Goodbye, “Lost”

Last night was the much anticipated, much hyped “Lost” finale. I’ve counted myself a fan of the show for something around a year now, and I’ve seen just about every episode (minus around four which I slept through).

With the series wrapped up, undoubtedly many theories regarding just what on Earth (if they were even on Earth ;) was going on with Jack, Kate, Sawyer, and their ragtag band of merry men. Previous to last night’s finale, the writers of “Lost” said in a retrospective special that they wanted to make a show that challenged viewers to think and forced them to engage with the events of the show because everything wouldn’t simply be handed to them.

I’m glad they said that. They want us to think about what has happened, and with the finale out there now, I want to offer up a few thoughts. Stop reading now if you do not want any spoilers. They start now…

So the finale finished up, and as it turns out, for the past season, the “flash sideways” which we have been seeing haven’t been an alternate reality or a different dimension at all… it has been some sort of afterlife. Not Heaven, not Hell, not even Purgatory, but an afterlife formed apparently by the group consciousness of the survivors of the plane wreck… and a few others who weren’t on the plane but got to take part anyway.

What does that mean? It means that for the entire last season, about half of the show has been pointless — the events were already set & done, and we were simply waiting for the big reveal that “Oh, hey, guys, welcome to the church. By the way, you’re dead.”

And I’d perhaps be okay with that if in so revealing that reality they better explained the other half of this past season (the events taking place on the island), but that didn’t happen. Instead, the “we’re all dead” realization seemed way too contrived and served as a mechanism simply for getting all of the principal cast together for an emotional reunion. Couples reunited. Characters we haven’t seen in ages are back. And so on.

But where were Michael & Walt? Where was Mr. Eko? What about Ethan? I don’t recall Richard or Lapidus being present either, and while I don’t recall Miles being at the church, he was at least present in the afterlife as Sawyer’s partner.

The argument that the church scene was only for survivors of the Oceanic crash doesn’t work either. Juliet, Desmond, and others being present there throws that theory out of whack.

And how did Hurley die? Last time we see him on the island, he was endowed with the duty to protect the island, presumably as an immortal (or as “immortal” as Jacob was, at least). The man in black died & Jack was mortally wounded while the “light” was out; Hurley, however, survived that whole ordeal and should have been able to live indefinitely until some killed him or the “light” was once again uncorked.

But Hurley was present in the afterlife. So how did he die? Why is there now a presumably large part of island history that we aren’t privy to, despite it involving one of our main characters?

Or perhaps the atom bomb explosion at the end of last season killed everyone. Perhaps the island scenes of this past season were the true “flash sideways” scenes and that the afterlife scenes were the only part that was “real.”

Then again, perhaps everyone died after Locke prevented the numbers from being entered into the hatch computer years ago. Perhaps Desmond’s activation of the failsafe device killed everyone. It seems as though immediately after that, Desmond started getting weird flashes of memory or knowledge he shouldn’t otherwise have… which is about what happened to everyone else in the final season. Perhaps Desmond’s unique physiology (resistance to electromagnetic radiation, for example) somehow let him to better realize their situation, years ahead of everyone else.

And if not, then I must have missed the explanation for how Desmond wound up naked in the woods with prescient knowledge of various circumstances. Whatever the case here, I’m pretty certain that the entire series was actually about Desmond. Everyone else just happened to get involved incidentally. Even the all important Jacob didn’t really seem to do anything than to provide important exposition at various points.

But everyone, including Jacob, was already dead according to my Desmond theory, so Jacob really didn’t provide anything that ultimately amounted to a hill of beans… Jack’s father’s exposition at the close of the series provided a bigger bombshell than Jacob ever spoke of.

Frankly, I was hoping that once we realized that the coffin was empty, the camera would pan around to see Jack’s father who was, like Locke previously, now the smoke monster. Now that would have made for an interesting ending.

As it is, the series ended with a two and a half hour long episode that wasn’t really any different from any other episode in the last season. The only reason the episode was so long anyway was to cram in as many “we got our memory back” moments as possible — ultimately turning the episode into one of those emotional flashback episodes that so many series end on. (Thank goodness that the “Star Trek” writers of the various series actually ended series with strongly written, interesting episodes that didn’t use the flashback cop-out!)

