Warning: spoilers ahead for the Season 1 finale of Will Trent on ABC, called “It Was The 80s.”
The first season of Will Trent closed with a finale that was as stressful as it was suspenseful, but the final minutes delivered a welcome amount of catharsis ahead of summer hiatus. Will went all-out for the better part of the hour to try and find Angie, and discovered that James Ulster was responsible for the long list of murder victims that included Will’s mother, who he’d never known. The problems kept piling on him, until a reveal at the very end that I would say qualifies as an emotional cliffhanger, with fans needing to wait until Season 2 for payoff.
The reveal came after Will learned that Angie would survive (and the show can continue Will/Angie as one the most powerful relationships of the series) from Evelyn, of all people, who seemed like the least likely person who would want to give Will comfort back in the beginning of the show. She told Will the origin of his name: he was named after Amanda’s parents, Wilbur Wagner and Martha Trent. He learned that Amanda was the one who found him, and when he asked why she never said anything, Evelyn shared:
Understandably, Will scoffed at the idea of growing up in a family considering the circumstances under which he lived through his formative years, and initially assumed that Amanda had just changed her mind about keeping him. There was more to the story, however, as Evelyn continued:
Will then approached Amanda, but there was no long conversation or heart-to-heart. He simply said “Thank you” while they stood together in front of a coffee machine, and she emotionally handed over an envelope that contained his mother’s necklace. Will was on the verge of tears, and looked like he finally got some degree of closure… although there are certainly more questions that he could ask.
It was an emotional cliffhanger rather than an explosion or a gunshot or anything else that TV veterans might expect out of a crime drama’s season finale, and that was a perfect way to end the first season for me. Not only did it feel like the final pages of a book (which is fitting for a show based on novels penned by author Karin Slaughter), but it left some dangling threads to be picked up in Season 2. If Will Trent had been cancelled, I would have been bummed, but okay with this as a series finale.
Luckily, Will Trent is not on the list of 2023 TV shows that could get cancelled and will return for Season 2, and there are still plot-related cliffhangers and questions. Will Angie be paralyzed after the events of the Season 1 finale? Will James Ulster survive and wake to face justice in a court of law? What will Will and Faith’s partnership (which Karin Slaughter approved of) look like if and when they can get back to business as usual? Will the truce between Will and Ormewood last?
On the whole, I was thrilled that the focus of the final minutes of the finale were emotional rather than plot-based, and fans can spend hiatus looking forward to what comes next instead of stressing over a cliffhanger that leaves somebody’s life in jeopardy. Will needed some emotional closure and catharsis, and I think that I’m not the only viewer who did too.