The Spectrum of Possibilities

Rob Bricken, in his weekly Medium column Nerd Processor, talks about the upcoming final season of Game of Thrones, how it’s likely to disappoint, and why.

But the problem isn’t really with Daenerys, Tyrion, or all the other characters that may end up ruling Westeros or whether anyone rules Westeros or if it splits back into seven kingdoms or suddenly becomes a democracy or whatever. (Okay, that last one would be very crappy.) It’s that Game of Thrones is so popular and so epic and its ending so anticipated that every possible outcome, regardless of how good or bad it is, is inherently not as exciting as the spectrum of possibilities that precede it.

That bit about the spectrum of possibilities” is deliciously accurate. And it doesn’t just apply to how the Game of Thrones creators plan on ending the series. This problem is inherent in almost all of the upcoming genre television and movies.

How will Star Wars Episode IX wrap up the sequel trilogy? How can it be done without disappointing millions of fans?

How will the next Avengers movie wrap up the Infinity War story? How can they do it without millions of fans crying out in vain?

How will Westworld end? The Expanse? The Magicians? Mr. Robot? The list goes on.

How will the creators of The Big Bang Theory close out the series and will we ever learn Penny’s last name?

I’m not sure there are people wondering how Modern Family, Law and Order: SVU or Criminal Minds will end. Maybe I’m wrong. There’s definitely a fandom for This is Us that’s invested in the characters and timelines. The creators have done a fabulous job of teasing ideas and directions to keep viewers hooked and wondering where and how it will end. The spectrum of possibilities” is the bread and butter of the show, along with the strong writing and character moments.

Of course, most of the time where characters go after the movie’s credits or show is off the air is in the realm of fan fiction or actual tie-in novels and comics. Want more seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer? They exist in comic book form and written by the guy who created Buffy. What happened after the end of the last Star Trek: The Next Generation movie? Read the novels.

Still, a fandom’s expectation for a satisfying conclusion has got to be a huge headache for the creators. I assume some just don’t care about the reaction and just want to tell their story and damn the torpedoes regarding fans (see Rian Johnson and The Last Jedi). I think other creators may try and walk the line of fan service and servicing the story.

I’d bet JJ Abrams will walk that line with Episode IX. Maybe David Benioff and D. B. Weiss will do the same for Game of Thrones. We will know soon enough. Meanwhile, I’ll write my own versions in my head and try not to scream when the creators do their own thing.

December 1, 2018