May 24, 2010

Last of the LOST

So, the final episode is now a thing of the past, and the biggest thing I now realize is: the vast majority of people in the world are miserable, idiots, or a combination of both.

Looking at some message boards and comments on Twitter and Facebook, the feedback from the finale tends to come into three categories. 

1) "Thank goodness LOST is over. I never watched it --or I watched it in the first season then stopped -- and I'm sick and tired of people talking about it. Good riddance!" 

To these people, I say, what's your problem? It's a television show meant to entertain people. If you didn't watch it, then why do you care one way or the other about it coming to an end? Your life is no different today than it was yesterday. 

The only reason to be so angry is that you're jealous that other people were able to take enjoyment out of something and that clearly you need to find something in your own life to get excited about. 
Yes, some people take fandom a bit too far and may become obsessive about shows like LOST, but that's still no reason for someone who doesn't watch the program to develop such hatred for it. Indifference I get, but anger? Get a life, will ya?

2) "Huh? What the heck was that ending? They were dead the whole time? WTF? These writers suck!"

Some of these comments come from people who didn't watch the series on a regular basis, and simply tuned in to "see how it turned out" so they could be part of the water-cooler chatter this morning. I'll dismiss those. After all, you can't be expected to take a 300-page novel, read the first chapter and then the last three pages and expect to "get it." 

But for those who actually watched the series on a regular basis and still don't understand the ending… I don't get you

Spoon-feed me the answers, please.

No, they didn't all die in the plane crash in the pilot episode. How do I know this? Because Jack's Dad actually said so without any equivocation in the coffin scene with Jack. He explained that everything that happened on the island actually happened. 

He also clearly stated that everyone there is dead - because everyone eventually dies. He also added that some died before Jack did, and some died long after he did. The Flash Sideways may well have been a sort of "waiting room" or Purgatory, but the whole six seasons of the show were real.

I have no issue if you didn't like this "final reveal" or didn't understand HOW this alternate universe was created. But if you're going to yell at the show's writers for "wasting six years of your life because they were dead the whole time" when the show spelled it out so clearly that's not what happened, then you really should stick to shows like "Two and a Half Men" where piped in laughter and other audience cues can fill in for your own listening skills. 

3) Finally, we get to the last, rational group of comments - the "I liked it" or "I hated it" opinions, all of which are valid, so long as your sole reason for not liking the ending is that they didn't answer every single question they posed along the run of the series. 

What series finale could answer every single question an audience might have? Take M*A*S*H* for example - yes, the war ended and everyone got to say their goodbyes and go home. However, Klinger was staying in Korea to search for his bride's parents. The show didn't tell us if he ever found them. 

Similarly, we don't know how any of the characters lived their lives from that point forward. Does Hawkeye ever see B.J. again? Does he go crazy? Does he become chief of surgery somewhere? Who knows? The point is, reunion movies and spinoffs aside, either a show ends in "everyone is dead" or we fade to black and the rest of the characters' lives remain mysteries to us. 

So, yes, they are all dead in the church. However, that's not a "cop-out ending" in my opinion. We don't know what happens to the gang on the Ajira flight. We don't know how long Hurley and Ben stay on the island and what they do there. That's not a deal-breaker for me. The show can't go on forever, so at some point, the story has to end.

Emotionally, I think the episode was incredibly fulfilling. We got to see all the characters reach some sort of closure in the alt-universe and each "spark of recognition" was well done and appropriate. From the main plot standpoint, we did achieve resolution of the battle between Jack and the Man in Locke, though I certainly wasn't expecting the "cork in a bottle" metaphor to not actually be a metaphor, but an actual cork in a bottle. 

I wish that we got a better understanding of exactly how the Purgatory was created and a little more explanation as to Desmond's gift and what exactly the "rules" of Jacob and Smokey were and why they were what they were… but in the end, this was always a show about the characters. 

