos, with that (in)famous cut to black—not in that they’re the same, but that they’re completely different. There, creator David Chase (as is his wont) went out of his way to frustrate the audience.
I still remember watching the Sopranos ending, in our old apartment, and thinking maybe the satellite connection had gone dead—until I realized, oh, he’s not gonna tell us.
Chase had a lot of contempt for audience members who wanted to see Tony get whacked—when they’ve been pigging out on his exploits for seven seasons.
As with Succession, earlier this year, you remember the tragic or unusual endings more than the ones where everybody gets their just desserts or happy endings.
Because life doesn’t have happy endings or closure—stories need them, and life has its moments of “oh, that’s done now” (graduations and funerals), but not 12 of them intersecting at the same time.
So a good series finale has to be about finding that nice balance of resolved yet unresolved—hopefully with some irony. Succession did that perfectly, for me:
I do question a plot hole in the Billions finale (spoilers): even if Prince didn’t have his cell phone because he was in a secure location with the President at Camp David—you mean his staff couldn’t call the White House switchboard and be patched through immediately?
And Spyros got beat up because, in an hour, he got from midtown Manhattan to Camp David to confront the guards?
Ah, well...it’s just a TV show.