Finale Fever: A Rundown of May Sweeps 2015

4:35 PM Amanda Prahl 0 Comments

It's nearing the end of May, and every TV fan knows what that means: the end of another season, and the end of another cycle of that twisty, emotional, wonderful time known as May Sweeps. This is what every season leads to: a few weeks in which the writers throw our way every heartbreaking twist, heartwarming moment, and shocking twist they possibly can. Most of the time, it works. Some of the time, let's be honest, it doesn't. So, without further ado, let's take a quick look back at the highs (and some of the lows) of this year's batch of season enders. Although this should be pretty apparent, fair warning- spoilers abound!

Ah, l'amour
Sweeps is always a big time for romance in TV-world. A whole season of tension can finally come to a head with a big breakup or a big hookup. This season was no exception, with a whole slew of moments to tide shippers over until fall. As Jane the Virgin finally welcomed son Mateo, there were moments of hope on both sides of the Rafael-versus-Michael divide. Me, I think I'm leaning very slightly towards #TeamMichael- at least for now. Over at Once Upon A Time, Emma finally managed to say those three little words to Hook. Of course, she was immediately swallowed up by the disembodied form of the Dark One, so any more cute moments between the reformed pirate and the savior might have to wait a little while. Agents of SHIELD's FitzSimmons also finally addressed the elephant in the room: Fitz's declaration to Jemma in last year's finale, which has sat dormant most of Season 2. Then, because this is a Whedon(ish) show (and this relationship is reminding me more of Angel's Wesley and Fred every day), just as Fitz was out of sight to go pick out restaurant options for their date (cue the whoops of delight from fans everywhere), Simmons got sucked into a dark shape-shifting alien mass...thing.

(Seriously, ABC: home of dark nebulous masses of evil since 2005)

Perhaps the biggest victory this season, though, goes to Team "Olicity" on The CW's Arrow. While the angst upgrade of the relationship between Oliver and Felicity this season frustrated many fans who loved the pairing for its lack of typical wheel-spinning back-and-forth, the ending satisfied immensely by bringing back the light. The finale saw Felicity fully take on the role of heroic rescuer, donning the Atom suit to rescue a wounded Oliver, while still serving as the emotional core of Team Arrow. And as the episode drew to a close, the last shot was of Oliver and Felicity heading off for some down time, literally driving into the sunset.

Death and all his friends
It wouldn't be sweeps without a high body count, and this year, the Grim Reaper came a-calling, along with his cousins Coma and Magical Suspended Animation (thanks, The Vampire Diaries!). Surprisingly, some of the usual suspects actually kept the body count pretty low: Arrow only struck down its Big Bad, Ra's al Ghul- the first season, incidentally, in which the Big Bad has actually died. Agents of SHIELD more than made up for its genre-TV relatives, though, killing four important characters- mostly bad guys- and sending one hero into an unknown fate. The Vampire Diaries followed closely with three major deaths, all in its finale, and the aforementioned magical-Sleeping-Beauty scenario (necessitated by star Nina Dobrev's departure). Most, though not all, of these departures were suitably emotional, although for me, none were sob-inducing.

But it was Grey's Anatomy that was the real story on sweeps deathwatch this year, killing of its leading man of ten seasons on the very first night of sweeps. The past few years have been rife with the deaths of major characters thanks to real-life circumstances (Downton Abbey and The Good Wife both lost their leading men, for instance). But none has felt as unearned, as abrupt, as unnecessary, as the killing off of Derek Shepherd. Okay, maybe he's tied with Matthew Crawley as far as vindictive exits go. But at least in the latter's case, there was literally no way to write him out without him dying, whereas this season of Grey's had essentially proven that the show could function with minimal Derek and a long-distance marriage for him and Meredith. His death instead felt unearned and cheap, a blatant disregard for loyal fans, an obvious ratings grab (which, ironically, backfired- ratings dropped every episode following Derek's death). Not cool, Shonda Rhimes. Not cool.

High expectations versus low expectations
For me, Sunday nights for the past few years have consisted of a Once Upon A Time/The Good Wife doubleheader, with the latter show always coming out as the more impressive. In particular, OUAT has developed a (somewhat disappointing) knack for introducing a whole new world (pardon the Disney pun) at the end of each half-season- which then means a whole reset of exposition, new characters instead of the old ones... It gets exhausting even for a loyal viewer. Meanwhile, The Good Wife finales tended to revolve around excellent cases, awesome cliffhangers, and major personal developments (Season 2. Will and Alicia. Enough said). So naturally, my expectations for this season lined up with the past.

At the end of the day, these two finales probably were about equal in quality, but I felt so much more let down by The Good Wife because I had come to expect so much payoff. But in the span of one episode- and without much ado- we lost Kalinda to some new identity and life, suddenly decided Peter wants to run for president (but not really- it's complicated), and, after a season of delicious tension with Alicia, Finn departed suddenly and disappointingly.

OUAT, on the other hand, managed to subvert expectations to some degree. Instead of introducing us to a new land and a whole new set of fairytale characters, we got to focus on the core cast defeating the current villains, and then continuing the story arc with some major changes (Dark One/Emma?) and only one new character on the way. His name?

(Bonus points for you if you read that last line in John Hurt's voice.)

Looking ahead
Last week at upfronts, networks unveiled their fall and midseason lineups. And even though most finales have just aired within the past week or so, showrunners and their writers are already hard at work mapping out the stories for next season. Now, personally, I tend to be a pretty loyal viewer; it takes a lot to make me finally stop watching a show once I've started. But next season, I think my affection for The Vampire Diaries, Grey's Anatomy, and Castle may finally run out. I'm most excited for the return of Agent Carter and of the Arrow-verse and its expansion with Legends of Tomorrow, as well as the delightfully quirky Jane the Virgin, which continues to fill the Ugly Betty-shaped hole in my TV-viewing heart.

What about you? What finales had you on the edge of your seat or groaning in disappointment? What are you looking forward to next season?