On Cliffhangers

I finally got around to watching the latest ep of The Event, and I need to talk about… whatever the hell that was. I get that you want to have an ending that will bring your audience back next week, but you need to realize that that doesn’t mean you must have a cliffhanger. I’m not just talking about The Event here either, I’ve noticed this a few times, this is just the instance that pushed me to write about it.

Okay, so let’s say you’ve got a nice scene where, after a crisis has (presumably) been dealt with, two characters who have been at odds have a quiet moment and bond for the first time. Because, you know, that’s exactly what this episode of The Event had. Right at the end. Which would have made for a really nice character-driven ending to the episode. Instead there was a minute left, with Random Creepy Troll Girls. It was a laughable B-movie reveal, and I think clearly a much worse ending.

Why is this not a good enough way to end the episode? Why is it so often shows feel the need to tack on the ‘OMG holy crap what!?!?’ moment, as opposed to going the emotional route with the ending? Sterling and the President sharing a beer in silence was a much stronger ending then EYM THE LEAPRECHAUUUUN! and I find it odd that they couldn’t tell that when they were making it.

If you look at shows known for having crazy, awesome, intense cliffhangers (like my previously-posted Event inspiration, 24 and Lost), you’ll notice that a lot of the time they actually didn’t go for the cliffhanger ending. For one thing the emotional, character-centric endings are often more satisfying to the audience, and I think that will bring them back next week even better than a WTF cliffhanger will. For another, if every single episode has a cliffhanger, they kinda lose their potency. We’re invested in the characters and the story, not in random shit, dammit! I’m sure you thought Andy Rooney playing with My Little Pony was a great idea, but maybe you could have held off on that until next episode, hmm?

-Jerk

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~ by Jerk on November 13, 2010.

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