Fair warning – this post will contain spoilers for The Final Season.
With the release of The Final Season, the Seasons Rising trilogy is complete. I’ve taken Fay from the end of high school through to finishing his time at Janus University. He’s gone from a kid who wanted so desperately to belong somewhere, to a young man who found that sometimes chasing that kind of want so blindly can lead to mixed results, and finally to someone who no longer knows if he wants to follow the path he spent so long trying to walk down. It’s interesting, and reflects a change in his character that not everyone might see as positive development. I do, though. And if you’d like to listen, I’ll explain why.
When we are young, it is a very difficult thing to know what we want from life, from others, and from ourselves. It is easy to sense the absence, but it’s hard to know what we actually need to fill that absence. We go looking, we listen to the advice our peers and elders give us, and we use that to figure out what might be the answer as to what we’re missing. In Fay’s case in Aspect of Winter, he was doubly an outcast – a gay kid in straight suburbia, a life a whole lot of us are familiar with. But also, the only kid in the whole world, so far as he knows, with magic. He goes looking. He gets found. And he leaps at the first chance he’s got to chase that sense of belonging despite the obvious warning signs that come with it. He follows that path, it goes poorly for him, and we end up in The Doorway God. Fay knows a little more about himself now, but he’s trapped by his own actions and the sense that he’s got no other choice but to see this through. If he doesn’t, why, he just might lose his “self” completely.
Looking at this from an outside perspective, there’s a bit of a visible parallel here. When you’re young and sorting yourself out, you will almost inevitably (there are some lucky exceptions, and I hope you stay that way!) begin to define yourself by what you’re good at, and what you think makes you “special”. It gets hard to let go of the things that you define yourself with, even when that gets unhealthy, or even dangerous. “Who would I be if I wasn’t a writer?” Well, a lot of things, but when that’s the mindset you’re in, it’s hard to see any answer except “nothing”. Fay has the extra added complication of being possessed by a murderous Season that would turn him into an incarnation of the cold and white apocalypse, but… part of his struggle also remains that this, this power he’s had for as long as he can remember, is part of how he defines himself. Walking away from it is scary. And he’s not ready to do that yet, even though it might kill him to stay. He’s doubly bound, and by the time The Doorway God ends, the only exit left for him is to flee, and figure out what the hell he can do now that he’s reconciled a part of him that was always kept separate – and isn’t exactly safe to be joined with.
So now we come to The Final Season. I wasn’t sure how to write it. I put off starting for over a year because I had no idea what to do about it. Fay is Winter now. He’s reconciled his differences with the thing inside him, and the two have become one. This has some perks: Fay is quite possibly the most powerful being in existence, and he cannot die. This has some drawbacks: Fay is the most powerful being in existence, and he cannot die. Any dream he had of belonging has been left in the dust. He went looking for people “like him” only to find that there weren’t any. And now the power that he does have sets him so far apart from everyone else that he will always be wanted for his power, not himself, and has a burden of responsibility placed upon him that he never asked for. Winter’s role, before the Season perverted it so terribly, was to protect Gaia from outside threats, and now Fay has to do that too – for eternity. It takes some figurative and literal soul-searching for Fay to confirm that nope, he doesn’t want that. That’s not something he’s ever wanted. The path he took to get here isn’t his anymore, if it ever was.
What do you do when you get to this point? You’ve spent years of your life trying to achieve a set goal, and now that you’ve reached it, you don’t like where you’ve ended up. Ever heard of the “Sunk Cost Fallacy”? Mostly it’s an economics kind of thing, but it goes a little something like this: we think we make rational decisions based on the future value of our decisions and investments, but we don’t. Our decisions are tainted by the emotional investments we accumulate, and the more we invest in something the harder it becomes to abandon it. It’s easy to say from an outside perspective that if something you’ve worked long and hard for isn’t good, you should abandon it. It’s less easy to say that when you’re the one who’s invested in it. All throughout Doorway and the beginning of The Final Season, it’s too much for Fay to consider abandoning it. It takes a serious intervention – from himself, no less – for Fay to realize that it’s okay to look for a way out. It’s okay to no longer want to continue as Winter. It’s okay, for him to turn his back on what he’s worked so hard and sacrificed so much for, because it wasn’t what he thought it was. And that’s okay.
The point I’m coming to with all of this is that so often, stories that revolve around coming of age end up with a character who is transformed utterly from who they used to be. Their circumstances have changed, and they have changed with it. I’ve noticed that in real life, this isn’t always the case. We can grow up only to learn that how we were trying to define ourselves isn’t the right fit. We can change who we want to be an endless number of times, and sometimes that means doing something that feels a little like taking a few steps backwards, to move forward. Fay’s happier for having done it. He realized that what he wanted was different from what he used to want, and how he was going about getting it. And so he turned back, and that’s okay. So remember: no matter how much it feels like your whole life has been leading up to where you find yourself now, you don’t have to continue on that path if it doesn’t suit you. That choice is always yours. And while it might be hard to take it, don’t let anyone else take that choice away from you.
All the best,