SPOILER WARNING: If you haven’t watched the series finale of 24, and you’re planning on it, you may want to wait to read this post.
Last night my husband and I watched the series finale of 24. It got me thinking about endings, because I wasn’t a huge fan of how things went for dear old Jack Bower.
The last few episodes of 24 were awful. Jack Bower, in an attempt to bring forward the truth of an assassination, did the most horrible things to people. Sure, he had semi-good reasons, but the fact remains that he did disgusting things to people. And he got off free and clear. WHAT? His goal was accomplished–the President of the United States came forward with the story, even though it meant letting everyone know that she had a hand in covering it all up. And then the President gives him a head start to run and get out of the country before he’s arrested. The series ended with heart-felt apologies and a tearful goodbye as he ran off with no one following him.
I hated it. I fully expected Jack to die, and it would’ve been no less than he deserved. But I don’t care how noble his intentions were–he tortured people, killed people, and he deserved punishment. I would’ve been satisfied with an ending that put him in custody, because he was able to bring forward the truth. But apparently, the creators of 24 couldn’t bear to put Jack away.
So. Endings. Obviously, I’m not one who always wants a “happily ever after.” Now, I’m a sucker for a sappy boy-gets-girl ending, and I love it when books end the happy way. But I think that endings can be satisfying without being “happy” or at least without being perfect.
One of my favorite books is The Smile by Donna Jo Napoli. I remember that when I closed the book, I just sat there staring at the cover, contemplating how the story just finished. I was sad, I was disappointed, but I still felt completely satisfied. Things had still ended well–but they had ended realistically. I loved it.
One of the blogs I follow, Suey’s It’s All About Books, recently posted about endings. She mentioned how some readers like endings to be happy all the time. But then some sad endings are the most memorable. She said,
“For the most part, happy endings make me happy and I end up not really worrying about whether or not that particular ending could really conclude that way. I tend to give the story the benefit of the doubt I guess.”
I think that in general, I agree. My displeasure with 24‘s ending is not typical for me. I usually don’t think too much about whether a book could be better with a sadder ending. But I don’t hate a book because it ends with a little sadness, the way I know some people do.
Are you the type of reader who can be satisfied with a sad ending? And do you ever balk at happy endings, thinking maybe it should’ve been different?