Shining Girls Finale: Here's Why the Series Diverged From the Book's Ending

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Warning: This post contains spoilers from Shining Girls‘ Season 1 finale. 

Those who’ve read Lauren Beukes’ Shining Girls likely will remember the novel’s cinematic ending, in which Kirby finally bests Harper, the serial murderer who nearly killed her years before. Dan, Kirby’s partner in the hunt for Harper, plays a huge role in Kirby’s victory. And before the story wraps, a triumphant Kirby and Dan kiss.

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Apply TV+’s adaptation of the book, however, chose not to have Elisabeth Moss‘ and Wagner Moura’s characters become romantically entangled. In fact, Dan is dead at one point in the finale… yet, courtesy of the series’ shifting realities, he’s alive again by the finale’s final few minutes. Kirby finds him sitting at a bar, and though she seems familiar to him, he doesn’t know her. She writes something in his notebook, adding, “If you ever remember, you know where to find me.”

“We wanted to make sure that it didn’t come out of nowhere, that there’s a chemistry there, there’s a connection,” Moss, who’s also an executive producer on the series, tells TVLine. She adds that the format of an eight-episode TV series — which diverged from the novel in other ways, as well — didn’t allow for enough time or space to do justice to a secondary, Kirby/Dan love-story plot.

“If you’re going to do it, we really wanted to do it well. So we wanted to hint at it, and the possibility of it,” she continues. “Obviously, if there were more episodes, maybe you would see more of it. But we were a little worried about it becoming, like, ‘Oh, of course. Of course they fall in love.’ That’s not really what the story is, you know?”

Showrunner Silka Luisa points out that Dan’s belief in Kirby and her admittedly tough-to-swallow story is part of what gives her the courage to confront Harper in the mysterious house in the season finale.

“I still feel like the heart of the show is the Kirby-Dan relationship,” the EP says. “That’s really what you’re rooting for. That’s her emotional core. For somebody that is so isolated, all of a sudden to have somebody understand what’s going on with you, to have an ally is huge, and I think that the connection that they have between them is what helps her actually be able to move forward in important points in the story.”

Now it’s your turn. What did you think of Shining Girls‘ finale and its first season overall? Grade both via the polls below, then hit the comments!

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