Okay, so these are first impressions, but as we see the show finish, I kind of feel like I need to get all of this out before I start, oh, I don't know, changing my mind.
I did and didn't get the ending I wanted. On the surface, yes, I did. See my weeping with heady excited joy as proof. Deep down... well. Still yes, I think. There are just some reservations.
To me - the speculation was always just speculation. I never got overly invested in one set theory, preferring to try all of them in different ways. And I still think there is ambiguity there. Just not that much.
The one thing I was always kind of adamant about deep down was that Gene and his team were real. And as it turns out - I was wrong. I did, actually, expect to be wrong about this. But I didn't expect to be wrong about it in this way. I thought that if Sam was going to stay/go back to 1973, it would be because it existed. Okay, so really (really? fictionally?) Gene and the rest of them were figments of Sam's imagination. Both Ashley and Matthew have made that clear. But they were very realistic figments, there. They were complex and wonderful figments. Matthew sees the ending as Sam's death (though he also says 'afterlife') - whereas I don't see it as death at all. I see it as rebirth. Okay, so maybe Sam 'dies' in 2007 - but he's still clearly living on somehow - Nirvana? Who the hell creates a Nirvana with Gene Hunt?! 234,678 fangirls? This is me pointing out that it's bad narrative practice to write from the perspective of someone who's dead - there is no doubt in my mind that the car continues driving and Sam, Gene and the team get up to wacky hijinks - it goes on, as real or as unreal as it may be.
It doesn't work logically. The series. As a whole. It doesn't. There are inconsistencies and plot holes. There are routes that they could have taken and didn't. The speculation worked because there was so much up in the air and so much at stake. They set up some elements that never paid off - and yes - you do that - red herrings - but some of them, I think, were more valid choices from a logical point of view.
It does, however, work emotionally - and that's the important thing for me - that's what I liked about the show - like Sam, it made me feel. And God, sometimes I need that. Sometimes we all need that. Where we get that feeling from in the end is quite trivial. That we can feel makes us human.
As I said in my reaction to 2.07, the second series wasn't as good as the first - and this ending episode wasn't a perfect episode by a long stretch. I think lm_jillybean is very right in saying that the concentration on Sam questioning his sanity/existence in 1973 was overplayed and out of place. It wasn't a trick to fool the audience - that would be stupid. (Although, apparently some of the audience bought it, which baffles me? Artistic license only goes so far. Did you really think that Matthew was trying to tell us Sam had never been in our time? Huh?!) We know Sam's from 2006/07. There was no way in hell he wasn't. It was a trick to fool Sam - and for me - I am fine with that concept - but it would have worked a hell of a lot better if those clues had been dispersed throughout the series - if the Hyde calls had - as a running theme, to add cohesion to it all - and not take up a good portion of our conclusion.
That's what the first series had - in brilliant detail - consistency and cohesion, a real progression. This second series lost that progression. One minute we had Sam and Gene having an amazingly touching epilogue - "thank you" - the next, Gene treating Sam as if he'd just arrived - not even getting angry at him for his failure, but simply not having either that connection or disconnection. And then we had Sam trusting Gene - believing in him - only for the next minute to forget all of that completely - which - okay, so he wanted to 'go home' - but it didn't work as well as it could have. Once again, the blocks weren't quite set up for it.
Sam not belonging in 2007 - I understood it. I've written from that perspective. To me, it made sense. I said from the beginning that I couldn't see Sam slotting into his old life ever again - not doing so and being perfectly happy, at least. But... I still think we needed one or two short scenes to really drive that point home. Cut out some of the graveyard stuff and give us more of Sam unable to exist in 2007. Because I do believe it. I do. I just think it needed a tiny bit more.
So, once again, in the end --- I guess all I have to say is: Show. My show. It's not perfect. And I find that kind of comforting. I somehow appeared to have managed to predict a lot of what was to happen, without knowing anything, without for one second believing it would happen - and this amuses me, greatly. I'm still amazed that I actually got my ending in various different ways - and it's killed all of my "but no, because it ends like this" fics. Which is a bit sad, because I had some lovely ideas there.
NO, I DON'T REALLY CARE - THEY GAVE ME MY ENDING!!!!!!
I am still amazed that a) so many people reacted to this the same way I did, b) Matthew actually gave me that. Yes. I firmly believe Matthew Graham wrote this series completely for me. It's quite likely he has absolutely no idea who the hell I am, but he still wrote it for me. Hah! and c) my show isn't actually over - because, do you know what? It goes on. And on. And on. Forever.
Imperfect perfection. ♥