What about the end?
We have two episodes left on Supernatural. I know, I know, the show ended a ways back, but my husband and I picked it up late (as in, we started watching maybe six months before it ended, because we are that good at timing). We watched some seasons in a weekend, and some over the course of months, but now we have two left.
And we're taking a small pause.
Endings are tricky things - sometimes they change my entire opinion on a show (for the worst, unfortunately), or determine that I'll never reread a book series again. Sometimes they don't exist at all, because a show was cancelled, or a next book never came out. Sometimes they're so satisfying I sit back in a glowy sort of awe at what the storyteller(s) pulled off.
Of course, sometimes I can't tell if they're wonderful or not right away, because I'm so sad something I loved is over.
And who wants an ending, anyway? We're all having a good time here, right? Let's just keep this party going. More space adventures! A new crew member! An undiscovered continent with new magical challenges that get the old fantasy gang back together again!
No, we know better, right? Endings can be tricky, but whew, they can be necessary. You get diminishing returns. A story stretched beyond its limits sacrifices part of what made us love it so much.
It's a lot of pressure - for fans and creators both. Kacey and I recently faced that with Ally (obligatory "it's still out there if you want to check it out" link here). We weren't writing the end of the Depik in the Four Horseman Universe, but it was the end of our planned 3-book arc. We wanted to accomplish all the things - do right by our characters, move the overall story of the universe forward, and put a pin in the overall journey of the Hunters. As a species, they went from assassins, to Hunters, to allies.
We needed to make that satisfying and true to them, and we had a big sticking point at the end before we realized what we were trying to do wasn't right. Explosive, a big spectacle, but not right for the characters' perspective of the story. As soon as we realized the issue, that we weren't being true to our characters, we shifted. From there, the ending flowed - we wrapped it up in basically a weekend after a long stretch of trying to figure it out.
To me, that's the sticking point of what makes a good ending. Is it true to the story you were telling? Does it carry through the themes, the emotions, the truth of the characters? Then, even if it breaks your heart, that's an ending that does what it has to. Tough to write, tough to read, tough to watch...but right.
So in hopes of a good, satisfying, right ending after watching 15 seasons in two-ish years, we're making an event of it - a road trip for some good diner pie, then making big burgers, maybe a side of kale, and settling in with two of our awesome nieces who also have taken a (slightly longer) pause before the last two episodes to toast to an excellent story, well-told.
Because a story's only as good as its ending. You want to make it count.