With a bang. Actually, an earth-shaking series of them. Definitely not a whimper.
That's how the producers of the groundbreaking CTV drama Flashpoint have decided to bring the series to an end, with a two-part finale that is as big and loud and dangerous and suspenseful as anything they've attempted in the show's five-season run.
Given the series' subject matter, there really was no other way. The trick, however, was to do it convincingly, in a manner that would both thrill and satisfy viewers who have invested time and emotion in Flashpoint's characters and storylines since its premiere in July 2008.
The thinking here is that Flashpoint fans will consider the two-part episode Keep the Peace (which airs Thursday, Dec. 6 and 13 at 9 p.m. on CTV) a job well done.
Keep the Peace opens on a relatively rare crisis-free note, with the members of the Strategic Response Unit's (SRU) Team One using all their tactical skills to direct happy thoughts toward team members Sam Braddock (David Paetkau) and Jules Callaghan (Amy Jo Johnson) as they exchange wedding vows and then announce to the assembled crowd of well-wishers that they're expecting a baby.
Of course, the matrimonial giddiness is short lived. The team barely has time to suit up for its next shift before downtown Toronto is rocked by a bomb blast, right around the same time that an operator at the city's 911 emergency call centre discovers a package in the computer server room that appears to be an explosive device.
What becomes abundantly clear is that Toronto P.D. and SRU are dealing with a multi-targeted terror attack; as they scramble to deal with the aftermath of the explosion that has already occurred, they're also in a race against time to locate and defuse other devices before the bomber can detonate them.
The story that follows is fast-paced and deftly layered, weaving the necessary breakneck-speed police work with elements that brings the Team One members' personal lives and families into the mix. As always, sniper Ed Lane (Hugh Dillon) and team leader Greg Parker (Enrico Colantoni) are the heart and soul, respectively, of the team, and as the crisis unfolds, each is challenged in a way he probably always expected but certainly never hoped he would be.
In a series in which they've been consistent standouts, this might be the best work Dillon and Colantoni have produced.
There are some narrative problems with the finale, including a few of the lapses in travel-time logic that are inevitable in big-city action shows, along with what seems to be a considered effort to sanitize the terrorism plotline in a way that removes politics from the equation and allows for a slightly too-easy series wrap-up.
The latter decision weakens the finale's impact, but only slightly.
In overall terms, Flashpoint delivers a farewell that is both true to its character and fair to its fans. It's a first-class exit for a show that will be remembered as an important contributor to the maturation of Canada's TV-series production industry.
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