Heaven is a place,
a place where nothing,
nothing ever happens.” – Talking Heads
What should be the last word on LOST? Cheesy? Lame? Cliched? Cheap? Vapid? Insulting? All good options, but I think there’s really only one word that ends up describing what LOST became in the end.
I’m not trying to be smug, but I predicted it would turn out like this. I knew it. I think we all did. It didn’t happen all at once, but gradually the sloppiness and laziness of this much anticipated season became obvious. There was the wrong date on Aaron’s sonogram, then Kate’s name not being on the cave ceiling even though it supposedly was on the cave ceiling, the pointless Temple subplot, the Stargate Lighthouse, finally the awkward, stiff, so bad it made me cry scene where Michael was trotted out to give the lamest possible explanation for the whispers.
They’d been all but screaming from the rooftops that we wouldn’t be getting any goddamn Answers. It was all about the characters, yo. Those stupid questions were all red herrings! Not just the big ones, like Walt and Aaron and the Numbers. All of them!
They seemed genuinely shocked that anyone had been expecting any answers from them.
We actually really just set out to make a show that we thought was kind of cool and entertaining, and we never imagined that people would get wrapped up in the intricacies of it to the degree that they have.
At times they got downright insulting about it:
Not only did Damon inadvertently describe the process by which American kids grow up both stupid and fat, but he made it clear exactly how much respect he had for his audience. Which is to say – he thought we were chumps. He thought we weren’t really interested in answers to the gajillion questions he’d posed. We didn’t want to see the design behind the mysteries and characters revealed in a brilliant fashion that would reward us for our years of devotion. All we really wanted was cheap, generic junk food. So that’s the way he ended his series.
The famously funny.
The infamously awful.
And the sublime.
Obviously the boy wonders knew everything LOST had ever been was hanging in the balance on May 23. Carlton Cuse himself described the metric by which he knew they’d be judged.
I’ve been MIA the last third of this wretched finale season. It turns out it’s not really much fun to hate on something that you once loved. It feels terrible actually.
It was our own free choice to gabble away on message boards these last few seasons talking about wormholes and string theory and exotic matter and Schrodingers goddamn cat. We did it long after it became obvious that these two guys weren’t able to write that kind of story. It was obvious they weren’t quantum physicists. Or even the kind of guys who passed physics in high school.
You know who these two really remind me of now? The two con men who pretended to be tailors in Hans Christian Anderson’s The Emperor’s New Clothes. They convinced the dopey Emperor he was getting a new set of gorgeous threads, but really he just ended up walking down the street with everyone laughing at the pimples on his butt. The Emperor, it turns out, was us.
The consensus was unanimous:
But how did the finale fare out in the land of media, both old and new? Did they stick their landing or did they …
I realize there were some in the fast food media who, as expected, were bowled over by the cliche overload of the finale. USA Today not only found it “thrilling”, ” clever” and “profound”, but they mocked those of us who’d bought into that silly mystery crap.
If you were looking for explanations for every twist and turn, you didn’t get them. (Some viewers won’t be satisfied until the producers churn out a multi-volume island manual that answers questions that were never actually posed.)
And as expected, both “I live next door to Damon” Kristin dos Passos and Cheerleader in Chief Jeff Jensen dissolved into predictably soggy heaps of teary satisfaction.
“The End” was an emotionally draining epic that had me crying with almost every single “awakening” and has left me mulling the true significance of the Sideways world, which was revealed to be a Purgatory-like realm created by the souls of the dead castaways themselves. (Purgatory! The irony!) I was so happy The Island was saved. I was so moved by Jack’s heroism and sacrifice and the glorious significance of ending where he began, as well as that Doubting Thomas allusion there at the end. … I loved Ben’s contrition. I loved Locke’s forgiveness. I loved it when Ben told him to stand up and walk again, and Locke did.
But if Darlton let themselves listen to anyone other than their friends in lowbrow places, they probably realized they’re going to have to stay in that bunker a little bit longer than anticipated. The New York Times trashed it on both the Arts page:
But you have to think that the gauzy, vaguely religious, more than a little mawkish ending of ‘Lost’ – “Touched by a Desmond” — will not sit well with a lot of the show’s fans. … The “Sopranos” finale was ambiguous and a bit of a shrug, but not puzzling; to me the “Lost” finale, in the immediate aftermath, felt forced and, well, a bit of a cop-out.