And I think that’s what bugs me most about last night’s finale. A show that has constantly challenged its viewers to think, to second guess what we see on screen, ends with an emotional character reunion that ignores pretty much every question which the show has asked and failed to answer.

Even the climax of the episode — the final confrontation between Jack & Locke — felt hollow and disappointing. While there was enough drama in the scene to feel like a climactic scene, that drama paled in comparison to, for example, the atom bomb scene between Sawyer, Juliet, and Jack. Then the episode dragged on for another forty-five minutes, further into answer-free character reunion territory. Only now there was nothing to drive the remainder of the plot, no more challenge, no more conflict. (Unless you count the challenge of providing much needed exposition or revelation, but the writers didn’t seem to want to touch that much last night.)

I seem to recall an interview or soundbyte wherein the writers said that every time they heard a fan theory regarding what was going on, they intentionally tried to not use it. People have been theorizing that everyone was dead since season one. Turns out they were right.

Too bad.

I will say I was glad to see that Vincent the dog didn’t show up in the “afterlife,” thereby avoiding a pet peeve of mine!

5 thoughts on “Goodbye, “Lost””

  1. Alright alright. I’ll put my two cents in since you OBVIOUSLY asked for it.

    “But where were Michael & Walt? Where was Mr. Eko? What about Ethan? I don’t recall Richard or Lapidus being present either, and while I don’t recall Miles being at the church, he was at least present in the after life as Sawyer’s partner.”

    Michael, Mr. Eko and Ethan were probably not in there because the actors couldn’t actually make it. The actor who plays Walt was 12 when the series started. He’s now 18. Since nobody seemed to age after they died even though some of them (presumably) died of old age, they couldn’t exactly put him in the last scene since it’d be awkward.

    As for Frank, Miles and Richard (and you forgot Charlotte and Daniel) none of them had their own flashbacks or flashforwards from seasons 1-5. We haven’t exactly invested our lives into them as much as we had everybody else…including Juliet, Ben and Desmond.

    “And how did Hurley die? Last time we see him on the island, he was endowed with the duty to pro tect the island, pre sum ably as an immortal (or as “immortal” as Jacob was, at least).”

    You said it yourself. He’s as immortal as Jacob was. And Jacob’s died too. Besides, there’s nothing to say that someone didn’t come to the island that Hurley didn’t eventually pass the job to. But I do agree that I would have liked to have seen more than this.

    As for everything else, they weren’t dead the entire show. (though that was a theory of mine for a while) They were only dead at the end and only in the “alternate universe” or flash sideways (can we call them “dead flashes” now?). If Desmond had killed them all back when he turned the failsafe then the rest of the series has no point. And no matter how much you feel season 6’s dead flashes were a copout, I have to believe that the writers weren’t writing for absolutely no purpose to tell a story that didn’t really happen for 3 seasons.

    I mean something like that happened in one episode in House and that’s about all I could handle.

  2. It’s funny you mentioned that the rest of the series wouldn’t have mattered because that’s kinda how I feel the non-flashes of the final season were. They didn’t matter. They resolved nothing. They served to only keep us invested in the island even though the grand conclusion of things wouldn’t be there but instead in the flashes… which didn’t really resolve anything other than pointing out the obvious (they all died, whether during the series or “eventually”). Not really profound — certainly not as profound as some of the other plot points!

    As for Richard, he may not have had flashbacks or forwards in previous seasons, but he had an entire episode this season and has been along since the beginning just about. I liked him as a character more than probably 90% of the survivors, and I don’t buy that I’m the only one to feel invested in that character. :D

    As for using the “we weren’t invested in them” excuse as to why they weren’t there at the end… well, there were plenty of people there who I didn’t really feel invested in. Besides, are we to believe that the Lost afterlife determines who shows up based upon the investment in folks’ lives by people in an alternate, higher reality (ours)? If Lost wants to have a grand reunion with everyone, then there needs to be some story element which explains why there are notable characters missing. Otherwise, the conclusion comes across as poorly thought out and incomplete.

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