Probably everyone has made this connection except me, because for the most part, I steer clear of meta-fanfic discussions, mostly because I am ill-equipped to participate. I know that Joss invited fans to write fanfic after the shows were over, and of course, I knew very well, as do we all, that “Angel” was left on an ambiguous note where the gang is about to take on an alleyway full of demons, but then (urgh!!) we never see the outcome of that. What I didn’t do was connect those two factoids together, and see the ending of NFA as a deliberate attempt to invite the fans to finish the story themselves. Then I stumbled across this little bit of quotage in londonkds‘ journal, where azdak did the math for me:
“And of course AtS makes the idea explicit. By having the narrative end when the story isn’t yet over, it forces everyone to commit fanfic, if only in their heads, in order to provide an ending.”
Of course, we know that AtS was cut down prematurely, when Mutant Enemy had more story to tell and more story planned. And there was all sorts of speculation about why Joss ended it the way he did, including “screw the WB, I’m going to do the ending I was going to do anyway when it was supposed to be a cliffhanger for season 6.” That annoyed me because it seemed to be punishing the fans, who needed closure. And a lot of closure-needing fans just decided the gang died like noble heroes in the alleyway, which I didn’t like, not the least because season 5 was something of a “dark night of the soul” for Angel which I wanted him to come out of, and not in a quick-fix way the end of the season attempted, especially given how ruthlessly Angel went about his plan.
At any rate, my immediate reflex after “Not Fade Away” was to indeed commit fanfic (darn Joss and his sinister attraction!), which for those that know me well, I never do. Or didn’t do, with the little exception of The Fanged Four Fic a couple years ago. Not even “Home”, which traumatized me psychologically for months, could get me to write the little “Origin”-esque fanfic I threatened to write that summer as therapy.
But this idea, that the open-ended ending of “Not Fade Away” was Joss’s way of dealing with cancellation, by inviting the fans to finish the story, each in his/her own way, is at least a bit of speculation on the man’s reasoning that I can live with.
Masq’s (and friends’) two (so far) possible endings to “Not Fade Away”: