(WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Red vs. Blue)
Earlier this week, the latest season of Roosterteeth’s hit machinima Red vs. Blue ended, finishing up the Chorus Trilogy (which consisted of Season’s 11, 12 and 13). Overall, I certainly enjoyed it. After ten seasons of the Freelancer story arc, I was a little nervous about how the series could continue. Most people would probably say that it would’ve been wise to end it before it lost steam and became a shadow of its former self, but I feel it managed to avoid that, thanks to the decision to tell a new story with these familiar characters and the show getting a new lead writer in Miles Luna. That all being said, though, let’s talk about that last episode, shall we?
Quick summary: Big Bad Malcolm Hargrove, having had his diabolical schemes reported to the UNSC, decides to make a last ditch effort to kill everybody on Chorus with an army of giant robots. In order to stop him, the Reds and Blues board his ship and manage to disable the robots and save their allies on the planet. However, they are left trapped and cornered; Hargrove’s remaining forces slowly cutting through the door. Even if they’ve managed to foil Hargrove, chances are they’re not making it out alive.
So what do they do? They take a stand. They ready their weapons, grab whatever tech they can find in the room, Tucker even puts on the Meta’s old armour from Season 8. As they prepare to fight, Epsilon, in order to give them a fighting chance, chooses to split himself apart in order to run the Meta’s armour. He leaves a recording to his friends telling them ‘well done and goodbye.’ And then… the credits roll.
I was confused, distressed, angry and a little bit cheated. I came away from it thinking “Was that it?” I’ve mentioned in a previous article how endings need to leave the viewer feeling satisfied; let them feel like it was worth investing their time and emotions into the story. The question, then, is whether this ending is satisfying or not. Is it suitable to be considered a ‘true ending’ for the show?
There have been quite a few points throughout the show’s run that I felt could’ve served as proper endings; endings where I could walk away and accept that the show had ended. In fact, let’s recap for comparison’s sake.
1. The original Blood Gulch Chronicles (Seasons’ 1-5) ended with main villain O’Malley’s plans for galactic domination being thwarted but Tex seemingly dies, leaving Church heartbroken once more. The Reds and Blues return to their respective sides to continue their war, but have at least learned some things, specifically that you can’t hate somebody just because you were told to. You have to learn how to hate them on a personal level. For a show that had always been primarily comedic, this was a decent way to end it and bring things full circle.
2. Revelation, the final part of the Recollection Trilogy (Seasons 6-8) ended with the Reds and Blues working together to finally defeat the Meta, the psychotic super soldier that not even resident badass Tex could beat. Epsilon, desperate to save her, jumps into the damaged memory unit before it breaks, trapping him. The Reds and Blues return to their old bases, with Washington in tow, having been forgiven and accepted as one of them. Meanwhile, Epsilon chooses to relive his memories of his time with the Reds and Blues as he waits for Tex, stating “If you had to spend the rest of your life in a memory, you might as well make it a good one.”
This is a fantastic ending, in my opinion, as it shows how far the Reds and Blues have come. They may not be the smartest, the strongest or even the most competent soldiers, but they still overcame the odds and took down arguably the most powerful character in the show. Everyone had progressed somewhat and Washington, after all the lies and betrayals he’s suffered from, finds a group of people that accept him. Meanwhile, Epsilon, while still searching for Tex, is content with things and creates a feeling of closure.
3. Season 10 (which was part of a duology with Season 9 about Project Freelancer) ended with Carolina facing an army of Tex robots which, despite her best efforts, she can’t beat on her own. So, with Epsilon, Washington and the Reds and Blues, they manage to wipe them out before confronting the Director.
Carolina and Epsilon approach him and we are shown that he is nothing more than a broken shell of a man, unwilling to move on from his beloved’s death. Carolina and Epsilon both come to the realisation that they mustn’t let themselves be controlled by their past and, rather than kill him, choose to just leave. The Director also seems to realise that he can never bring Allison back and chooses to end his life.
With almost every connection to Project Freelancer gone, the group finds themselves a new home (another boxed canyon in the middle of nowhere) and Epsilon and Carolina decide to leave in order to try and make up for all the bad they’ve caused.
This is a very brief and heavily summed up version but that’s only because the Season 10 ending was so heavy and so full of revelation, it’s pretty hard to sum up in words while still getting all the emotions across. The point is, for an ending to what was arguably a ten-season long story arc, it was great. Everything felt resolved, the characters were all in a good place; while there was potential to continue (which they did), the show was at a point where I think it could’ve ended for good.
The reason I believe all those endings were great was because they created a feeling of closure; we knew the ending. Season 13’s ending is incredibly ambiguous. Did they live? Did they die? Did Hargrove pay for his crimes? What happened to Chorus? There was a lot left unanswered.
That’s not to say ambiguous endings are all terrible. Some people prefer the idea of not knowing what happened (I know there are a lot of people that loved Season 13’s ending). In fact, an ending such as this does suit the show considering episodes would regularly end on cliffhangers. Church himself once said:
“Why does something dramatic happen every five minutes?”
So, in a way, an ending such as this does suit the show. So why my negative reaction to it?
Well, after some thinking, I think it stems from the fact that I wanted to actually see the resolution. I wanted to see the Reds and Blue kicking ass. I wanted to see Tucker taking advantage of the power in the Meta suit. I wanted to see Hargrove get locked away. I wanted to see how Tucker, Carolina and everybody else would react to Epsilon’s sacrifice. This partly stems from pure personal preference – if given the choice, I’d take a clearer, more concrete ending than an ambiguous one.
Plus, two of my favourite scenes in the entire show were Season 8’s Reds and Tucker VS Meta and Season 10’s Tex army fight; scenes that took supposedly the worst soldiers ever and had them be utter badasses. I felt like I was promised something of that caliber but then never given it.
I won’t lie. Initially, I really did not like this ending and found it to be a massive letdown – ambiguous for the sake of ambiguous. Why would you create implications that these beloved characters might’ve died? That was until I took another look at this section of Epsilon’s final speech:
“There are so many stories where some brave hero decides to give their life to save the day, and because of their sacrifice, the good guys win, the survivors all cheer, and everybody lives happily ever after. But the hero… never gets to see that ending. They’ll never know if their sacrifice actually made a difference. They’ll never know if the day was really saved. In the end, they just have to have faith.”
I want you to look at that last line; hell, that last word. Faith. Epsilon isn’t just telling himself to have faith that his friends will make it out. He’s also telling us – the viewers. Maybe this ending isn’t as unclear or as ambiguous as it seems. If we believe that the Reds and Blues made it out alive, then that’s what happened. Maybe that’s what the writers are telling us – the ending you believe in is the ending that happened.
We already know that Red vs. Blue will still continue, with Season 14 already confirmed as an anthology; a series of unrelated stories that take place throughout the entire series thus far. It’s essentially a ‘break’ season; something most likely more light-hearted to make up for all the heavy and dark themes of the recent seasons.
Maybe Season 15 will answer my questions and bring some resolution to it. Or maybe it won’t. I’m hoping, but if this is where the adventures of the Reds and Blues do end, then I’m willing to accept that, because I choose to have faith that Church’s final death was not in vain and everything worked out in the end.