Monday, May 24, 2010

LOST Series Finale

Hopefully you all will forgive me for a quick TV rant on a comics blog!

I own a Dharma Initiative hat. I wear it often. I say that to establish my bonafides as a true LOST fan. I've tried and succeeded to get a bunch of friends and family hooked on the show. Yet here I am the day after the finale with so many questions and with so much confusion, that I can't say that I'm going to keep recommending that folks check out this series.

Spoilers ahead.

So it turns out that the Island stuff we've seen has been "real" while all the Sideways Universe stuff of the last season was all the main characters in Purgatory. From what I understand, they had to go to Purgatory to learn a little more about themselves and each other, then they'd be ready to move on to the next world. It seems the Purgatory selves are creations of what the characters "wanted to be like." So Keamy dreamed of cooking eggs. Libby always imagined she could live in a mental hospital. Dogen dreamed of taking his kid from Japan to LA. Anna Lucia gets to take bribes to learn a bit about herself. Jack and Juliet had always longed that they could be ex-husband and ex-wife. I could go on, but I wont. I'm sorry, it doesn't work.

We've wasted a huge amount of time on a dreamworld that makes no sense. This has been a waste of time and a false payoff for all the promises the writers have been putting out there for a few seasons. Juliet's prophetic "we'll go dutch" was talking about coffee for dead people? Faraday's big idea to fix everything was to die and hook up again after everyone's 6 feet under. Heck, Faraday didn't even make it to the meetup!

I will say setting Purgatory in LA does answer a few problems, like how Claire got a doctor so quickly or how Kate happened to find Claire so easily. They don't have to make sense, they're in a dream world. But I'm enraged about the whole "You don't have a son, Jack" idea. Am I supposed to believe that Jack and Juliet needed to have a fake marriage and a fake son to work through their issues? And then the poor kid disappears, never to be seen again when Kate runs by him to check on Claire's delivery? Really??? I had been so hoping that the kid would be Smokey or something, but he's so much less. He's just there, then forgotten when he's no longer needed.

After the wholesale slaughter of the cast over the past few seasons, I can't say how silly it is to give all those dead folks the consolation prize of meeting up in Purgatory. Heck, I even feel bad for the folks who lived, Kate and Sawyer clearly never made stronger connections than they did on the island. How can Jin and Sun cry tears of joy at seeing their fetus when they'll never know her? There were no kids in the church, how can that be? It is not an acceptable consolation prize or reward to just see all the rotting folks show up in each others' shared dream. A whole lot of these people died for nothing more than Jacob being a big jerk.

At least Walt, Miles, Richard, and others weren't in this tour group heading off to the next stage. They did something with their lives and we can assume they'll head off with another crew.

After all that anger, I do have to say that I loved most of the finale. Bringing back Lapidus and Richard assuaged a lot of annoyance from the last few episodes, and the final confrontation with Smokey was tremendous. Jack went to commercial with a super-punch, how can I complain about that? I'm even ok with the weird plug and the golden/red pool. I can write that off as some sort of weird, other-dimensional electromagnetism that has powered the Island's weirdness for 6 years now. We have to accept some of this stuff, right? And the parallel from the beginning Season 1 was very nicely done. When Vincent came to sit by Jack, then we saw Jack's eye close, it couldn't be clearer our journey together was over. Well played.

And emotionally, there was a lot to love too. I was grinning myself when Charlie opened the door for Hurley. When Claire said "Chaaalie" I almost choked up. I waited with baited breath for Juliet to say "We can go Dutch." And who wasn't touched by the great Hurley and Sayid interactions in the Hummer. And the two driving forces of the show, Jack and Locke, had some wonderful, powerful interactions in the Sideways universe. Seeing Jack's anger at Smokey's use of Locke's form was awesome "You disrespect his memory by wearing his face." Great stuff. And Ben finally, finally becoming a heroic character, how in the world did the writers make us care for this guy after all the horrible things he's done? I can't fault the characters at all, I was and will be invested in them for a long time.

