There is a virus that has been spreading around our television shows for the last few years. It appeared out of the necessity to keep audiences engaged and thrilled throughout the Christmas hiatus, but the problem is, it has become dangerous. It no longer infects the viewers and leaves them wanting more. Instead, it destroys the subjects and leaves them in a constant state of anger, sadness and impatience:
It’s the M.S.F.D. (Midseason Finale Death) virus.
Note: there are SPOILERS for several shows in this article, so proceed at your own risk.
In the last two weeks, four out of the many TV shows that I watch have decided to have their midseason finales end with a death (or an apparent death): The Walking Dead (Beth), Sleepy Hollow (Irving), Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Triplett) and now, Arrow joins them by– I emphasize– apparently killing its main character, Oliver Queen, and then fading to black.
But up to which point is a midseason finale death shocking if you come to expect it from every show that you watch? In occasion, it doesn’t even make any sense, it’s just there to shock you rather than to leave you wanting more. And to be honest, I am starting to get a little bit tired of them. Maybe I have found the cure in critical viewing? Maybe it’s the fact that so many shows have done the same thing in such a short amount of time that I am no longer affected by it?
I understand, midseasons finales are supposed to leave you hanging, but there are many more ways to leave the audience wanting to watch further other than killing someone.
Admittedly, both ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ and ‘Sleepy Hollow’s’ deaths occurred before the show faded to black and ended with other two separate cliffhangers (Skye’s real identity and Henry’s betrayal of Moloch), and they could be, by the magic of both being fantasy shows, redeemable. There are clear loopholes to Irving’s death and while Triplett basically crumbled in tiny little pieces right in front of us, who’s to say he didn’t turn into a really cool invisible Inhuman? I am trusting that #TripLives, for now, but both those deaths still happened, and I wonder, were they necessary at all?
Not really. Irving didn’t really have much to do all season, so his heroic death didn’t feel satisfying because we didn’t have much insight into his struggle. In fact, it felt that Frank losing his soul had just happened in order for him to step up last minute to save the day.
Triplett, on the other hand, had not truly been developed. He looked great, flirted with the girls and was a genuinely great guy that everyone liked, but it didn’t really feel like he had intricate relationships with other members of the group and there was so much more about him that the audience could have learned, had he not been treated as disposable by the show. His death was heroic, but it felt gratuitous.
I would go into depth about Beth’s death in ‘The Walking Dead’, but I have written more about why it was a terrible choice here, so I am moving on to ‘Arrow’:
Last night, ‘Arrow’ went for it big time and made it apparent that its main character, Oliver Queen, aka. The Arrow was killed by Ra’s Al Ghul in a combat after he took the blame for Sara’s killing, in order to protect Thea from the League of Assassins. Now, we know Stephen Amell has been filming pretty consistently for the last few months, and sure, we could still see Oliver Queen in flashbacks while the show moves ahead without him, but I wonder…really? The show has made a point of never calling Oliver “Green Arrow” yet and that’s because the character still hasn’t become the Green Arrow. So is he really, truly, 100% dead?
Of course not.
So really, his death was there to leave you open-mouthed for like 5 minutes. Then it goes away and all you’re left with is “I wonder who will find him and how he will be resuscitated!”
So show writers, please, take a lesson from ‘The Flash’s’ midseason finale, and shock us all with something different than a death. Once your viewers start betting on who dies in each midseason finale (looking at you again, ‘Walking Dead’) you have to step up your game and come up with something new.
You can do better. We all can do better.
May the only thing that dies in next year’s midseason finales be the M.S.F.D. virus.