Across six seasons, it’s true, we learned endless facts about the island — about its geography, its inhabitants, and what had happened on it across decades and centuries. But we never learned the whys behind the facts. And with the final season in the books, there’s good reason to think that we never learned them because the show’s creators never had a well-thought-out “why” for their story in the first place. The island wasn’t a real mystery — it was just a MacGuffin.
Once upon a time, there was a television show about a bunch of people on an island. For six years it was one of the most fascinating things on TV. And then it ended, in the worst way possible. … Lost ended tonight, and with it the hopes and dreams of millions of people who thought it might finally get good again. SPOILER ALERT: It didn’t. What did we learn? Nothing. We learned nothing from two-and-a-half hours of slow-motion bullshittery backed with a syrupy soundtrack.
“The End” didn’t so much answer the long-dangling mysteries—Why do pregnant women die on the island? Why was the character of Walt (Malcolm David Kelley) special? What is this island? What was with all of the Egyptian hieroglyphics? What was the character of Desmond’s ultimate purpose on the island?—as it did ignore them altogether….Considering how much time viewers have spent trying to figure out the relationship between the island timeline and the Sideways one, it is also frustrating that it turned out that there is none—or more precisely, that what happened in the Sideways timeline didn’t affect what happened on the island at all.
There are second chances in life, but there are no do-overs. At least all the time travel, the donkey wheels, the smoke monsters were vehicles to explore the human condition. They were as fantastical as purgatory, yes, but they were also grounded in the terrestrial realities of life, death, and the pursuit of happiness. The show’s purgatorial clusterfuck is not. It is a venue for wish-fulfillment. Thus, the finale wronged not just me, but the show itself.
A series like “Lost” doesn’t need to solve all of its riddles, but it does need to address the right ones…. The comic-book paraphernalia and texture of the island — its secret bunkers with their code names, Jacob’s migrating cabin with its creepy paintings, the ersatz normality of the Others’ compound ringed by those sonic pylons and the fantastically mechanical grinding and dragging sounds that used to accompany the appearance of the smoke monster — were not peripheral to the heart of “Lost.” They were the very essence of its appeal.
And the message of the Hero Quest in mythology is certainly not the gauzy, happy, angels-at-the-doorway one “Lost” fans had to settle for last night. Once Jack stepped into the church it looked like he was walking into a Hollywood wrap party without food or music — just a bunch of actors grinning idiotically for 10 minutes and hugging one another.
By leaving everything unanswered right up to the end, and then pulling a narrative switcheroo instead of finishing the story that was being unveiled, Lost basically mocked those who bothered to watch from the very beginning, as such rabid viewership proved entirely unnecessary. Thus, the finale of Lost rendered the entire series run relatively pointless and effectively killed any and all rewatchability of the prior episodes. So, in the end, Lost ended for me with season three.
With all that and so much more being said, is there really any point in me writing anything else about this sad spectacle ? Is there anything left that really needs to be said? I’m over it. I could live without never giving LOST another thought. I’m literally itching to erase it off my dvr. But I promised I’d do this. Inquiring minds seem to want to know what it all meant to me. So, here we go, one last time, for old time’s sake.
I think others have pretty much covered the shameful way we were taunted with questions that were never intended to be answered, even as recently as the run-up to this season. They were running full speed ahead right up until late April, not only implying that we’d be rewarded for our detective work, but throwing new questions at us! Of course everyone was excited to see what the answer to the puzzles would be. And then we got this:
Their story was tacked on, like everything else in Season Six. In fact, the whole finale could have been slapped on at any random endpoint. It wasn’t a culmination or an inevitability or a hard earned catharsis. The message that after death we’ll all live happily ever after with our bestest BFFs could have been, as one reviewer noted, a perfectly good finale for Saved by the Bell or Happy Days. Or a kiddie cartoon, for that matter.
But all this ground has been covered, and better, by others. Few disagree that in the end the LOST “storytellers” failed in their central mission – to pull together a coherent and satisfying end to the mysteries they themselves had chosen to create. But I was surprised to see how many, at least in the immediate aftermath, seemed to think that the finale succeeded in a different area – that of giving resolution to the characters. It became like the one good thing people could say about LOST – that it was a terrible ending, but at least the characters all got “satisfying resolutions”. I don’t know where they’re seeing that. Maybe people just need to convince themselves that it couldn’t possibly be as bad as it all really, really was.
To be fair, not everyone was fooled. But far too many were. If I have to pick what I consider to be the Number One Inconvenient Truth about the LOST Finale, it would be this:
Let’s start with a somewhat minor, but nonetheless pivotal, character. Claire and her baby, who she’d been apocalyptically warned must not be raised by another, seemed to be mystically connected to the Island.
