What a satisfying finale.
Now, the story goes that there is nothing left to say here. The book was neat and tidy, and so was the finale.
Maybe it’s just me, but after Shining Girls Season 1 Episode 8, I want more.
There are lingering questions after this kind of a finale, namely whether or not Kirby can withstand the pressure from the house or if she’d just be another of its calamities. She was at her breaking point with Jinny at the planetarium.
I don’t want to feel this way anymore, so I don’t care what happens next.
With Dan’s death, things reached a fever pitch. The tether between Kirby and Jinny was growing ever-tighter, and Jinny posited that the only way they could avoid living the rest of their lives that way would be to eliminate one point of the three-way connection.
Kirby had lost so much, but losing Dan, the only person not directly experiencing the impact of Harper’s actions to accept her unconditionally, threatened her even more.
When we first met Kirby, she was stoic about her situation but also untethered (to use the running theme). She was lost because she was so alone.
Weathering the aftereffects of trauma is so isolating. Anyone who hasn’t been there before doesn’t know how to react to what you’ve suffered.
Add to that her connection to Harper and Kirby was as alone as anyone could ever be. Harper has a gift for isolating everyone around him, and Kirby called him out on it as he groveled before her.
Kirby was forced into a lonely existence when he attacked her. His quest to make everyone suffer the way he did had a flaw, but until they grew closer, Harper was completely unaware.
Kirby’s resilience and determination changed everything.
Her dreams were stolen out from under her. Any semblance of a normal life was gone forever.
We saw how hard it was for Jinny to acclimate to her new normal. Once, that was Kirby.
She’d grown accustomed to the change, though. Her survival demanded it.
So every time Harper was near, her life would rearrange itself, her reality crushed.
If she had given up and not connected with Dan, it might have never changed for her. But Dan’s willingness to believe and understand Kirby, even if it made no sense, propelled her forward in her quest to find her attacker and stop his murderous game.
Harper thought he had it all figured out. He’d been in and out of their lives so much that he knew the best days to step in and out.
I believe that, like Kirby, Leo had learned to live within his current reality. He always wanted to return home, but until Kirby approached him, he had no means to interrupt Harper’s reign of terror.
It wasn’t clear, but my guess is that Leo knew full well what he was going when he gave Kirby the tape and warned her away from Harper, just as he knew what he was saying when he played dumb with Harper.
He finally realized that to get back to the house; he had to pull Harper’s strings the same way Harper pulled his.
You tried that with Klara. She saw through you. I will too. I know why you don’t want to go back. Because you have nothing there. There’s nothing behind you; there’s nothing ahead of you. That’s why you’ll never leave this house. Because no one wants you anywhere else.
As chaos erupted around them, Kirby worked the system she had come to know. It was easy for her to get in and out of a room that changed with her in it, and her sincerity scored her a peek into the possessions Dan had at the time he died.
We saw how the police treated her when she and Harper got into their scuffle at the laundromat/bar. The sketch artist tried to suggest Kirby’s own actions invited it.
That’s a common theme in attacks, and the same goes for those murdered. It’s incomprehensible to imagine getting attacked unprovoked. It’s a clear affront to our sense of safety and our well-being.
But just as Dan believed Kirby, she knew that he would never take from others what wasn’t his in any life. It wasn’t in his nature.
We didn’t need to see how Kirby acclimated herself to the house once she found it any more than we needed to see how Harper used it to visit his victims again and again.
Harper had time constraints on how he could travel. We don’t know whether Kirby has similar limitations, but she could go back far enough to get a jump on Harper’s first time in the house.
She was there before he got home from the war before he found the watch. She used the sincere ability to fit in that he gave her with the shifting reality to talk to Klara and the woman who owned the watch.
Klara memorized his lines, speaking them along with him as he tried to dupe her into allowing him back in her life.
The old woman who was on her way to church looked pointedly at the window, leaving the watch on the bed for him to find.
It was beautiful watching the trap Kirby set. By the time he got to the house, she was ready. Her plan wasn’t without flaws; after all, physically, he was always going to best her.
Harper: Please. I thought nobody was here.
Kirby: You don’t care who’s here.
Harper: No, I swear! I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t have hurt you. I wouldn’t.
Kirby: Because I have a gun; you’re on the ground.
Harper: Please, I can go. I can go right now. Just walk out the door right now, please.
Kirby: And you won’t come back?
Harper: No, never. You’ll never see my face again. I promise.
Kirby: You can’t not be who you are. Second son of a German mother. When she died, no one wanted you, not even the nuns, and they’ll take anyone. At least, that’s what you tell yourself in your head. And it makes you think that the world owes you and that you can take whatever you want from whoever there is. This is mine. This is my house.
Harper: Why are you doing this? I don’t know you.
Kirby: No, not today. But I am always with you. Get out, or I’ll kill you. I’ve done it before.
But Kirby persisted, and knowing what he didn’t know gave her the edge.
The story could end here. She’s already one step ahead of Harper. She didn’t leave him for dead but let him live. But whether she did that because she’s not ready to kill or because she wants him to suffer as she did is unknown.
What we do know is that coming into possession of the house put everything Harper did over the years back in its place. His victims were living the lives he robbed from them. Even Grendel returned.
Kirby tried to reach Dan, and while the urge would be for her to visit him again and again, I’d wager she’d prefer that he recalled her on his own, and she has the time and the faith to wait it out.
Dan: You’re very strange. You sure I never interviewed you before?
Kirby: You tell me.
Dan: I know you.
Kirby: From where? [crying] If you ever remember, you know where to find me.
I’ll tell you right now. I’d jump at it if I had the opportunity to pull out all the stops on my attacker as Kirby did to Harper. I’d do anything to reclaim what was lost and set it right again.
Thank God for women like Lauren Beukes, Silka Luisa, and Elisabeth Moss, who tell our stories and allow us to imagine that the impossible is possible.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She’s a member of the Critic’s Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.