Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lost No More

The Lost series finale aired three days ago and its still very much on my mind. I guess that's a good sign of how effective it was. I thought I'd share some of my thoughts. Don't mistake this for a review. I've never been good at being objective about Lost. My usual reactions to the show can be summed up as "I wonder where this is going" and "I like where this is going". I'll be talking about important details so expect some massive spoilers, although I won't go into too much detail as I'm assuming the reader has watched the show.

The finale emphasized the characters' journeys and gave wrapped up their story in a way no one quite expected. Soon after the series' debut the most common theory is that none of the characters survived the plane crash and the Island was actually purgatory or hell. The creators eventually debunked this and even lampshaded it a couple of times within the show.

Everyone had theories about the alternate universe. I had my own. So what did the sideways universe end up being? Purgatory. They never stated it out right but that's essentially what it was. Specifically it was a realm in the afterlife created so the characters could meet again and attain the closure they otherwise wouldn't get. It was never an alternate timeline. The sideways universe is what happened after they had died. Personally I think that was pretty epic. The writers took a long refuted theory and incorporated it in a way that still held true what they previously said on the topic. Sneaky bastards.

Early on Lost established itself as a show that tries to shatter peoples expectations. The revelation that Locke was in a wheel chair is an early example. Flashbacks that were actually flash forwards were one of the most memorable examples. Viewers had to distrust what they thought they were seeing. It's nice that the show had one last curveball to throw. Despite what I wrote last time, I still held on to hope that the writers were misdirecting us and were always planning to return to that scene. It's interesting how I began to expect twists where there were none but didn't predict twists that did happen. I was wise to Lost’s tricks but I could never beat them at their own game.

I guess there wasn't anything particularly special about Jack's son David. I suppose he existed because Jack was fulfilling his desire to be a part of a better father son relationship. David's mother turned out to be Juliet who was the obvious suspect all along. I'm just glad Juliet even made an appearance. Interestingly the moment she shared with Sawyer at the vending machine seemed to allude to what was happening to the Island. Just like the vending machine, you can simply reset the Island when you need to.

Besides Juliet pretty much every main character returned for the last episode. Exceptions include Michael, Walt, and Eko. This is where I make a joke about the writers being racist. I could have gone without seeing Shannon again. Although what made it worse was that they emphasized her relationship with Sayid. I never bought into that pairing.

I was wrong in thinking Jin was still alive. Lost had trained me to not accept things at face value especially when what's depicted comes off vague but this was an instance where what is implied to occur is in fact the reality. On the other hand Frank Lapidus did escape from the sub. I did suspect that happened but was never sure of it. Frank was never a very important character so his death seemed plausible but I underestimated his importance as a plot device.

Part of me wishes Ben had been on the plane. He became my favorite character and I wanted to see him redeem himself. By having him stay on the Island he got an ongoing opportunity for redemption. Plus paring him with Hurley is ingenious. I was worried about him though. When the tree fell on him I thought "No, not like this". I mean he would have died saving Hurley, but it still felt anticlimactic for him. Thankfully (or disappointingly depending on how you view it) that scene ended up serving no purpose other than to mess with the viewer's heads.

We never did learn the Man in Black's name. Again I didn't really care I just thought it was weird that it was kept a secret for no reason other than to screw with viewers' heads. He was evil but he ended up being fairly sympathetic. Part of the writers' attempts at messing with the audience's expectations was to build up someone or something mysterious only for to reveal them as being far less grand than they appeared.

Did the finale work? It wasn't perfect but it definitely did. Does the series work as a whole? Yes it does, better than anyone could have expected in fact. There are just a few unfortunate loose ends like the storylines with Walt, Widmore, Libby in the asylum and of course that outrigger chase. Maybe we could get a Lost Kai down the road that trim things and focuses on the important plot points. And maybe they could lose the “Jack's tattoos” episode and most of Kate's episodes. We only learned so much about the Island itself. What makes it okay for me is that we know as much as any of the characters in the show know. I like it that way. No one person has all the answers.

Even though Lost is an ensemble, it's Jack's story that stands out to me. All the characters grew and changed. Jack does a 180 in terms of outlook but stays true to himself in his desire to help others. Many of the finale's emotional high points revolved around him, like the reunion with his father in the afterlife. The writers say they always had an ending in mind. I believe what they meant was they knew the final moments would have Jack dying as the other survivors leave on the plane. One of the series' themes was Jack's mantra "Live together or die alone". Jack had lived with them. It had changed him. He found his purpose. He had saved them. He saved the Island. Now he was dying alone. Then Vincent came to be with him. That nearly killed me. I'm honestly surprised I wasn't bawling. I said in my last post that Vincent better sweep in and save the day and he totally did.

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