January 19, 2014

THE SKED Season Finale Review: “Betrayal”


All the way to the very end, BETRAYAL couldn’t get it right.  Although it hasn’t technically been canceled (as a matter of policy, networks don’t give up their legal rights to shows until the last possible moment), the show’s ratings have been so awful that a renewal is massively unlikely, and for most of its final hour, Betrayal seemed to understand that its purported “season finale” would in fact be its last word.

The episode, written (with fellow Executive Producer Lisa Zwerling) and directed by US series creator David Zabel, tied up loose ends, beginning with a quick recovery for Sara (Hannah Ware) from last week’s cliffhanger shooting.  Pushing the action forward through weeks if not months, the hour revealed that the gunman responsible had been Victor McAllister (Braeden Lemasters) the, as it turned out, unbalanced teen son of Sara’s lover Jack (Stuart Townsend); Victor had already been responsible for the murder that drove much of the fall storyline.  Victor was arrested and his generally corrupt and evil grandpa Thatcher Karsten (James Cromwell) was about to be as well when he chose to shoot himself instead.  Jack, free from Karsten’s influence, left the rotten corporate world to help immigrants and the poor with their legal problems.  Karsten’s son TJ (Henry Thomas), also free and apparently in better mental shape than the show first suggested, bought a pick-up truck and left for a cross-country drive, his first time on his own–but not before giving over half his inheritance to his father’s previously unknown illegitimate daughter (by a jazz singer seen in an earlier flashback episode).  Sara’s husband Drew (Chris Johnson), still ambitious but no longer in a toxic way, announced a run for Congress, with Sara’s wholehearted support.

Sure, it was all a bit more universally happy than logic suggested–but all these writers, actors and technicians were about to be out of work, why not let everyone go out on a cheery note?  As the show galloped down the stretch, though, Zabel couldn’t leave well enough alone, and he dragged in an unnecessary, never-to-be-resolved cliffhanger for the last moments.  Although previous scenes had seemed to imply that Sara would go back to Drew and her son, instead the very end had her buying a glass of wine in a restaurant for Jack or Drew, the identity of the man forever to be unrevealed (perhaps someone else entirely, like Scandal‘s President Fitzgerald Grant, or Eastbound and Down‘s Kenny Powers).  Zabel seemed to think that we’d learned enough about Sara to make a judgment about what she was going to do, but a signature failure of his series was that she, like the other characters, remained stubbornly bland and blank.

Perhaps it was the perfect meta touch, ending an entirely unsatisfactory and unsatisfying series in exactly such a way.  Betrayal was a show about passion that was fatally devoid of any, and its title, in the end, reflected its relationship with its viewers.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."