I mentioned a while back that I'd just finished the O.C.'s third season. Well, in about a week, I've finished the fourth and final season. In fact, I just finished watching the finale about ten minutes ago.
One thing I can say with certainty about the O.C. series finale is that it wasn't what I expected. The episode began with a six month jump, the first of several surprises. I was a little iffy at first on the whole idea of the time jump, especially one that subverted most of the situations we were left with at the end of the previous episode. It gave the episode a sense of being off-kilter. However, as the episode progressed, I became convinced that this six month jump was a good thing. I think that in the finale, the writers were going for an "epilogue" kind of feel for the whole episode. While I supposed the last couple of minutes could be considered the actual epilogue, the whole episode felt that way. It was a bit rushed feeling, and it let us know where everyone was going.
I think one of the criteria for a good finale is if it does a good job of expressing or reflecting upon the show's pervading theme. While many people and situations were important in the O.C., I think at the show's center was the Cohen family. Going a little deeper, Ryan and Seth's friendship was a main point. Then, at the very center, you have Ryan, a kid in a bad situation who was taken in by a nice family. In the last scenes of the finale, you see these things represented. First, there was a nice scene with the Cohen family saying goodbye. Then, just Seth and Ryan have a moment together. Finally, Ryan is left alone to reflect on his time in the O.C. Because Ryan has spent exactly as much time in Newport as we have, his reflections on his time there double as a reflection for the audience.
I absolutely loved the idea of Ryan helping out a kid that the show ended on. It gave a perfect sense of closure that show ended much in the way it began. All in all, the O.C.'s finale was excellent. It was a bit self-indulgent (i.e. The couple who just happened to be a wedding planner and a gynocologist), but after four years they deserve it. As much as I hated Marissa, the mentions of her were unobtrusive yet necessary. Everybody's storyline got a sense of closure.
I'm thinking now that I probably should have waited to post this until a couple hours after I watched the finale because I sound kind of gushy and rambling.