Reckoning with a story's end
Last time I talked about getting ready for endings, partly with Ally top of mind for me, and partly because we were closing in on the end of Supernatural. A few days after my last post, we finished watching the show. In the week and a half since we watched the last two episodes, I’m still thinking about it.
Spoilers ahead (for Supernatural, not for Ally. The former’s been out over a year, the latter only a few months, so I think that’s fair).
We did a great job setting the stage. Road trip to secure the pie, and it was tonally spot on, with winding country roads, an adorable diner, and very good pie. Also, when we told the awesome lady working there what we were up to, she said, “Oh, the show with the cute brothers?” which was perfection.
After the road trip home, Jeremy made some big old burgers. Once it was appropriately dark, our nieces came over with blankets and beverages, we ate perfect-for-Dean burgers, pie, and watched season 15, episodes 19 and 20.
Episode 19 ends with a montage of the brothers, roadtripping down the road in their Impala in to the figurative sunset. You can imagine them having a wild life, ups and downs, together as they’re meant to be. You know it will end, but in your head it goes on - bittersweet, more on the sweet. Not perfect, of course, because there are still losses that linger, and hurt, but…everything a fan could want.
But that’s the thing about endings – a good one gives you what you want. But a great one gives you want you need. It serves the characters, it completes the story, it provides closure. It leaves you with some feelings.
So, episode 20…definitely gave some feelings. It felt like it served the overall story, if not the characters. And given I found Supernatural to be a very character-driven show, that didn’t feel right. I wanted better for Dean. I wanted Sam to have a wife with a face. It was beautifully shot, wonderfully told, but ultimately neither what I wanted or needed. I’m still not entirely sure if I’m disappointed as a fan or a writer, so it’s probably a little bit of both.
Of course I scoured the internet after watching it (ok, no, immediately after watching it we all rewatched the first episode, then I introduced our nieces to the fabulous Dragon Prince, but then I went scouring the internet), and found fans were pretty mixed. Some folks loved it, and I’m so glad for that. Some had similar complaints to mine, or different ones, but were overall disappointed in it.
Endings are tricky, and nothing will ever please everyone. It’s a thing I have to come to grips with both as an author and a fan – though I have a lot more experience with the latter – and on the bright side, it wasn’t an awful ending. There have been some over the years that I disliked so deeply I’ll never watch the show again.
The fact that Supernatural's ending is sticking in my head is reminder to me to be as intentional about my endings as I am about any other part of the story, if not more, and to know that just because it’s one I’m happy with, it won’t work for everyone.
To partially quote an old favorite, for Supernatural, it wasn’t the ending. It was an ending. Fanfiction abounds, new stories await, and hey – we’ll always have pie.