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Medium – Did the series finale have a happy ending?

I'm really trying to figure out if this was a happy ending or not. 'Medium's' series finale was a roller coaster of emotion, and I still don't quite know how I feel about it.

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The biggest thing that struck me last night was the wish that we could have had a better buildup to this episode. Yes, there were several elements that were intentionally jarring, but it would have been nice if last week’s episode, for instance, could have started the foundation at all. Season 5 was full of two-part episodes, and this finale really could have used an extra hour. As a fan of the show, the cut 13 episode order for Medium‘s last season hurts the most in this way.

However, given the time frame with which they were working, the writers pulled together a fascinating and unexpected series finale. There have been several episodes during its run where I could call the conclusion 20 minutes in. This was not one of those episode. I honestly had no idea how this was going to end.

But now that we do know, I really like the choice of killing Joe off in such an unexpected way in the very beginning. If they decided he had to go, this was the way to do it. As viewers, we spent an entire hour wondering if what was happening was a dream, and then finding out Joe was alive. That way, when it’s revealed at the end that he actually did die in the plane crash, we can feel the jarring confusion and disbelief right along with Allison. I’m sure I’m not the only one whose thought process was something like, “No, he can’t, wait, so he was never, hold on. Oh no!”

The unfortunate side-effect of structuring the finale the way that they did was that we didn’t get to see a lot of the normal cast members. Marie was in it quite a bit, but she was played by someone else. Seven years is a tough jump to make when you’re working with kids. However, if there’s one thing that we learned from the Seinfeld finale, it’s that a parade of everyone who’s ever been on the show doesn’t a good episode make.

During the episode, I was kind of annoyed that we weren’t seeing more of the Dubois family together, but looking back on it now, they made everything work. We got to see everyone, at least for a moment, without it seeming shoehorned. I would have liked more Lee, but there simply wasn’t the time. The long-lost Ariel even got to make an appearance, albeit a long-distance one, so in the end, everybody did come together.

Medium‘s ending was dark, but as much as it resembled a family drama at times, Medium was always a dark show. As viewers, we want more of the nice family moments that we’ve come to love over the past seven seasons, but what actually happened — Joe dying after being away for six days and the family scattered about — is much more realistic, and that much more heartbreaking.

In the end, we do get the Joe and Allison reunion though. Allison becomes the woman she was when Joe died (which is interesting, because I don’t think that’s happened to any of the other ghosts), and they finally get to be together. This is, of course, Medium‘s version of a happy ending, but it’s still pretty heartbreaking.

At the end of the day, Allison, Marie, Bridgette and Ariel all lived for 41 years without Joe. He never met his grandchildren, or his great-grandchildren. While he appeared after he died, it didn’t look like he hung around. Allison certainly seemed surprised to see him when she passed. In the end though, the important thing is they did end up together, and that’s the closest thing to a happy ending that we’re going to get.

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Photo Credit: Sonja Flemming/CBS

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19 Responses to “Medium – Did the series finale have a happy ending?”

January 22, 2011 at 1:05 PM

I loved it. I bawled. Joe couldn’t stick around, because he knew that if he did, Alison would never move on. Of course, we don’t really know if she moved on, but the ending was satisfying. I’m just glad they had enough time to pull an ending out with so little time.

January 22, 2011 at 2:27 PM

I was very upset when they announced the cancellation. Even more upset last night watching it. Honestly, I wish I could go back in time and unwatch it…

January 23, 2011 at 4:53 PM

I agree. I was more than a little disappointed, I felt very let-down and angry that they concluded it the way they did. The show’s foundation, at least for me, was the relationship between Allison and Joe, and I would really like to know where Hollywood got the idea that death is romantic or glamorous. And where in the world did they get the idea that this would be okay with the majority of the fan base? I know some apparently liked it, although I can’t imagine why. And don’t tell me “this happens in real life”. This show is based on two people who are still living, but it is not “real life”. There was no legitimate reason whatsoever to end it like this. This episode was entirely pointless and left me feeling very unsatisfied. And yes, I agree with Marie Buford — I wish I could go back and unwatch it. I’ve been collecting all the seasons on DVD, but this is one episode I have zero desire to ever see again.

January 22, 2011 at 3:13 PM

Oops, it appears that i spoiled myself a little bit reading this (i live in France)…

Anyway, the first time someone showed me a “Medium” episode, i was not confident AT ALL.
Finally, it appeared to be a hell of a show.
I WILL cry at the end. 100% garanteed.

January 22, 2011 at 5:02 PM

When Joe’s mom warned of dark times ahead, I didn’t think this was going to happen!

I think I might have been able to accept it more had there been ample time spent the core characters in recent weeks. We never saw Scanlon last week and saw more Di Novi this week than him and probably Bridgette and Marie (the Marie we know and love!) combined. I was not a fan of the David Arquette episode at all. I would rather have seen them visit Ariel at college, thus acknowledging her presence.

Why couldn’t the girls psychic gifts have forewarned Joe (or did Joe not believe them considering the last time they dreamt of a plane crash it never happened).

I just think of young Marie growing up without her daddy, both her and Ariel getting married without Joe to walk them down the aisle, Allison being alone those 41 years and it breaks my heart.

It’s a memorable ending, just not the one I envisaged. I think only the last three minutes I could rewatch, loved the closing credits.