 Mom always said not to push Brother into the magic shiny fountain.

We watched together to see them live together, and in the end, the writers decided that none of them would die alone either.

I think we can all live together with that.



  1. Instead of "cop-out", how about INCREDIBLY dull? Honestly, if one more person brushed another person's hand and sighed orgasmically I was going to kick a hole in my TV. That was too long and relied too heavily on the "oh my gosh they're all in the flash sideways world!" revelations. And I think you're going to easy on the final reveal. That the Island is some kind of afterlife has been the most consistent theory and the producers flatly denied it. I know it's more muddled than the Island is Hell or Heaven, but if they're all dead, they're all dead. Frankly, it wasn't as satisfying as the final episode of "According to Jim."

  2. I think Ron, with respect, you are missing the point - the ISLAND wasn't the afterlife. The flash-sideways was a type of holding place, a purgatory if you will. The island was the island. All of that happened. The sideways world was where the characters collected to come to peace with what had happened and move on. In a straight line time continuum, that is probably occuring 50 years from now (or whenever someone like Hurley and Claire would be actually dead).

  3. Jeez! Where am I? Back in Syracuse? I try to find opinions about the Lost finale, and all I end up finding is Ron Hart yelling at people.

    Anyhow, my understanding of what the producers had been denying all along was that everyone didn't die WHEN THE PLANE CRASHED. And that the characters haven't been dead the entire series. I really don't understand the confusion people are having about what the "sideways" world is. The "sideways" world was more a "BIG flashforward" that occurred after everyone had lived their lives and then died.

    But, Ron, I do agree with you that it was no "According to Jim", which tv critics often referred to as the Shakespeare of sitcoms. :)

  4. Ron's not entirely wrong - I think part of the problem with the pacing of the episode was the vast number of commercials which gave me far too much time to figure out that the series would end with Jack dying in the same spot he opened the series with and with his eye closing. Of course, the best way to do a season finale is always to have a mysterious figure in black, several dream sequences, and perhaps a large dancing Capital M, right Ron?

  5. Okay let's set aside the "reveal" at the end and just look at the episode. Here's a show that arguably raised the bar for action on network television. What's the biggest action sequence? Jack wrestling a giant island dildo into the island vagina (or anus depending on your interpretation) in a giant set that the producers of "HR Pufnstuf" would have said looked too cheap. And here's a show that lived and died with shifting character alliances and feuds that spends two and a half hours with everyone smiling at one another. It was boring, undramatic and a horrible letdown for a series that started so strongly.

  6. I think my problem with the final episode is that it basically proved to me that there was no overarching plan from the start. (Hell, in the Lost Legacy pre-show, Michael Emerson admitted that he was initially only signed to a three episode deal - not exactly the way you sign an actor who is to go on to play one of the most pivotal characters over the course of the show.)

    From an emotional standpoint, having loved these characters for 6 years, I found it incredibly satisfying. Each of the remembering moments was beautifully executed, particularly the Charlie/Claire and Sawyer/Juliet ones.

    But there are ENORMOUS questions that we received no answer to. Just remember what a huge deal the inability of women to have children on the island was earlier in the run - where was an answer? What do 4-8-15-16-23-42 mean (other than being retired New York Yankees numbers)? Why were Walt and Aaron so important and special? Instead we spend an unbelievable amount of time on the neon-yellow hole in the ground that was introduced just two episodes before the finale (not to mention what a waste the Jacob/Man in Black episode was).

    I loved watching Lost because of the characters & actors and, in that regard, the finale was a great success. But in terms of answering the mysteries the show has spent six years crafting, we received next to nothing.

  7. I agree with most of everything you said, A.J., although I found the battle between Jack and the Man in Black to be a bit unsatisfying. I was hoping for something grander and more apocalyptic than a fist-fight finished off this being who could turn himself into smoke getting shot. But as far as the church scene and what it meant; I didn't like it at first, but it's grown on me and since I liked the characters, I liked that they were all there. I also liked that Ben waited outside to work some things out. Thanks for the write-up.

