What did the Leader really look like behind that glowing light on the shuttle? What were his true motives in coming to Earth? Would Diana's violent plan succeed (killing the Leader, Elizabeth and Kyle?) And what about true love? Would it triumph over the desperate need for interplanetary peace?
9. Surface: "Episode 15" (2006)
This pronouncement was voiced from atop a church steeple as a dramatic CGI pullback revealed that Wilmington, North Carolina -- and indeed the whole South East sea board -- had been devastated and flooded in a "tele"-tsunami caused by the series' giant, man-created sea monsters.
It was a portentous moment. The Earth had changed...forever (and yes, this change was clearly meant as a metaphor for global climate change).
By culminating on a catastrophic and apocalyptic note, Surface ultimately proved to have the courage of its nutty convictions. It would have been tempting to end on an easier, less-expensive note, one that wouldn't turn the Earth's surface upside down.
But instead, the writers and creators of this inventive short-lived series (The Pate brothers) chose the hard way, and followed-through with a narrative about the price of continuing damage to our environment.
Thus the series -- in the grand tradition of the best science fiction -- serves as a precautionary tale about ambitious scientists, corporate interests, and government agendas pushing ahead of personal responsibility.
The big loser, suggests Surface's ending...is the Earth herself.
And after the BP Oil Spill last year, who can really doubt that's a true observation?
8. Mystery Science Theater 3000: "Diabolik" (1999)
Case in point, the final episode of the series: "The Truth." It not only featured a terrific demise for the most iconic villain of 1990s television, The Cigarette-Smoking Man, the episode also brilliantly summarized a decade's worth of conspiracy clues into one relatively concise and clear-cut "courtroom" trial, as Mulder was prosecuted by the F.B.I..
But if you take away the brilliant narrative structure, what really makes "The Truth" sparkle so much is the final, intimate scene between partners and friends Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson).
Importantly, it takes place in a motel room, which Mulder notes is the same locale where he first tried to convince his new, inexperienced partner, about he world of aliens and government conspiracies. So, much like the MST3K denouement, there's a "we've come full circle" aspect to this final episode. The end brings us back to the beginning.
But the importance of the final scene, finally, comes in what Mulder "wants to believe." He speaks to Scully in earnest, beautiful, thoroughly human terms:
"I want to believe that the dead are not lost to us," he says. "That they speak to us as part of something greater than us; greater than any alien force. And if you and I are powerless now, I want to believe that if we listen to what's speaking, it can give us the power to save ourselves."
This beautifully-worded, passionately-delivered monologue is the heart and soul of The X-Files: the universal human yearning to believe in something greater than what we see and hear around us everyday.
The truth is not out there, it's in here...in the hearts of Mulder and Scully, and in the love they share for each other. That too tells us something important.
When you can't believe for sure in Ultimate Knowledge; it helps to have someone you love very much who believes in you, and vice-versa. That's the note that we leave this wonderful series on: that if Scully and Mulder can't believe in UFOs, aliens, or even God, they can take solace that they believe in each other.
The Scorpio is badly damaged in a space battle and it crashes on the frontier world, leaving Avon's avengers without even modest transportation. They find Blake - scarred and battle-weary - but Avon fears that his old friend has sold him out to the Federation Security forces. Blake and Avon endure a final confrontation, and only one man survives.
Then, the Federation troops arrive to put down the insurrection once and for all, and there is a devastating shoot-out between Federation shocktroopers and the survivors of Avon's squad
This fiery, violent finale takes the conclusion of Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid one step further. There's no polite freeze-frame here. No sir; not in this unsentimental, caustic (and brilliant) series. Instead, there's a slow-motion shoot-out and the dramatis-personae you have grown to care for over the course of four years....go down hard.
And that's after the stunning confrontation between Avon and Blake.
Basically, this is the Blake's 7 episode where your hopes come crashing down. All throughout the series, audiences have followed Blake on his "impossible" dream to topple a space-spanning Federation. At times, you might have actually believed that Blake - the idealist and hero - can accomplish this. Even though it seems an impossible task.
The final episode "Blake," makes you right your expectations. You were deluded, buddy. There's no way this thing is going to have a happy ending.
In fact, the strange smile that forms on Avon's face just before the end of the episode may well be his final understanding of this fact. His bemused recognition that he too -- the ultimate cynic -- bought into a futile dream. You don't fight City Hall and win. You might disrupt it for a while, but you're just not going to beat a Galactic Federation.
Blake's 7 remains true to its story line by expressing this idea with "Blake," a ballsy, gut-wrenching, truly apocalyptic finale. The series was always unromantic, and so the final episode lives up to that tradition. It is cosmically unromantic.
Some fans hate the ending of Blake's 7, and I can understand why.
As fans, we always want to believe that "the adventure continues." We want to believe that our heroes survive to fight another day. But that's really -- if you examine the program closely -- not ever what this program was really about.
Blake's 7 concerns desperate men fighting a desperate battle, and on this day - and in their last adventure - the law catches up with them.
Again, a perfect ending to a brilliant series. With all due deference to Shakespeare, sometimes all's well that doesn't end well (for the characters, that is.)