The story finally ends, in a suitably anticlimactic manner. It feels like the folks at Kyoto Animation are as sick of it as we are.
So why did they do it this way? I suspect that the real reason, regardless of the rationalizations they may have come up with, is that the production company ordered N episodes and they only had enough source material for N – 7. KyoAni has a lot of talent, including some of the world’s best animators, but coming up with new story ideas is not their forte.
Incidentally, the ending provides the strongest evidence so far for what I called “Theory 4” in my Spoiler Notes for Haruhi Suzumiya.
There are actually still lots of novel materials ahead, but for a certain reason (which I’m confident that I’ve already figured out) Kyoto chose to do this 8 episode Endless Eight. According to my theory, your guess is correct, in a twisted way. :)
Regarding the story itself, I find Endless Eight to be the best story of the entire Haruhi novel series, the only one that has achieved some balance between its various aspects, and the ending to be perfect. Too bad Kyoto has ruined it with such overdone repeating.
Here is my theory, along with minor spoilers about the overall structure of the remaining stories:
– The current airing is in fact, not Season 2, but only an extended Season 1, with three new stories inserted back into their chronological place: Bamboo Rhapsody, Endless Eight, The Sigh of Suzumiya Haruhi. This is based on the recent info on new Haruhi DVDs: one updated Vol 4 with Bamboo Rhapsody, seven volumes whose volume numbers are between 5 and 6.
– At the end of the current airing, the real Season 2 will be announced. It will be aired this winter season, continuing the story from where Season 1 left off, synching real life season and festivals with the story world somewhat.
– Season 2 will begin with the last Haruhi story that can still be called decent; the novels went all the way downhill after that. It would take significant rewriting to make them anything worthwhile, something Kyoto has not shown to be capable of, or willing to do, not to mention permited by Kadokawa Shoten.
– Since Volume 10 of the novel has been repeatedly delayed, there isn’t enough material for a Season 3 so far.
So, enjoy it while it lasts :)
Mike Huang of Anime Diet has written a very good review of Endless Eight. He has basically articulated everything that can be said about it.