I’m a sucker for goodbyes. The way things end are, for me, a lot more important than the way they begin, if only because, so often in life, we don’t really notice when things begin. You meet a girl at a party, and you’ve got no way of knowing you’ll end up marrying her; you buy a car with no idea that keeping the damn piece of crap running will cost so much money that you stupidly let your health insurance lapse, and then something goes wrong with you, personally; you have no way of knowing that annoying guy in the room across the hall in the dorm will end up being your best friend decades later, and so on. These things slip by unnoticed, and it’s only in hindsight that they have any real significance.
The actual goodbyes themselves I’m less particular about. They’re generally not all that good. Seinfeld ended badly, so did Northern Exposure, so did Cheers, so did Frasier. Yes, the M*A*S*H* finale moved me, but the show had long-overstayed its welcome by that point, the same is true of the Star Trek: TNG finale. The Babylon 5 finale moved me, eventually, but to my shame I had years and years of growing up to do before I finally got to the point where I ‘got’ it.
Curiously, the goodbyes that have the mean the most to me are the ones you hoped wouldn’t happen, the de facto finales where you’re forced to say goodbye to people you weren’t really done with yet. The premature finales of SG1 and Atlantis pissed me off because, clearly, we hadn’t reached the end of the road yet. The abrupt cancellation of Firefly affected me in ways that Serenity was never able to really make up for. The last episode of Crusade (By my count) is the one where the ship visits B5, and Max mentions that “Babylon 5 is one of those things that just goes on too long.” The last episode of The Monkees - the Frodus Plant episode - is strangely haunting, and when I found out, years later, that there was a Monkees movie, that just made matters worse: That final scene of them in a water tank, being driven away from the camera, pounding on the glass, trying to get out…well…suffice to say I never really got closure.
So it goes without saying that this has been a really rough year for me: Not only did Galactica totally crap out, but we lost Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chonicles, Dollhouse is doomed, we lost Kings, the best SF show since Firefly. And on top of that, we’ve lost Defying Gravity, a show I’d really grown to love.
Yes, I’m aware the show had problems. Pretty much nothing happened in nearly half of the episodes, it moved at an almost Mosfilm pace at times, it was overly PC and New Agey, it conflicted with my own values at times, and while I still don’t know what the hell was going on with Nadia, pretty much everything tied to that subplot was particularly icksome*. There were plenty of problems, I’m fully aware of that, and I’m fully aware that the show would have *eventually* let me down like Galactica did, probably in some similarly self-righteous and fundamentally silly fashion. Trust me, I get it: This is not my first barbecue.
None of which matters, really, because sometimes the spooky-yet-hot goth girl that you’ve been sneaking looks at for years comes up to you on the last day of high school, kisses you square on the lips, and then leaves and you never see her again, and you spend the next quarter century wondering what it would have been like, not so much because you want to trade what you have now - which is great - nor because you have some goofy romantic daydream assumptions of how things would have gone with her, but rather because you feel like maybe you missed something you could only have gotten through being destroyed by her.
As my band (“Republibot 3.0 and the Republibot 3.0 Orchestra, Featuring Republibot 3.0”) occasionally sings, “I’d still love to have been destroyed by you/For a year or two.”
All of which is my long-winded obituary for Defying Gravity. Forgive me for rambling on. It’s not all bad, after all: As unintentional final episodes go, this was a pretty good one:
PLAY BY PLAY
In 2043: The Chinese launch a probe to Venus, which evidently crashlands near the Gamma site. Some