The answer, it seems, is their refusal to tie up their narratives in a neat little bow.
In uncompromising and divisive fashion, all three British TV shows have recently left viewers hanging at the end of their run; with questions unanswered, loose threads exposed, and no clear sense of resolution for the ensemble.
It’s a bold decision for the writers to make, and this approach to ending a drama does not come without its risks.
‘A massive anti-climax’
Back at the start of February, when Kiri finished (or didn’t, according to your point of view), vocal viewers took to social media to express their anger at its open-ended finale. The disappointment was palpable. Furious even.
As one Twitter user commented: “It seems to be the ‘in thing’ for the conclusion to have no conclusion. It’s not clever or thought-provoking, it’s just a massive anti-climax.”
On Screen Babble, our Facebook TV discussion group, a poll at the time of Kiri’s conclusion showed that most felt it was a let-down. But there are suggestions from our readership that reactions to these kinds of endings are softening. Or at least, shifting from show to show.
With Save Me, the picture was more mixed, reactions to the climax varying from enthusiasm to disappointment.
Regarding Collateral’s conclusion last night, meanwhile, there was praise for its “loose ends and hints at a much bigger picture”, while another commenter noted that “real life isn’t always conclusive but it always goes on, which is why it really worked for me”.
Endings that reflect their stories?
This latter point is an interesting one to consider. And perhaps key in defending, or at least understanding, the decision of writers to leave their viewers without a clear sense of “closure”.
In the case of all three aforementioned shows, it’s probably no coincidence that their central themes are concerned with ambiguity and uncertainty.
Kiri explores the fall-out after a young foster girl absconds from a visit to her birth family. It introduces us to various connected people, and then neatly subverts our assumptions about all of them.
Collateral appears to be a murder mystery about a gunned-down pizza delivery man. But it actually ends up as a biting social commentary. Its main focus is the tangled lives of individuals stumbling through their various problems, with little firm direction.
Save Me, about a father whose estranged daughter goes missing, is all about the terror of not knowing, and the profound level of ambiguity of its characters.
In a sense, the open endings of all three echo the tone and subject matter of the drama.
As I remarked
Creator David Hare appeared to be commenting on the way in which people’s lives are affected by systems and events beyond their control. And the very final shot suggested the world was right back where it started: nothing had changed, life would simply continue as it always did.
Resolution is not always realistic
Perhaps there is a difference between open endings where the writer is making a point by not being conclusive, and one where they are just denying closure for the sake of it.
Just as Collateral’s finale seems intentionally designed to reflect the drama’s message, so Kiri’s lack of firm conclusion could be seen to be fitting.
As Kiri progresses, it becomes more about the issues surrounding the case than the case itself. Media witch-hunts; race and class; the role of social workers; and how people hijack tragedies to fuel their own agendas.
In the end, the secret to the whole terrible affair is almost a sideshow to the rest of the narrative. Because, arguably, the wider world in Kiri is less interested in the truth than what they feel the case says about society.
Some viewers are no doubt frustrated when things are left unresolved. But in real life resolution is not always possible – and these writers are all straining to convey something ‘realistic’ about the world.
Walking a tightrope
As standalone mini-series, Kiri and Collateral will never offer disgruntled viewers the answers they crave.
But in the case of Save Me, creator and star Lennie James has confirmed that it was always conceived with a second season in mind, rather than just being a standalone story.
It’s a tale that could have easily wrapped everything up inside its six initial episodes. Many dramas would have.
But James’ earthy tale of a man searching for the missing daughter he’s never known is more about the complex people and relationships at its heart. The warmth and solidarity of its London tower-block community, even as strains grow and the plot gets ever murkier.
The characters are so strong, it puts a different spin on the usual ‘kidnapped child’ scenario, and invites a later revisit.
Open-ended TV endings must walk a tightrope, between many viewers’ innate thirst for answers and closure, and their own desire to reflect the uncertain nature of the worlds they explore.
Whether or not audiences can tolerate this becoming a full-blown trend is equally contentious.
• Join the discussion now on Screen Babble, the TV chat group on Facebook.
More on i
Source : https://inews.co.uk/culture/television/save-me-kiri-collateral-endings/1936