5.24.2010

Exhibit 25.13



(as spoiler free as possible but still not something you are going to want to read if you haven't finished the show)




Well, it's also probably not something you're going to want to read if you have any respect for me. I realized midway through writing a comment on my friend Chris's post here--a comment in which I referenced midichlorians for god's sake--that I might as well fully geek out a little about Lost. I don't feel good about what I'm doing either. We should all just pretend it's not happening.

I thought the finale was ideal. And I don't mean ideal in that it answered all of the questions that had been raised by the show (or most of the questions [or really any of the questions]), but it was an episode that could naturally return us to the show's past, resurrect old characters, and conclude on a note that was both ending and beginning. That, to me, is a pretty impressive capstone. It was touching, exciting, and, most importantly, fit coherently within the ongoing arch of the show. This wasn't Seinfeld's finale which attempted a similar of cohesion but had to violate the basic tenants of its world in order to do so. This was an ending that made sense. This was an ending.

Now, there are issues. Serious ones. As much as I admired the finale as 2.5-hours of television doing something wonderful with an impossible task, Lost's six seasons are hardly as ideal when taken as a whole. I completely understand anyone frustrated or bothered by last night's episode when there's so much left unsaid about the island's magic, the Dharma initiative, the numbers, etc. At least for me, it was clear we weren't going to be getting any of those answers for weeks and so my expectations might have been a bit different. Lost, correctly, went in the direction of concluding its characters' stories rather than its setting's. I think that's a choice the show made a long time ago, and while some of those central mysteries remained unanswered if not problematically confused at this point, I think we should have been aware that we were always watching a show about characters confronting those mysteries not the mysteries themselves.

Would I have preferred a show more concerned with its own mythology? I don't know. Like most of the people I know who love(d) Lost, that mythology is what I found captivating and kept me going through early stumbles (or anything involving Kate). And, yeah, I have a lot of unanswered questions and a bit of bitterness that some things I think should have been answered weren't (specifically, I think if the creators were serious in having mapped out the ending so far in advance, they should have used the time with the Dharma folk to say far more about what the Hanso Foundation knew and the "rules" between Ben and Widmore when the creators "knew" they weren't coming back to those things). And I have a great deal more bitterness about the things that were a waste of time or simply confusing (specifically, everything about this season's temple).

Mostly, I think the show probably did itself a disservice by making the Dharma stuff too captivating in the early seasons and then more or less hoping the audience would be satisfied by rolling it haphazardly into the Jacob/MiB storyline. This season, we learned the show we were watching was really one about a mystical ancient conflict with the very fate of the world at stake. I can see why they must have thought something this grand would make us forget all the pettier mysteries, but I don't think many of us were capable of letting go. As much as I enjoyed all this talk about "the light," I still think questions like how Charlie knew the song to type into the keypad are more interesting for being smaller (and for coming naturally out of the characters we'd been with from the beginning). But I can appreciate the ambition behind it all, and I'm willing to chock up these disappointments to the nature of producing an open-ended television series.

(O man, I just replied to a comment on my comment. I'm really hitting some new lows today. If only I weren't enjoying this so much...)

Basically, there were a lot of false starts and loose ends, and I think that's fine. Sometimes the rules changed halfway through the story. Sometimes things we spent a long time thinking were important weren't important. Sometimes the show cheated. It wasn't perfect, but perfect wasn't and shouldn't be the goal. Being surprising and entertaining and emotionally moving is the goal, and if you can manage to do that more often then not when producing over 100 hours of programming, you've succeeded. You'd have to be some kind of monster not to have been moved by Sawyer and Juliet's reunion last night, yet that's a relationship that's less than two seasons old. So we could look at that relationship and lament that it's so disconnected from where the show began and acknowledge that it's clearly something they just threw together on the fly or we can enjoy how everything we saw before changed those characters until the relationship not only made sense but seemed inevitable. That it somehow became the emotional linchpin of the finale is great and surprising and is exactly what Lost has been able to do that most shows can't. It made me care. I might have started caring because of the polar bears and the four-toed statue, but the show convinced me that was only background to what was really important. A complicated mythology isn't enough on its own, and if the cost of making a compelling show is making one that leaves things unanswered, then I'm fine with that. Answers are overrated.

I guess I don't know what else to say except that it was a great show and it ended well.

2 comments:

christopher higgs said...

I agree with you, answers are overrated. I'm even starting to come around to liking the finale. You make good points, as did some other folks at giant, and also the Jezebel recap gave me reason to reconsider: http://jezebel.com/5546559/lost-finale-recap-case-closed?skyline=true&s=i

Bottom line: I loved every week of LOST for all these years, and just because they never showed the Egyptians (which, I guess was my biggest sorrow) I shouldn't be such a sourpuss. Here's to me rewatching and rethinking the end.

carlinhmackie said...

I'm with you, Adam. And I want to say one thing, specifically in regards to the Egyptian stuff. People seem really worked up about not knowing who built the statue, &c, but what would the answer to that be? "I don't know, some guys? You know, back in the day?" That's pretty much the only answer that's possible. So, yeah, answers are overrated.

Also, thanks for convincing me to watch this show. And I think, having myself only seen the final season as it aired (I watched the rest on Netflix last fall), I can with some confidence predict that a lot of the messiness of the show will seem both less messy and less foot-draggy on a DVD rewatch in about two months. Because for the life of me I could never figure out people's complaints about this show until I actually watched a season live: when you have to wait a week between each episode, it's a great deal easier to get impatient.