Reviewing the Series Finale: Traveler – “The Exchange”

ABC’s Traveler never had a fair chance. Simply getting a debut following Grey’s Anatomy wasn’t nearly enough to give the show a shot at engaging a summer audience that are sticklers for easy, breezy television. Traveler isn’t easy, but it certainly is breezy enough. The series moved at a blistering pace to fit an entire season’s worth of action into a single, short eight episode season. The show’s pilot was a blistering piece of work, an action-packed hour of mystery and intrigue.

It is perhaps, then, interesting to see that this finale is really about the reunion of Jay and Tyler with Will Traveler, this time with very different circumstances than in the pilot. Once three friends on a road trip across America, they’re now fugitives on the loose with the FBI on their trail, and one of them isn’t who he said he was. This isn’t a finale about action, but about emotional payoff for its characters. The dynamic of the three young males is perhaps the most important one, but Marlowe’s payoff has been equally choreographed. And let’s not forget the Porter, a mysterious character who needs an explanation. So, the Traveler finale had a lot to prove.

And, well, it did as you’d expect: a solid finale to a solid series. That is, until its ending.

After last week ramped things up by placing the seed of doubt in Marlowe’s mind to a greater degree, now it’s time to pull all the pieces together while the threat shifts: it is now Freed and Hometown that are the most dangerous.

Jack Freed is the former FBI director who formed a domestic espionage unit called Hometown that was organized in all sorts of dealings. And it appears that he wants his mess to be cleaned up as soon as possible. Of course, Steven Culp is arresting and abusing Kim as opposed to going out to try to find who’s really behind it. Isn’t that always the case with these hapless detectives?

And really, this is a finale that was nothing if not predictable. Marlowe is our intrepid hope, the person attempting to put the pieces together with no help from those around her. Will is your sacrificing anti-hero, trying to redeem his past actions to save his friends, who are the helpless victims whose fate is no longer their own in many ways. And Freed, of course, is your villain: the one who’s behind it all, and deserves his comeuppance in the end.

But he doesn’t actually get it! And we don’t actually get to see Will save his friends, or Marlowe pull together all of the pieces. All we get is a cliffhanger ending that sends everything on the same whirlwind path, a path we’re not going to see again barring some sort of stunning reprieve from ABC that just isn’t going to happen.

And there’s the issue here: this wasn’t a series finale. At all. It was a mid-season cliffhanger, and the next five episodes should have told the remainder of this story. By cutting the series to eight episodes, ABC killed any chance it had of coming to some sort of decent conclusion.

We’re left with Will, Tyler and Jay looking more like terrorists than ever, Marlowe knowing the truth but being helpless about it, and Kim being taken away by the bad guys. I am not sure how this was supposed to complete any storylines or solve any questions: like, where was the Porter in all of this?

So this is actually a very disappointing finale, in all sense, even if the episode itself had some decent core elements. As the series rides into the sunset, it’s unfortunate that fans won’t have any answers, and that ABC never treated the show with the level of respect it deserved.

In Review

– The painting in the car is a bit of a MacGuffin, I’m not going to lie, but at least we came back to it.

– Marlowe breaking off on her own is rather important, considering that she’s the only person who knows what is going on. She appears to be the one on the right path considering that she got shot at. That’s usually a good sign you’re in the general area.

– I’m still surprised that these people are capable of not noticing Jay and Tyler. Tyler’s fling just assumed it was someone else last week, and now this time they’re standing at a pay phone in broad daylight and no one notices? I always look at people in pay phones to see who doesn’t own a cell phone in this day and age (True story: I don’t)

– Chambers being in on it the entire time was almost too easy. In fact, it was way too easy. It just doesn’t feel like a satisfying conclusion for what has been a more or less non-entity. It’s not as if we ever liked him, so him being evil doesn’t really change anything.

– I really wish that the “I tricked you into revealing the truth” tape recorder trick hadn’t been employed. I would have rather seen some real mind games, like we saw in Will’s interrogation.

– The media was going to be their answer? That was their big threat? I don’t know how that ever would have worked, it was a terrible plan from the beginning. I expected much better from Traveler.

– I talked about the ending above, but yeah: totally uncool. Boourns, ABC. Boourns. That limo scene was just painful because it was literally all just one giant tease. And not an overly good one, either. The Fourth Branch? Yeah, ok.

8 Comments

Filed under ABC, Television, Traveler

8 responses to “Reviewing the Series Finale: Traveler – “The Exchange”

  1. Anthony

    There must have been as much time devoted to commercials as there was to the show. This was an example of viewer abuse. As a result I will no longer watch this show. I would think ABC can treat their viewers better than this. We expect commericals, but on July 18th, 2007 ABC went too far by having four or five minutes worth of commercials every five or six minutes.

  2. Well, Anthony, I agree: I had to charge my laptop during commercials and found I had plenty of opportunity.

    But if it helps, the show is now over, so you can boycott ABC without missing anything!

  3. Agger

    You can’t end a show like this, you can’t!
    Just show a proper ending to a fantastic “mini”-series.

  4. Pingback: Now I Remember Why I Don’t Like TV… « To Be Announced

  5. Sandra

    My DVR didn’t record the ending. Technology…Now I can’t get it on ABC, and from the looks of it, I really don’t need to showing how disappointing it is.

  6. Terry

    ABC has done it again, a good series, they dumped it before it even got started. I loved this show. Now ABC could have the best schedule available and I won’t watch anything they have to offer!

  7. aaaaaaaah i missed it!
    could anyone tell me what happened?

  8. Enver

    I only got to see 8 eps. is that all there was.

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