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‘Godless’ and the Art of Storytelling

As Americans, we have a tendency to want more. And as a capitalist society, we usually get it –
for a price.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the problem with modern storytelling. We enjoy a TV show and we demand more so the writers are under pressure to deliver something of equal or greater value for next season.

Not every show is designed to go on and on without any real end. Sometimes, shows end exactly the way they should, and sometimes, they don’t. (An example of the latter: Dexter.)

Season three of The Flash was the perfect way to end a series. Everything was tied up nicely with a fat cherry sitting on top. However, we’re talking about the CW here, and they’re going to beat a dead horse until everyone in the room is too tired to pick up the stick.

I Want to Talk About Godless

For those of you who haven’t seen it yet, this is a “limited” (Whatever the hell that means in modern storytelling) series from Netflix. Fans are already crying for a second season.

I hope Netflix refuses. I hope the tears of the fans of this show fill up glass after glass with the execs gleefully gulping them down as they merrily work on other shows that run for only a single season. The world has been without this kind of storytelling for too long.

Every story, no matter how good, should have a beginning and an end. It’s perfectly OK for there to be unanswered questions at the end. We, as viewers, tend to think we have some sort of right to know everything.

As someone who has been telling stories for a long time, I’m here to say you don’t deserve anything except for what the writer gives you. If he/she wanted you to know more, the information would be tucked into the story as it was told. If it wasn’t, then you need to get over it.

This is part of the allure of storytelling. You bait people along. You make them think they’ll get information: Someone will die, get married, whatever, and then you don’t finish the way they thought you would.

It’s my/our/their story. Not yours. Your job is to be entertained. If you were engaged from beginning to end, then we did our job and we did it proper.

Granted, there are always exceptions. As an example: Dexter. Heh…

via GIPHY

That show ended in a cheap way. It robbed viewers of a legit ending. It was a cop-out. It was a group of storytellers who simply ran out of gas. We were let down as viewers. Even the actors were disappointed.

Godless Delivered

Spoilers Ahead

The show ended in classic Western film fashion with a glorious shootout. It was directly followed by Frank showing empathy and sharing real-world knowledge to a young man who still has much to learn about the world. And then Roy took his revenge.

Frank claimed he had seen his death, and this wasn’t it. He says this multiple times throughout the show. For the first time, he is proven wrong.

These characters, and the story, were well-constructed. The events were timed as they should be. The survivors of the attack by Frank and his gang bury their dead, the preacher finally shows up, and Roy rides off into the sunset. Bill reunites with his kids with a new appreciation for his role as a father.

What else do you want?

There isn’t any story left here. It began. It ended. Every question that needed to be answered, every quarrel that needed to be fixed, was taken care of in quality storytelling fashion.

It’s rare these days to see what I would call “a perfect ending.” I think Godless has one. And I think viewers should accept that.

About Matt Ruley

You can find me blogging at wereallpoorhere.com. When on blog critics, expect to find me writing about whatever is on my mind, especially TV and random musings.

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