The “Lost” Finale, Seriously

 

Excuse me while I... *barfs everywhere*

Aspiring to be more coherent than Season 6; failing miserably.

I’ve been kicked in the balls before, but never after six years of steadfast devotion and never to the effect of utter confusion. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to take from Sunday night’s “Lost” finale – other than it was long as hell and crammed with scene after scene of pseudo-religious bullsh*t – but I can tell you that the 2 ½ hour capstone left me feeling emptier than a well on that godforsaken jungle island.

I can also tell you it had an awesome plug for duct tape. That planes are better on sand than you would’ve thought. That Michael is still roaming on the island, whispering sweet nothings to no one in particular. That his son Walt obviously outgrew his role, because we have absolutely no idea what happened to him.

I can tell you that Marilyn Manson is a huge fan, and that the “Survivor” alternate ending that aired on Kimmel would’ve been just as satisfactory. At least I would’ve known for sure that it was all just one big joke, and that the writers had no intention whatsoever of tying up all the obscure loose ends that strung us along hour by hour. Unlike Oceanic 815, “Lost” opted for the safe landing – a Kumbaya catchall that gathered all our favorite characters in the same room and said the hell (literally?) with everyone else.

Linus after getting kicked in the balls.

The finale revealed, if you can call it a revelation, that “everybody dies sometime,” which makes me wonder if there was any tangible difference between Sawyer and Kate catching that last red eye and Jack crapping out from a knife wound in a bamboo forest. If “everybody dies sometime,” did any of the unceremonious slayings and impromptu gunfights even matter? Was the Jack/Locke fight to the death the ultimate triumph of good over evil, or just another propulsive thrust toward some predetermined fate in the afterlife? 

Perhaps the final ghostly meeting of white-light rapture was all predicated on Jack saving the Island. He was, after all, in the most hit-you-over-the-head sense, the Christ figure that sacrificed his own life so that the others (not The Others – they’re still question marks) might experience eternal redemption. And should you take issue with this premise, I’m sure the writers have another Jesus statue with which to drive the point home.

You remember how “Doubt” ended with Meryl Streep’s “I have doubt!” line, or how Marty Scorsese stuck an actual rat in the last frame of “The Departed”? That’s essentially the sendoff we got Sunday night – a final, cringe-inducing opportunity to tell us what we knew all along…

IT’S A FRIGGIN’ METAPHOR!

In one refreshingly light-hearted scene, Kate actually turns to Desmond and asks of the man in the coffin, “Wait, his name is  Christian Shephard? Really? Christian… Shephard…?” And while I appreciate Lindelof and Co.’s self-deprecating humor, I also remember a time not long ago when their show was far too good for such lowball in-jokes. 

All of this heavy-handed explicitness would be fine if didn’t go against everything that made this show so great from the very beginning. The “Lost” narrative wasn’t built on cheesy clichés and over-the-plate fastballs. It just wasn’t. It was instead intricately woven with nuance and cliffhangers, backstories, frontstories and sidestories. Stories that lit up a million message boards with a JFK-type fervor and the electricity of endless possibility. 

So to fall like “The X-Files” before it into the trappings of quasi-religiosity and everything-goes allegory probably doesn’t sit well with the hyper-intelligent set who expected a bigger payoff from six years of twisting conspiracy. Nor, for that matter, does it satisfy people like me who just wanted to know what the hell it all means.

Wait. So if they were all dead at the end, how did they interact with the people who weren’t dead? Is this some kind of “Sixth Sense” deal? HUH? WHAT?  

And what about the dog? WHAT ABOUT THE DOG?!

That Matthew Fox suggested on Kimmel that his character actually died on the return flight during a mild bout of turbulence just poked at an open wound. WTF, real-life Jack?

