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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Random: The Lost Finale - Flash Sidways Only



The blogosphere is abuzz with critics and apologists of the Lost finale.  The real failure of Lost isn't that it didn't explain every mystery (nor, honestly, could it have).  Instead, the failure is that the real finale, the wrap-up and reveal, applied to the flash-sideways world rather than the characters we've been following for six seasons.

Lost and I have had an on-again, off-again relationship over the years.  Our love couldn't be stronger during Season 1.  We were getting to know each other and, like the beginning of most relationships, we were on our best behavior.  We made a good impression on one another and I rushed to purchase Season 1 on DVD so that I could convince friends to watch it. 

Our relationship entered season 2.  Season two was good, but it just wasn't season 1.  Yeah, I still liked it, but now I've seen it in the morning without its make-up on.  Somehow, the magic was gone, but there was a solid base (and some cool new mysteries) so we kept forging ahead. 

Season three.  Oh, the horror.  This is when Lost betrayed me.  Gone were interesting insights into the main characters (they had all pretty much been revealed previously).  Instead, we have the paralytic spiders, and episodes about fixing up a junky car ... um ... for victory?  Plus, this is the first season where the writers really didn't know what to do and so decided to make Desmond nothing more than a lazy writer's plot device.  Now he can see the future and travel to Eloise's jewelry shop.  Lost and I parted ways after this season.  Things were said that we couldn't take back, and it was best to have a clean break. 

During seasons four and five, people told me that Lost was sorry.  That Lost was making overatures to get my attention.  But I wouldn't believe it.  The past was too painful.  Finally, a friend of mine sat me down, explained that Lost was a better person (er... show) now, and that I should give it another chance. 

I watched seasons 4 and 5 on blu-ray.  It opened up a lot of new mysteries without really answering much of what came before (with notable exceptions).  But, the writing was good again.  The characters had purpose, and the plot - while making exceptional use of Desmond's magic time travel special-cuz-the-writers-said-so - was engaging.  Ok, Lost.  I'm sorry too.  Lets never fight again. 

Season 6 was billed as the season to answer all of the questions.  So I got together with Lost, older and wiser now, and watched.  Season 6 did not answer every question.  Not even a little bit.  See below for College Humor's video with just a few of the unexplained events.

And the mysteries they did explain, like what the Island's whispers are, were sometimes done in an off-handed manner.  Plus, the mysteries they introduced in even the latest seasons (like that the smoke monster and Jacob operate by a set of "rules") were never explained.  So the "rules" were merely cuz-the-script-said-so's. 

But, having known disappointment from Lost before, I expected it.  I hoped for more, but braced for the worst.  Until the finale actually happened.  The finale was that all the people in the flash sideways world were actually dead and that they were moving on together.  Ok.  I can accept that.  It's not the most interesting ending in the world, but at least it sort of wraps up the flash sideways storyline. 

But that storyline was only introduced in season 6!  The finale was not for the characters we'd grown to know, the individuals who enticed us with all too brief insights via flashbacks.  No, it was for the characters introduced only in season 6.  The actual storyline of Lost - the smoke monster, Jacob, the tunnel, the Others, Whidmore, Eloise, the Dharma Initiative, the Swan - all of it doesn't get a finale.  Instead, Jack and the smoke monster die and life continues on without explanation.  And it makes even less sense that it would continue because Jacob said the Island was the stopper keeping the evil (smoke monster) out.  If the smoke monster is dead, then what's the point of the island? 

Anyway, after going through all that, after engaging in six seasons, I was emotionless after the finale.  I didn't even have strong opinions against the finale.  It just sort of ... happened.  No revelation, no deeper meaning, just Hurley and Ben picking up for Jacob and Richard.  That's the true loss here.  The opportunity to provide a final big reveal, or to give the viewer an understanding of the Island's significance (other than simply because the script says its important) was utterly missed.  And, as a consequence, the finale was an emotionless let down. 

That said, I think Klaus Teuber may start working on a Settlers of the Island....  Rolling a seven moves the smoke monster.


  1. That was great. Me and hubs had a pretty similar relationship with the show, only when you walked away, we stuck it out with lots of ultimatums about possibly leaving, but it never happened. (now Heroes, that was too abusive a relationship to stay in, sorry). However, this season we were truly just sticking it out until the kids went to college, it was a loveless relationship.

    Agree with you 100% on the sideways thing. If they had built that up over a few seasons, it would have had meaning, but here, not so much. Same with the light/plug thing, I didn't care about it because it wasn't part of what I had been watching.

    They said they had a plan, but I think they were big fat liars and should have just owned up to it instead of trying to make it all seem like a big metaphysicalstatement.

    Girls Are Geeks

  2. I agree with you on Heroes. I gave them the benefit of the doubt on Season 2, but there was no forgiving season 3.

    I think sometimes a writer will come up with a fabulous concept that he fleshes out over years and finally pitches to a network that accpets it. When it becomes successful, the writer suddenly realizes that he needs to come up with a second season - and fast.

    Along with Heroes, I put the abomination that is Californication season 2 in this category.

  3. For what its worth, I *loved* the LOST finale. The sideways flashes are the same characters from the island, as shown by the characters's "remembering" their past. Hurley even referred to the island when he told Ben he made a great #2, and Ben said Hurley made a great number #1. Jack went into the church to "move on" along with all the others at the same time he died on the island. They didn't really start in season 6. Everything built up to the bomb going off, and the bomb going off is what started the flash sideways.

    It's all connected. Your post makes it seems like they weren't -- that the sideways characters are somehow different people from the island characters.

  4. Yes, they are the same people. Though the explanation does raise some questions about where Boone was between his death in season 1 and his appearance in a flash-sideways that didn't occur until after Hurley had died (presumably well after Season 6). And Jack's flash sideways kid doesn't even exist and Aaron is born dead.

    My main point is that the finale didn't wrap up the events of the island. Indeed, Hurley and Ben take on the mantle of protector (though we don't know what they protect it from or why it needs protection since without the protector no one can find the tunnel). Instead, the finale wrapped up a separate "sideways" storyline that was only introduced in the sixth season.

    So, while they may technically be the same characters, it wasn't really a continuation of the same plot.

  5. I think of the flash sideways as sort of a reincarnation / purgatory where the characters have a chance to correct the "wrongs" of their past life -- or make things that way they were supposed to be. The end of the show represented the end of their time in this "purgatory" and a moving on to heaven. Boone may have simply needed more "time" to get things right (he was pretty creepy afterall), and it also explains why Ben didn't go in the Church. He wasn't ready to move on -- Locke's forgiveness was just one of many things thing he needed first. I just don't agree that it was a separate storyline.

    Anyway, I'm sorry you didn't care for it. I loved it. It makes me want to watch the whole series again.