In the middle of all the "season end" episodes of shows I have watched faithfully, I am beginning to think I need something for post traumatic stress disorder.
The cliffhanger was a great ploy to keep people coming back to Saturday movie matinees when I was a kid. It was usually a western or a science fiction serial that ran and the end of each episode left the hero or heroine in grave danger--falling off a cliff, tied to the railroad tracks with an approaching train or other such seemingly impossible catastrophe about to happen.
Of course when you went back the next week, all was well until the end of that week's episode where there was another bit of impending doom to cope with throughout the coming week.
TV shows, at least the ones which had continuing story lines from week to week, did that too. The end of each season left you wondering what was going to happen--who was pregnant? who lost his/her job? whose life was in danger?
But I'll tell ya, the season endings this year have left my head spinning.
Private Practice must hold the record for plot twists in one episode. There was: an accident, a birth, open heart surgery, 2 brain surgeries (back to back by the same surgeon), a death, and life-changing decisions made by three? four? different couples. That's a lot to pack into an hour. It was the most implausible episode ever. This is just page one of ABC's 5-page recap of the episode:
Sam tries to calm a man who was in a car crash before he operates on him. Little does he know, this is the drunk driver that plowed into Dell and his (Sam's) pregnant daughter. In another section of the hospital, Dell is diagnosed with minor injuries. Maya, however, has no feeling below the waist. She thinks it’s because of the epidural. Unfortunately, she hasn’t had one yet.
Addison begins an emergency C-section to deliver Maya’s baby, but something is wrong. Maya’s pressure is dropping fast. They need to keep the baby inside her until Amelia can determine what’s happening. The news is not good. If they save the baby, there’s a good chance Maya will never walk again....
By the end of the episode at least one of the beloved characters is dead and it seems that everybody who was sleeping with somebody last week is sleeping with somebody else now and in the middle of all the blood and gore and angst there is a proposal. I can hardly wait to see what happens in episode one next season.
Then there is Desperate Housewives, with Lynette trapped in the house with the Fairview Strangler--and she's in labor to boot and he has to deliver her baby. Susan and Mike have to move off of Wisteria Lane and into an apartment (what happened to all that money Susan had in her bank account?) Gaby wakes Nick out of a coma and takes him from his hospital bed to go save Angie from the clutches of her homicidal ex (unlike Jack Bauer, Nick isn't able to leap out of bed and start fighting). Bree signs her company over to the son of her ex-husband when he threatens to blackmail her by letting the police know her son was the hit and run driver who killed Carlos' mother. Angie makes a bomb for Patrick, but rigs it so that when he presses the detonator, it blows him up instead. The new renter for Susan and Mike's house turns out to be creepy Paul Young, whose past I can't quite remember, but it included murder and his desire to kill Mike. And, if that weren't enough the very last minute includes a deathbed confession of baby-swapping by a nurse at the hospital. One of the houswives has been raising a child who is not hers--but who?
We knew a death would occur on Brothers and Sisters because they had been hinted that this time "one of their own" would not survive. It was supposed to be a big secret, but when Rob Lowe was announced as a new cast member on another show, it seemed pretty clear that his character, Robert, would die. And he did. In an accident that involved almost the entire Walker clan, each driving home in his/her own car from a family gathering to celebrate finding a gusher of water on some desert land, which is going to make them all rich again. But not before Robert reveals some incriminating evidence and hides it to prevent it from hurting his wife's candidacy, Rebecca suggests she and her new husband Justin live apart for a year, each following his/her own dreams, and Saul finally takes an HIV test and it proves positive. Fun times for the Walkers.
Then there was the Grey's Anatomy finale with a gun-toting husband of a patient who died at Seattle Grace running around the halls shooting everybody, especially surgeons. (At least he killed the gorgeous nurse who had the hots for Derrick, so we don't have to worry about that story line going anywhere.) Meredith has a positive pregnancy test and then suffers a miscarriage while doing surgery. Meredith's husband Derrick is shot and Cristina has to save him, while Meredith is busy trying to save Cristina's boyfriend Owen--or is he her boyfriend? They've gone back and forth so many times it's dizzying. Miranda Bailey, in a St. Peter moment, denies being a surgeon in order to save her life, but can't save the life of her intern. Then there is the Lexie-Alex-Mark situation. Alex still loves ex-wife Izzie, but has been with Lexie who just realized that she really still loves Mark and Mark realizes that he really loves her, but with Alex dying, Izzie professes her love for Alex and what will that do to anybody's relationship? At least Arizona and Callie finally worked out their problem with the notion of having children when they realized they still loved each other.
But all of this probably pales in comparison to 24, which hasn't hit its finale yet, but the ultimate 24 moment had to be when Jack ripped open a guy's gut to root around in his stomach and intestines to find a SIM card so he could check who he had been calling on his cell phone (the evil Nixon-esque ex-president). It was a great testiment to the durability of SIM cards! (But everybody seems to have forgotten about the loose nuclear rods that started this whole season anyway!)
And no, I'm not in the least embarrassed to admit that I know all of these details so intimately! Now I'm all jazzed for tonight's Lost finale.