Okay, so I’m more than ten years late to the party but I can’t get Marble Hornets, a 2009 web series loosely based on the Slenderman mythos (though here, Slendy becomes a different entity called “The Operator”).
So I won’t do an entire summart of the story as it originally took place over several years and multiple YouTube and Twitter accounts, but I’ll link both a primary playlist and an “explained” series below.
So, spoilers for the ending as well as my interpretation:
I find the ending both realistic and hopeful. Alex and Jay both became obsessed with secrecy and “ending it,” and we follow their mental and emotional deterioration. Brian himself is even described as a “shell” and the prime member of “ToTheArk” (I assume him to be Seth) is similarly flattened to one goal.
Tim, on the other hand…
We see through the survival of Jessica that the Operator continues to pose a threat as a looming figure and one ready to spread and exert influence, but she has begun therapy and medication–like Tim–to resist the influence of The Operator and lead a normal life. There’s risk there for both of them, sure, but I see it as an allegory for living with trauma and consciously rejecting abusive cycles.
Instead of treating the influence of The Operator–an influence that has haunted him his whole life–as a source of shame and secrecy, he’s the only one of the main characters to find a way to reduce the horror’s power. He sought help. He helped others.
The last text of “Everything is fine” is rightly ominous because nothing is truly “fine” after trauma; that said, Tim is the only one who found a way to acknowledge and cope instead of suppress and fester.
There is risk of relapse, but isn’t that always the case of trauma or mental illness? Not everyone was in the position Tim was to combat The Operator, and that’s a tragedy of the other characters instead of a condemnation. We clearly see Tim struggle with issues of lashing out and violence as Masky, even when resisting the control of The Operator in other areas.
Anyway, I took a lot of hope and warning from the ending rather than seeing it as Tim blindly perpetuating the cycle by not ending his own life. The other characters were not weak, but a strength of Tim was his willingness to see The Operator as a burden he could try to bear and mitigate rather than a force that could be eradicated.
That’s hopeful to me as a real-life human learning to live with trauma, mental illness, and chronic illness. There’s not healing in the traditional “Look, all gone!” sense but there is a complicated version of healing that’s coping well and living a full, thoughtful life.