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.