As the summer gets into full swing, all of the TV shows that I watch (and there aren’t many) wind down and come to an end. In recent weeks, I have experienced two very significant season (and, in one case, series) finales that left me utterly breathless, and I figured that today was as good a day as any to give you all my thoughts on them.
* Warning: Penny Dreadful and Outlander related SPOILERS await you… *
- The End of Miss Ives
The first great loss I experienced during this TV season was the end of my favourite series of all time, Penny Dreadful. In a means that I can only call sneaky, Showtime and creator John Logan decided to create a series finale without alerting any of the fans beforehand. Imagine our surprise, then, when our beloved heroine Miss Ives died in the conclusion of the final episode of the third season. I knew as soon as her lover Ethan Chandler shot her that the series was coming to a close; although each of the actors and plots was incredible, Eva Green as Vanessa Ives was the heart and soul of the show, and it simply could not continue without her.
Although I was devastated and greatly saddened for weeks after watching the series finale, I was struck by how beautiful and artfully constructed the entire series was. I think it is most ironic that I wrote a blog post gushing about the characters and the writing only a few short weeks before the series came to an unexpected close, but I stand by every statement I made in that original post. Penny Dreadful was a series unlike any other: moving, powerful, visually intriguing, suspenseful and extremely well done. The commitment of the actors and crew was evident in every single scene, right to the difficult and depressing end. I do agree with many viewers that there were still multiple storylines that could’ve been explored in future seasons, but I also don’t mind the fact that the show ended on a high note, that it ran its intended course and finished on the top of its game. The final scene was also incredibly touching, and Rory Kinnear expertly portrayed all of the emotions of the fans as he sat by Vanessa’s grave and mourned her on behalf of all of us.
I will mourn Miss Ives myself though, and the days following her death were very sad for me. I know, she’s only a fictional character and I shouldn’t become so emotional about people that “aren’t real”. I’ve heard this argument many times before. I always respond to this statement, however, by reminding people that characters can very often become friends. I spent many years with Miss Ives, I watched her struggles and fear, I witnessed her growth, and I grew to genuinely care about what happened to her. I do believe that she had to die in order for her trials to come to an end, but I still felt as though I lost someone very dear to me in the process. Her character was an inspiration to me in many ways, and I won’t soon forget this show. It will absolutely continue to be one of my favourite shows of all time, and my respect for Eva Green as an actress knows no bounds.
- A 20 Year Silence
~ I am really not a fan of lovers being separated. ~
Another show that came to an end just this week is Outlander, based on the popular series of novels. I wrote a blog post about the TV adaptation a few years ago, when it first started, and I have to say that I have continued to be impressed by the series for the last two years. I have only ever read the first novel in the series, back when I was in university, and although parts of the TV show are a bit too historical and detailed for me (for example, all the information about the various battles), I do feel a strong connection to Claire and Jamie and their love story has really entertained me. The show also has some very powerful episodes that have left me heartbroken, angry and worried for my favourite characters, and there has been some absolutely spectacular acting on the part of Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan and Tobias Menzies, who is a force to be reckoned with as Captain Jack Randall.
Now, this show isn’t coming to a definitive end and has actually been renewed for two more seasons, which is very good news because the season two finale left me shaken. I am still haunted by it. If you’ve read the books, you’ll know the general story, but because I stopped after the first novel, I had no idea that Claire returns to the present and is separated from Jamie for…TWENTY YEARS!!! This seems totally absurd to me, and the scenario is made even worse by the fact that she raises their child with her first husband Frank, all the while hiding this monumental time travel secret from said daughter, Brianna. Like…what?!?! The season two finale played with all of my emotions: I was really sad at times, I was excited and happy to learn that Jamie was still alive, and I was nervous and anxious about how Brianna would take the news of her father’s true identity. It was a rollercoaster to say the least, and I was immediately sucked back into the story after wavering a little during all the political discussions and battle scenes that made up this season.
My visceral reaction to the finale is mostly down to Caitriona Balfe’s incredible performance as Claire in this episode. It goes without saying that Sam Heughan was perfect as Jamie, and the scene where Claire and Jamie say Goodbye to each other almost tore my heart in two. It is so clear to the viewer that they assume they will never see each other again, and I was moved by how passionate their acting was. Balfe really shines in the episode when she is alone, though, in those quiet moments when Claire visits various places in Scotland that remind her of her life with Jamie. She is in mourning and it is so evident that her heart is broken. My favourite scene was the one when she sits on the front steps of Jamie’s home, Lallybroch, and sees a vision of him standing in the distance. It was absolutely exquisite. Balfe’s performance at Jamie’s supposed grave was also very moving, and it was beautiful to watch her speaking to Jamie and filling him in on the twenty years of separation and of their daughter’s life.
As I said, I’m really not fond of any separation between lovers, fictional or otherwise. If someone told me today that I would have to be separated from my fiancé for the next twenty years…well, that would feel a lot like a death sentence. Despite the fact that, yes I know, Claire and Jamie aren’t actually real, their love is in my opinion; they might be characters, but they have feelings and sentiments that are expressed and portrayed to fans, and so it’s not so easy to dismiss their anguish or turmoil. I’ve been thinking about Claire and Jamie all day, wondering if they will be reunited, when it will happen, and how they will each hold up in the interval. Forgive me for caring so much about characters, but it’s just far too easy for me to empathize with them, to place myself in their positions and feel their pain right along with them.
And now, the cold spell begins. Penny Dreadful is lost to me forever, Outlander is on hiatus…and no other TV shows really interest me all that much. When you’ve encountered such intricate and detailed storytelling in some TV shows, it is so hard to sit around and watch others that just don’t meet those standards. So, for now, I wait…and maybe tackle all those books on my To-Read List in the meantime.
Girl with a Green Heart