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Star-Crossed's Final Episode Ended With A Nearly Perfect Cliffhanger

Gotta hand it to Star-Crossed — this doomed CW show left us wanting more, with a final sequence that pulls back the focus and raises the stakes, while leaving a ton of characters in jeopardy. Too late to save the show, unfortunately. See for yourself, above.

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Spoilers ahead...

Seriously, that is a great cliffhanger. Reminds me of the cliffhanger that Alphas was cancelled on, but also some of BSG's better season finales. That mysterious device, the suvek, gets set off despite Roman's efforts — and not only does it apparently zap a ton of humans, it also sends a signal to the Atrian warfleet (!) to come to Earth and kick all our asses.

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The rest of the season finale was pretty entertaining, too — even if the Roman/Emery relationship fails to be the engine this show wants it to be, most of the characters have clicked by this point and I'm sad we'll never see any more of Drake, Taylor, Julia, Sophia or Lukas, and their various tangled relationships.

I'm especially sad about not seeing the Julia-Eric relationship develop, and finding out if Taylor ends up with Drake or Sophia. (Or if the three of them end up in an unconventional human-alien poly triad.)

So in last night's episode, the following things happened:

Teri helps Emery save Roman, and he tells Teri that this is who she really is: a healer. Then Emery and Roman have sex in a shed, and Teri starts to question who she really wants to be. After betraying Castor for her mom, she turns around and betrays her mom to save her friends from Trag assassination.

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Everybody looks for the suvek, but some of the cops are really Trags. They eventually find the suvek, but Zoe is back and she holds Taylor hostage. Eventually, our guys get to the suvek and apparently shut it down — but oops. Nope. Taylor is in a nasty car accident, while a ton of other people apparently die. Including Emery, and the already-injured Grayson. Zoe finally gets killed.

Teri struggles with the fact that she's going to have a half-alien baby, but then Gloria shows her the fancy reservation — I mean housing development — they're building for the aliens. And meanwhile, Roman meets some random old wise man from Eljida, who introduces him to his half-brother (Gloria's son) and convinces him that he really does have to step up and lead the Atrians instead of giving it all up for Emery.

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The thing that keeps sticking in my mind about Star-Crossed is that it had a pretty simple mission statement originally — the one that's mentioned at the start of every episode, in fact. This was originally pitched as a show about seven alien kids who get to go to a human high school, and face discrimination and romantic challenges along the way. At some point, this became much more a show about the Trags and the Red Hawks, and every week our characters were trying to thwart a terrorist attack.

In retrospect, my favorite episode of Star-Crossed is still probably the one where Sonia wants to join the swim team, and everybody has to struggle with whether to let aliens compete in a human sporting event. The stakes are low, but the drama is real, and when the humans start to defend Sophia it feels earned.

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The more the show veered away from the original concept, the harder it had to depend on villains like Vega and Castor (and the evil drug exec played by Stephanie Jacobsen) to keep tightening the screws. And unfortunately, I don't think villains were ever this show's strong suit. (Although Vega's earrings were a continual source of delight and wonderment.)

This was a show that was uniquely positioned to talk about things like school bullying, racism and harassment, and in retrospect it's sad that we never quite got there.

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But the version of Star-Crossed we got was still entertaining, and the characters' relationships were still starting to take on a life of their own — it's too bad we don't get to see them develop. Add this to the long list of shows that might well have come into their own in a second season... that never materialized.

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DISCUSSION

Actually I found the cliffhanger very disappointing — except in the sense that I now feel kind of relieved that the show wasn't renewed. The whole thing was kind of ridiculous. If it was a beacon instead of a bomb, why did it have to be set off in a public place at a specific time? Why even have a countdown? Sure, it had to be aimed at a specific place in the sky, but they could've sent the signal at any time of day when that point was above the horizon. The whole thing was a cheat, and a copout (because presumably the humans are just knocked out instead of killed). I've been enjoying this show mainly because of the cast (except for Aimee Teegarden), but the finale made me confront the problems with the show's storytelling.

Chiefly, it really undermines the whole "bigotry is wrong" message when it turns out that the crazy racists were absolutely right about everything — there really were alien terrorists disguised as humans and living among us, and there really was an alien invasion fleet coming to conquer Earth. It's like the show couldn't decide whether it wanted to be an allegory against racism or a paranoid thriller — and the two don't really work together at all. At least on ALIEN NATION, the alien refugees were escaped slaves, so any threat from the starfaring alien power out there would've been as much against the Newcomers as the humans.

Just in general I'm tired of seeing serialized storytelling used as an excuse to avoid any kind of closure or resolution. If you're going to do seasonal arcs, then the arc should be resolved at the end of the season, even while setting up a new status quo for the next. Especially if you don't know your show will be renewed.

And then there's the closing shot of the Atrian fleet apparently outside the galaxy. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that TV producers have no sense of astronomical scale. The pilot suggested that "Atria" was the human name for their star, meaning it would be Alpha Trianguli Australis (called Atria for short), which is only about 390 light-years away, not deep in intergalactic space.

One thing that bugged me all along about the show: It was supposed to be about "the Atrian Seven," but only four of them were ever named or given dialogue. I don't know if we ever saw the other three after the first few episodes.