Making Sense Of That I Am Not Okay With This Finale Cliffhanger

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
Warning: Spoilers ahead for Netflix’s I Am Not Okay With This season 1 finale, “Deepest, Darkest Secret.”  
From personal experience, it has become clear there is a single universal response to the ending of I Am Not Okay With This season 1’s finale, “Deepest, Darkest Secret,:” Is that it?! The chapter could easily lay the groundwork for an explosive hypothetical eighth episode. Heroine Sydney Novak (Sophia Lillis) has accidentally blown up the head of Brad Lewis (Richard Ellis), the terrible ex-boyfriend of Sydney’s best friend Dina (Sofia Bryant). Terrified of her own power, a blood-drenched Sydney flees to the tower at the edge of town and convinces herself a hermit’s life may be what’s best. She admits to understanding the isolation her dad must have felt before dying by suicide the year prior. 
Then, behind her, a mass of particles coalesces into a mysterious stranger in all black. “Should I be afraid?” Sydney asks. “They should be afraid,” the man responds. “Let’s begin.” 
And fade to black. I Am Not Okay pulls the plug on its first season at its most confusing, thrilling moment. Luckily, there are some helpful clues sprinkled throughout IANOWT’s initial seven episodes to make sense of Sydney’s big cliffhanger — and it all comes down to her father.
Our first clue that Sydney is likely part of a much bigger conspiracy comes earlier in I Am Not Okay With This. Towards the close of fourth episode “Stan By Me,” we see Sydney rushing through a backstreet on her way home from the local bowling alley. As Sydney walks past the train tracks, we see a figure appear behind her (she, unfortunately has no idea). The figure follows Sydney for a few paces until they hang back and watch her. The figure is wearing a jacket similar to the one we see Sydney’s tower stranger wearing in the finale. Then the “Stan” stranger dissipates into the same sandy material that shows up again in “Deepest, Darkest Secret.” 
We see the same figure again at the close of penultimate I Am Not Okay episode “Like Father, Like Daughter.” In that chapter, the stranger stands outside of the Novak home and appears to be watching Sydney from the corner. Then the person starts walking to an unknown location. Sydney and her powers are important to someone
“Like Father” sheds a light on why Sydney may be so special — and therefore why some cloaked figure is stalking her. At the crescendo of the episode, Sydney goes into the Novak basement, where her father died, in an attempt to understand what really happened to him. She finds a box filled with mementos of her dad’s time in the Marines, which is a piece of his past Sydney had never been told about until that moment. Sydney’s mom Maggie (Kathleen Rose Perkins) finds Sydney and explains Mr. Novak joined the armed forces soon after the Novaks got married. In the following years, Mr. Novaks’s military experience began to `weigh” on him, and he returned home showing signs of what Maggie likely assumed were PTSD. 
“Anytime I would ask him about it, he’d get so mad he would run out of the room...” Maggie begins. “Like he was about to throw up?” Sydney asks. Yes, exactly like that, Maggie confirms.
Sydney's conversation with her mom forces her to realize Mr. Novak probably had the same powers as his daughter. Mr. Novak also suffered from paranoia and believed someone was following him. Then, during Mr. Novak’s last tour, an unexplainable explosion killed everyone around him, including civilians and Mr. Novak’s friends — save for Sydney’s father. Sydney quickly assumes her dad created an explosion like the one she set off in the forest of “The Party’s Over” or the library in “Another Day in Paradise.” 
Considering that fact that Mr. Novak’s post-Marines behavior sounds markedly different than his personality before enlisting, it is possible something is amiss. This most obvious theory on a sci-fi show like Okay would be that Sydney’s dad underwent some experiment while serving in the military. That would explain all of the carnage that followed Mr. Novak and why someone would be following Sydney. The finale episode stranger could easily be one of Mr. Novak’s Marine buddies who also went through the experiment, or even a military doctor. 
Either way, we probably can't trust a gigantic man in a creepy jacket who spent all of I Am Not Okay season 1 following a teenage girl around, no matter his intentions — no one should be okay with that.
If you are thinking about suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the Suicide Crisis Line at 1-800-784-2433.
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