John Locke, who so wanted to be special and who came to the Island and had his legs magically restored and who had a child’s faith in the beautiful Island and who tried and failed to convince Jack to stay and who left what he loved and sacrificed his life for the sake of his Island – his “resolution” was that he got to wait in Limbo Land until Jack – freaking Jack – got around to not only dying, but to accepting that he was dead.
Locke’s character “resolution” was to further the glory of Jack, even in death. What once seemed like an epic duel between equally matched protagonists went out with a weak, faint sounding pfffffffft. By the time the big showdown happened, Locke wasn’t even there.
Like so much of the audience, Locke got screwed. Sorry, John, you were just road kill on the Highway to Jack’s Heaven.
But don’t worry. Be happy! It’s not like there’s anything we can do about it now. Except maybe this …
Sun and Jin’s “resolution” came at the end of three long seasons wherein they both did, collectively, nothing.
Finally they reunited. Then they died the next day, with not even a passing acknowledgment of the daughter who had been at the heart of their story. In Purgatory, or Limbo, or whatever the hell that Sideways bullshit was, they had to wait – for Jack, of course – until they could speak English (the language of Jack’s heaven) and follow their dear leader into the light.
We can also add Sayid to the list of screwed over characters.
In post-9/11 America, it was shocking to see an Iraqi soldier in the Revolutionary Guard presented as a sympathetic character. But Sayid worked his way into our hearts, despite being the sickest killer in the bunch, because he was a passionate man. Who loved Nadia.
Instead we learned that the only great thing in Hurley’s extremely long life was Libby, the girl he once almost went on a picnic with the day before she got shot. Nothing else. So once he finally died, he – like everyone else – waited for Jack, and then finally, I guess, he got to have a girlfriend, even if they were both dead.
We had watched his evolution, one of the most beautiful in the show,
But in Season Four, fanboys everywhere rejoiced as Sawyer’s hotness got sucked away and he was reincarnated as a neutered Deputy Dawg, flashing big buttery grins at his tall blond Dharma-wife.
Kate didn’t do any better. We don’t know when she died but we know she never met anyone better than Jack. That’s sad enough. You didn’t deserve that, Kate.
This is where the poor character development leads straight into The Second Inconvenient Truth About the Lost Finale:
If we accept that the gang in the church had to be there together because they were the only people that truly mattered to one another, we have to realize that all these people lived HORRIBLE lives here on earth. Think of all those who didn’t matter to them:
A dharmachakra, an aum, a menorah, a Ganesh … I guess they couldn’t find space to shove in any voodoo chicken feet or Rasta spliffs or Wiccan wands.
Damon Lindelof: This is the critical mystery of the season, which is, “What is the relationship between these two shows? … Where’s Libby? Where’s Ana Lucia? Where’s Eko? These are all the things that you’re supposed to be thinking about.
Why was Eloise worried that Desmond would take Daniel away?
What was Ben waiting for? Did he need Danielle Rousseau to wake up too?
Why wasn’t Michael allowed into Jack’s heaven? He blew himself up with a bomb just like Sayid did. Why did he have to be trapped on the Island as a whisper? Was it because he didn’t have a Schmoopie?
See? Look! It was an Apollo candy bar! And Number 23! Holy moly! My mind, she is blown! Darlton, you iz geniuses!
So the whole Sideways/Purgatory/Bullshitland that the characters “created” for themselves after death was not about Redemption (except for Jack.) And it wasn’t about Free Will, one of the other alleged “themes” of LOST. The characters may have created this place, but they didn’t know they were doing it, and they didn’t know why they did it, and most of the connections they unwittingly created for themselves meant absolutely nothing in the final denouement, just like all the connections built into the pre-crash flight and the off Island world meant absolutely nothing.
I always did love the visual imagery of LOST, but you can’t just throw random symbolic elements onscreen and call that a story.
Not only could we tell that a man was good based on whether he was blond and blue eyed (Aryan=Good) and wearing a white tunic, but we could even tell the moral destiny of a baby by the color of his blanket! And see! They were playing a game. Like how the LOST writers were playing a game with us.
“We Yanks, however, do not want froufrou endings. We want things definitively tied up. And by “things” I mean lots of people dead.”
“We really like gratuitous explosions.”
“Because if there’s one thing we like more than explosions, it’s surprises.”
I kind of wish, as an American, that people like Damon wouldn’t speak for what “we Yanks” appreciate. I’d just like to let the global audience out there know that not all Yanks tell their kids to shut up and eat cheese and not all Yanks are proud of being stupid and unimaginative.
