The End Or The Journey?

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Recently I’ve caught up on Sons Of Anarchy after years of hassle from various people to do so. Firstly, I cannot believe I didn’t watch it until now, brilliant TV. But having binged six years worth in mere weeks, I’m in that peculiar situation where I’m now watching week by week and it’s an entirely different viewing experience. As this is also the final season that I’m watching, the curious argument of the end versus the journey has entered my mind once more. What is more important – the likely to be lackluster ending or the journey that brought us there?

For the record, I see Sons ending well. Creator Kurt Sutter seems to be a man who has known what he has wanted from this show for the duration. But it did enter my head that due to me watching it all in such a short space of time that my elation at discovery the wonderful world of SAMCRO may just as quickly disappear if the ending doesn’t deliver. But why would that nullify the enjoyment I have derived from following the exploits of Jax Teller and company?

Any readers of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower saga will be more than familiar with what I am talking about. In ending his career spanning magnum opus, King knew that no ending would ever satisfy even the majority; he also confesses to being terrible at writing endings as it is. He therefore provided an anti climactic and resolution free ending, followed by an afterword in which he explains that the journey has been the purpose, the journey has been the goal. Who cares how it ends? King then famously provided a further ending, one which he encourages readers to ignore and one which doesn’t actually provide anymore answers, as proof that the end is irrelevant.

And it is isn’t it? TV, film, novel, play etc, the endings are obligatory more than anything else. How many films have enthralled you with their twists and spins only for the final fifteen minutes to descend into generic uninspired drivel? Furthermore how many have tried all too hard to be original and quirky in their endings only to fall flat on their faces? Do the crimes of the climax undo the achievements of the tale? Of course not. Breaking Bad probably presents the best test subject for this entire theory. I personally believe that the third last episode of AMC’s seminal series was the ‘true’ ending. “Ozymandius” presented us with resolutions, but none of the ones we wanted. In keeping with everything the tone of the show had suggested for five years, it was downbeat and glum.

Would the masses have been happy with this ending? Not at all, but it was an incredibly natural coda to all of the twists and turns that had brought us to that point. The two episodes that followed were also up to the same high standard of the series and provided suitable final content for all viewers, but in truth they gave us the ended we needed, not the ending we deserved. You see, as far as I’m concerned we’re all happy to watch and read the misery and betrayal week in week out, but only because we expect resolutions. We expect that comfort blanket at the end, where just desserts are served out and everyone gets what’s coming to them, in our eyes. And it’s not as simple as us clearly waiting a happy ending, we have moved on from that. But we want an ending, something that let’s us know where these characters are going, when in truth we have little or no real idea where they even came from to begin with. The novel, series or movie is supposed to be just a snapshot of their lives.

Sure, we get some background, we may even follow one or more characters from birth, but we still never know everything. Why should we? Never meet your heroes, right? I do not need to know if Walter Jr and Skylar went on to have a happy existence, their time with me is done. Having followed their loving world on the island, Jack and the rest of the Oceanic survivors moved onto an afterlife of sorts. We left them to it. Hell, look at JR and his dream infused death and resurrection, resolutions only cause problems. I decided to wrote this piece as it was a subject being brought up fresh in my kind regarding television series finales, but take it as a public service announcement of life advice if you like, don’t rush to the end and miss the journey. It’s the best part.

Image courtesy of insufficientscotty.com

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niallhetherington

Bachelors Degree in Arts from NUI Maynooth. Double Honours English & Philosophy.

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