Spoilers, Sweetie. This isn’t just a cutesy intro line. This post is, in fact, full of spoilers. You have been warned!
Also please don’t complain that I’ve neglected to mention the Time Lord here because plot twists and cliffhangers are woven into the fabric of Doctor Who. It would require composing a very thick tome in order to discuss all of them and frankly it makes my brain hurt to try to narrow it down to just a few. I’ll only say River Song and move on to the post proper…
So recently on The Hour, Freddie Lyon finally gets his personal life sorted then proceeds to rush headlong into a insanely dangerous situation, inserting himself between a story source and some ruthless thugs. At the end of series 2, things look very bleak indeed…
Could Freddie actually be dead? I prefer to think he’s clinging to life so that he may once again set eyes on his beloved Moneypenny. This classic example of a cliffhanger leaves our protagonist in a precarious situation in hopes that we will be compelled to return to discover the resolution. But here’s the thing – The Hour has yet to be recommissioned for a third series so, as they say in the Tootsie pop commercials, “The world may never know,” and in our minds Freddie Lyon may be forever on the precipice between life and death.
This got me thinking about other telly shockers I’ve enjoyed:
Sherlock – The Reichenbach Fall
Though the end of this episode reveals Sherlock alive and well at his own graveside, we’re left in the dark about how he actually survived. We all saw him jump off a multi-story building, smash his skull, and be interred, or did we?
While countless others make YouTube videos, blog their postulations, and debate on fan forums, I prefer to actually wait and see how Mr. Holmes cheated death. No matter how long it takes to reunite the insanely in-demand duo of Cumberbatch and Freeman, I have faith that the Moff will eventually reveal all.
Life on Mars – Series Finale
First off for those who still don’t know the premise of this show: ” My name is Sam Tyler. I had an accident, and I woke up in 1973. Am I mad, in a coma, or back in time? Whatever’s happened, it’s like I’ve landed on a different planet. Now, maybe if I can work out the reason, I can get home.”
This one also features a leap of faith (pardon the pun). After trying so hard to wake up from his coma and get the hell out of 1973, DI Sam Tyler realizes he’d really rather be back in the “dream state” where he felt far more alive than he ever did in real life. He too takes a tumble off a rather tall building, rejoins the colleagues he had abandoned in very dire circumstances and saves the day. It appears that it’s all happily ever after for Sam, but I’m told to truly understand the big picture you must watch the finale of the Life on Mars sequel, Ashes to Ashes for all to be revealed. A cliffhanger within a plot twist…so clever.
Misfits: Series 1 finale
As a result of being caught up in a freak electrical storm, a group of young probationers find that each of them has gained a supernatural power of some sort – invisibility, the ability to turn back time, hearing other people’s thoughts, super sexiness (that one’s rubbish, by the way). Everyone has a power, except Nathan, unless of course being a cocky, mouthy bastard can be considered an extraordinary skill. Throughout the whole first series, Nathan waits for his power to take effect or be revealed and it isn’t until, wait for it…HE FALLS OFF A TALL BUILDING and is impaled on some fencing. He’s buried and then this twisty, Jack Harknessy thing happens (You knew I wouldn’t drop the Whovian references altogether. I just wanted to take some of the pressure off):
Comedy programs can leave us hanging as well and usually center around a long-established “will they, won’t they” romantic scenario.
Twenty Twelve: Series finale
Ian Fletcher, the head of the Olympic Deliverance Committee would be nowhere without his ultra-efficient and sweetly loyal PA, Sally Owen. She sees the extreme stress that Ian’s job and unraveling marriage is inflicting on him and undertakes to look after his health and welfare in her wonderfully quiet way. As Ian’s life gets even more chaotic, Ian and Sally fall out and she leaves her job only to return when he is abandoned by his new PA at a very inconvenient time. In the end, as the deliverance committee hands over its work and disbands, Ian prepares to leave for a trip to Italy, planned by Sally naturally. Ian calls Sally into his office to talk about something important and well, that’s it. We’re left in the dark. Does he invite Sally to accompany him? Is he about to thank her for her dedication and send her on her way? This is the cruelest type of cliffhanger of all; one that is purposely ambiguous and never to be resolved. Disappointing but somehow appropriate for this couple and this show.
This post wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the most authentic cliffhanger I know of:
Green Wing: Series 1 Finale
Dr. Guy Secretan, distraught over learning the identity of his birth mother just a little too late, hijacks an ambulance containing his injured and newly discovered half-brother, Martin Dear. Guy’s friend, Dr. Macartney, jumps on board in order to calm him down. Guy drives to the coast of Wales and just about plunges them over a cliff where they dangle while discussing which member of the Three Musketeers each one is most like. Leave it up to Green Wing to take a cliffhanger to such a literally absurd conclusion.
Now if we only knew who Clara Oswin Oswald actually is;)