It’s a bit of a paradox, really. Pursuing such transparent measures (the church, “Jacob’s ladder,” black vs. white, etc.) to square away the overarching theme at the expense of the cool minutiae ultimately undermined both the details and the symbolism. What, for instance, do we make of this indiscriminate form of “heaven”? I get that all religions are eligible – the gratuitous shots of stain-glassed yin yangs, Shivas and crucifixes shouted me down from thinking otherwise. We’re all a big happy family. Trust me, I get it. I would expect nothing less from a church in California. 

But we’re working with a hazy Redemption Scale, no? Am I to discount Sayid’s murderous ways? Am I to assume Jack’s father was something other than an alcoholic adulterer? What about Mr. Eko? Did he just have other obligations? And Ben Linus… What do I take from his refusal to join the final pew party? Is he stuck in Limbo or the victim of a cutting room clusterf***?

In short: I don’t get it. Maybe that’s my fault. Maybe it’s Dogen’s. 

I did, though, enjoy the “flashes” – those white-lighted replays detailing all the serendipitous turns that brought everyone back to this one special point in time. I enjoyed the reunited lovers – that Jack got Kate and Sawyer got Juliet. That Hurley got his blonde, even if I think he should still be protecting the Island (He’s the New Jacob, right?). That Locke got… Wait, who did Locke get?

And if I sound bitter, I’m not. Really. Just because the whole sucked didn’t mean I didn’t get endless thrills from the sum of its parts. Doesn’t mean this was 121 hours wasted. Quite the opposite. Six seasons of consistently riveting television is a tough trick to pull. Even the stinkbomb episodes got by on top-notch acting and the best production you’ve ever seen. Hell, all the bluster makes you forget that it all started out as “Gilligan” on steroids and the best crash-landing in television history. To go from that Point A to this Point B without ever jumping shark is a substantial feat in itself. And as a pop-culture phenomenon, the show is second to none. 

When it comes down to it, the “Lost” finale was a casualty of impossibly high expectations and a ravenous fan base that left no stone unturned. Indeed, the thing about the fans is that they were always two steps ahead of the writers. They had a theory – an awesome theory – not just for the polar bears and smoke pillars, but for all the seemingly imperceptible inconsistencies that just had to mean something!

But didn’t. Nope. Just inconsistencies – a character here, a time lapse there.

Perhaps they should of left it completely open-ended, you know, “Sopranos”-style: black screen, heated debate and a billion internet theories. We could’ve speculated wildly, creating our own endings in keeping with the democratic conclusion we got anyway. In the end, the finale’s downfall was that, with a show like this, finality was never something to be grasped in the first place.

And in case you weren’t sure, this post is over.

– Robbie

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “The “Lost” Finale, Seriously

  1. Amber

    I thought it was an amazing ending, and you know how crazy-obsessed I am about the show. At this point I feel like if you finished the series and are pissed off with the ending, well…sucks for you. I, however, am completely content.

    • I’m pleasantly surprised to hear you say this. My internet’s been down, so I haven’t been able to gauge the overall response… But if people like you are happy, then I say mission accomplished in some respects. I admit that I just like to bitch about this show, but I do think it could’ve been so much more.

  2. Amber

    I mean, yeah, they could have had an info-dump for 2.5 hours, but like someone else said, at that point you may as well watch a video of JJ Abrams sitting by his pool with a martini talking at you. The one episode this season that was an info-dump, Across the Sea, was universally loathed by fans, including me. I realized that as much as I wanted them to answer my questions, they could probably never do so satisfactorily. The fans have been so invested in this show and I think that Darlton realized it and decided to leave a lot of it up in the air. People had already made up in their minds what the island was, what the numbers meant, etc etc. The theories were one of the funnest things about the show, trying to understand what it all meant. Most people knew what the show meant to them, and those that are left feeling unsatisfied only wanted validation, I think.

    And I really don’t understand how people aren’t understanding the flash-sideways world. It was limbo. They didn’t die in 815’s crash. They died, like Christian said, before and after Jack. It was a world they created, a world that could have been had the island not been around. They weren’t interacting with “alive” people because those people weren’t real, they were just memories, or fantasies. Once Jack started to realize that he was dead, when he started to accept reality, his “son” vanished.

