Game of Thrones came up over dinner last night. One of our party was not a viewer but had stumbled upon the final five minutes of the series finale while channel surfing. “It didn’t seem as bad as everyone said,” was his review.
I disagreed. “Oh it was that bad.”
Then a third person asked for examples of shows that had ended well, gently tapping around the edge of an assertion that fans are never happy with the endings of the shows they love. I’m ready for this. I have two available for immediate recall: Halt And Catch Fire and The Leftovers. Both produced finales that were disappointing and fulfilling in all the right ways. The Americans was offered as a third example. I concur.
What I want from the ending of a show I love is ambiguity. Please don’t try to resolve every conflict. I also want consistency; if your characters have ingratiated themselves to the audience by making self-defeating decisions and suffering the consequences, please don’t bail them out in the finale. Likewise, please don’t produce new traits and tendencies in the penultimate episode that need resolved in the finale.
Narrative endings are hard. When done well they are a gift.