But there are still so many questions. I don't think this show will hold up well in future viewings. Why did the Others need to "take the boy" back in Season 1? What was Richard looking for when he visited Locke as a kid, was he intervening for Jacob? Who built the statue? Why did the Man in Black become Smokey after he drifted down the stream, but Jack came out just as hurt as he went in? Who made up Ben and Widmore's rules, and what were they? What did all the awesome stuff on the hatch door mean? Did the numbers really just happen because "Jacob had a thing for numbers"?

There are just too many unresolved questions. The things that really tickled my fancy on this show were the sci-fi elements. And while we got a fair amount of Dharma answers, I think the creators unfairly veered away from those reveals. I never wanted to see Purgatory. I wanted a sci-fi adventure show that had great twists, great characters, and great revelations. Overall, LOST gave me the first two, but failed on the third. I believe the creators fell in love with the idea of setting up awesome (and I don't want to understate, AWESOME) reveals and mysteries. This show had some of the best commercial breaks and episode cliffhangers I've ever seen. Hell, I'll say they were the BEST I've ever seen. But they couldn't pay off on what they'd promised. Over the years, my heart soared when it was supposed to (Locke walking, Jack & Kate kissing, etc.) but this was a mystery show first. You can't start claiming otherwise in interviews starting in Season 5.

So were the last 6 years a waste? Yes and no. I was more into this show than any other. I kept up with all the blogs, games, interviews, and trivia. (Sure wish the Valenzetti Equation would have turned up!) I theorized and stayed up late thinking about it. The Dharma videos and stations in particular captured my attention like nothing else. But in the end, the show couldn't answer the very questions it asked. So my time wasn't wasted, but as a whole, I think the experience is tainted by the lack of answers and resolution. I'm going to think long and hard about whether I'll recommend this show to new viewers.

Season 1 - Excellent
Season 2 - Excellent
Season 3 - Good
Season 4 - Good
Season 5 - Good
Season 6 - Average


Dom said...

I've seen your frustration on several other Lost follower's posts today. I understand, but at the same time disagree with a lot of your problems with the show.

First of all, I was at the wrap party for the show last night and watched the episode real time right next to Mathew Fox, Damon L., JJ Abrams and Terry O'Quinn, so my views may be slightly off.

I think trying to explain the artifacts, what the island actually is, and why some events happened in the way they did would have been a bad idea. It's like telling someone the meaning of there really an answer that everyone will be happy with? Probably not since the meaning of life involves a lot of cashews, and many people have nut allergies.

Instead, the show tries to focus on what makes any story likable: the characters. Make the relationships believable and real. The smoke monster may be flashy, but people enjoy the show because they are invested in the characters. Watchers feel like they know them. The conclusion focuses on resolving some of the major characters' arch and sticking to the idea of connections through others. Its like they say in season one, "live together or die alone." In the end the make a reality of their own where they come together so that they do not truly die alone. Sure they died physically alone, but they in a way waited for each other to really pass on.

That's just my take. Oh, but what's this about "was it all a waste?" Really? Did you not look forward to Lost every night it was on? Did it not give you something to look forward to? So you didn't get all the answers in the you can't write your definitive Lost Encyclopedia. And let's be have a blog where you write about comics everyday...I'm guessing you can spare an hour once a week and a bit more during the final episodes.

Discount coupons said...

Brilliant review.. :)

Timbotron said...

Thanks for the thoughtful response, Dom.

I actually am perfectly ok with a lot of those mysteries sticking around, especially "what is the island" and the artifact mysteries. Those things made the show. My unresolved questions centered more on the many sets of rules that motivated the characters for all these years. What were Widmore and Ben's rules about? Things like that.

My main problem was the Purgatory reveal. I felt like the characters had been through so much hell, and died fighting supernatural things that they deserved a better reward than just getting to meet up in Heaven's waiting room. I was all in until the last 15 minutes or so of the finale.

I have logic problems and issues like that too, but overall, most of that stuff I can let slide.

And you're right. It wasn't a waste. This show challenged like no other, and I adored those mysteries and great cliffhangers.