Does it really matter how the story ends?
I watched a wonderful drama on telly this week. The 7.39 by David Nichols. Although I very nearly didn’t. Why? Because I had read a review over the weekend, which said the ending was totally predictable and unimaginative. Luckily, I ignored it. Largely because I know how good a writer Nichols is and the actors in it were pretty impressive too.
As I watched the second half I began to suspect that the critic hadn’t actually seen the programme at all. To me, the story followed quite an unexpected path and I found the themes that were explored really quite original and thought provoking. The idea that when the protagonist’s wife found out about his affair and threatened to destroy his family life, he actually began to finally appreciate what he had and fundamentally changed the way he interacted with them, was an interesting one.
In fact, I thought all of the characters acted in ways that I hadn’t completely expected and the dialogue was excellent. Particularly when the mistress says, ‘I don’t think I’m a bad person.’ And the wife replies, ‘Well, bad people never do.’
There was a moral ambiguity to the tale which meant you could find some sympathy with all the characters involved. There wasn’t a two dimentional ‘baddie’ in the piece. Perhaps it was a little sentimental at times, but it was also honest and written in good humour. Nichols is also a great writer of comedy. This made me think, rightly as it turned out, that he was setting out to entertain and stimulate me as a viewer and not to upset and depress me.
I don’t think it would have mattered too much how the story had concluded. It was the journey that the characters took which was the driving force of the narrative (quite literally, as most of the affair took place on the train) We shouldn’t get overly hung up about a ‘shock’ or ‘unexpected’ ending, as all too often it comes at the expence of a well-rounded, believable and compelling story.