The Feed the Beast on AMC television series might have had the worst ending ever, a combo of a season-ending cliffhanger and cancellation, thereafter.
When these television networks cancel a series and bring it to an ignominius end, they understandably do it without the fanfare that accompanies the announcement of a new series. The news is usually swept under the carpet as far as the average viewer is concerned. Unless a person searches for news about the fate of a series or reads the industry trade papers, the news of a television show cancellation is usually in witness protection. It’s not like they run ads saying congratulations you have been cancelled. While they may not be actively hiding it, the lack of news is certainly, at least, a matter of omission.
That is how it usually seems to me. So, about the time I started wondering about when Feed the Beast might be on again for a second season, my little spin around the internet revealed it had been closed down faster than a financially failing restaurant with liquor license violations and a bent towards ptomaine poisoning. What?
Sure, I had an inkling that Feed the Beast might not make it to a second season. I wanted to like it and gave it a chance the whole way through. However, I saw quite a bit of negativity about it on the internet. I noticed it had some problems, but wasn’t there was plenty to like, too? Then, there was the ominous traffic sign that appeared right near the end of the last episode. Admittedly, the show was a mess, but it was a hot, fun, and sad mess. A person could hope that it could get better. There were things to build on. Like Lorenza Izzo’s character, Pilar Herrera. And it had a great, spare, blues guitar soundtrack that was very tasty.
Probably the biggest flaw I found with the show was the extreme violence revolving around Patrick Woichik, a/k/a The Tooth Fairy, played by Michael Gladis. This would seemingly come from out of nowhere with starkly maximum shock value. It did not seem in keeping with the tone of the rest of the show which had some comedic aspects to it. The effort to bounce around from comedy to drama à la, for example, Rescue Me, did not work here. Here, the heavy, violent, drama was too much. Pilar makes a cute face while wearing a loud outfit, Dion Patras, played by Jim Sturgess, the head chef at the restaurant Thirio, messes up amiably, David Schwimmer’s character, Tommy Moran, makes a deadpan remark, and The Tooth Fairy cuts someone’s head off. It’s all in a day on Feed the Beast. Which one doesn’t fit? But if The Tooth Fairy had been ostensibly ruthless only to really show-up as a confused softy, maybe that could have worked. Dramadey is, apparently, a delicate balance.
So, the all knowing “they” decided to just blow the whole thing up. Literally. They being the powers that be. I read some statements and quotes from the ever-present they to the effect that they evaluated the show after the season and came to the sad conclusion that they had to bring the show to the same. This might parallel the world of sports in that the failing team and failing coach are being evaluated during the season and the management is letting the season play out. Statements are made that evaluations will be made after the season and deadly votes of confidence are doled out along with other platitudes. But no one is usually fooled and the writing is usually on the wall. The evaluation at the end of the season is simply to tie up loose ends, bring things to closure, and move on. I.e., you’re fired.
I have a strong suspicion that everyone involved with Feed the Beast, save the poor beasts themselves, knew the end was nigh and the final course was about to be served. The traffic sign that appeared in an almost subliminal shot near the end of the last episode simply declaring “END” seemed rather ominous. So, then, that begs a final question as to intent. Did they just blow-up Thirio as a convenient way to end the whole show. This is doubtful, but, if so, this was a success in at least one respect. They definitely ended the series with a bang.
The dedicated viewer of Feed the Beast on AMC was left with this as their final experience with the gang at Thirio. An anonymous person, we see only their gloved hands as I remember, disconnecting a natural gas line. The place is on fire. Three of the main characters, Dion, Tommy and his son, T.J. Moran, a total innocent in the whole affair, are trapped in the fire and are trying to escape. The next thing we see is a monumental natural gas explosion. End of show. Talk about burning down the house. This was the bomb. Or it bombed. Or, maybe, it really was a bomb.
So many questions were left unanswered. Foremost, was the ever-classic, whodunnit? We will never know. There were a number of possibilities, but none make total sense. Arson and a torch-job are definitely on the table. Was it The Tooth Fairy? Maybe, but somehow that seems too easy and it seemed like it was off the table at the time. Was it Tommy’s father, Aidan Moran, an excellent character brought to life by John Doman, who had a failing investment in the failing business? He was pretty sketchy, but his beloved grandson, T.J., was caught in the wake. Aiden didn’t seem that sloppy. Could Pilar be a suspect? It makes no sense and she was not the type. Could it have been another person with another motive to be fleshed out in another season? Possibly.
In any event, what may have been planned was never seen in a second season. What motive, what culprit, what outcome, we will never know. As well, we will never know the fate of all the principals, big and small, mean and nice, pretty and plain. What happened to Dion, Tommy, and T.J., remains a mystery. Did they escape? Or were they killed? It looked like a dire situation. Let’s hope they had some salvation even if that salvation is that the viewer is now free to make up their own ending. Dear viewer, in your ending is there salvation at Thirio or merely salvage? It is up to your imagination as showrunner by default, but beware, being the showrunner is a tough job.
All of this is very sad, too, because Feed the Beast had its moments. The cooking scenes and the resultant dishes were very exciting. There was not enough of this. All of the characters were good and I wouldn’t have eliminated anyone. Minor adjustments were in order. For example, more Pilar. The character of Pilar emerged as a strong, somewhat goofball, romantic interest with a flamboyantly ethnic take on fashion. Dion was a great character who wore you out as time went on. You began to understand that he was a mess and a problem. On the other hand, Tommy was the ultimate sad-sack, a depressed and alcoholic widower that you began to understand as time went on. Aiden was a terribly tough character whose relationship with T.J. included teaching him to fight both with his fists and guns, a sign of the times. While Tommy was overprotective of his motherless son, Aiden wanted to make sure T.J. could protect himself in a world gone astray. I liked The Tooth Fairy character, but the whole show would have been improved with a bit more of the humanity and humor he was capable of. The Tooth Fairy’s implicit vulnerability was hidden behind his mob boss facade, sparingly shown, and instead, his extreme violence was suddenly thrust upon us in episode after episode. This savage violence was out of sync with the rest of the show.
There was some forlorn talk of hopes against the tide that the show might be picked-up again. Cancel those reservations. This one’s deader than a burned steak. I hope I’m wrong, however, but, for me, it’s over because I don’t go chasing these things down in their afterlife wherever they may resurface, in the unlikely event they do. If Feed the Beast rises from the ashes, I’ll take a bigga gulpa of mea culpa. Dion probably has a great idea for crow, hat, and shoe leather.
Alas, when a show is cancelled there is probably plenty to carp (hmmm …) about, leaving an easy target to kick when it is down. Call in the coroner. Do the postmortem. And, if you are like me, go ahead and disinter the body and go for a second opinion. The official cause of death of Feed the Beast says “CANCELLED.” It’s stamped big, bold, and red on the death certificate. But dig up the body for a second look, and the official cause of death of Feed the Beast is “FELONY MURDER BY ARSON, EXPLOSION, TAMPERING WITH NATURAL GAS LINES, NOT ENOUGH TAMPERING WITH THE SCRIPT, TOO MUCH VIOLENCE AND NOT ENOUGH FAITH.
Or stated another way, the worst ending ever.