Warning: Do not proceed if you have not watched the entire first season of Netflix's I Am Not Okay With This. You are about to head into major spoiler territory.
What just happened?!
In Netflix's latest YA series, I Am Not Okay With This, 17-year-old outsider Sydney "Syd" Novak (Sophia Lillis) discovers she can't exactly control her anger and inner rage, while dealing with all that comes with adolescence as she navigates the growing complexities of her family, her sexuality and her friendships as she grapples with mysterious superpowers that are beginning to take shape. The series is adapted from the Charles Forsman graphic novel.
It all comes to a head in the final episode, when Syd attends her high school dance with BFF Dina (Sofia Bryant), whose douchebag jock of a boyfriend, Brad Lewis (Richard Ellis), spills all of Syd's secrets (i.e. her kiss with Dina) in front of the entire student body as he reads intimate diary entries from her missing journal after his affair with another student comes out. As Syd's rage builds, her superpowers take hold and Brad's head suddenly combusts in the middle of the high school gym. Blood and brain matter everywhere. Oops.
"I loved it! I thought it was hilarious 'cause I have no reaction," Lillis, who plays Syd, tells ET's Katie Krause of the Carrie-esque finale. "I feel like it's exactly what should happen because the whole feel of this story is so quick on its feet and very fast-paced, very funny kind of humor. Everything seems to be going one way and suddenly, it starts to change. And finally, [Syd] feels like she's becoming friends with everybody and finally having a place in her life and suddenly, she blows someone's head up. That's one of the biggest things that could possibly happen towards the end and that's exactly the way it should go."
"It's almost... it's not funny," Lillis chuckles. "It has this weird, dark humor in it that's just unexplainably... like, 'How did this happen?'-type thing. I feel like that's the perfect way to end the series."
Ellis, who plays Brad, further contextualized his character's head getting blown off in such an unexpectedly violent way in the middle of a high school dance as he's making Syd's life a living hell, revealing that she and Dina may be more than just friends. Up until that point, it appeared that Syd finally had a handle on her mysterious superpowers, which we know now not to be true.
"You watch it in the context of the series, it's such a beautiful bow to put on top of things because you finally think that she had some semblance of control over herself and things are finally going right and you're so happy for her," Ellis tells ET. "And to be publicly outed like that, you don't wish that on anyone, especially in the context of high school where the stakes are so high all the time and one rumor can ruin your self-confidence. There's already that fragility to it. I don't think anyone deserves to have their head blown up, but I think it gives a nice set-up if things were to press forward."
While it's very apparent that Brad is d e a d (RIP, boy), Ellis left the door open for a potential return (somehow) in a hypothetical second season: "We'll see if there are any other avenues that can be explored."
The I Am Not Okay With This finale also revealed that Syd and her late father may have had more in common than previously thought. By the end of the season, Syd comes to grips with the fact that what she is currently going through could have contributed to her dad's suicide. Moments after a bloodied Syd runs out of the high school gym, as she faces the consequences of blowing up Brad's head, she comes face to face with a man with an ominous voice. After Syd asks, "Should I be afraid?," the faceless man warns, "They should be afraid... Let's begin."
So, who is this mysterious man? The cast has their theories -- and it involves time travel.
"My theory is that it's Stanley from the future," Wyatt Oleff, who plays Syd's friend, Stanley Barber, who harbors a crush on her, tells ET. "I keep bugging [creator] Jonathan [Entwistle] about it, like, 'What if it's Stanley from the future and he comes back in time?'"
"I feel like Jonathan is still figuring it out," Lillis notes. "I feel like he has a lot of theories and a lot of ideas that he's gonna do if [it], hopefully, gets a season two. He's told us some theories and then halfway, he says that they may not happen. Then you're like, well, OK, none of us knows -- maybe not even Jonathan."
Lillis provided her take on what the final exchange between Syd and the mysterious man may have meant, hypothesizing that when he says, "They should be afraid," he could be referring to the human population. "I thought people in general. They should be afraid of people who don't have superpowers and it's not you who should be afraid, it's them because you have powers," she says, hinting that season two could "maybe" track Syd's training of her superpowers.
Oleff hinted that not everyone in Syd's inner circle will be happy to hear about the mysterious man's possible plans. "There's already some tension that's built up throughout the season with Stanley and Sydney, especially near the end. They have a sort of falling out and that's something that gets resolved by the end of it," he says, suggesting that Stanley has a bit of a jealous streak. "But I think there's still something there. Someone else training or whatever he does with Sydney, he won't really appreciate that, personally. I think Stanley is going to have to fight someone."
And where does Dina fit into all this? Syd's best friend ran off after her on-again/off-again beau, Brad, was ceremoniously killed via Syd's superpowers. "She's got a whole thing to figure out on what happened," Lillis says.
"What I would want for Dina anyway is just for her to understand that she doesn't have to please everyone, she needs to please herself because you can really see it in season one," Bryant says of season two. "She's so giving and so loving. She loves Brad but knows she's hurting Syd and she goes back to apologize, which is really cool because in most stories, the girl gets the guy then leaves her best friend. What I want for her is to just be happy with herself first and make sure that's coming from her and not her pleasing others."
For Lillis, who co-starred with Oleff in IT Chapter Two, playing a leading lady like Syd, who is dealing with the awkwardness of adolescence while also figuring out her identity, sexuality and family history, was a refreshing change.
"I loved the character when I read it, because I felt like she has a very strange origin story for not a hero, but just a girl with superpowers," Lillis explains. "The way she deals with things -- it's just so unique, but at the same time, it makes sense. I think that's how someone like her would react if they suddenly got superpowers. And I just really wanted to play her. She shows kids and shows people my age this accurate way of growing up and finding who they are, finding their identity. Learning how to grow up and how to deal with things. Just the way she acts is something that you can really learn from. I really wanted to play someone like her."