    And for people bitching about “Where’s Mr. Eko? Where’s Walt? Where’s x, y, and z?” Was the finale not long enough for you? I love LOST, but I don’t want a 4-hour long episode where every friggin character that you might have liked saunters through like they’re important to the storyline. And it’s tough to realize, maybe, but those characters are portrayed by real actors/tresses who may have had other commitments.

    But then again, I didn’t like Mr. Eko.

    • Obviously you’re smarter than me, because, no, I didn’t get any of that flash sideways stuff. But now that you explain it, it makes more sense. And honestly, last night, I was like where TF did little Jack go?

      I would argue, though, that they should have left it more open-ended. My biggest issue was with that final church gathering. I felt almost patronized by it’s heavy-handedness. There’s a religious allegory. I GET IT! (Then again, I couldn’t figure out the side flashes… so take with a grain of salt).

      And to your point about info-dumping: I would argue that they could have been answering questions during that crazy Dogen/Lennon bullshit. I don’t think time was the issue.

      I agree, though, this back and forth bickering is kind of the fun of “Lost.” Probably only a handful of shows ever that have had this kind of impact.

  3. Kyle

    First, let me preface this with the fact that I have never seen a single episode all the way through. It seems that I’m the only person not watching this show, and I always felt like I might be missing something.

    All that being said, I feel the exact same way you do about our respective shows. You with Lost, me with 24. Both just had their series finale, and both were woefully inadequate and fairly disappointing, while somewhat tarnishing the legacy and making people forget how good the previous seasons were.

    I spent the entire season angry at 24, and perhaps I’m not quite looking at it with objectivity. Fair or not, I’ve set a standard for myself with what it should be, and when it doesn’t live up to my lofty expectations, I bash it.

    I think the key thing that I need to take away from this, and possibly you as well, is that while it may not have ended the way either of us would have liked, how much better off are we for having watched it? I hated the way the show ended, and I disliked the past 3 seasons. However, I’d rather be mildly upset at the show’s decline over the past few years than never having the pleasure of knowing its true brilliance over the first 5 seasons.

    I’m getting a tad long-winded in this diatribe disguised as a comment, and I’m just going to blog about this tomorrow anyway, but I just wanted you to know that I know how you feel. My girlfriend and other friends keep telling me I’m being too harsh and too negative. I guess I just allowed myself to believe the show was on such a high pedestal that when it became average, it was the end of all things. It was like watching your favorite athlete not take the hint and retire when he is clearly past his prime.

    I digress. We don’t have to worry about things anymore, and perhaps we’ll find new shows to obsess over. Until then, however, I’m going to attempt to forget about the unsatisfactory ending and focus on the awesome random things that always make me say “Oh my fucking God” a little louder than I should.

    • It was not my intention to give the impression that “Lost” was a major letdown. I certainly think the finale was a letdown – and particularly those gag-inducing final 15 minutes – but I feel exactly the same way you do about “24”. Totally worth the time and I’m glad I watched it. Would I pound out the 120+ hours all over again? Sure.

      I think maybe part of the appeal, too, with our respective shows is that they were primarily character-driven. I felt invested (to some degree, at least) in how the fates of each of these people would play out. I genuinely liked them, as well. I imagine you feel the same way about Jack Bauer, and I think others probably feel similarly about the guy from “House.”

      The thing about “Lost” that was frustrating was that the narrative completely broke down out the end. Turns out that a bunch of the past episodes that we were led to believe meant something to the overall storyline were really just misfires. So you can go back through different seasons and say, “Well that didn’t matter. And we could’ve done without that. And what happened to this character?”

      That said, this show didn’t “owe” me anything. I didn’t like how it ended, but I don’t feel shafted either. Just wasn’t executed very well in my opinion.

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