Monday, May 24, 2010

Snap Review: "LOST Finale"


OK...In spite of my better judgment, I liked the "Lost" finale. It was sad, epic, funny and it felt emotionally satisfying. In the end, it was about the people who landed and how they learned to live together, not about the island and its special brand of baffling magic. I get that, and overall, it was probably the right decision. A finale that was more focused on explaining away all the fantasy elements and minutae wouldn't have really worked dramatically. (A lot of people got obsessed with stuff like Walt's powers in the early seasons, or why everything was influenced by Ancient Egypt, or the Dharma food drops...but I knew they'd never bother to go back and explain that stuff. Just no way to do that and make it an actual episode. Like in a David Lynch film, the surreal touches are just there to be surreal, and really exploring them robs them of their appeal.)

But having said all that, it's still quite bold of Cuse and Lindelof to even try to get away with such an obvious trick. They made up an entirely new story for Season 6 as a pretext to abandon the main narrative that has dominated the entire series up until that point. By inventing "alternate reality" at the beginning of 6 and then focusing almost the entire final episode on it, Cuse and Lindelof escape the corner they painted themselves in over 5 seasons. To torture the metaphor, they basically said..."Well, this whole room is painted, but look next door! A room without any paint at all! What's going on over there?" And because they thought up a nice ending to THAT story, one that gave them an excuse to explore all the main love stories that have played out over 6 seasons, the audience is tempted to overlook the fact that essentially NONE of the main questions get answered, and none of the big plot points of the first 4 seasons are dealt with in any way.

(Seriously, imagine trying to tell people watching the Season 3 finale or something what happened in the last episode. "So, um, they were all in this parallel universe, or it seemed that way, but it's actually where they all go when they die. And the island is a cork holding in an evil presence." Not a single thing that would have seemed really relevant to the show back then - like the significance of Walt and Aaron, or island's ability to heal people and hurtle them through time, or the strange experiments of the Dharma Initiative, or Libby's peculiar backstory, or the meaning of the "numbers" and their origin - means anything or gets any sort of conclusion.)

I don't know...this was a great episode of "Lost," but I sort of feel duped. It feels more like a season finale than the end of the show.

If you think about it, you could start Season 7 really easily in the Fall and it would still totally make sense.

- Rose and Bernard wake Jack up in the jungle. (Presumably, Vincent wandered over from their camp.) He's injured but he'll be fine.
- Hurley is now figuring out what they need to do in order to continue "protecting" the island. Hurley begins to discover he has Jacobian powers, but hesitates about using them. There's now tension between Hurley and Jack over who is really calling the shots.
- Ben gets jealous, maybe starts plotting how he can get rid of Hurley and Jack and run the show himself (?)
- Sawyer, Desmond, Kate, Claire et. al. return to the US. Kate and Claire discover that they will need to bring Aaron back to the island, as he's the rightful heir to Jacob, not Hurley. Unless they bring Aaron back...mysterious unspeakable bad things will happen. (Possibly involving Alvar Hanso, the founder of the Hanso Foundation, which funded the Dharma Initiative? Remember him?)
- We follow Richard as he struggles to begin a new normal life in the real non-island world.

And so on. My reasoning is, if this were truly going to be a FINAL episode that would give us all ACTUAL closure, there should have been a bit more of an effort to give it a real END. The island is destroyed or de-magic-ified, or a perpetual motion machine where these events are just going to repeat themselves ad infinitum. Either of those would be an ending.

Ignoring the lion's share of the show's genuine existential questions while setting most of your main characters off on new adventures, after assuring that they will all eventually meet again in the afterlife? I guess that's an ending, but it's not a real ENDING ending, if that makes sense. Part of me almost feels like they've intentionally left themselves with a loophole in case they ever want to do a follow-up movie or mini-series. I know they SAID they wouldn't ever do this...but then why not really close the sucker out?

Posted via email from Lon Harris