The May Editor’s Letter: On Endings

Game of Thrones finished out its final season this month, so like any culture obsessed, Jon Snow loving fool, I’ve been thinking a lot about endings. I started with Thrones. How do I feel now that it’s over? (Terrible and betrayed.) But also, this: Why did this hit me so hard?

In my own defense, Thrones ending hit a lot of us pretty starkly (ha). One million people actually took time out of their day to sign a PETITION to have the entire last season reshot. People cared that much. And I kind of understand why. I did not sign the petition (because I’m a relatively sane human), but I did take it as a very personal assault on women that showrunners made our golden champion Daenerys Targaryen go batshit crazy in the penultimate episode. Of course the WOMAN had to snap. Of COURSE she had to lose her shit and bang her nephew. We’re so unreasonable, women. So prone to fire and brimstone an also incest (we can’t help it!). Truthfully speaking, though, our own government doesn’t even show up for us, so why would we expect D & D to do any different?

But this essay isn’t about women. It isn’t even about Game of Thrones, really. It’s about endings. It’s about letting go.

It can be very hard to know when the jig is up. Be it in a relationship, a friendship, a job, a television series. (Ex: Grey’s Anatomy. For the love of god, we brought the clock out a long time ago and Meredith just hasn’t gotten the hint.) As creatures built to endure and endure, one could argue that endings fundamentally go against our nature. They force us to take pause despite our natural state being inherently rooted in progress. There’s meant to be just one final end: death. And what do we say to the god of death? (Okay, I set myself up for that one.)

Something simply being over with or finished does not an ending make. No, endings are bigger than that. Endings are literary, important, and ceremonious. Endings say, this thing mattered. Now it’s done. The person you were while it lived, is now gone along with it. Some endings are given to you, some you have to set in motion. They can be a lot of things. A slap in the face, a sigh of relief, a kiss goodbye. They often make for good stories, though often those stories are too difficult to tell.

Game of Thrones gave us many marked “endings” before this one final curtain call. Most of them were blood curdling-ly good. The Red Wedding—painful but unforgettable. The death of Jon Snow—heartbreaking but also SIKE. The trial of Little Finger. Genius. Amazing. A knifing in the heart of auntie-lover Dany Girl on the other hand? A hellish type of cruelty. Not even the satisfying kind of awful. Bran taking the now dragon-charred throne seems like a cop-out. A choice that doesn’t make any sense—like going to a steakhouse and ordering a salad. Like running Bay to Breakers for the workout. (We’re all in it for the naked people, come on—this is San Francisco we’re talking about.)

GoT proved that much of the time, endings can suck. They can be powerful enough to nearly undo all the goodness and greatness that precipitated them (though not quite). But endings are apart of life, baby. Still, there is hope. So let me leave you with these wise, consoling words:

Big Little Lies returns in two weeks.

// Feature photography by Brunel Johnson.

The May Editor’s Letter: On Endings
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