Dave, Joanna, and Neil argue their respective picks for the best TV series finale on the latest episode of Trial by Content. This week’s debate is inspired by the upcoming series finale of Better Call Saul.
This week’s notable pretrial dismissals include some TV heavyweights: Mad Men, The Sopranos, The Leftovers, Schitt’s Creek, and Twin Peaks.
Also, the Category Crown is awarded to M*A*S*H, which aired its finale in 1983 and still holds the record for the most-watched TV show finale of all time. More than 105 million viewers tuned in to watch the show’s 11-season run come to an end. The Category Clown goes to How I Met Your Mother for botching the finale in such a way that the show actually released an alternate ending.
Trial by Content: Episode XXI—The Listener Strikes Back.
After losing to Neil two weeks ago (Worst Character Decision in a Horror Movie), the listeners got right back on track with their fourth win in five weeks in the Best TV Series Adapted From a Comic Book episode.
Joanna was the runner-up, so she gets to start the opening remarks.
Joanna: The Good Place—“Whenever You’re Ready”
She opens by simply setting the stage with her pick: “Whenever You’re Ready,” the unforgettable finale of The Good Place.
“I’m here to talk to you about the hour-long finale of the four-season NBC sitcom The Good Place,” she says. “Mike Schur’s fantastic examination of the afterlife and morality.”
Then, Joanna compares its heavy themes with those of a former network television juggernaut.
“The Good Place is in close conversation with Lost—both shows deal with the concept of the afterlife. This is about how our heroes have made it through a lot of trials in terms of testing their own morality and whether or not they deserve to go to ‘Heaven,’” she says. “They spend an eternity—an undefinable Bearimy amount of time in the afterlife. Once they’re done with that, they then have the choice to go through a door and release themselves as energy back into the universe.”
She closes out by revealing how the series finale actually shifted her own views on the concept of the afterlife.
“This episode is so beautiful as you say goodbye—one by one—to all of our characters as they make this choice about when it is that they want to go back into the universe’s energy,” she explains. “I believe it taught me the concept of what I believe death and the afterlife actually is.”
Neil: Breaking Bad—“Felina”
Neil is up next and he chooses none other than “Felina,” the final episode of AMC’s hit series Breaking Bad.
“In the end, I remembered that this will all be decided by a Twitter poll—for the most part—and I have never lost a Twitter poll involving this show about a high school chemistry teacher who breaks bad and ruins literally everyone’s life in the process,” he says.
He goes into detail on the last moments of Breaking Bad, and how it’s one of the most satisfying endings.
“It’s an incredible final piece to what I think is an immaculate puzzle of a final season. It’s got Walt doing creepy stuff to Gretchen and Elliott, getting revenge on Lydia, building a homemade trunk-gun, murdering an entire gang of Nazis and setting Jesse free, which I think is extremely important,” he says. “But before he gets to most of that, he stops by to say a final goodbye to the person I would say was most victimized by his dark path, Skyler.”
Neil adds one last exclamation point to his argument for “Felina.”
“It’s a very emotional, cathartic way to end the series, with tons of action and violence. Breaking Bad’s is just one of the all-time-great finales. A perfect way to end what I consider to be a pretty perfect season of television.”
Dave: Avatar: The Last Airbender—“Sozin’s Comet”
Dave completely shifts the conversation by going with “Sozin’s Comet” from Avatar: The Last Airbender.
“You’re going to hear and you’ve already heard about a lot of good television shows, and a good finale on top of a good television show is some of the best television possible,” he says. “That’s why I’m choosing a 2008 experience that still sticks with me: the almost-two-hour-long finale episode for Avatar: The Last Airbender.”
He describes how different facets of the show peak at the same time to enhance the overall story and become something even greater.
“It has some of the best animated action sequences ever, it has an amazing score by the Track Team, and some great character moments that aren’t action moments,” he says. “‘Sozin’s Comet’ is efficient and only spends time on meaningful stories that the audience is invested in. …
It’s peak bending, peak Aang, and great Toph one-liners, ‘Sozin’s Comet’ for the win.”
Be sure to check out the podcast below for more from Dave, Joanna, and Neil, including their full opening statements, cross-examinations, listener submissions, and closing arguments!
Don’t forget to vote for what you think is the best TV series finale after you’ve listened to the episode! You can vote below, on The Ringer’s Twitter feed, and in the Spotify app, where you’ll find Trial by Content. The winner will be announced next week!
This excerpt was lightly edited for clarity.
What is the best TV series finale?
This poll is closed
Da7e: ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’
Neil: ‘Breaking Bad’
Joanna: ‘The Good Place’
Listener (Mitch): ‘LOST’
Hosts: Dave Gonzales, Joanna Robinson, and Neil Miller
Production: Carlos Chiriboga and Kai Grady
Additional Production Supervision: Arjuna Ramgopal
Theme song and other music credits: Devon Renaldo
Blog Post: Kai Grady