  8. Aj, I liked butd idnt love 'reveal'. Regardless, I think they did the best that they could wrapping the series up. How do you answer the question that LOST has taken on throughout the years, which asks, what is the meaning of life? So , if that is the question they wanted to be answered, then yes, I liked the ending. But to me, I didnt really think that was the main question that they set out to ask. Without getting too in depth, the writers of LOST loved to asnwer a question with another question and that obviously got frustrating. Yes, I am one of those people who needed all of the questions to be answered. I think your MASH comparison misses the mark. The writers didn't answer questions that they chose to make a huge deal about during the seasons as opposed to if Klinger found his wifes parents. I wouldve loved anything more on Widemore and his involvement, Darhma, Walts powers, how Ben "moved" the island, who that lady was, why Jacob and smoke man were different, why the smoke guy didnt have a name, the collapsed statue, the hieroglyphics, the temple and its purpose, dogens purpose, how eloise hawking knew all that she did; I guess I could go on for awhile. Anyway. That's my beef.

  9. I am of the "mostly hated it" group. While I get that story is one of flawed characters and their collective interdependent journey, I still feel cheated.

    We were led to believe the Sideways/Alt-verse was somehow related to the bomb. That had this bomb gone off in 77' this is how there lives may have ended up. But what was 'revealed' is that this alt-verse was nothing more than a furthering of there journey to a fulfilled afterlife. I am fine with that story line and it fits nicely with the character driven basis of the show. No, what makes me mostly a 'hater' is the did we really need that much detail covering 14 or so episodes exploring this now known to be mystic alt-verse? In a word, no. In an emotional outburst...Hell, F-ing, NO!!

    As a buddy of mine said, this show went from being a survivor/character show to a grand epic, what's at the heart of it all show around the 3rd season. Because of the failings on this last season, I feel they failed to deliver.

  10. AJ,

    Thanks for a great blog, I couldn't agree more. I made the mistake of reading the boards on Aint It Cool News and couldn't believe the mass (no pun intended) stupidity of the flamers who all thought it was either "all a dream" or that they all died in the crash.

    For a show that was always about the characters, about love and redemption, I thought it was incredibly satisfying emotionally. As a parent I LOVED the Kwans, Claire's, and Kate's moments of "enlightenment" (as I'm calling it), those were amazing moments.

    Two other fantastic scenes that are being overlooked that cement what really happened. The first is when Ben and Hurley talk outside the church. They reference that each other were a great #1/#2. That little exchange told you that they indeed became the new Jacob and Richard, and they could have lived on the island protecting it together for 1,000 years. As Jack's dad pointed out, there is no "now" in the purgatory world; time is irrelevant.

    Which points to the other endearing scene. Go back and watch when Jack shows up after the end of the concert and runs into Kate. She tells him "I've missed you so much...". At the time you think she's been away from him for a few days, or weeks, maybe months. But when you put it all together, her Ajira flight returned her to the real world; she likely led a long, full life, and it's been DECADES since she saw Jack. That makes that scene in retrospect even more powerful.

    Sure, I wish we would have found out Man in Black's name, and more details on "Lillian", etc. But those answers likely wouldn't have been that interesting. Sometimes it's better to leave the lingerie on, you know? What we got was an incredibly fulfilling ending that brought the story full-circle. The fans who really appreciated the show all along understand that. The ones who don't, well, what did you say about miserable idiots?

  11. COMPLETELY agree! i watched it and was blown away by the execution of the character connections, more emotional than i expected, and of course after all that wore off i was still curious about all the mysteries, but i realized that, given a 2.5 hour finale for a 6 year show, you gotta make a choice. mysteries or characters, which one to focus on? the mysteries got us all to start watching the show, but the characters were what kept us watching. The writers chose wisely.