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The Ending of ‘I Am Not Okay With This’ Explained

Let’s talk about this mysterious man and try to figure out who he is.
I Am Not Okay With This
By  · Published on March 2nd, 2020

Ending Explained is a recurring series in which we explore the finales, secrets, and themes of interesting movies and shows, both new and old. In this entry, we look at the ending of I Am Not Okay With This.

Jonathan Entwistle seems to be drawn to Charles Forsman’s work. Following on from the success of The End of the F***ing World, he knocks it out of the park with his adaptation of I Am Not Okay With This. And the good thing about his interpretation of this story is that he plans to continue the journey of Syd (Sophia Lillis) beyond a single season, as evidenced by the cliffhanger ending that’s given viewers plenty to ponder.

The big question concerns the identity of the mysterious shadowy figure who has been following Syd around. In the comics, there’s an equivalent entity, but it’s a manifestation of Syd’s feelings that briefly appears when she feels like she’s losing control. She describes it as the embodiment of her “hatred, anxiety, and anger.” The spook is a very small part of the comics, but the creators of the Netflix show exercise their fair share of creative freedom with the adaptation, and one of their changes was turning the emotional specter into a physical character.

Given that adolescent trauma is a major theme in the series, it’s entirely possible that the mystery man is a hallucination of some kind. That said, whether he’s real or imaginary, all the signs point toward him becoming Syd’s mentor for dealing with her telekinetic powers. This is another difference from the source material, as the shadow ends up causing her to become isolated from everyone she cares about, and in the comics, she actually kills herself at the end of the story.

One possibility is that the man is Syd’s dead father, who has somehow found a way to remain in the mortal coil and get through to his daughter. The show implies that Syd inherited her powers from him and that his abilities also came about following a traumatic experience. The ending reveals that the shadow man was watching over Syd — as opposed to haunting her — throughout the season. Therefore, it makes sense for the mysterious guardian/mentor to be Syd’s father, as he has experience with the powers and a personal attachment to her.

At the end of the final episode, the mystery man also informs Syd that she doesn’t have to be afraid of him, but “they” will be. This suggests that her father has returned from the beyond and wants to use her for some kind of mission, which probably involves her killing people whom he thinks are deserving of death. “Let’s begin,” he says during the closing moments of the finale, indicating that he’s going to start training her.

At the same time, it’s entirely possible that the figure is someone else entirely. If Syd has telekinetic powers then it’s probable that there are more people like her out there. Maybe it’s one of her old man’s army buddies? Her dad is the obvious answer to serve as her new guide, so maybe the creators will set out to surprise viewers in the next installment.

Regardless of who he is, though, it’s clear that he’s going to help Syd channel her powers. But will he use her to fight for justice, or does the mysterious man have a sinister agenda? The show is more optimistic than the source material, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be some horrifying twists in store.

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Kieran is a Contributor to the website you're currently reading. He also loves the movie Varsity Blues.