The Army Wives Finale and Cheap Endings: My Personal Promise

Army Wives Cast
Army Wives Cast © Lifetime

As a blogging author, 99% of my topics are about, well, books. Mostly my books, occasionally other peoples books. Oh yeah, and a little bit of soapboxing thrown in for good measure.

I’ve got a horrendous cold and so I was actually taking a break from writing an editing yesterday. It seemed like a great day to clean out the DVR and Sunday night’s Series Finale, er wait, Season Finale, er….Finale of Army Wives caught my eye.

Now, if you care what happens on AW and haven’t watched, stop reading this post now because SPOILERS AHEAD – I’m gonna get a bit ranty and I wont be censoring myself.

Alright, you were warned. (Oh and as full fair warning, I am going to mention the Grey’s Anatomy Season Finale from this past May, if you are that behind on Greys that you don’t already know what I mention, well what is wrong with you?)

Ok, now that all disclaimers are out of the way-

Army Wives has not been Cancelled or Renewed as of right now. 

Update 9/24 – As of a few days ago, Yes Army Wives HAS been renewed for Season 7, coming in 2013 

 However, four episodes ago, Lifetime began promoting their episodes as “only 4 more episodes until it all ends,” etc. Now, Catherine Bell posted on her FB page last week that no, the series has not been cancelled but only time will tell. She asked fans to call Lifetime and ask them to keep it on the air.

From my understanding, Army wives was only supposed to be 12 episodes this season but then the network ordered more bringing the season to 23 episodes. This season as a whole has been pretty intense with lots of moments that I can only think were meant to be attention getting. I mean, come on. First, Claudia Joy nearly dies, but then Denise is a match. Claudia Joy nearly dies again on the table. Frank gets shot on post by a crazed gunman. We had several cast members injured – from Galacini being injured in combat to Kevin being put in a wheelchair. Plus they examined don’t-ask-don’t-tell with Charlie and Galacini It was nothing if not a season to get people talking. And that is something I can live with. They need ratings, I get it. I do.

At the very end of the next to last episode, Domestic Maneuvers, Frank and Denise spot Michael with another woman. They lead you to believe he is having an affair. That is of course a gasp-worthy moment and has everyone freaking out, and of course tuning in to find out what is what. They ended the episode with Frank in Michael’s office confronting him about it, only moments before Michael presumably explains himself.

So that brings us to the final episode, Onward. We quickly learn that no, Michael is not having an affair. (duh, did anyone really believe that he would?) The woman he was meeting was a head of some Air Force base they are merging with. That is kind of random and sudden and was barely mentioned again throughout the episode, so to me, this really wasn’t a plot point, it was a getting attention and ratings point. Fine, irritating enough, but so be it. We learn that the division is being recalled to Afghanistan.  They need more support over there. Sucky, but believable. That set us up for nearly an entire episode of goodbyes. Since this was rumored to possibly be the last episode ever it was fitting. Trevor and Roxy are PCSing, so they were saying goodbye to everyone. Keven and Michael are staying behind, all our other servicemember cast are going – Nicole, Frank, Joan, Hector.

After they have all said their goodbyes, we cut to the plane. There is turbulence, they fasten their seat belts, they look panicked. (Click the link for a video of the final moments)

And then we are in Michael’s office. He is getting a phonecall. He sinks to his chair. No. When. Oh God. No.
The End.

Really? No Freaking way. Not acceptable. That my friends is what I define as a cheap ending. Essentially they want you to believe they are all dead. Seriously? First off, my theory is that the phone call will turn out to be about Claudia Joy. That is, if the show comes back. She’s barely been on any episodes this season, I think they are done with her. But they’ve left it in such a dramatic and shocking way that they 1) get people talking, 2) keep people begging for more and 3) didn’t show them dying so that they dig themselves a hole they can’t get out of if the show does return.

It’s a stunt for no other reason than to be purposefully shocking. And that’s cheap. It’s not good drama.

Now, last season, when they were closing the post we got a great season finale worthy of a series finale. Everything made sense and there was a feeling of closure. This though, it doesn’t make me feel closure, it makes me friggin furious.

It isn’t that cliffhanger plane crashes can’t be done. Shonda pulled it off wonderfully on the season finale of Grey’s Anatomy. We know some are dead (Poor Lexie) we know some are in big trouble (Poor Mark) and we know some will probably make it – (Hopefully both Mer and Der, mkay, please?) Anything could happen, but we at the very least are grounded in feeling like we know some of what happened. We aren’t left asking Did the plane really go down? with the possibility of NEVER getting answers if the show is cancelled.

Cheap.

So, since cheap endings make me so mad, here is my promise to you. As an author I will sometimes leave you guessing. I wont answer all your questions in every book. Sometimes, there may be a cliffhanger. But you will never not know if another book is coming to answer those questions, and I will at the very least give you some major closure enough to feel satisfied (hopefully) with what you just read.

I will not leave you with cliffhangers simply to get you to buy the next book. Instead, cliffhangers will happen because the story isn’t over, it can’t always fit in one book. I can’t promise you I won’t kill any characters, because then I’d be lying. I can promise that I wont do it for shock value. Sometimes though, it fits and it needs to happen.

I will not cheapen your experience. I will work to build your trust as an author and a storyteller, hopefully give you the sense that the time you spend reading my books is time you’ve spent well, and never making you think you’ve been had, or played or exploited.