Needless to say, Beyoncé’s Lemonade—which dropped on Saturday night, in visual form on HBO and in audio form on Tidal—is a cultural triumph, a perfect intertwining of music, spoken word, and filmmaking. After an hour of stunning and haunting imagery, of #slay GIFs for days, the final moments of Beyoncé’s visual album might catch the viewer off guard.
For 56 minutes and 27 seconds, Beyoncé gives us her damnations, her politics, and her transcendence, meticulously captured by Kahlil Joseph and a dedicated team of directors and cinematographers. But the final six seconds of Lemonade are a series of seemingly candid, home video-style clips featuring herself, husband Jay Z, and daughter Blue Ivy enjoying themselves in a backyard, set to the track "All Night." No costumes, no choreography, no hi-def.
In the last shot, Beyoncé flashes a smile, then puts her hand over the camera, blocking our view. The last thing we see is her palm.
To close out this gorgeous, 11-chapter spectacle, you might have expected a bigger finish, like the final number in a stage musical, where the whole cast returns to the stage, arms outstretched, jazz hands shaking, panting—corporeal proof they’ve truly given us everything. No, says Beyoncé, as she once again smashes our expectations with her handy-dandy friend Hot Sauce.
This isn't the first instance of Bey interacting with the camera in Lemonade. Earlier, in the maniacally gleeful video companion to "Hold Up," Beyoncé takes a bat to a CCTV camera, a nod to the elevator scandal of 2014—that is, perhaps the only time we've ever been exposed to an image of Beyoncé that she did not have control over.
When it comes to "All Night" and the visual album's conclusion, she's far more gentle, but her message is equally unambiguous: she physically covers the lens to obscure our view. She decides how her story is told, and just as importantly, when our window into that story closes. She gave us the grand tour, let us ooh and aah, but now it's time to leave.
In that last scene, we see Beyoncé and Blue Ivy dancing as horns blare the jubilant riff from Outkast’s “SpottieOttieDopaliscious.” One of the final shots is beautifully constructed so that Bey and Jay stand like two sentries guarding Blue Ivy. Blue’s hand is outreached towards the camera, but Jay’s hand blocks her face. It was good seeing you too, Blue.
For an incredibly raw, vulnerable hour, Beyoncé shared all that she has overcome in rebuilding her marriage and keeping her family strong. This is where she draws the line, underscoring her well-known policy on privacy. There's no one more masterful than Bey at navigating the delicate tightrope between her public image and her personal life. Just when it seems like she's given us everything, she reminds that there's so much more we'll never know.
This is where she leaves us to return to her own life with her family, visually doubling down on the sentiment she voiced moments earlier: “The audience applauds but we can’t hear them.”
It might just be the most authentic part of the whole video, which is essentially the closest we’ll ever get to reading the woman’s diary (and you know that's encrypted with some shit the FBI won't even hear of for another 10 years).
In these final seconds, Beyoncé is no longer the diligently and deliberately constructed personification of her damnations, politics, and transcendence, just as her scrupulously assembled surroundings are no longer flush with symbolism. It’s just her and her family, and frankly, it’s none of your business.