The No-Answer Ending

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In my last post I talked about the show Castle Rock, based on Stephen King’s characters and settings. Much of season one revolved around the character known as The Kid, and whether or not he is the Devil, or possessed by the Devil. And in the end, we didn’t really get an answer.

Of course the internet is rife with theories, most of which I already read, trying to make sure I wasn’t the only one left feeling confused with my unanswered questions.

As it turns out, the writers wanted it this way.

Now, I can appreciate a cliffhanger ending. But apparently the next season is going to be an entirely different story? (Again, we don’t know.) So it’s not clear that we’ll ever get an answer to the main question of The Kid’s identity. And I’m not sure I like this as a way of storytelling. Something about leaving the main question unanswered just irks me. Of course, this could just me be and my preferred method of storytelling.

I’m fine with leaving small questions unanswered. I’m fine with leaving big questions unanswered for a period of time. But I’m not fine with leaving big questions totally unanswered forever.

I think if you’re going to write a mystery, the mystery needs to be solved by the end of the story!

As a writer, you’re asking the reader, or viewer, to come on an adventure with you. You’re leaving them on the hook, chapter after chapter, episode after episode. And that’s okay. Audiences and readers are generally all for it. But you need to provide the payoff by the end. It’s why they’ve stuck with the story so long. Because they want to know. Leaving readers or audiences hanging at the end, well, it’s just impolite.

So I hope Castle Rock eventually answers this question for us. It was the main question posed for season one. Not providing an answer because the writers wanted to leave it up to viewer interpretation, well, hmmm, I don’t know, sounds a little lazy to me. Like they themselves didn’t want to settle on an answer.

As for me, I look at answering the main story question as a basic tenet of good storytelling.