The NBC heist thriller The Endgame airs its finale on Monday, and there are plenty of questions to answer—not just about what happens between Elena Fedorova and Val Turner, but about the show itself.
Fans understandably freaked out when Elena (Morena Baccarin) found herself in a coffin during last week’s penultimate hour, but it obviously wasn’t the last of her or the season would’ve ended anticlimatically. After numerous close calls, teases and clues, viewers are waiting for one final and emphatic showdown between Elena and her opposite number Val Turner (Ryan Michelle Bathé). However, that is practically speaking just the start of the story.
The Endgame has done a great job all season weaving a season-long mystery to keep both Val and the viewing audience on their toes. However, that demands a certain amount of resolution, because if Val doesn’t get some kind of success, then she loses credibility in the eyes of the audience. Fans would understandably ask what the whole season was for if Elena runs roughshod over her in the end.
However, the cornerstone of the series is the back-and-forth between Elena and Val. From a storytelling point of view, if Val wins out and Elena ends up back in her prison box, that takes the knees out from under the show if it gets renewed for a second season. (Unless Val drags Elena back out of custody in Season 2 to become her ally as she fights another villain, but then this show essentially would become The Blacklist, and NBC doesn’t need to be replicating its own programming.)
So where is the middle ground between these two outcomes that creates the strongest result, while allowing for the fact that (like its time slot predecessor Ordinary Joe) it’s ending its season with its fate up in the air?
It is possible to do season-long storytelling for multiple seasons; one only needs to look at FOX’s thriller 24, which The Endgame is reminiscent of in a few ways. Both shows have strong performances, genuinely propelling suspense and feature a central conflict between the hero and a nemesis from their past. It’s possible that Val is able to put a stop to Elena in the present day, only to find out that Elena has a Plan B that she now has to bring down in Season 2.
The show can also rely on its cast to carry it. Aside from its two leads, The Endgame deserves praise for the rest of its ensemble. It cast some great TV veterans and most importantly it didn’t give them cliche characters to inhabit. Particularly on the FBI side, fans have seen the “loyal sidekick” and “cynical boss” stereotypes over and over again. But thanks to Jordan Johnson-Hinds and Noah Bean, the Flowers and Doak characters developed into their own three-dimensional people. The finale is obviously Val’s story first and foremost, but there should also be room for how this journey has affected them, and where they go from here.
There are also relationships to resolve with Owen and Sergey, played by Kamal Bolden and Costa Ronin. In addition to their respective marriages, the two have made interesting foils to one another. Those dynamics should keep growing in Season 2 as well. So while “Happily Ever After” needs to put a button on this specific thriller plot, there’s enough heart in The Endgame that its characters and the possibilities they offer can propel the show forward without the prototypical “let’s end on a cliffhanger in hopes of renewal” approach that any other drama could take. The series has never followed those common pathways and it’s not about to start now.
The Endgame airs Mondays at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on NBC and streams on Peacock.
Article content is (c)2020-2023 Brittany Frederick and may not be excerpted or reproduced without express written permission by the author. Follow me on Twitter at @BFTVTwtr and on Instagram at @BFTVGram.