January 22, 2011 at 7:53 PM

REALLY STUPID ENDING. SO SORRY I WATCHED. THERE WAS NO NEED FOR ANY DEATH TO END THE SERIES. GEE, GUESS THE WRITERS ARE OUT OF A JOB. COULDN’T HAPPEN TO A MORE DESERVING GROUP.

January 22, 2011 at 10:12 PM

This ending really left a bitter taste in my mouth, it wasn’t like Joe died for a good cause or anything, he just… died. I realize it’s realistic etc and that you could argue the center part of the series is the family so no full family = no series, but still I wasn’t really left with a sense of hope or fulfillment just annoyance. I kinda feel robbed that I stuck with the series for 7 seasons for it to end like this. Almost every episode ends with a good happy note, why couldn’t the series finale? Kudos to Patricia Arquette for her final crying scene though, it really moved me.

As for why didn’t she see it coming, Allison has mentioned before (specially w/ Joe’s mom) that she can’t see things bout her immediate family too clearly.

January 23, 2011 at 8:51 AM

I didnt hear any announcements of the end of the series so it was a huge shock by itself.
The ending was just brutal for those of us who cared.
It was unnecessary because the “real” Allison, Joe and kids are alive and well.
I hate this ending so much I am going to dump the “complete season” DVDs I have, wont buy the last couple, I wont watch any reruns or “made for TV” movies.
I am going to find out who the person is made the decision to end it this way and make sure I NEVER watch any series HE writes and/or produces for. I know it is a HE because no woman would wrench the feelings of the mostly female audience just for shock value. That person is sadistic to say the least.

January 23, 2011 at 8:03 PM

There is always one in a bunch.

January 23, 2011 at 9:56 AM

I loved it..with the short time they had to make something work I thought it was a great show. I was thinking right along with the good “Mayor” that the chances of Joe surviving..washing up on the shores of Mexico..having the drug lord use a man whose memory could come back at any moment..then be lucky enough to have the husband of the lawyer that is going to prosecute him 7 years down the line was a little much. I kept thinking..but Alison’s dreams are always right..how can it be??? lol

January 23, 2011 at 3:49 PM

I cant believe that my favorite show is over. It was very upsetting to find out the same friday about the finale. nevertheless that episode was very good, although made me cry for the whole hour it was very sad. I love medium I really whish it never ended.

January 23, 2011 at 7:49 PM

Like some of the above, I hadn’t heard about the show being cancelled so it was a big shock to watch the final show. I also think that killing Joe off was unnecessary; I would have preferred a regular story line. Why kill off a main character to make the family miserable? There is enough misery in life that TV doesn’t have to include it as well. I liked the happy family and for once real life is better that fiction.

January 23, 2011 at 8:16 PM

I’ve watched this show with my husband for years. It’s the only thing that I’ve looked forward to, on TV. We didn’t know the show was canceled so we were really shocked through out the last episode.
I was so heartbroken that I’ve cried. And I DO NOT cry for movies.
I Loved reading your article and I am glad I am not the only to feel that way. If they had to end it then they did a great job.
We are going to miss you, Medium.

January 24, 2011 at 12:44 PM

I will really miss the show.

I too thought the ending was made ridiculously sad. To have Joe die after teasing us the whole episdoe that she might have found him and it be a dream was bizarre. And the premise was that she was changing her dream to make him be OK? That was not very believable to me.

The credits with all of the cast members throughout the years were a nice touch and will be appreciated by the fans.

Hopefully network TV will bring more shows like this to air soon. I will be collecting Medium all on DVD to add to my collection.

January 26, 2011 at 6:53 AM

I’m really disappointed about the finale. I was enough heartbroken to know that Medium was ending, but to watch the finale episode was even more depressing. After 7 years with this TV family, it’s like they were a part of my life. The cast was amazing, interactions between actors were filled with an incredible alchemy. None cared about fans and how we struggled to keep Medium going on. This show was still alive and full of opportunities, they just decided to rudely killed it.
The only good part was when the actors were waving goodbye, that was appreciated.

January 26, 2011 at 8:42 PM

This show mirrored the cancellation itself: The abruptness, the sense of all things halting in the middle of things. The show is moving along, and just like every week, Alison is sorting through a mystery that will soon be resolved.

And then…we’re brought out of the dream. “No,” says Joe, as much to us as to her. “What you want to happen, what you expect to happen, is not going to happen. It’s going to be painful, but it’s time to move on.”

“Medium,” like all good television, is a dream away from a viewer’s own reality. We’ve invested time, our attention, laughter and tears, but finally there’s Joe having to say, ”It’s over.” We’ll all get through it, but with television, the requirement that we wake up and accept a harsher reality is about as real as it gets.

A startling, absorbing and wrenching program.

February 22, 2011 at 11:39 AM

I loved this shov from the very beginning.
When I watched the last episode, i cried like a baby, and I had goose bumps allover… I will sure miss all of them,! they became a part of my life, in a strange kind of way.
Many hugs from Anna in sweden

February 25, 2011 at 6:06 PM

This was a fabulous ending meant for the fans. The characters stayed true to themselves. I saved the show on my DVR to watch again.

February 27, 2011 at 10:08 AM

Terrible. I didn’t like the ending at all. I didn’t even know it was the last episode when I started watching it, I haven’t seen all the episodes, only some of them, but I believe it’s a disappointing finale for the show fans. They went through so many difficult moments together that I really believe a very good ending would be one that showed Allison graduating with Joe by her side.