As I write this, a single-purpose robot is stamping a high-definition disc. That robot will pass his disc onto another robot who will stamp a label into that disc. That robot unto another unto another: a robot that bends boxes, a robot that folds papers, a robot that assembles. These robots, unaware though they are, are actually part of a plan, a single vision: the LOST Complete Season Blu-ray disc collection headed for my doorway.
In celebration, I feel compelled to share my first LOST experience. I’d been verily nagged by my friend, Tony, to watch this show he was in love with. The show was inexplicably called “LOST”, and it was awesome and kinda scary. This was all I knew, as I sat in a recliner in my parent’s main floor living room, the lights off, preparing to watch The Pilot.
Then, the eye.
My first thoughts centered around how cinematic it all was. I was certainly no stranger to cinematic television, being a huge fan of West Wing, but this was cinematic action, not cinematic dialogue. The two have very different emotional responses. The emotional response I had to LOST was, explicitly, “Holy ship.”
I can’t say that my reaction strayed much during the marathon viewing sessions that were to come. Whether it was David, Holli, and I crammed into Holli’s dorm room or the three of us sitting around my apartment, I never felt far away from that first gut reaction. Speaking for Holli and I, our enjoyment led to affection which eventually led to love.
We became evangelists, sharing the show with everyone we could. We bought the DVDS, we lent those DVDs, we archived those DVDs. We organized LOST parties, with beverages and food items branded with elements from the show. When we dropped cable, our only real concern was “What about LOST?”
Our fanaticism for this TV show reached such heights that we actually woke up the morning after new LOST episodes early enough to watch them before work. This ritual further required that one of us (usually Holli) wake up an additional hour earlier to ensure that the episode was downloaded.
We began our journey with the show on DVD, transitioned into cable, and ended with digital downloads, never missing an episode, if we could help it. We learned the names of producers, writers, director, and creators. We listened to the Official LOST Podcast.
All of this is by way of showing just how invested we were. We had devoted a lot of time, energy, and thought to the characters, mythology, and plot of LOST. It all led to a single, two hour finale that would be the final expression of this show that we loved so much. It was an episode affectionately titled “The End”.
The artisans behind the show had an impossible goal ahead of them: craft a final episode to a frighteningly beloved show that will leave fans satisfied. Since it was an impossible goal, they inevitably failed. I’ve read and heard any number of frustrations and disappointments. I’ve done plenty of “explaining” the various elements of the final episode, even the final season in general. The people who are dissatisfied remain so, despite my best efforts.
The artisans behind the show had a second impossible goal ahead of them: craft a final episode to a intricately complex show that will tie up the loose ends fans care about. In this, they also failed. They also had to be careful not to fall into the “midi-chlorians” trap, whereby a plausible, but concrete, explanation of a previously supernatural force infuriates a fan rather than quelling the fan. Thankfully, LOST didn’t cross that line. They came close, but they stayed on the proper side. Sometimes telling someone what they want to know is the worst course of action.
The artisans behind the show had a third (much less impossible) goal ahead of them: craft a final episode to one of the most original shows on television in a way that maintains that spirit of creativity. In this, they most certainly succeeded. I feel that their final “twist” in this series was appropriately perspective changing and yet obvious-in-hindsight. It was true to the series and perfect for the ending.
In all, I thought “The End” could not have been done any better. Sure, it leaves doors open, questions unanswered, and plot lines to unravel alone, but what show (especially this complex) doesn’t? I’m sure there are plenty of unanswered questions on “Two and a Half Men”, but no one on the Internet complains nearly so loud about that. You can’t write an ending that everyone likes, so you have to write to be true to the show and its staff, and I believe that’s what they did.
Reflecting, these months later, I really do feel a sense of loss. I loved those characters, and they literally died in front of my eyes. However, “The End” gave me a sense of closure; it made it okay to move on and enjoy other programs. Yet, like all LOST episodes, it leaves behind the same unanswered question: will there ever be another show this good?
WARNING: Here come the spoilers. Stop reading now if you hate reading awesome spoilers.
The “Flash Sideways”
I thought the “flash sideways” reveal was pretty good. It didn’t blow my mind like the first time they did a “flash forward”, but it was both an interesting new concept and an honest move. For those who didn’t catch it, Jack’s conversation with Christian in the church brings us to the conclusion that the “flash sideways” has actually taken place in a sort of Limbo or pre-Heaven. Of course, you can’t have pre-Heaven without having post-Earth, which is where I’ve fielded some frustrated fan questions. Let me reiterate: they were not dead the whole time. What Happened (on the Island), Happened, to use the show’s vernacular. Christian is very clear in stating that everything that happened on the Island was real. So, if you hated the finale because you thought it implied that the previous episodes all took place in death, you can feel very ashamed and relieved, because you are very wrong.
Why the “Flash Sideways”?
What made the “flash sideways” most interesting is that now it’s a construct of the characters’ making. Though we’re not party to how this is true, we can assume that, in some way, every circumstance and event is the result of a character’s subconscious decision. Instead of the typical “flash” question of “How did that happen?” one must ask “Why did that happen?” So, it’s not “How did Jack and Juliet get together?”; it’s “Why would Jack and Juliet get married and then divorced?” I don’t think everything in the “flash sideways” can be considered the result of a conscious or subconscious character decision, but certainly many of the differences reflect how characters wish things had been.
As everyone is gathering in the church, a final step before moving on, Ben remains outside. When questioned, he states that he has some unfinished business. While it’s never made clear, I believe that Ben’s unfinished business is to make amends with his daughter and Danielle. There’s certainly a lot there that he has to apologize for (or make up for). Alternatively (or additionally), his intention might be to enlighten them, to help them move on with him.
James and Juliet
I had hoped, hoped, hoped that James and Juliet would get back together. I was really drawn to their relationship. I thought they made great complements, and, best yet, they both seemed to happy. That’s why the romantic in me was thrilled when they reconnected in the “flash sideways”. I don’t really have any insights on this, I just wanted to bring it up.
The New Man in Charge
I wasn’t at all surprised when the final candidate ended up being Hurley. He was my vote for a while, and they foreshadowed this eventuality in a couple different places. What wasn’t forecast was his decision to have a Vice Candidate. Ben essentially gives Hurley a blank check, telling him that things don’t need to be run how Jacob ran them. This allows for pretty exciting possibilities for our imaginations and fan-fic writers. Our first glimpse into this “new man in charge” is Hurley making his Vice Candidate someone who wasn’t a candidate at all, someone Jacob had all but discarded. Jacob, like everyone else, was not perfect, despite the important job he held, and Hurley, in a lot of ways, is an improvement on Jacob and his flaws.
Some time ago, I put a poll in the field, asking what people thought of the finale. The results of the 41 participants were mostly positive or indifferent. So, I guess that’s a win. Here’s the breakdown:
- I loved it. 29%
- I meh-ed it. 22%
- I liked it. 22%
- I disliked it. 11%
- Other 9%
- I hated it. 7%
For other answers I got:
- I didn’t watch it.
- I bittersweet-ed it.
- Waste of a season island side
- lost, lol
Kudos to whoever said “lost, lol” for at least identifying the topic of the poll. What did you think of the finale? What do you think of the show? Leave your reviews, thoughts, and eulogies in the comments.
LOST In Peace.