Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Losing LOST

So LOST is over. I've just been tossing up whether I should do a post-finale piece or not, since the web is already cluttered with them. And you'd think it'd be easy to blog about something you love dearly, but there's something about sheer complexity of the show that is quite daunting to write about, which makes me appreciate even more people like Alan Sepinwall and Noel Murray who are able to intelligently recap episodes weekly without fail. Anyway, what the hell, I'll have a crack at it; consider this a loose ramble about Lost and its finale and everything in-between (even if most of what I have to say has probably been repeated elsewhere, and more eloquently). If you haven't watched the show or seen the finale, stop reading now (it probably won't make much sense anyway).

I'll be the first to admit the final episode, appropriately entitled "The End", left me with mixed feelings. After the LOST title card came on for one last time, I was moved and frustrated at the same time. Many questions that have been begging to be answered were not; instead, exec producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Linderlof chose to tie up the emotional threads of the story, which in turn provided the meaning to the flash sideways narrative that has perplexed audiences since the start of Season 6.

The Island half of the finale proved to be Lost at its best - it was fast-paced, moving, funny - containing some of director Jack Bender's best work ever (how killer was Jack and Fake Locke's fight on the cliff?). The flash sideways reunions - especially Sawyer and Juliet's moment of realistion at the vending machine - had me on the verge of tears; it's the closest I've been to crying over a TV show in a long, long time.

The kicker? The sideways reality was revealed, by Jack's late-arriving dad Christian Shepard, to be some sort of "purgatory" or "metaphysical waiting room" where the characters had been living after they've died until everyone found and remembered each other and the time they spent together on the island. But it was something they all collectively created. How exactly? I'm not sure of the science or spiritual mechanics of its creation, and it's open to interpretation, but a case could be made that the detonation of Jughead in Season 5 was partially responsible. An explosion so powerful as to react with the Island's temperamental mystical (or electromagnetic) powers to produce another "world" where the main characters can live happily ever after.

Remember Juliet in her last breaths, uttering, "It worked"? That line didn't mean the bomb had reset the timeline so Oceanic 815 never crashed. She flashed, Desmond-style (since she was at the centre of the detonation at the Swan site), into the "after life" where everyone was able to lead the lives they've always wanted - together. If this kind of thinking seems like such a crazy leap - and initially it did seem like the writers had copped out - you know, purgatory this, metaphysical that, the logic or feel behind what transpired in its conclusion is something that has stayed with me long after. Had everything been solved neatly, the show wouldn't have made emotional sense.

Okay, sci-fi fans want their hard sci-fi solutions, and I did too - trust me, I KNOW it's frustrating when a show introduces so many cool concepts (the Dharma Initiative, etc) only to abandon them later on. And as much I as love Lost, it isn't flawless TV. Blame it on the way TV networks operate (the ratings game...), blame it on the writers not having a complete endgame in mind, blame it on the fans who've built up their own perfect theory they so desperately want to see materialise. The show has been a victim of every one of these factors. If you take all that into context, and enjoy the ride for what it is, I think Lost has come up pretty damn well. The nailbiting cliffhangers, the endearing characters, the mind-bending twists and mysteries - no other serial has been so ambitious and risky and thrilled my imagination in such a way since...I dunno, Twin Peaks? And it'll be a while before another comes along. FlashForward? Please.

Back to the ending - it's been haunting, lingering in my mind, and I've made peace with it. It's as good as one can hope. Jack's walk through the bamboo field, collapsing, Vincent laying down next to him, Jack seeing Ajira fly out in the sky, his eye closing for one last time. Bloody beautiful and heartbreaking. The show has come full circle, and the symmetry between these last few moments and the pilot is quite amazing:
Actually visual echoes and parallels such as these occur throughout the finale (the church resembling an airplane cabin, Locke falling on his back once again, etc), enhancing the show's consistency, even if loose plot threads are dangling all over the place. They may not make logical sense, but they do emotionally. In the end, Linderlof and Cuse can't be accused of copping out - they've obviously made it clear what the story they wanted to tell is. Even with all its intriguing mythologies and out-there science, the crux of the show has always been a struggle between faith and reason. "The End" realised Jack's long, bumpy journey from Man of Science to Man of Faith, and for that the show has paid off. Not many answers for us long-time viewers? We really need to learn to let go. It worked.

Some random thoughts:
  • How great was Michael Giacchino's score?
  • My favourite season is 5. Most consistently entertaining run of episodes. And I'm a time travel geek.
  • Favourite finale? Season 3. "We have to go back!!" Mind-blown.
  • Most head-hurting twist: the whole Daniel Faraday/Eloise Hawking thing, and Richard/Locke's compass. Ouch.
  • Lost is clearly a show that gains a lot of its power from cliffhangers and mysteries; the answers are rarely as interesting. Did we really an answer to the whispers? Look how it turned out.
  • The resonance of Christian Shepard's name only clicked at the end.
  • Upcoming DVD set will have an extra 20 minutes of finale material that wasn't shown on TV.
  • Damn, I will miss this show.
  • Ok, one last thing:

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