Wednesday, April 2, 2014

On Disappointing Endings and Who Owns the Creation

HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER ended this week. I'm sure you heard the wailing and gnashing of teeth, no matter where in the world you were.

Last fall, ALLEGIANT, the final book in the DIVERGENT trilogy was released. And again, you probably heard the wailing and gnashing of teeth over that one, too. Though it probably wasn't as concentrated; a book takes a little longer to consume than an episode of a television show.

Both stories ended with a somewhat controversial ending, and ending that some said was inevitable, and others said was no better than a trick. A trick based on a lie. A trick based on a lie with the intent to mock the audience's pain.

I disagree.

Both stories delivered on the promise they made at the beginning.

(Spoilers abound. Not little ones. Big ones. Turn back now. I'm not kidding. I'm going to ruin both of these things for you after the jump.)

HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER promised us that Ted would get a happy ending. They gave us a happy ending. Twice. Ted got everything he wanted out of life, more than most people get. Yes, there was sadness mixed in (some even say it was a tragedy), but the actual ending was happy. A happy ending, following a big personal tragedy? That's definitely more than most people get.

DIVERGENT promised us that being a divergent was really, really dangerous. They gave us danger. So much danger that the divergent girl dies.

These may not have been the promises you wanted them to fulfill, and they may not have been the ones you had envisioned for yourself after waiting years for them to come to fruition, but they are the promises made by the storytellers themselves. These writers wrote the stories they envisioned, in the way they envisioned them.

And I'm going to tie this all back to Harry Potter.

Back in February, Rowling made some comments to the effect that she would change the ending of Harry Potter if she had the chance. Again with the wailing and gnashing of teeth. Everyone just about lost their damn minds because she was trying to change the story that was already out there. Rowling was trying to mess with what she had already put to paper, what she had already signed off on and said "DONE" to.

It's not dissimilar to what George Lucas is hated for.
Lucas created STAR WARS, put it out into the world and then came back twenty years later and changed what he'd put into the world. He tried to alter what was already in existence, tried to take back what he'd given us.

But it was too late. STAR WARS and HARRY POTTER already belonged to the public by the time their creators tried to amend the stories, angering their fans.

But HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER and DIVERGENT were still in the hands of their creators. Until that book is published, until the tv show airs, until the movie premiers, that story belongs to the creator. Period.

You can hate it.

But it's not wrong. It can't be. It's what the creator envisioned for it. Ted's story ended exactly as it should have, as did Tris's. If the creators of these stories come back in five or ten or thirty years and say "I should have done it differently," THAT is when I am going to get mad. Because now the story belongs to us. It's out of their hands, and it belongs to the public.

And for the record - I really like how both ended. They were - excuse me, they are - the right endings for those stories.


  1. SPOILERS FOR HIMYM (probably goes without saying but just in case)

    I'm not up in arms about the ending, and I know my opinions are just my opinions, but I can't help being disappointed. I might not have been if the show had ended after four or five seasons... but the direction that the Ted/Robin/Barney story went, and the amount of build up and back story they gave to the mother, it just doesn't work for me anymore.

    After all that build-up, to know that Ted and the mother only had eleven years together? No, eleven years isn't insignificant, and yes, I'm glad Ted gets a happy ending after that (you could say that it mirrors the mother's own story being able to move on and find happiness after Max), but it still stings.

    It also felt really awkward to spend an entire season on one weekend, and then cram the next fifteen years into an hour. I think, even keeping the story itself the same, it could have been a more satisfying end if they'd cut a couple episodes from the season so they could make it a two-hour finale. The whole thing felt so rushed, and maybe that's part of why it doesn't work for me. It's hard to care about Ted and Robin finally getting their ending when I've spent so long being invested in their other relationships.

    But... that's just me.

  2. Samantha SaboviecApril 2, 2014 at 8:39 AM

    My husband also agrees with you, Gina, that HIMYM's ending was fitting, so we had a fun debate last night after I stopped bawling my eyes out. Haha. But I agree with you that Divergent's ending was fitting and fine.

    I second Charleen's points:

    1) Barney/Robin story ... It was too much angst. Together, not together, together, not together, make up your mind, people! Sometimes it seemed in the series that they were just creating drama because the writers couldn't come up with any other drama.

    2) A whole season for one weekend makes it seem like their marriage is significant, that it's the culmination of all that drama. And then bam, fifteen years in one hour. Halfway through the episode, I commented, "It's like they're trying to scramble to cram one more season into only one episode."

    3) Ted and Robin don't belong together, according to the way the story was written. They stopped belonging together a LONG time ago. I didn't feel emotionally satisfied that they ended up being with one another--and in fact, they didn't. It was just the start of a new series of angst. So it never really wrapped up the story.

    4) The point that my hubby conceded was this: It's a sitcom. The mother dying at the end isn't funny and doesn't fit with the genre. You could have ever called it, "How I Met Your Mother, Who Dies in the Last Episode," and that's not cool.

    OK, there, now I don't have to write my own blog rant. ;)

    I do see how the ending is fitting from an objective storyteller's perspective, but I don't agree that it was the way to go with this particular show.