I am one Yank who became totally enchanted by the “froufrou” of LOST’s endless literary, religious, scientific and philosophical allusions. Yes, I gradually recognized that it was an exercise in futility, but I still hoped against hope that there was some bare bones design behind it all, some order to the chaos. But the truth is out now: There wasn’t any. Ever.
Cuse and Lindelof have dropped plenty of guideposts along the way. Several characters are named for authors or philosophers (Locke, Milton, Rousseau, the Zen master Dogen) whose concepts play into the story, and classic works of literature sneak into key scenes. The writers say they use these references as “a tip of the cap” to their influences, as Lindelof puts it, “as opposed to saying, ‘Hey, we came up with this idea for the first time.”
I think Darlton should have taken this full disclosure thing one step further. The writers who influenced them weren’t Lewis Carroll or James Joyce or C.S. Lewis. Come on, guys! Be honest. The literary influences in your writing room were more along these lines, right?
Killer the dog WAS. Now Killer was born to a three-legged bitch mother. And he was always ashamed of this, man. And then right after that, he’s adopted by this man, Tito Liebowitz. He’s a small-time gunrunner and, uh, rottweiler fight promoter. So he puts Killer into training, next thing you know Killer’s GOOD! He is DAMN good! But then, he had the fight of his life. They pit him against his brother Nibbles. And Killer said, “No, man, that’s my brother, I can’t fight Nibbles!” And he made him fight anyway. And then Killer, Killed Nibbles. And Killer said, “That’s it!” And he called off all his fights, and he started doing crack, and he ffffffff-FREAKED OUT. And then in a rage, he collapsed, and his heart… no longer beat. Wow.
“I read an article recently saying that 80 percent of American poll respondents said they thought Harry wouldn’t survive the final book. As is the case in many polls, there’s probably a degree of wish-fulfillment here. In other words, we want the little bugger to die.”
Fuck you all, dirty whores. Yes I’m talking abotu real people because you suck and fail at life. I loathe you all haters, you deserve all the spit and shit on your faces as you can get for all those years trolling the internet. Our fandom doesn’t have any respect? STFU you son of a bitch you! Keep fooling yourselves that Skate was eyefucking the whole season. You’re only embarrasssing yourselves, even some decent skaters can see. Yes, there are sane skaters out there who appreciate them sanely.
From statements the producers of “Lost” have made over the past five years, they developed a dynamic with die-hard fans (and disillusioned fans and skeptical non-fans) that was infinitely more complex than any of the personal relationships among the series’ characters. Could it be that in resisting the geekiest, nitpickingest, most Aspergerian demands of their audience they swung too far in the opposite direction, dismissing as trivial everything but the cosmic (the tedious and largely unnecessary Jacob-Smokey background) and the sentimental (making sure that every character receives his or her designated soul mate or therapeutic closure of the most banal Dr. Phil variety)? If so, “Lost” may be the quintessential example of a pop masterpiece ruined by its own fans.
Miss Mary mostly just used our site as one of the many from which he’d steal spoilers or pictures or media mentions, all of which he’d post on his own board without credit. But in the run up to the finale, his juvenile pettiness was on full display. One night, when I guess he was getting bored down in that basement bunker, he put on his best squealing imitation of what he thought a dumbass Skater fangirl would sound like:
I juust had my friends sister email me about the finale. She works on the set if LOST She told me that in the finale that Kate tells Jack she loves him Uve now given up on this show after the Juliet kiss scen
They are sending me scans tomorrow. And they will send to dark UFO tomorrow as well I promise I am not lying and this is real I wish it was not: (((((((((
In fact, I’m pretty sure that most nerds wouldn’t know Romance if it jumped up and kissed them on the mouth. That’s part of what makes them nerds, after all. Sci Fi and Fantasy genres have never been a romance friendly milieu. Romance, when it appears at all, is generally very stilted and unrealistic, and caters to the male sensibility exclusively. Most women in this genre are blond. All women are beautiful, although beauty is completely optional for the male half. It is common, and preferable, in Nerd Romance, that the female abjectly worship her mate. Strangely, though, Nerd Romance rarely features … s.e.x.
Basically, the way Romance ended up being depicted on LOST, the uglier a romance was,
the less we saw it happen,
the less sensual it was,
the more weird and shallow and gimmicky it was
– the more likely it was to end up depicted as Twu Wuv in the finale.
