Sunday, May 23, 2010

First Thoughts on the last LOST

The following is pretty much right off the top of my head.  These are my first reactions to the end of LOST and the totality of the series so there may be some clumsy wording (and analysis) ahead.

The LOST finale clearly worked on an emotional level.  It hit all the right buttons as characters were dramatically reunited.  But, hey, that's what LOST has been doing since season one: separating its characters and then reuniting them.  The formula always provided an emotional punch: a tear in the eye and a lump in the throat.  And so, in the end, we got that all over again.  Only this time, dead characters were allowed in on the reunion. (Yes, I know, technically all the characters who reunited did so after death; but for awhile there during the finale the show played as if the dead characters were "coming back to life" in this "alternate" universe).  Bottom line?  The LOST finale was one big emotional reunion. 

And it worked.  Yes, indeed. 

But did it work on an intellectual level?  Well, I think here the show was clearly lacking.  From the beginning, LOST has played like a mystery ("Guys, where are we?")  Outside agents--external forces--were threatening our lead characters.  We (and the characters) didn't know who was doing what or why.  But we were promised answers.  Oh, yes, we were promised.  The producers promised answers.  The network, with its constant barrage of promos, promised answers. Heck, even the characters regularly professed to have answers.  And yet, I hardly think the answers we got were satisfying.  Why?  Well, they weren't answers to the mysteries that fueled the story.  Sure, some might argue that those kinds of answers weren't important--that it doesn't matter if we know what the underground wheel was, or why turning it moved the island in time or provided transport off the island (to Tunisia, of all places).  It doesn't matter why Walt was important, or how the giant statue came to be built on the island, or why the timer in the hatch flipped to Egyptian hieroglyphics. These questions don't matter because the story was never really about these mysteries; it was, instead, about the characters and their need to "find" themselves in one another. 

Fine.  I can buy that.  But I would also argue that the narrative never became sophisticated enough to place those internal character struggles firmly and satisfyingly in the foreground.  Time and again, LOST relied on a surface narrative--an urgent, concrete conflict--to provide momentum.  Any story about character insight or revelation usually felt tagged-on.

In the end I don't think LOST lived up to its promise.  There was something hollow about it, something missing. 

Still, I'll miss the show.  It was compelling and exciting and extremely well-made.  And I have to say, I was engaged with it to the very end.  But while it kept me guessing for six years, I don't believe it will keep me thinking for nearly as long. 


  1. I had some problems with the finale, but lack of "answers" wasn't one of them. Sure, there is some niggling stuff that bugs me in various ways (your Walt example is one - I just ultimately assume that this was the others way of processing the realization that Jacob needed a replacement, and they felt they has to Bene Gesserit one or Ben lied to them - and the baby island thing is another that would benefit from the actually talking about after something of the nature of the island is known), but it seems like we have enough to put everything into context... we don't need to know why exactly the Arc of the Covenant has all that spirit crap in it to appreciate Raiders, y'know?

    For me the issues was one of an ending with the right nature, but with the wrong specifics. It is somewhat emotionally confusing - you need to simultaneously care if people live or die at the same time as being told that that doesn't matter (but its what's after that that REALLY matters). There is also confusion about the nature of the "waiting room world" in its eternal-ness (where there is no now), being that Jack's "moving on" is shown while everyone one else there has moved on (maybe?) but are already there, possible because there is no now, so maybe this is the Jack's-eye-view, but then what does Ben not going yet mean if there is no time movement... synthesis on how everything fits is just a little out of reach. The end also creates a gap based on the fact that some of the people there had long lives after the island, so why does that not impact this place - did Sawyer not find love again (what happened to him and Kate after they got out)? Did Claire not find someone besides Charlie to share her life with and raise Aaron (besides Kate... maybe that's the answer)? It just seems to say that important things never happened to these people after the island (it works for the dead ones though).

    So I loved the nature of the finale, and I had a few unanswered questions (none debilitating), but thought the precise nature of how they closed the loop was backwards - I wanted the sideways world to be the real world in which the island was retroactively destroyed, but in which all the characters learned to remember and be fulfilled by their (non)experiences there anyway. I think that would have made more people happy.

  2. By baby island thing I mean the maternity problems of women related to the island.

  3. Todd, you made a couple of great points about the finale that have been bothering me as well. Particularly the idea that the characters who had long lives after the island must have had more to those lives than only their island experiences. So yes, did Claire and Sawyer and Kate not find love or have families post-island? Why did they "reset" to this one point in time after death? It smacks of poor planning on the writers' part and is indicative of their intent to provoke a strong emotional response rather than create a scenario that makes any real sense.