WARNING!! This post contains spoilers about this week's NCIS episode, which was also the season finale. If you haven't watched yet, then do not, under any circumstances, press that button. (My apologies to non-US readers; I imagine you haven't had the option to see it yet. But I'm writing this now while I'm still thinking about it.)
Well, if you made it past the jump, then here goes. I love NCIS. I love the characters. I love the dialog. I love how every time I think they've run out of ideas, they surprise me. I love how the writers deal so beautifully with stringing along a story arc over multiple episodes, an entire season, or even multiple seasons (e.g., the tension between Gibbs and Vance).
The writing on the individual episodes, though, is pretty hit-or-miss. And nowhere is it worse than on season enders. The writers will give us such a beautiful buildup, it's all amazing, I can't wait to see the end, and then... clunk. And this season, alas, was no exception. All that tension they built up over the last four weeks (SERIOUSLY, STOP READING NOW IF YOU WANT TO BE UNSPOILED) so that we all think something horrible is going to happen, and on Tuesday night... nothing. The death of a tertiary character? Another tertiary in the hospital? You call that a terrible ending? That sort of thing happens on cop dramas all the time. Come on, NCIS. The penultimate episode with Mike Franks dying? Now that was awful. That was emotional and heart-wrenching. And he was a character we cared about. But not-McGee and not-Tony? So what? Even EJ being in danger was no big deal (although I admit you scared me a bit with Jimmy).
I will say the cliffhanger-- bringing in Tony to handle someone in the agency-- has me wondering. I hope they do something interesting with that next fall. But if it turns out to be Gibbs, I will weep in despair at their inane predictability.
All that to say, if I've learned nothing else from this show, I've learned the importance of a good ending. All the loose ends need not be tied up. People don't want tidiness from their stories; they want drama! They want something to hang on to! They want a reason to continue to care about the characters long after they are gone! I'd be the first to admit that endings are not something I'm well-acquainted with, mostly because I often feel at a loss as to how to finish a story. Because as a writer, I want my characters to have all their problems solved and everything tied up in a nice, neat bow. But as a television viewer and (more importantly) as a reader, I know that's not what I want to see from other authors. So I'd better not do it myself, either.
What kind of endings do you write? What kind of endings do you like? What did you think of this week's NCIS?