Lagniappe: Saying Goodbye to a Friend

This wasn’t an entry I’d intended to write. But who wants to spend their lives sticking to the plan, right? This blog post is going to be filed under the category “lagniappe,” which is a common word in South Louisiana meaning, “a little bit extra.” So this is some lagniappe for you. And maybe just a little for me, as well.

In September of 2007, NBC’s “little engine that could” hit the airwaves for the first time. I’m talking about the show Chuck. Anyone who’s kept up with this show is well aware of its resilience. On numerous occasions, it was on the verge of cancellation, and every time, the fans (and Subway) kept it alive. It was a harmless little show about a super spy named Sarah Walker and the hapless nerd, Chuck Bartowski, she was tasked with keeping alive. Part sitcom…okay, mostly sitcom…part drama, part action spy shoot-’em-up, it was in my opinion one of the most sincere, and consequently best shows to grace the airwaves for the past five years. The series came to a close on Friday, the 27th of January.

 

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This entry isn’t a recap or review of the series finale, though if you insisted on a brief opinion, I’d say that it “went in all the way,” as Chuck has since episode one. Chuck didn’t do everything right, and it had more than its fair share of “come on, guys, you can do better than that” moments throughout its tenure, but that became part of the show’s charm. For better or worse, it tried. That, in my opinion, will go down as its biggest success. It was a good show. You can’t say that about very many shows nowadays. Chuck was worth sticking with.

But where Chuck ties in with what I do, and with what every writer does, be it for novels or television shows, is that it came to an end. It came to grips with and accepted its mortality. It drew its final breath, as Epic will draw its final breath, as all good things will.

It’s been said a billion-and-one times, “it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.” This is true. Dawn of Destiny, the first book in the Epic series, will always hold a special place in my heart. Just the same, I’m always thrilled to hear when someone loved it, as I generally consider it my weakest work. What truly matters with Epic, or any series, is where it’s heading and where it will stop.

Being that I’ve never ended a series before, I can’t exactly tout expertise in the area. I do, however, think I know how all series should end. With faithfulness. With something that leaves the reader, when they turn that final page and close the cover, with a sad sense of warmth, not at any one particular event in the finale’s plot or arc, but that “they did it right.” Endings can be happy, sad, or anywhere in-between. More importantly is that they’re right.

Literarily-speaking, Scott Remington is going to meet his end. Svetlana, David, Esther, Becan…no character is immune from the passage of time. At some point, the final page will be turned, and their stories will cease to be. As I find myself crossing that “halfway done” threshold, I find myself thinking more and more how those events will play out. Yes, there’s always a plan. But any writer worth his salt will tell you that all plans are subject to change should inspiration strike at the right time. I know where Epic is heading. But just like the characters themselves, what happens when we get there is a mystery that will be revealed only when it’s revealed. I only know that the goal is not for the biggest explosion, or the most passionate kiss, or for the deepest sadness. The goal is for the reader to close the back cover, lean back on their sofa, and say, “I’m really going to miss this.”

Joshua Gomez, who played Morgan Grimes in Chuck, said that the emotions hit him when he walked off the set of the Buy More for the last time, quoted as saying: “Out of all the sets and everything, that’s the one that, to me, sort of embodies the show. So we kind of said good night to it, and we didn’t want to leave. We all just kind of stood there in a little circle talking about our favorite moments, [and] all the mayhem that’s happened here. It was really cool, but then as I walked off the stage, and I was by myself…I just felt it, like, ‘That’s the last time I’ll walk off that set.’ Then it hit me.”

I hope Epic hits readers. Not because of a gimmick or a cheap tear-jerker I threw in for effect, but because something good has come, gone, and been worth it. I’m a long way from getting there. But I know it’s coming.

In the meantime, do yourself a favor and load up Chuck Season One, if you haven’t seen it already. Stick with it – it’s worth it. And when the time comes after that final episode, lean back on your sofa as I did with my wife, and just take it all in. It’s okay to tear up. We both did. Then say goodbye.

It’s been a good ride, Chuck Bartowski. I’m really going to miss you.

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