Words by Alexander Thompson
I just want to start off with a disclaimer that my inspiration for writing this piece comes off the recent Avengers Endgame and the final season of Game of Thrones. While I’ll try to avoid any direct spoilers, I’d advise to refrain from reading until you’ve watched both of those if you you want to go in fresh.
Our theme this month is release, something that I feel is quite fitting right now. I see this word and my first though is about the end of something, being released from your incarceration or connection to something. Lots of passionate fans are being released from their commitments these past couple months. Many long running series of media are coming or have come to an end this past months. The Marvel Cinematic Universe Infinity Saga comes to an end after 11 years worth of build up films, The Big Ban Theory ends after 12 seasons worth of episodes and Game of thrones ends its 8 seasons run. Now all those fans are released from their attachment to these stories and characters because their incarceration is over. Unless you’re one of the poor souls waiting two billion years for George R.R. Martin to finish the books. But ignoring that fact it's still the end of an interpretation.
Endings are hard. Arguably more so than any other part of the narrative process. If you’ve somehow managed to create or capture endearing characters and come up with stuff for them to do for a long amount of time, you find yourself with the struggle with coming up with a way that their path concludes so that people don’t want more. The longer the build up the harder it is. If you are George R.R. Martin you can always just kill them off, and sometimes that works, but sometimes it doesn’t. I mean sure when you're dead you're dead, it's hard to do too much after that. But not every story needs to end in death, some do, but it needs to be earned. Sometimes the end of someone's path is to retire or become a recluse. A writer's job for a finale is to bring together everything that's come before throw it into a funnel and hope what comes out isn’t too bad.
Earning an ending is tricky there’s no science to follow that results in knockout endings every time. The longer the buildup the more time the audience has to create their own expectations of how a character's fate should turn out. With the huge consortium of viewers everyone interprets things differently and we all for see things heading down different conflicting paths. In a way every ending can be considered earned with enough time spent thinking about it. It’s a challenge and likely no matter what final choice is made, someone is going to be unhappy. Every show or film probably has at least one youtube video about it titled “why the ending sucks”. And it's unfortunate, but that's how it is, some people just can’t let go all the time. Lots of endings have had very passionate reactions. At the time of writing this the Game of Thrones finale hasn’t aired, but I’d be willing to bet that there will have been quite a few angry twitter posts by the time anybody reads this. And I’ve got to say, that such negative reactions aren’t always a bad thing. To get super angry reactions a story has to be pretty compelling for people to be invested enough in it to start internet petitions to have it remade. An ending can earn the hate and earn the love, either way something must have gone right for so many to be so deeply invested.
Whatever the ending it may be that's it, nothing really gets a do over. And whether you are upset or happy by the end result, you still feel something which at the end of the day is the main purpose of media. To feel and experience emotions through the eyes of others and whether or not you agree with whatever did or did not transpire, any kind of conclusion is better then simply not knowing. They say that the journey is more important than the destination, but part of that journey is the end so treasure that ending, there’s always something to feel in a finale.