For years, we heard – from the mouths of the Darlton themselves – that Sawyer was their Han Solo. Even a Star Wars neophyte understands that Han is the romantic hero of the story. He’s charismatic and sexy and adorable in all the ways that Luke is not and can never be. It’s a type, an archetype, and an especially entertaining one, in my opinion.
Purgatory was so custom made to make sure Jack would be comfy in his new afterlife that he even got a whole fake person tailor made for him – David.
about Jack becoming the hero that Jack always wanted to be,
about Jack not being a drunk or a stalker psycho ex husband,
about Jack having the perfect son who loved him perfectly,
about Jack getting the respect from Dad that Jack always wanted,
about Jack fixing everything for everyone just like Jack always obsessed over,
and about everyone loving and wanting and waiting for Jack before any of them could start their eternal afterlives. The message wasn’t “Live together or die alone”. It was “die alone and wait for Jacksus to lead us into paradise.”
With this predictable, but disastrous, narrative choice to focus on only one character above all the others, Lost managed to destroy the last hope that LOST could ever have been a great story with a message that was universal or transcendant. The strength of LOST had once been in the variety of its characters, in the way, that each one of them represented a slice of humanity, a slice of heroism, a slice of each of us. If there had been a truly humanist vision behind the LOST story, each of us could have seen ourselves in some incarnation within the story. We could have come away with some unifying vision of what it means to be human and to be connected to other humans. I think this is what many of us had hoped for. I know I wasn’t the only one who imagined that’s what we were witnessing. This TIME Magazine article gives a great interpretation of what LOST could have been, what so many of us thought it would be, but what it sadly decided it didn’t want to be:
But Lost has not a single protagonist but a huge ensemble of heroes and antiheroes with checkered pasts. The loser, the con artist, the arrogant doctor, the fugitive, the junkie: each has his or her part in the quest, which has less to do with good beating evil than determining how to be good, less to do with getting the happy ending than finding out what it means to have a happy ending. Collectively, they are — to borrow the title of Joseph Campbell’s classic study of myth — the Hero with a Thousand Faces, or at least a dozen or so. It’s a concept of heroism for our complicated, connected world, where problems are too complex for a single savior.
LOST’s problems weren’t too complex for Jack. He solved them all, all by himself. Locke tried to save everyone but only ended up giving the Monster a body to use. Desmond thought he could do it, but he couldn’t. Sawyer, Kate, Sayid, Sun, Jin, Charlie, Claire, Hurley, Ben – they may have moved the problems along, but none of them helped to solve or fix a damn thing. It was Jack, all Jack, only Jack.
The Geniuses in Chief liked to say that the show was telling them what it wanted to be about. We couldn’t hear it, being mere peons of the audience, but I guess what the show was telling them was that it wanted to pretend for a really long time to be about cool, intriguing characters and ideas and mysteries … but then at the last minute it wanted to be about Jack getting his ass kissed, his balls washed and a big fat halo super glued on to his head.
So, LOST is over. Finally. And good riddance to it. Sometimes I still find questions popping into my head. Like:
Why did Kate wear a dress into the church but then showed up inside wearing pants?
Or, if Michael said the whispers were souls trapped on the island, why was Duckett who died in Australia trapped there telling Sawyer “it would come back around”?
And like why did Hurley and Ben have to stay behind on the Island if the Smoke Monster was finally DEAD?
But then I slap myself and realize – I don’t have to think about this shit anymore! Ever! And that’s good, because finally it’s safe to admit what many of us suspected, but never wanted to say: It was all bullshit.
Is there anything good to say about LOST in the wake of this debacle? Well, the music of Michael Giacchino was always stirring and emotional. The visuals of this show were magnificent. All kudos to the Art and Cinematography departments of LOST. The acting was often stellar and I hope to follow many of the actors into bigger and better careers. And of course, I’ve made some great friends, some of the smartest and wittiest people on the internet, and we made a home at Fishbiscuitland, which is staying open for business. But that’s about it. This was the kind of finale that nullifies a series, that ruins it forever, that renders any rewatch moot. And that’s not an easy thing to do. That kind of failure comes around only once every few decades. So I guess Darlton can claim that distinction. However, I really don’t think they should ever show their faces at another Comic Con.
It occurs to me we still haven’t settled on an actual, literal last word. I think we know what Darlton’s last word to the fans was:
But as for myself? I always enjoyed sprinkling quotes on my LOST recaps. How about this? LOST was …
… a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Please note I’ve posted this with comments turned off. Feel free to drop by Fishbiscuitland if you’ve got something to say.
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