Of all the hard pages to make in this chapter, this one was hard in a unique way. Over the past few years, due to the rising number of real-life violent school tragedies in my country, I’ve become extremely sensitive to the prospect of youths being shot. Even if the argument can be made that Ken deserves what he gets, the echoes of reality in a scene like this—complete with armed military storming the building—chill me to the bone.

Which begs the question “Then why did you write it like this, Jim?” As I was coming up with reasonable conclusions for this finale, I looked at a few possibilities and all of the ones that didn’t involve the authorities coming in at the end lacked the bite of seriousness this story needed to conclude in a satisfying way. If I didn’t bring in an external law force, I’d be sidestepping the truth that this school is already not safe for these kids, and that the actions that unfolded today are too big and consequential to be contained to just the building and just the student population. For the series to take the next steps that I want it to take, a line needs to be crossed.

I don’t know if I did the right thing, but that line is now crossed, and we’re going to see what waits on the other side.