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Our Penultimate Moment

The players are in place; the plot twists revealed.

Like most people in the privileged world these days, I have been binge-watching television shows at a ridiculous rate. Because I tend to consume a lot of TV on a regular basis, I’ve been looking for shows that have an end, because, when things eventually get back to normal, I don’t want to have a bunch of new programs to keep up with. Plus, I’m a completist, and find genuine joy in finishing any story regardless of how it’s told.

As most creatives will tell you, endings are hard, and while most of the ones I’ve watched have been satisfactory, they rarely nail it down completely. (For what it is worth, The Good Place had the best series finale I have seen in years.) So, while I love completing a show, I’m typically left somewhat underwhelmed.

However, I have been nearly consistently floored by the penultimate episodes — the ones right before the finales where all the players are in place, the plot twists have been revealed, and you get that post-credit feeling of, “I can’t wait to see how this ends.” You spend the time before watching the finale dissecting what you’ve seen so far, and wonder if your favorite characters are going to be all right by the end.

The urge might be to dive straight in to the finale and get all the answers you’ve been seeking, but I’d advise to take a moment to bask in the well-done penultimate episode that got your mind racing. After all, sometimes the answers aren’t all they are promised to be.

To me, it feels as though our industry is having a penultimate moment right now. We’ve been living with Covid for nine months, the election is over, and custom install businesses have ridden the wave of a business shutdown to hyper-increased client demand.

The players are in place; the plot twists revealed.

In this month’s “Companies to Watch 2021” feature, we look at the wins from the past year and see how they position us for the next one. In reading it, you can find numerous stories of surviving and thriving in adverse conditions, leading to what should be a vibrant 2021. Ups and downs; sudden adversity leading to minor successes — sounds a bit like a season of Ozark (but without the scary mobsters and with more hope).

How will it turn out? It is here that the analogy loses some of its fit. Yes, it feels like a penultimate moment, but we don’t know when the climax will happen or what it will look like, although a vaccine will more than likely be involved. How long can this moment last? Can we achieve a palatable conclusion before moving on to the next season?

Truthfully, we probably won’t even be aware we had the climax until we are in the denouement and looking back. Things will eventually get back to normal, and that will be fantastic. But you will look back at this time, when you were in thick of it, helping families stay connected and sane, and realize that we are all thinking the same thing:

I can’t wait to see how this ends.

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